White slavery, the loathsome traffic in women’s bodies—and souls—was stripping America of wives, sisters and sweethearts. Richard Wentworth, valiant champion of human rights, knew that an Oriental master criminal was captaining the slavery syndicate, guessed the unspeakable purpose behind those wholesale abductions. But with Nita hopelessly lost, with G-men harrying him relentlessly, can the Spider outwit his most formidable foeman and save America’s doomed womanhood?
“Slaves of the Dragon” is the 32nd Spider novel, originally published in May, 1936. It is the fourth “yellow peril” Spider tale. The other three are: “The Red Rain Death (December 1934), “Dragon Lord of the Underworld” (July 1935), and “Emperor of the Yellow Death” (December 1935).
In this one, young women, often in a scantily clad condition, are being kidnapped and sent to the orient apparently to be sex slaves for a fate worse than death according to Page. The first episode concerns a lingerie store where many women are taken including some modeling underwear. The open drawing at the beginning of the story is an additional kidnapping of a stage production where 75 women are taken. Women colleges and penitentiaries are also targeting bringing the number of victims to the thousands. Of course, since pretty young women are being targeted, Nita also becomes a victim of the slavers.
The leader of the Chinese is the Dragon, aka the Master; Ya Hsai is a young oriental woman helping in the kidnappings. After debilitating the women, he uses fake policemen, doctors, and others to help load his victims into ambulances that are really slave vans. Sometimes, he kills hundreds of security men to get to his victims. The plan is to breed brainy American women, apparently the smartest in the world, with childish, but brawny Mongols to create somehow a superior race. (So much for Norvell Page and stereotypes!)
Wentworth and Nita climb separate walls of pain to bring down the bad guys. Gunfights, slave rebellions, a ship bombed at sea… all good stuff.
This story seemed a little shorter and less complex than some of the others, but still with Page’s frenetic energy. An interesting though is to consider how the lurid connotations of this story would be presented in today’s far-more graphic world. Along with many others, it is easily to recommend this Spider episode.
Eugenics was standard academic thinking in the 1920s and 1930s, not just as was played out in Nazi Germany. While based in racism, Page is really only reflecting what colleges were actually teaching when he wrote this novel.