I’m continuing my look at Frederick C Davis’ pulp hero the Moon Man. In reality police detective Stephen Thatcher, the Moon Man stalked the night-darkened streets of fictional Great City (“Great City ya got here … it’d be a shame if something happened to it …”) clad in his black costume and his helmet made of one-way Argus glass. Armed with a revolver plus limitless courage and ingenuity the Moon Man captured or killed Great City’s most dangerous criminals (white collar and blue collar) and robbed them of their ill-gotten booty. He would then distribute that money to the city’s Great Depression-ravaged poor. ( “Great Depression ya got here … it’d be a shame if – ” oh, forget it!) All this made him hunted by both the crooks AND the cops. For more on the Moon Man and other neglected pulp heroes click here: https://glitternight.com/pulp-heroes/
1. THE SINISTER SPHERE – This initial story of our urban Robin Hood nicely establishes all the whys and wherefores of the Moon Man universe. In the opening, set in June of 1933, our hero robs the mansion of white-collar criminal Martin Richmond. The press and politicians of Great City are pressuring the police force to end the Moon Man’s months-long “crime spree”. MM’s alter ego, Detective Stephen Thatcher pretends he’s just as eager to catch that darned Moon Man as his father, Police Chief Peter Thatcher and the Chief’s capable subordinate Lieutenant Gil McEwen. Gil’s daughter Sue is Stephen’s girlfriend, who finds the Moon Man a romantic figure, even though in these early stories she doesn’t yet know her beau is the man in question.
Ned “Angel” Dargan, a reformed thug and former boxer, distributes the money stolen by his boss, the Moon Man, little dreaming he’s really one of those cops Dargan regards with such suspicion. We get brief character sketches of the poverty-stricken figures that MM has designated as the beneficiaries of his plundered loot this time around as Angel makes his rounds. The remainder of this intro story features the Moon Man bringing down Kent Atwell, who has stolen five thousand dollars from a charity. In the exciting climax MM escapes Atwell’s police-guarded mansion following a shootout and fist fight, and also foils Sue McEwen’s attempt to trap MM for her father.
2. BLOOD ON THE MOON – In this story the Moon Man must clear himself of a frame when he’s accused of murdering revered citizen Dr Gilbert Kimbley. After the expected fights and chase scenes MM proves that neither he nor the good doctor’s buxom trophy wife did the deed – the real killer was Ben Silvio, murderer and drug addict, who figured he could rob and kill the Doc while dressed as the Moon Man so that our hero would get the blame.
3. MOON WIZARD – In this tale, two scruffy recipients of some of the Moon Man’s largesse decide to bite the hand that literally fed them by following Angel in an attempt to trace him to our hero and turn MM in to the police for the reward money. This treacherous activity complicates MM’s latest endeavor – to prevent white collar criminal Sheridan Roycroft from ripping off money from a charity benefit and to lighten Roycroft’s personal safe of enough money to help out yet another needy, deserving citizen.
The Moon Man comes out on top of course, and when Panella and Lieff (MM’s would-be betrayers) try stealing the benefit funds for themselves our hero nabs them for the cops and exposes Roycroft. Unfortunately the betrayers have exposed MM and Angel’s hideout, nearly causing their capture and necessitating a search for a new HQ for the Moon Man’s activities.