Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Shadow Strikes! (Part One)

Front Cover

The Shadow Strikes was the second Shadow paperback published by Belmont Books.  It was published on October 1, 1964.  Although it has Maxwell Grant as the author, it was actually written by Dennis Lynds.

Back Cover
This Shadow adventure is a clear departure from all other published Shadow stories up to this time.  While Shadow fans will recognize many of the names and places from previous stories, they will also see that things have changed and this story was set in a contemporary setting (1960s).  

In this story, The Shadow investigates the death of a man named Anton Pavlic.  While the police claim Pavlic died as a result of accidental murder (he was hit by a car!), The Shadow knows there is something more sinister behind the simple facts.  His investigation leads to the unveiling of a blackmail scheme being run by an organization that, on the front, was set up to help refugees from communism.

The Shadow drives a Jaguar.  It is a small, custom-built car with a supercharged engine.  It is also equipped with a car telephone!

1964 Jaguar - could this be The Shadow's?

1964 Car Phone

I did a little research and was amazed to find that in 1964 there were over 1 million Americans using car telephones!  Above is an example of a 1964 car phone, but I'm sure The Shadow's was more high-tech than what you would buy over the counter!

As I mentioned, there are familiar faces and places in this Shadow story.  We have Lamont Cranston visiting the Cobalt Club.  Cranston is a good friend of Police Commissioner Weston, and in this story Cranston assists Detective Joe Cardona.  All of these characters and places are straight from The Shadow pulp and radio stories.

The Shadow also has a team of agents that assist him, just as he did in the pulps.  But again, there are some updates and changes.  Here are The Shadow's agents from The Shadow Strikes:

Stanley:  Stanley is The Shadow's chauffer and is an ex-police officer.  He carries an automatic, handcuffs and lock picks. (Stanley was Lamont Cranston's chauffer in the pulp magazines.)

Burbank:  Burbank is the hub of The Shadow's team as agents report to Burbank and Burbank reports to The Shadow.  

Shrevvy:  Shrevvy is described as a small, peppy taxi driver.  He assists The Shadow with transportation needs.

Clyde Burke:  Clyde is a reporter as well as friend and associate of The Shadow.

Margo Lane:  Margo is described as dark-haired and slim.  She is the private secretary of Lamont Cranston as well as a friend and operative of The Shadow.  Margo is from Denver, Colorado and was a theater major in college.  She goes under cover to assist The Shadow in this story. 

Unlike the pulp magazines, The Shadow's agents listed above all know his identity and are a part of his crime fighting organization.  I'll write more about The Shadow in an upcoming article!

This was an exciting and well-written story.  While it was a departure from the historic Shadow character, I liked it as a new iteration of The Shadow.  It wasn't quite the page-turning adventure I enjoy from Walter B. Gibson, but it was a fun and entertaining book to read.

In an upcoming article I will write extensively about The Shadow in this story and highlight his character, gadgets and abilities.  I hope you've enjoyed this brief look at The Shadow Strikes!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Shadow's Weapon: The Devil's Whisper

In his war against crime, The Shadow has a variety of weapons!  I previously looked at his .45 automatics, and in this article I want to take a brief look at one of his defensive weapons known as The Devil's Whisper.

From Nostalgia Ventures The Shadow #12

The first time The Shadow uses The Devil's Whisper is in the story, "The Red Menace" which was first published on November 1, 1931.  In this story, The Shadow uses it twice!  The Devil's Whisper is created by placing two chemicals on his fingers, one chemical on his thumb and another chemical on his third finger.  When The Shadow snaps his fingers, it results in a flash of flame and a sharp explosion sounding like the shot of a pistol.  It temporarily stuns The Shadow's opponent, allowing him to take quick action against them.  

Description of The Shadow's use of The Devil's Whisper

The Devil's Whisper was a well-known and dangerous magic trick at the time of The Shadow's story.  According to an article by Anthony Tollin in The Shadow #12 published by Nostalgia Ventures (October 2007), Walter B. Gibson tells readers that The Devil's Whisper was eventually pulled off shelves because a magician used too much of the compound when demonstrating it to a friend and ended up losing his hand, knocking both men unconscious, and making the office look like a bomb had exploded in it!

The Shadow let Maxwell Grant know that he had perfected the right amount of chemicals and their usage so that he can create the exact effect he wants!  

The Shadow to use The Devil's Whisper!

The Shadow uses The Devil's Whisper as a defensive weapon.  It was a well-known magic trick that The Shadow improved on and incorporated into his arsenal!  It's bright flash and loud bang temporarily stuns The Shadow's opponent and allows The Shadow to take quick action.  

Below is a brief video showing a modern version of The Devil's Whisper!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Clews or Clues?

If you read any of the old Shadow magazines or their reprints, you'll find the word 'clew' is used instead of the word 'clue.'  The first time I read 'clew' I simply thought the editors were hooked on phonics and that's how they spelled it consistently throughout the story.  But as I've read more of The Shadow's adventures, I noticed that 'clew' was always the word used for 'clue.'  

I had always intended on doing a little research into the difference between 'clew' and 'clue' but never got around to it.  Today, however, the Merriam Webster word of the day was 'clew!'  I thought that was awesome and just had to share it on the blog!

Here's what Merriam Webster has to say about 'clew':

  • noun:  something that guides through an intricate procedure or maze of difficulties : clue

They go on to provide a bit of a background for the word:  

  • The "ball of thread" meaning of clew (from Middle English clewe and ultimately from Old English cliewen) has been with us since before the 12th century. In Greek mythology, Ariadne gave a ball of thread to Theseus so that he could use it to find his way out of her father's labyrinth. 
  • This, and similar tales, gave rise to the use of clew for anything that could guide a person through a difficult place. 
  • This use led, in turn, to the meaning "a piece of evidence that leads one toward the solution of a problem." 
  • Today, the variant spelling clue, which appeared in the 17th century, is the more common spelling for the "evidence" sense, but you'll find clew in some famous works of literature. 

I thought this was very interesting and wanted to share it here on the blog.  I didn't have a clue about the background of the word clew, and now I do!