Richard Wentworth—who, as the swift-killing Spider, is the scourge of the Underworld—thought the Fly was dead. But once more that most formidable enemy had arisen, pillaging, slaying wantonly, armed with a ghastly new weapon, the Green Globes of Death! Ruthless and astute, heading a gigantic criminal syndicate, the Fly was butchering innocent persons only, it seemed, to see their red blood flow. It was with flagging hope and heavy heart that the Spider took up his newest battle with the preying jackals of crime!
“Green Globes of Death” is the 30th Spider novel. This story continues storylines from two earlier Spider novels. In the previous one “Slave of the Murder Syndicate,” Wentworth and Nita were in the church to get married, but are interrupted by the Fly before saying vows. The Fly is a repeat villain having originally appeared in August 1934’s “Prince of the Red Looters.” By the beginning of this novel, Wentworth has recovered now all that he lost at the beginning of “The Mayor of Hell.” As such, Jackson and Ram Singh are also back in action.
In the earlier Fly appearance, we saw that the Fly was basically an evil version of the Spider, rich, independent, and accomplished. At its end, the Fly is gored by the Spider’s sword and then falls a considerable distant into a river… no body. In this one, the rivalry is renewed as the Fly starts by killing the Mayor of New York City… one wonders why anyone would want to be an official in Page’s metropolis given the high mortality rate for such leaders.
Spider novels are always full of blood. That is even more so with this one as the green globes are filled with a gas that causes people to bleed profusely on contact. The Fly has a great time killing with his sword, machine gun, and globes as he robs banks and massacres crowds. The Spider is less happy as his emotional tension in this novel comes from Nita being kidnapped (again) and then from an argument with her.
This novel is approximately 30% to 40% shorter than earlier Spider novels which perhaps indicated that all was not well for Norvell Page in Spider land. We saw in the last two Spider novels having greater plotting than in most of his earlier novels, perhaps even reworking an unpublished Operator 5 novel as some speculate, or perhaps having unwanted help in some other way. We are also now on a countdown of Page’s initial unbroken string of 35 novels. For eight months, following the October 1936 magazine, Page is missing from The Spider Magazine.
Having to fill fewer pages, Page’s style is actually assisted by this shortness of length. For the most part, he does need not now to extend his novel with multiple kidnappings or other action fillers to lengthen his work as he seemed to do in many earlier novels. A generally good Page Spider novel and a definite page turner, but also not one his very best.