Friday, February 19, 2021

THE SPIDER Returns in "Fury in Steel" by Will Murray!


Will Murray’s done it again.

Fresh on the heels of his triumphs with Tarzan: Conqueror of Mars and The Wild Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, comes Fury in Steel, the second entry in his series featuring the Spider.

And like all Will’s books, including the many Wild Adventures of Doc Savage (two of which also feature The Shadow), it’s a damn good read.

His first Spider book, The Doom Legion, guest-starred pulp legends Operator #5 and G-8. Fury in Steel continues that tradition, with an appearance by Emile C. Tepperman’s Suicide Squad. The Squad (not to be confused with the current film series that borrowed its name) is a trio of hard-charging, tommy-gun wielding FBI agents who appeared in a long series of novelettes in the pages of Ace G-Man Stories.

This is especially appropriate, because Tepperman was the number 2 author of the Spider pulps, excelled only by Novell W. Page. Fury in Steel is dedicated to Page, and it’s the spirit of Page that Will Murray is channeling in writing his Spider books. There was always a hint of madness peeping from behind the mask (or makeup) of Page’s Spider, and Will has captured that same brand of crazy.

How he manages this is a wonder. Lester Dent, Walter Gibson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Arthur Conan Doyle and Novell Page all had distinctive styles, but Will is somehow able to shift gears between books and deliver convincing performances with each man’s characters.

Fury in Steel, set during WWII years of the Spider’s career, is firmly planted the Spider canon, with connections to adventures in the pulp series, and also to Will’s previous Spider book, The Doom Legion.

The standard Spider formula is dutifully followed. 1) Present a horde of weird and deadly minions to terrorize the New York City. 2) Introduce our hero, in real life wealthy criminologist Richard Wentworth, to battle the minions. 3) Meet the weird and deadly mastermind who controls the minions. 4) Up the ante, the violence, and the death toll as the baddies run wild, defying all attempts to stem the tide. And 5) See the Spider and his aides strive and fail several times to defeat them, but ultimately succeed, earning a short respite before the next menace comes along.

In Fury in Steel, the minions are steel robots with steam-shovel jaws, so powerful they can take bites out of locomotives, skyscrapers, and even The Statue of Liberty. They are also particularly fond of biting off people’s heads. The mastermind is a fellow the Spider has met before, providing a little extra animosity. And our hero’s efforts to stop the carnage are complicated by the Suicide Squad, who suspect him of being in league with the mastermind, and are more interested in catching him than in going after the real villain.

One of the highlights in this one is the bloodthirsty performance of the Spider’s loyal friend and servant Ram Singh. The Sikh warrior is at his savage best, burning to slit the robots’ throats with his knife or sword.

Just like it sounds, it’s hair-raising action from start to the finish, just the way you like it. And best of all, it’s almost assuredly not the end of the Wild Adventures of the Spider.

It's from Altus Press, of course. Get yours now!  


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