Never before had any criminal dared give open challenge to the Spider! Never before had Richard Wentworth faced a foe who welcomed personal combat with the grim avenger whom all others feared… And while they fought—the Spider and the Fly—a new and fearless criminal army was forming; men and women were dying by the scores; and the youth of a nation was flocking to the dark banner of that gentlemanly killer whose battle cry was “Kill the Spider—and the world is ours!”
“Prince of the Red Looters” is the eleventh Spider novel and was originally published August 1934. The evil guy is named the Fly. The story starts with this reversed challenge (without apologies to Mary Howitt’s original line): “’Will you come into my parlor?’ said the Fly to the Spider.’ The Fly is a rich playboy who turns to murder for his jollies, apparently intended as an evil counterpart to Wentworth. The Fly is a great opponent; he returns in Spider #30 ("Green Globes of Death"), making him rare as only a few opponents return to face the Spider twice (or more).
Through gifts of money, the Fly assembles all the gangs of NY City under his control. He uses gas to scare or kill many so that a few might be looted by his minion wearing gas masks. He escalates his crime until all of NY City is under threat of gaseous annihilation.
In Novell Page’s mind, as he states several times in this story, the Fly is the Spider’s equal, but he also poses a slight problem for the reader. It seemed that several times, either the Spider or the Fly would destroy the other one except for a last minute reprieve. The Fly’s “secret” identity seems rather obvious, but apparently not to Wentworth who takes an extraordinary amount of time to ferret it out… but once again the Spider’s violence and Page’s fast-paced prose are the drivers and save an otherwise lackluster (for Page) novel.