The Spider vs The Empire State Kindle ¾ The Spider

The Spider vs The Empire State THE CLASSIC PULP FICTION NAZI ALLEGORY FROM 1938Well that's what the cover blurb says but for inspiration Norvell Page did not have to look to Berlin or any of the other foreign lands where despots were on the rise He needed look only as far as the political machines of Chicago or Trenton to the State Houses at Albany or St Louisor for that matter to Washington DCThe Spider was one of many two gunned crime fighters during the Great Depression who appeared in a self titled monthly pulp magazine his lasting from 1933 to 1943 for 118 issues In 1938 the magazine featured three consecutive novels The City That Paid to Die Sept The Spider at Bay Oct and The Scourge of the Black Legions Nov comprising the so called Black Police Trilogy and are collected in this omnibus from Age of Aces Books The Spider vs The Empire StateNormally The Spider found himself pitted against either a crime lord on a rampage or a madman instituting a reign of terror In these three cautionary novels however he finds himself set against politics gone wild and cast in the role of revolutionary freedom fighter and military commander After a legal election it was rigged the Governor of New York and the State Legislature enact a series of laws that bring about ruthless taxation and confiscation of private property By Executive Order the Governor empties the prisons garbs the convicts in black the Black Police of the sub title and gives them absolute power to collect taxes seize property and summarily execute resistors Because it's all being done by the State's legal government The Spider and his allies are cast as outlaws and Federal intervention is all but impossibleAs with most of The Spider novels the true power behind the throne is hidden Striking against the Governor and other State officials is not only seen as treasonous but accomplishes little because they are but minions Normally the revelation of the true villain is the denouement of the novel but here Page had to keep The Master in the forefront of the action while at the same time keeping his identity hidden over the course of three books a clever trick of plotting and pacingThe America in which these three novels first appeared was very much different from our own time and yet there are eerie similarities Morale was low the economy was depressed lawlessness was rampant society was divided strange sects and cults were on the rise extremists were trying to transform America the country was beset by enemies foreign and domestic and a Democratic President was in power who not only wanted to make sweeping taxation changes by legislation and executive order but who was being advised on all sides to nationalize industry and assume dictatorial powers something portrayed in the FDR idolizing film Gabriel Over the White House 1933Looking back with the 2020 vision of hindsight it's a bit easier to see that Page even though he was taking cues from foreign events and symbolism he was probably writing about his own America that he was issuing a warning that it can't happen here really could At the time however many readers probably just saw it as another adventure of The Spider only this time the villains had been elected If the readers were at all confused by this new path for their hero they only had to wait for the end of the third novel when with the crooked politicians replaced by honest ones as if that would ever happen all the freedom fighting heroics of The Spider were forgotten and he was once a hunted vigilante the status uo restoredIn addition to being a paean against totalitarianism the Black Police Trilogy is an adventure story The action is non stop and the plot does not stand still for any length of time Action Action Action Even the writing is action oriented with adjectives few and verbs aplenty And don't forget the ubiuitous exclamation marks It's common now to look down on pulp writing just as it's common to dismiss current popular fiction if for no other reasons that it actually tells a story and is popular this is great storytelling The reader can't help but be pulled along Novell Page was one of perhaps a half dozen Depression Era writers who wrote very well even when writing very fast and at times transcended the medium in which they practiced their craft and the readers for whom they wrote The Spider Vs The Empire StateThe Spider Vs The Empire state is a true pulp novel set in 1938 in fact it was actually written then as part of ‘the Spider’ pulp series of books that appeared every month This is actually a compilation novella s it contains all three original monthly novels in one volume ‘The Spider That City That Paid to die’ ‘The Spider The Spider at Bay’ and ‘The Spider Scourge of the Black Legions’ All written by Norvell PageThis novel is an allegory concerning the Nazi movement of the 30’s that was sweeping Germany It also touches on socialism as well mentioning the horrors of Soviet Russia several times This is a hard core novel with the Spider going through hell and back to save New York State which had fallen under a puppet governor whose strings were being pulled from the shadows by a man only known as ‘The Master’ A new state wide police force was instituted called the ‘Black Police’ who collected tax upon tax and find upon fine on the backs of the citizenry There are hangings whippings bombings and various other methods of death being instituted upon the populace by the rogue government This is an exciting and thrilling novel written in a different era but in a writing style we should all be envious of Colorful and exciting the story keeps you mesmerized wanting not to put the four hundred eighteen page novel down for the most part The middle book at times became overly long it seemed and in spots the story dragged somewhat There was a portion of the book that became very repetitious with repeated captures and escapes as well as many flights in stolen planes between Albany and Manhattan That was the only portion of the book I can be critical of as I felt even if it did further the story it was too much of the same again and again All in all this was an excellent book which was like looking through a time machine at a simpler era though not so far removed that it was unidentifiable You could feel the fear of the populace as the Master forced his machinations upon the people through his stooges If I could rate a book 4 ½ stars I would for this one For fans of the pulp era this is a ‘Must Read’ with its grim and taught storytelling For most of the volume anyway While some of the evils done here would be considered exaggerated and done in the need of fantastic storytelling this piece can be considered a nervous warning for the times A little wordy in spots and perhaps a bit too long but a very good read that held my attention throughout It was like peering into a very frightening world which was just outside the window but slightly off kilter It helps to keep in mind when this was written and for whom The writing is lurid and overwrought the logic and characterizations not even up to comic book level But this was a Nazi allegory aimed at frightened Americans in the late 1930s putting forth the caped hero as the agent of death to a fascist police state not unlike Nazi Germany at the time It's pure pulp and clearly targeted toward an adolescent audience The conclusion is foregone even at the beginning of these three mini novels and the action staggers along in charge after predictable charge It's all very tiresome but fascinating when you allow yourself to detach yourself from the cliche action and ponder on the climate of the world at that time Clearly a product of it's times that is to say it's a juvenile adventure novel written in the first years of the second world war for all the good and the bad that comes with that The Spider vs The Empire State tells the story of a New York City beset by fascists run by criminals It tells the story of the resistance fighting back against terrible odds and worse conseuences It tells a story of Sacrifice in the name of Justice And it's a fun little adventure story to boot THEY SAID IT COULDN'T HAPPEN HERE THEN THEY SAID ONE MAN COULDN'T STOP IT Richard Wentworth spent his vigilante career as The Spider always in the shadows Now evil acted in broad daylight The Party of Justice swept into office rewriting the laws of New York state overnight to benefit their criminal backers and make slaves of its people This American Reichstag gave itself sweeping powers and raised a private army to exert its malevolent will How could The Spider hope to stop a criminal conspiracy as big as the state itself This time The Master of Men would go beyond taking the lives of evildoers by bringing Hope to the tyrannized citizens of the Empire State The Black Police Trilogy is author Norvell Page's classic pulp fiction Nazi allegory from 1938 Originally published in three consecutive months of The Spider Magazine the novels The City That Paid To Die The Spider at Bay and Scourge of the Black Legions are collected in book form for the first time If you are interested in finding out about this book and seeing lots of extras check out the Age of Aces web site at The following was the intro to my old Spider web page it isn't story specific but it still covers just about any Spider story ever written just add or minus various degrees of paranoia Mayhem in the streetsThe Death of thousandsRampant Violence Strikes at the Heart of the CountryA maniacal laugh from out of the blackness of the darkest night A furtive shadow briefly seenbut of WHAT?? A momentary glimpse of a bizarre terrorizing figure man or beast? Only this is knownDeath walks the streets tonight and it's harbinger is a strange caped hunchback with wild eyes and fanged teethBEWARE the Spider's terrible swift justiceJust Another Day at the OfficeThese then are the epic exploits of Richard Wentworth and his cadreof faithful cohorts who fight the scourges of humanity in the only way thesemenaces can be fought outside the law Wentworth foreverbuffeted by the forces of fate and society that have cast him into this fearfulmode fights on in the persona of The Spider killer of killers Deniedthe joys of hearth and family he strides across the ashes of the underworldwith only the support of his few friends and with the hostility of the verypeople he serves A Paladin of his age bloodied but undefeated until thatinevitable day when his skill and his luck will fail him THE SPIDER's fearful fate Three novels about a criminal named the Master backing a complete win in state elections and forcing through laws that pardoned prison residents to form a new state police to enforce heavy new taxes and set up concentration camps for these scofflaws that couldn't payRichard Wentworth and his friend Commissioner Stanley Kirkpatrick become leaders of the resistance and get 10000 bounties on their heads dead or alive preferably deadOriginally published in three issues of the Spider magazine in the latter part of 1938 it was an obvious metaphor for Nazism This one was a bit different for a Spider story Don't get me wrong the over the top situations and dialog are present but the Spider isn't his usual homicidal lunatic self Not that you see much action from the Spider It's mostly Richard Wentworth out in the field The introduction was uite interesting as it puts the story in historical context The other interesting thing is how a lot of what is brought up in the novel is still relevant today regardless of which side of the political divide you happen to fall on Gotta love The Spider I've always considered him the link in the evolution between pulp hero and superheroThe Black Police Trilogy is as good a Spider novel as you're gonna get Filled with pulsing dread it once again features Richard Wentworth aka The Spider beset on all sides by his enemies barely escaping with his life and saving those who can't save themselvesIf you're into pulp novels this is a good one to add to your collection The I read the less I liked it The casual racism and all got to me I'm not going to fault the book because it's clearly a product of its time but I can't recommend it to a modern reader

About the Author: Norvell W. Page

Norvell Wordsworth Page 1904–1961 was an American pulp fiction writer journalist and editor who later became a government intelligence workerHe was born in Virginia the son of Charles Wordsworth Page 1880 – 1947 and Estlie Isabelle Bethel Page 1880 – 1946 The name Norvell came from his maternal grandmother Elvira Russell Norvell Page He is best known as the author of the majority of the

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