Of the 325 novels published in The Shadow magazine between 1931 and 1949, well over half have been reprinted in one form or another (if someone has an approximate number, I'd be pleased to hear it!). One of those so far neglected (I think) is "Vengeance Bay," from this issue in 1942.
That means this story is one most modern-day Shadow fans have not had the opportunity to read. I had that opportunity thanks to the generosity of Mr. Frank Spremulli, who kindly took it (and others) to the post office and instructed Uncle Sam to deposit it in my mailbox. Thanks again Frank!
The Shadow nailed by spotlight - and by a good guy, too.
Most of the Shadow novels I've read are from the early '30s, when he was an awesome, mysterious and usually infallible figure of the night. So it's interesting to see the change in his character in stories like this one, eleven years into the series. The Shadow 1942 is much more human. He makes plenty of mistakes, misjudging circumstances and people, and winds up captured and helpless - twice. He battles mugs who turn out to be heroes and defends heroes who turn out to be villains. Several bad guys lay hands on him and live, and even an average citizen is able to pounce on his back and bring him to the ground.
The Shadow pummels a couple of bad guys who really aren't.
That said, he still comes out guns blazing, his laugh striking fear into evil hearts, and manages to come out on top. Whew! "Vengeance Bay" is a tad unusual in setting, taking place in a normally quiet spot on the coast of New England. The place isn't actually called Vengeance Bay - it's Massaquoit Bay (which would have been a lousy title) - but a couple of the local features are called Pirate's Head and Pirate's Cove, so you know something dangerous is going to happen. What happens is a two-pronged scramble for gold. Some folks are after the lost treasure of Blackbeard, while others are after an even bigger treasure once in possession of the Nazis.
Here's an odd scene. The Shadow in Cranston garb (far left) is
rescued by someone wearing his costume (hint: his initials are H.V.).
It's a large cast, peopled with smugglers, mobsters, and yep - even Nazis, with the Shadow, Harry Vincent and Margo Lane doing their best to keep up with all the plot twists. Margo was relatively new to the pulp pages at this time, having earned her spurs on the radio show, and there was still controversy among the readers as to her presence. To her credit, she has official agent status here, rather than being the loyal companion (and implied girlfriend) of Lamont Cranston. The difference, of course, is that the radio Shadow really is Cranston, while the pulp Shadow merely uses the Cranston identity as a disguise. His true identity is known only to a couple of Xinca Indians (and they're not telling), and the thousands of readers of his magazine. Obviously, the Shadow kept Margo, Harry and the other agents too busy to read the mag.
The guy at the top is named Gleer, so you know he's bad.