I finished reading GRAY FIST the other evening. Originally published in THE SHADOW Magazine for February 15th, 1934, it was the forty-eighth adventure of The Shadow. The edition I read, pictured above, was published by Pyramid books in the mid 1970s. Love that Jim Steranko cover!
This one finds the Shadow in a duel to the death with the mysterious super fiend Gray Fist, a master criminal who wears attire that is similar to the Shadow's crime fighting togs, except the Fist favors an all gray color scheme. Gray Fist holds sway over a group of successful New York City businessmen along with a small army of thugs and hoods. There's a higher than usual body count in this one as The Shadow guns down hordes of mobsters several times during the course of the story. The climax takes place in a hidden lair in Chinatown where the Shadow and Grey Fist face off for the first and final time.
There's a heavier emphasis on narration than usual in this story. Many previous Shadow pulps have featured a lot of dialogue to advance the plot but not so here. The focus is on action, action, action and Walter Gibson keeps things moving at a brisk pace.
We also get two villains in this story. In the last part of the book, The Shadow takes refuge in Chinatown in the lair of Yat Soon, the leader of the tongs. In any other Shadow adventure, the Shadow and Yat Soon would be adversaries but here they form an uneasy alliance in order to defeat their common foe, Gray Fist.
With tons of gun play, lots of action and two bad guys, GRAY FIST ranks as one of the best Shadow adventures. However, I do have a couple of minor quibbles. The body of murdered importer Worth Varden is found, knife in heart, inside the Shadow's sanctum sanctorum with no explanation ever given as to how Gray Fist discovered the Shadow's secret hideout and, by extension, what else the fiend knows about the Shadow. Also, we never learn just what exactly Gray Fist is up to. We are constantly told that he's a "super fiend" and he certainly exerts a great deal of power and influence over both businessmen and mobsters but the exact details of his nefarious plan are never revealed.
Still, those are minor beefs for what is otherwise a top notch Shadow thriller.