Friday, November 14, 2014

Forgotten Books: The Shadow in VENGEANCE BAY by Walter Gibson

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.

More (and less Shadowy) Forgotten Books at pattinase!


George said...

I've been buying THE SHADOW reprints when I run across them. Love the covers!

Rick Robinson said...

Okay, so I get to the end of the review only to find it's not in print. Drat. Well, I do have a few reprints I have yet to read, so I'll make do with those (and the thousand other books sitting here...). Thanks for the illi scans!

Evan Lewis said...

Tsk, tsk, Mr. R. Didn't I warn you in the first paragraph? Besides, you are plenty welcome to borrow it. I'm sure Frank would approve.

Unknown said...

Wow! As I am "between books" and scrounging around for something old and different to spice up my reading, your posting about the intriguing story comes just in time -- but WAIT ... Damn!

Well, if the title you feature isn't available, at least I can dig through my Black Masks and my other old pulp collections for something similar. Perhaps another Walter Gibson tale lurks in the shadows of my bookshelves.

BTW -- I stumbled into your blog via Pattinase, and I will be back!

Anonymous said...

Re your query about how many of these have been reprinted:

My count says that Tony Tollin has reprinted 193 SHADOW novels so far in 90 issues (including one annual) of his Nostalgia Ventures/Sanctum editions (mostly two to a volume, but there were three triplet volumes), or 195 if his November offering is out yet (I've not seen it).

I count 36 novels previously reprinted by Bantam, Pyramid, Dover, or Doubleday Crime Club that Tony has not yet reprinted (he has doubled up on a few previously-reprint titles, but mostly has tried to stay away from duplication except for some of the most famous/best stories).

You can check my count against this list if you feel ambitious:

So, one way or another, some 231 of the original 325 have been reprinted.

I think there may have been a couple more in unauthorized Hanos reprints in Greece some years ago, but I'm not sure and in any case there wouldn't have been seen by many people. (Same in spades for the impossibly rare early pb SHADOW AND THE VOICE OF MURDER, which in any case was heavily abridged.) Girasol also did some full count reprints of early SHADOW magazines a decade or so ago, but those were removed from the market (and in any case I think all or almost all of them contained novels otherwise reprinted).

Most of the so-far-unreprinted SHADOW novels are from the latter part of the run. I count only ten of the first one hundred magazine novels never yet reprinted: #29, 40-41, 63, 66, 69, 85, 89, 93, 96

Might be more than you really wanted to know....

Denny Lien, collector and neurotic list-maker

Anonymous said...

I said "My count says that Tony Tollin has reprinted 193 SHADOW novels so far in 90 issues" but obviously "my count" can't count (or at least can't multiple by two). That should be 183 reprinted by Tony, and a total of c.226 of the 325 that have been legitimately reprinted by someone or other -- so just under one hundred to go.

Denny Lien, collector and neurotic list-maker and incompetent arithmetic maven

Anonymous said...

Er, not "a total of c.226 of the 325 that have been legitimately reprinted by someone or other -- so just under one hundred to go" but rather "a total of c.221 of the 325 that have been legitimately reprinted by someone or other -- so just over one hundred to go."

By the time I get this correct, Tony will probably have reprinted the other hundred-odd. Arrghh.

Denny Lien, now planning to go have a life

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks Denny! I had a hard enough time determining that this one probably had not been reprinted, and I still can't be sure.