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Shadow Volume 1 [Pulp Reprint] #5001
The Shadow Volume 1
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The Shadow
Volume 1

The Shadow returns in two of his greatest pulp adventures: "Crime, Insured", acclaimed as Walter Gibson's greatest thriller, and "The Golden Vulture", revised by Gibson from the 1932 try-out novel that won writer Lester Dent the contract to write the "Doc Savage" series. In "Crime, Insured", The Shadow's war on crime has been so successful that underworld gangs begin purchasing crime insurance to protect themselves from the Master of Darkness. Then, in "The Golden Vulture", gilded death strikes ruthlessly and brings The Shadow to Miami to investigate a series of suicides. The first volume of this new series reproduces both original pulp covers by artist George Rozen plus all of the original interior illustrations by Edd Cartier. The book also includes new historical background articles by popular culture historians Anthony Tollin and Will Murray.

John Olsen Reviews the Stories in The Shadow #1
Review written and copyrighted by John Olsen; used with permission

"The Golden Vulture" was published in the July 15, 1938 issue of The Shadow Magazine. It was actually written much earlier, in July of 1932. And it was written, not by Walter Gibson, but Lester Dent - the same Lester Dent who would begin writing the adventures of Doc Savage a few months later. It is the only Shadow pulp mystery ever written by Lester Dent, and was greatly revised by Walter Gibson before its 1938 publication, all which makes it a unique collaboration between the two.

The Golden Vulture is an unseen master criminal who extorts millions from wealthy men of society. He controls a vast empire of gangsters who do his every bidding. He communicates his instructions to his minions via small golden statues of a vulture which can receive and transmit radio and television signals. Who is The Golden Vulture? Who will be his next victim? And who can stop him? Only The Shadow can stop this super fiend's quest for power and wealth!

Our story takes place in and around Miami, Florida. There have been five suicides among the wealthy citizens of Miami. Each died with his bank accounts depleted. Where did the money go? And did the men really commit suicide? These are questions to which old Nicholas Josephs has finally found the answer.

Josephs has been contacted by a mysterious figure who demands a half million dollars. Should he fail to deliver, his life will be forfeit. The note is signed with a small golden figure of a vulture. Fearfully, he consults with his good friend Avery Arthur Bland. He confides he has been threatened. Bland admits that he, too, has been a victim of The Golden Vulture. The two make secret plans to evade the clutches of the sinister figure.

The secret plans, however, aren't secret at all. Bland's sallow-faced butler, Mawson, is actually in the employ of The Golden Vulture and eavesdrops on the two millionaires' conversation. He reports his findings to the hidden mastermind by way of the two-way television transmitter hidden inside a small gilded statue of a vulture.

Before the evening is over, Josephs is dead of an apparent suicide. He is found inside his locked bedroom, a gunshot wound to the temple. But we know it's not suicide. We have seen Mawson commit the murder and escape without detection. The Golden Vulture has reached out his claws and struck again.

Avery Arthur Bland is scheduled to be next. He has paid several millions to The Golden Vulture, but finally has refused to be extorted further. His penalty for such refusal is death!

Inspector Joe Cardona of the New York Police Department has been vacationing in Miami. Bland, a good friend of Police Commissioner Ralph Weston, has requested Cardona be temporarily assigned to guard him. With Cardona on the scene, Bland and his beautiful young daughter Marna, feel relatively safe from the unknown danger threatened by The Golden Vulture.

The Shadow is also on the scene. He has been drawn from New York down to Miami because of the recent strange rash of apparent suicides among the wealthy. He assigns Harry Vincent, one of his secret agents, to help guard Bland's life. But even with the assistance of Harry Vincent and Joe Cardona, Bland is still in peril. It will take all the might of The Shadow to confront the evil of The Golden Vulture. Only The Shadow can discover the identity of the secret mastermind behind the golden statues of a vulture! Only The Shadow can thwart his dastardly plans and put an end to the terror once and for all!

Other than Joe Cardona and Harry Vincent, The Shadow receives no assistance from any other source. The only other agent mentioned is Burbank, who we are told has also come to Miami and who relays messages between Vincent and The Shadow. Although Burbank is mentioned several times, he doesn't actually appear in the story.

Readers of this story in 1938 may have wondered where the rest of The Shadow's agents were. There's no sign of underground contacts Hawkeye or Cliff Marsland. No newspaper-reporter Clyde Burke or taxi-driver Moe Shrevnitz. But their absence makes sense when you realize that this wasn't really a 1938 story, but a 1932 one. It was written by Lester Dent at a point in time when the character of The Shadow was just becoming formed. Most of the above-named agents hadn't appeared at the time the story was written.

So why wasn't the story used back in 1932? During the first year of The Shadow, the characterization was undergoing change. Walter Gibson created The Shadow and was gradually molding the character. He was trying different things; keeping those that worked and discarding those that didn't.

When Lester Dent was hired to write a Shadow story, he based it on what was known of The Shadow at that time. However, by the time the story was ready for publication, the character of The Shadow had changed enough so that the story was no longer appropriate. So it was set aside to be used later, and was somehow forgotten.

In 1938, Dent's story was found and dusted off. Walter Gibson was asked to do a partial re-write and bring it up-to-date. He tightened the story, updated the character of The Shadow, eliminated some extraneous characters, and toned down the excessive Dent gadgetry. And thus, the Dent/Gibson hybrid finally saw publication six years later.

Many of Lester Dent's famous touches are evident in this story -- little things that would later show up in his Doc Savage stories. Great strength, for example. The Shadow, as described by the pen of Lester Dent, is capable of great strength. Even Walter Gibson's Shadow was exceedingly strong, but Dent's description of The Shadow's display of strength seems quite familiar to anyone who has read Doc Savage. His grip is that of steel bands. He easily overpowers a foe of tremendous strength and throws him through a door, reducing it to splinters.

Another familiar scenario to Doc Savage fans is one in which the Doc is apparently killed. Then, chapters later, the Doc Savage appears alive and an explanation is given. Walter Gibson's Shadow stories used this type of scenario occasionally, but not often. Dent, on the other hand, used it in his Doc Savage stories quite often. And he uses it here in chapter four, when The Shadow is apparently blown to smithereens. It's later in chapter eight when The Shadow appears unscathed. And it's used again near the end of the story, when The Shadow is apparently killed at sea, only to show up later. Lester Dent was honing his skills here in this pre-Doc Savage tale.

Often in Doc Savage stories, Doc knew the secret identity of the villain early on. But he kept the secret from his aides until an unmasking at story's end. That's a typical Lester Dent touch that we see in this story as well. The Shadow knows the true identity of The Golden Vulture early in the story. But no one else is told, not even the reader, until the climax of the story in the last chapter when The Golden Vulture is revealed to be...someone we've been mislead to believe was innocent the whole time. It's typical pulp ploy used by many authors including Walter Gibson. But to me, it's classic Lester Dent.

And then, there's the gadgets. Lester Dent loved to use gadgets in his stories. And although Walter Gibson enjoyed using them in his Shadow stories as well, he employed far fewer of them than did Dent. In this story, the coolest gadget of all is the actual statues of The Golden Vulture. Most are small statuettes of under two feet tall. But their insides contain enough electronics to receive and transmit both audio and video as well as enough explosive charges to create tremendous destruction.

And then there's the large eight-foot version of the vulture statue. This one sits in the hidden underground lair of The Golden Vulture. It's a torture device. A victim is placed within the grasping talons of the giant bird, and they gradually close upon the victim until his bones crack. Joe Cardona is the unfortunate victim who is subjected to the grip of the eight-foot statue.

I'm told there were many nifty scientific gadgets in the original Dent version of the story, but that Walter Gibson removed some of them at the request of the editors at Street & Smith Publications. Of those that remained, were a small portable radio set concealed beneath the seat of The Shadow's automobile. The Shadow's wingless autogiro. Electronic tracking devices that The Shadow secretly attaches to several suspects' cars. A wire recorder, the workings of which Dent enjoys describing in detail. A large fountain, fifteen feet across, lowers by a hydraulic elevator mechanism to permit access to a secret underground lair.

Lester Dent describes a secret society created by this hidden villain known as The Golden Vulture. Each secret agent is known as "feather" of the Golden Vulture, and is assigned a number. When they report in, via the secret television transmitters, they identify themselves thusly:

"You are Otho," it said, "chauffeur at the home of Nicholas Josephs. What else are you?"

"The Sixty-eighth Feather of the Golden Vulture."

We also see the touch of Walter Gibson in this story. He keeps the character of The Shadow true to the version readers had come to recognize in 1938. The Shadow creates a temporary sanctum in Miami, where he puts his thoughts to paper with pen and disappearing ink. The Shadow has strange but vague powers to compel others to do his wishes. He communicates secret messages by the use of slightly emphasized words in otherwise seemingly innocent announcements. He disappears from the back of taxi-cabs, leaving a five dollar bill on the seat. He is a master of disguise, who can make himself faultlessly appear as others.

Some things in the story I couldn't specifically credit to Dent or Gibson. For example, in three separate scenes, The Shadow uses his ability to perfectly mimic voices to fool others. In one place his voice is exactly like a Vulture guard's. In another, he sounds exactly like the Police Chief. And in a third, he does a perfect imitation of The Golden Vulture's pilot. The Shadow's ability to do voice imitations was something Walter Gibson often gave The Shadow in his stories. But in my mind, it especially stands out as an ability that Lester Dent gave Doc Savage. Doc's vocal abilities were on display much more often in his pulp stories than in The Shadow's. So although I can't say with certainty whether the voice mimicking was in Dent's original version of this story or were part of Gibson's revisions, I would hazard a guess that they are Dent, pure and simple.

Much of the action sequences seem much more Dent-like than Gibson-like. One scene in particular which appealed to me took place in a swamp. Harry Vincent and Joe Cardona have been captured by The Golden Vulture gang. They are tied to the backs of two huge sixteen-foot-long alligators (actually caymans) and released into a pen of nearly two-dozen of the creatures. The way The Shadow saves them is wonderfully described. To me, it clearly screams Lester Dent!

At story's end, The Golden Vulture is exposed. He is revealed to everyone, but rather than dying in a hail of bullets, as in most Shadow stories, he is wounded and topples overboard into the sea. Which makes one wonder. Was The Golden Vulture being prepared for a return? Was he mortally wounded when he toppled across the rail of the speeding cabin cruiser and into the ocean waves? We know for a fact that he never returned. But perhaps the way was being paved for his eventual return. One that never happened.

I really enjoyed reading this partial collaboration of Dent and Gibson, and I think you will too. You'll appreciate the exotic locations and gadgets typical of Doc Savage, mixed with the moody atmosphere and frenetic action of Walter Gibson's Shadow. A very unique story, and one that is definitely recommended!

"Crime, Insured" was originally published in the July 1, 1937 issue of The Shadow Magazine. A new racket has sprung up in Manhattan: crime insurance. Crime has gone ultra-modern. Bigshots have discarded old-fashioned methods and are now insuring their crimes against failure. But can they insure against intervention by that master of the night, The Shadow?

It all starts with Wally Drillick, a smooth operator who spends his leisure hours in smart night clubs and high-priced taprooms. He's been hired by Duke Unrig, a big-time crime boss, to pilfer the Melrue jewels. Francine Melrue and her brother George have recently become heir to half of a million-dollar estate left by their deceased uncle. Francine's half includes the family gems valued at a hundred thousand dollars. Wally Drillick intends to obtain those jewels.

But The Shadow is on the job, guarding the jewels. Wally Drillick is picked up by The Shadow and held captive by his agents. It's Harry Vincent who takes Drillick's place. It's Harry Vincent who visits the Top Hat Club to receive instructions. It's Harry Vincent who sneaks into Francine Melrue's apartment. It's Harry Vincent who makes off with the jewels. And all to find out who's behind the crime.

The Shadow discovers Nogger Tellif is heading up the cover-up crew, who have been hired to make sure Wally Drillick, actually Harry Vincent in disguise, makes a clean getaway. And Nogger Tellif is Duke Unrig's chief lieutenant. Gradually, The Shadow will track down the powers behind the recent wave of crime in New York.

When Nogger Tellif is accidentally killed in the aftermath of the jewel robbery, The Shadow gets Cliff Marsland, his underworld contact, insinuated into the gang as Duke Unrig's new bodyguard. Now Cliff can watch things from the inside. But Cliff is puzzled. The jewel robbery was foiled. Harry Vincent made sure the jewels were returned to Francine Melrue. So why has Duke Unrig received his hundred thousand dollars for the unsuccessful crime?

What we know, although Cliff Marsland and The Shadow haven't learned yet, is that Duke Unrig insured his crime. If the robbery is thwarted, he receives payment from a mysterious insurance company. Who is behind this insurance company? Who is the mastermind of Crime, Insured? That's what The Shadow is determined to find out.

The next crime is the uptown branch of the Gotham Trust Company. An armored truck will arrive Friday night with a quarter-million dollars deposit. Duke Unrig has his gang all set. But with the inside information provided by Cliff Marsland, The Shadow is present to thwart the crime.

In the furious gun battle, Duke Unrig limps away mortally wounded. The crime was unsuccessful, but it was insured. And lying in his hideout on his deathbed, Duke Unrig receives a wrapped package containing a quarter-million dollars. Crime, Insured has paid off again!

While all this has been going on, a mysterious figure has been watching. Someone who keeps to the darkness has seen Harry Vincent replace Wally Drillick in the jewel robbery. That same someone has seen Cliff Marsland leave Duke Unrig's hideout with a suitcase full of the insurance money. And now he sees Cliff hand the suitcase off to Hawkeye. This mysterious figure has identified three of The Shadow's secret agents.

Yes, one by one, the agents of The Shadow are being revealed to a thin, stooped figure who hides in the shadows. Who is this mystery man? A strange spidery insurance investigator named Strampf was the observer who had spotted both Harry Vincent and Cliff Marsland. Strampf works for Crime, Insured! And gradually, Strampf is welding links in the chain that will soon enwrap The Shadow.

One by one, the agents of The Shadow are revealed to the wily Strampf. Vincent, Marsland and Hawkeye are first. Then Clyde Burke. And Rutledge Mann. And listening in on the phone reports of the agents, Strampf obtains Burbank's telephone number and traces its location. And finally, Lamont Cranston is revealed as The Shadow.

Even the location of The Shadow's sanctum is discovered, as Strampf reports: "I have narrowed it down to one place: a small office building that has very few tenants. I have studied that building. There is only one portion that could contain The Shadow's secret abode. That is the north section of the basement, near the rear wall."

The mastermind behind Crime, Insured now knows The Shadow's agents, The Shadow's sanctum and The Shadow's disguise. And that means it's time to attack. Attack the one man who stands to thwart crime, and cause Crime, Insured to pay out on its insurance policies. Without The Shadow, the company fortunes will soar.

Until now, each criminal big-shot in Manhattan had worked independently. That has ended. These big-shots will become lieutenants, under the command of one mighty crime-master, the head of Crime, Insured. The plan is made; each big-shot has his own duties. And now, it is put into action.

Within a few short hours, each of The Shadow's agents are captured. One by one, they fall victim to Crime, Insured. Rutledge Mann, Harry Vincent, Clyde Burke, Hawkeye, Cliff Marsland and Moe Shrevnitz are all taken prisoner. Burbank is left until last, but even he is finally captured. All which means it's time for The Shadow!

The Shadow retreats to his sanctum, not realizing that its location has been compromised. As he stands in the blackness of his sanctum, all of crimedom attacks. There is no escape for The Shadow. The main exit is clogged with gunmen. The secret back exit is likewise blocked.

Strampf leads the massive troops invading the sanctum. He witnesses a terrific explosion in the sanctum laboratory, and sees what appears to be The Shadow's body in the inferno. With The Shadow dead, the thugs grab all the furnishings of the sanctum, and haul them away. The file cabinets, the tables, the lamp and even the black curtains the cover the wall; all are removed. Then they place explosives around the building and detonate them. Tons of masonry crush down upon the hollow chamber that had once been The Shadow's sanctum. Everything is gone.

The Shadow magazine continued to be published for another dozen years, so obviously The Shadow is not dead. But how did he escape? And how can he rescue his agents? All that makes for a thrilling story that ranks among the best of the entire magazine series.

Nearly all of The Shadow's agents appear in this story. Not only the main agents who are captured, but some of the secondary or "reserve" agents appear as well. Criminologist Slade Farrow shows up along with his assistant Tapper, whose expertise at picking a lock is second only to The Shadow. Giant African Jericho Druke is another reserve agent who appears. Doctor Rupert Sayre joins in to assist with some radio direction finding tasks.

The New York Police is represented by Commissioner Ralph Weston and ace inspector Joe Cardona. Both get small parts, and don't get to do much. Still, it's nice to see them included here.

Let's go through some random items that occurred as I read this story. It's mentioned that The Shadow is an expert at jujutsu. This isn't the only time his martial arts abilities have been mentioned, but it's nice to see them specifically identified.

We always knew that the walls of The Shadow's sanctum were covered in black curtains. But did you know that there's a black tufted carpet on the floor? It's mentioned here, and I don't remember ever seeing it mentioned before. Even the floor is black. Now that's pretty cool. I wish they had mentioned what the ceiling was, but I guess that's asking too much.

In 1933's story "The Black Hush," an amazing invention was detailed. A black-ray machine that could suppress all electrical activity. That machine reappears in this story, four years later. In the original story, the ray machine was destroyed along with the prototype. The inventor was killed and the plans destroyed. Yet, somehow the machine shows up here. And with really no explanation. The Shadow just explains that it is in storage.

The black ray machine plays an important part in the rescue of the agents. And this time, the ray device survives at the story's end. The last we see of it, Hawkeye and Burbank are hauling it away to safety. Perhaps to show up in a future story. But, alas, author Walter Gibson never wrote it into another Shadow story.

That strange code that The Shadow uses, the one that's comprised of a silent eye-code shows up again. This time it's Burbank who uses it to communicate with the other agents during their confinement. "Glances, with simple shifts of gaze, enabled them to spell out secret messages."

Finally, as I read this story, it occurred to me that there is another of The Shadow's agents that we always seem to forget. He's that unnamed announcer at radio station WNX who reads The Shadow's coded messages over the air, and emphasizes certain words to indicate the secret message. Who is he? What's his name? We are never told. But the poor guy is replaced in this story, as the criminal mastermind behind Crime, Insured uses his own announcer to send a fake message over the airwaves to The Shadow's agents. Luckily, The Shadow's announcer wasn't hurt. But I would like to know more about this unsung agent.

This story is one of the pivotal ones in the saga of The Shadow. Only one other time, in the entire run of the magazine stories, was The Shadow's sanctum invaded. And the other time was on a much less dramatic scale. So this is the story to read. Read as The Shadow battles the boldest and most amazing racket in the history of modern crime, and nearly loses his entire organization in the bargain. Yup, this is the one.

John Olsen was first introduced to The Shadow in the early 1960's, tuning in to rebroadcasts of his adventures on KEX radio in Portland, Oregon. Several years later, John was drawn to a hardback book entitled "The Weird Adventures of The Shadow," containing three Shadow novels reprinted from the old pulp magazines. The pulp Shadow was a far different character from the beloved radio version, but the stories drew him in and opened his eyes to a richer version of the hero. Today, John is retired in Sherwood, Oregon. He has read all 325 of the old Shadow pulp mysteries and enjoys them so much that, as of this writing, he is well over half way through reading them all again for a second time.

Average Customer Review: Average Customer Review: 5 of 5 5 of 5 Total Reviews: 5 Write a review

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5 of 5 January 6, 2020
Reviewer: Lamont Turner from Slidell, LA United States  

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4 of 5 January 3, 2020
Reviewer: Kevin OBrien from Brockton, MA United States  

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  0 of 0 people found the following review helpful:
5 of 5 Complete Shadow Reprints Library February 15, 2019
Reviewer: Michael Haag from Bay Area California  
I purchased ALL of the Reprints of the SHADOW Double Volume Set. Each and every one is very well done, and is a treasury of stories, information, and ads. This set is a genuine MUST HAVE for any SHADOW fan. And the quality of the cover art, both front and back, is highly professional.

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5 of 5 Shadow Pulp Magazines July 25, 2018
Reviewer: RICHARD VENEZIA from Point Pleasant , NJ United States  
Received the Shadow Pulps, I am very pleased with the quality of these and they should keep be reading for quite a long while.

I recommend that these should be collected and passed on to future generations.

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5 of 5 Awesome start to a collection May 11, 2017
Reviewer: Robert Shipman from Hedgesville, WV United States  
I first got into The Shadow from comics. When I learned just how big a character he was I had to find more material. This is an awesome start to a collection of pulp reprints. I definitely plan on buying the rest of the collection.

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