The Spider—who was really Richard Wentworth, a true American aristocrat—had fought a hundred battles and faced a thousand foes… But never before had a more brilliant criminal genius challenged him. For the Boss, employing a horrible, new weapon, ruled the Underworld with an iron hand, slaughtering, maddening, and loosing maniacs to ravage the nation…!
The Boss is the “Overlord of the Damned.” This 25th Spider novel starts with a partial double-page drawing of a gang robbing a large Wall Street bank, killing everyone in sight, including a policemen being shot with an acid-shooting rifle to his face profoundly distorting it. “The policeman straightened with a scream, whirled, groped toward his companions with his eyes already bubbling blood under the bite of the acid.”
“Overlord of the Damned” was originally published in October 1935. The Boss has drawn together criminal groups under his control and on a national level, leaving little cards saying “Compliments of the Boss” to commemorate his evildoing. In addition to the robberies and the acid-shooting rifles, he has the ability to drive people crazy, starting with several NY City officers. By the third chapter, Jackson has been affected, and 10% of the Philadelphia Police Department as well. Robberies are occurring all along the eastern seaboard; crazy people including non-police are running rampart abusing and killing women and children among others. With nearly everyone falling around him, the Spider has his hands full in this one!
Cigar smoke is linked to the spells of madness. Note: Norvell Page might have been a chain smoker, but smoking is really dangerous in his novels; we saw thousands of deaths in “The Red Death Rain” from contaminated cigarettes.
Later small darts are used to spread craziness, and we learn that the boss can use his mind drug to control people. A major subplot in this novel is the drugging of Governor Kirkpatrick to do the Boss’ bidding, thereby debilitating the Spider’s efforts.
With Jackson out, Tommy Barker, the grandson of the deceased Prof Brownlee, is also active helping Wentworth in this story. Tommy was introduced in the last issue “King of the Red Killers.”
Another fast-moving novel from Page, full of emotion and a little exhausting, as we have now grown to anticipate. Well worth the reading! It is always interesting how these nationwide threats are resolved fairly simply in New York City!