Stripped of his wealth, cut off from his faithful helpers, Richard Wentworth, known and feared throughout the Underworld as the avenging Spider, struggles with his most powerful and wily foe—the Man who came out of the East! With Wentworth’s best friend, Police Commissioner Kirkpatrick framed for murder; with the entire city capitulating before that new and cruelly cunning menace from the Orient, the Spider himself seems doomed to die on the torture racks of the Far East!
“The Coming of the Terror” is the 36th Spider novel and was originally published in September 1936. The villain is the Pharaoh, and the telling of his struggle with the Spider will mark a couple of major differences. First, he will appear as the villain in four consecutive Spider novels. Earlier, the only villain appear in two tales has been the Fly, and those novels were not back-to-back, plus the Fly was a totally broken man in the second. “The Mayor of Hell” and “Slaves of the Murder Syndicate” might be consider a sequence because of the continuation of Wentworth’s problems in the two, but the stories and villains are much different. Each of the four Pharaoh novels are stand-alone stories.
Also, only the first two are written by Norvell Page. The last two Pharaoh stories were written by Emile C. Tepperman, breaking Page’s string of 35 consecutive Spiders.
The novel starts with a clear attempt to undermine the Spider’s ability to thwart the evildoings, including:
- Framing Kirkpatrick for murder.
- Destroying Wentworth’s wealth with robbery, bank failure, steel-company bankruptcy, bond disappearance, and other financial manipulation.
- Also framing of Wentworth with a false showgirl lover and then killing her.
- Accusing Wentworth of being the Spider.
- Kidnapping (once again) of Nita.
So, once again, the Spider’s wealth is gone, and his friends’ ability to help him neutralized such that everyone is against him. The Pharaoh is behind the scheme to eliminate the Spider and Police Commissions in order to become crime boss and to demand a payout from all criminal activity.
It is only about halfway through the book that we start to meet the Pharaoh’s gang of Egyptians. If there is any relationship between these Egyptians and those in “Master of the Death-Madness” in Spider #23, the relationship is not disclosed. However, there are several similarities including an Egyptian temptress, Princess Issoris, who seems to have designs on reluctant Wentworth.
Much of the later portions of this tale involved running battles between the Spider and the legions belonging to the Spider. Finally, being machine gunned, Wentworth receives a blood transfusion from Nita and strong stimulants from a doctor, allowing him to proceed with superhuman effort, but with bullet wounds and a broken arm. At the end, he guns down a Spider-attired Pharaoh, but runs out of bullets and cannot kill him, fortunately allowing for the three sequels to proceed. Despite this victory, Wentworth still has much to overcome.
After several relatively lackluster novels, this one is much, much better! Over the top and exaggerated beyond the possible, but hey, this is a Spider pulp novel… and a very enjoyable one at that.