Never before had greedy, criminal genius loosed so loathsome and deadly a weapon! The Bat Man—leading a band of savages, releasing clouds of bloodthirsty vampire bats—planned to make himself a greater conqueror than Napoleon or Genghis Khan! One man stood in his way—Richard Wentworth, who when the Law fails, sallies forth as the dread Spider to spread red death in the Underworld. And the Spider—his beloved Nita forfeited, his loyal servants captive, his own life ever in horrible danger—must battle both the Bat Man and a broken heart!
The “Death Reign of the Vampire King” is the twenty-sixth of 118 Spider novels was originally published in November 1935 and is one of the most reprinted Spider novel.
One of the reasons for so many reprints is that this is an excellent story. Also with the title of the first chapter being “The Bat Man,” it brings to mind another more contemporary character and marketing opportunities, especially when added to ever lovable Vampires, which has become its own subgenre.
First, it should be pointed out that the title suggests to us today something which this excellent pulp does not deliver. There are no undead vampires in this novel. Although he dresses as a bat/vampire and has contrived a way to fly (which turns out to be gliding on large wings), the Bat Man is just another boss criminal who is merciless in dealing out death to meet his desires. The Vampires are vampire bats. They are not regular bats, though, because these bats seek out humans, rather than horses or other prey, and their bites contain a poison that quickly kills those bitten. The Bat Man also has a tribe of South American natives helping him and an ability to control the movement of the bats.
Death spires out of hand with hundreds and thousands of deaths once again. The Bat Man’s scheme is to get the USA, and eventually the whole world, to pay tribute to him so that his bats will not attack. He is starting with the USA because it was the only nation that refused similar tribute to the Barbary Pirates (despite the time lag between 1801 and 1935, and the fact that other nations had become involvement in that war). He thinks that if he makes an example of this country, therefore, the rest of the world will fall in line and pay tribute too.
The Bat Man frames the Spider as the perpetrator of the poisoned bats, much as earlier villains had framed him, thereby inhibiting the Spider’s ability to capture him. There are a number of action aerial battles in this one, both with planes and even one where the Spider attempts to glide like the Bat Man on wings but is then attacked by his enemy, also gliding.
Great pulp novel. Enjoy!!!