Thursday, October 6, 2016


Over the last few years I've read twenty-five SHADOW pulp novels. I've not only read them, I've read them aloud to my beautiful wife, Judy. CHARG, MONSTER (the Jove/HBJ reprint from December 1977 is pictured above), is the twenty-sixth Shadow I've read and it's the first one that has a comic book super-hero feel to it (although originally published in July, 1934, several years before the comic book debuts of Superman and Batman).

Before I started reading The Shadow books, I assumed that he went up against a super-villain of some sort on a regular basis. While The Shadow has certainly clashed with "super crooks" in some of the stories I've read, most of them have him tangling with gangsters and assorted underworld figures. Also, in many of these stories, there's little or no elements of the fantastic despite the colorful covers and evocative titles. The Shadow adventures that I've read are basically mystery novels with liberal does of gun play and violence (and the occasional death trap) thrown in for good measure. In the universe that The Shadow and his agents operate in, the mere presence of a mysterious, cloaked avenger of the night is fantastic enough.

In CHARG, MONSTER, The Shadow goes up against a super-villain who uses robots to commit murder. For once, the cover art by Jim Steranko is a fair representation of what's actually inside (albeit the absence of a shapely, blonde damsel in distress). The technology used by the villain and his metallic murderers is quite sophisticated for the mid-1930s. Also, this adventure is more tightly written than other Shadow thrillers. The plot is more streamlined and the pace is quicker than usual. There's little or no padding and The Shadow (and Lamont Cranston), appear on almost every page. With a murderous mastermind like Charg and his killer robots, The Shadow is up against a genuinely fantastic, super foe. The result is a superlative pulp thriller.

Thumbs up!

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