Mysterious happenings—cloudbursts in the arid desert, churches and skyscrapers horribly destroyed, priests and pastors oddly maddened, Intelligence agents craftily slaughtered—all these heralded the attack on America by the Son of Kasma—spokesman for a vicious, Oriental cult. The populace flocked to the new religion in self-defense. Our country seemed helplessly doomed… And Operator 5, charged with treason by a power-drunk authority; his best friend’s honor, and his own, held forfeit; his beloved Diane captive to the yellow Messiah, must battle alone against a more cunning invader than ever menaced America before!
“Invasion of the Crimson Death Cult” is the eighteenth Operator 5 novel, originally published in September 1935.
Beginning in issue #15, members of the empire were called the “Yellowese.” Once again, it is difficult to ascertain as to exactly what is the Yellow Empire. Originally, it seemed to be Japan, or a greater Asian coalition headed by Japan. In issue #15, a leader of the Yellow Empire seemed to distance himself entirely from the Japanese calling them cousins (although perhaps that just meant that they were not under his command) and with China/Central Asia being the leadership country. In this one, the main actors initially seemed to have more to do with India, although we do usually think of them as “yellow” since they are not of the Mongoloid race, although later they are described as oriental and pictured as such.
In any case, in Operator 5’s universe (or universes), the Yellow Empire always has great technology. In this one, its technology can:
- Destroy the minds of human beings
- Make it rain, even in the 1930s Dust Bowl
- Destroy buildings from a distant.
The initial attack on the USA was a mystical one, where members of the Kasma cult enter the US. They destroy the minds of anyone who might thwart them. They destroy church buildings with worshippers in them to show that Kasma is more powerful than the true God. They even make it rain in Dust Bowl regions to show the superiority of the cult.
With the power displayed, but not yet explained, many in the US, including leaders like the Secretary of State, believe that a new religion in the USA would be a good thing to displace Christianity which does not seem to be servicing the country to their level of desire. So, these leaders order Operator 5 not to investigate Kasma, but reluctantly Z-7 gives Operator 5 permission to do so despite orders from the Secretary of State.
Millions of Americans are being converted to follow Kasma. So, Operator 5 once again calls his Hidden Hundred, who were US Intelligence people capable but fired by the Secretary of State, to assist him in defeating the invaders. Fortunately, the hundred are all true Americans and not easily fooled!
As the story progresses, it becomes obvious that the forces attacking the US are also attempting to take over the Yellow Empire. According to Davis, if successful, Kasma would be dominant “over half the globe.” Since China and the US each have less than 10% of the world’s land mass, the Yellow Empire must contain almost all of Asia. With such a scope in one dominion, Operator 5 is not just fighting for the US but also to keep Kasma from taking over the world.
Jimmy Christopher gets to work and discovers that the followers of Kasma have a sound beam that can do all the phenomena that have been affecting the US and the Yellow Empire. So, the religion is nothing more than veiled technology. Discovering this secret and the secret headquarters of Kasma, Operator 5 once again beats America’s enemies.
Along the way, he saves the lives of the President, Vice President, and the Secretary of State. Grateful to Operator 5 for saving him, the Secretary of State exonerates our hero. The hidden hundred are also reinstated back into the secret service, and Z-7 does not have to report to the Secretary of State any long, but reverts to reporting to the President.
Could Kasma have won? If it could keep secret how it was doing its miracles, then yes. The problem is the difficulty of keeping such secrets in an organization sufficiently large to pull off the simultaneous defeat of the US and the Yellow Empire.
Could Operator 5 have pulled off the defeat of Kasma? Again, if the secrets of the rebelling organization is revealed, the ability of it to defeat entrenched leaders in massively large countries becomes very low. Operator 5, as always, seems implausibly to be everywhere, but a great spy should have been able to defeat Kasma.
While the plot and actions are improbable, I loved this story. Davis’ slightly science-fiction bent coupled with political mechanizations seem to work well with me. So, I have no problem as labeling this as another great tale and recommending it to others.