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Master of Night-Demons by R. T. M. Scott
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Two novel-length pulp magazine stories featuring the crimefighter, The Spider, who inspired the Batman and Spiderman. Wanted for multiple murders over his execution of untouchable, genocidal villains, he relies on his girlfriend and his two sidekicks, Ram Singh and Jackson for help. Primarily, though, it is The Spider. In Death Ring of the Vampire King, The Spider finds himself fighting millions of small, lethal vampire bats as they kill 100s, guided by a strange bat-like flying figure. In The Pain Emperor, 100s of women are disfigured by cosmetics and men poisoned by food, both tampered with by a mysterious criminal, even as pressure is brought directly on The Spider by a masked Russian-accented crimefighter named the Avenger. I don't exactly have vast experience in reading old pulp adventures, but I have found The Spider very entertaining.. ( )
  NickHowes | Apr 15, 2015 |
This is an omnibus edition -- the fourth of Carroll & Graf's eight reprint editions from 1992 -- collecting two unconnected Spider novels: "Death Reign of the Vampire King" (originally published in November 1934) and "The Pain Emperor" (originally published in December 1934). Oddly, the cover art is from a third Spider novel ("Master of the Night-Demons").

"Death Reign of the Vampire King" concerns a series of deaths of horse-racing-related individuals caused by vampire bats. As it turns out, someone is dressing up like a bat man -- complete with glider wings -- and has a flock of vampire bats with poisoned fangs and a whole tribe of South American Indians armed with blowguns working for him. There are some good bat man/aircraft duels and lots of blowgun action. I had really been hoping for a plot by evil jockeys with a flair for the dramatic, but it didn't quite turn out that way. The criminal scheme falls apart a bit in the end; ultimately, it doesn't really seem to matter much *why* these murders have been committed. That's a mild-to-serious flaw, depending on how much you require your pulp fiction to have coherent plots. This is one of the three Spider novels collected in Baen's 2007 Spider omnibus ("Robot Titans of Gotham"); I wish they had chosen one of the harder-to-find Spider novels than this one, but that's an issue I have with Baen, not with this omnibus.

"The Pain Emperor" is the second novel in this collection and it has a staggering death toll of about 25,000 or so! The plot involves a fake vigilante called The Avenger who solves crimes like the Spider, but yet he always seems to come out ahead, both financially and in the press. The crimes involve mass killings and maimings of civilians, including food and drug tampering as well as make-up that permanently disfigures women. Nasty stuff, and it's all just a side-show for what's really going on. The Spider comes very close to hanging up his hat (or cowl) since his every step is dogged by police, newspapermen, and private citizens and he is unable to operate freely. This is probably the Spider lowest point I've seen yet. The death toll of the villain's various schemes is outrageous and there is a *major* development for one of the Spider's sidekicks which I won't spoiler here.

I recommend this one, as both stories are good, though the second is a little on the depressing side, since right up to the very end, the Spider seems to have more than met his match.

Review copyright 2008 J. Andrew Byers ( )
1 vote bibliorex | Feb 3, 2009 |
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Dedication
This volume is dedicated to Batman and Spiderman
and all other superheros who were inspired by Harry Steeger's action-hero creation - 
The Spider.
First words
Twenty men with shotguns patrolled the wide lawns of Robert Latham's mansion, crouching in the black shadows of night.
Quotations
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Disambiguation notice
Death Reign of a Vampire King The Spider Magazine (c)1935 - 11
(c) 1935 - Popular Publications, (c)1963 Argosy Communications

The Pain Emperor The Spider Magazine (c)1935 - 11 - Popular Publications (c)1965 Argosy Communications

(c)1992 (both) Argosy Communication Inc
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Death Reign of the Vampire King
Never before had greedy criminal genius loosed so loathsome and deadly a weapon!
The Bat Man - leading a band of savages, releasing clouds of bloodthirsty vampire bats - planned to make himself a greater conqueror than Napoleon or Jenghiz Khan!

One man stood in his way - Richard Wentworth, who when the law fails, sallies froth as the dread SPIDER to spread red death in the Underworld. And the SPIDER  - his beloved Nita forfeited, his loyal servants captive, his own life ever in horrible danger - must battle both the Bat Man and a broken heart!

The Pain Emperor.
In a hundred thousand homes, families sat down together at the supper table. A few hours later, those persons were dead - killed by poison in canned foods! Thousands of women used cosmetics, and acid made their faces hideously scarred. A master criminal, daring and clever, was ruthlessly slaughtering Americans to  win immense illicit profits for himself. for himself. 
Only one man was powerful enough and wise enough to stop this wholesale murder - Richard Wentworth, champion of oppressed humanity, better known as the Spider 
And the Spider was engaged in the bitterest battle of his career, fighting The Avenger, a false, wily crusader who was determined to destroy him!
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0881848980, Paperback)

A pulp favorite for 60 years--and clearly the inspiration for many superheroes, including Spiderman and Batman--The Spider continues in high style with two blazing crimefighting action novels: The Pain Emperor and Death Reign of the Vampire King.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:17 -0400)

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