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 an automatic 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/
7. MURDER MOON – A pack of crooks pulls off a daring robbery, stealing twelve thousand dollars (in 1930’s money) from Great City’s ritzy Continental Theater, only to have the loot stolen in turn from them by the Moon Man. Our hero wants his assistant Angel to relay the money to a ghetto clinic in order to keep it from folding. Rav Corsi, the boss of the gangsters who had their booty stolen by the Moon Man, feels the law closing in on him for related crimes and hatches a bold scheme to get the cops off his back. He and his henchmen plan to capture the Moon Man and turn him over to the police in exchange for immunity. To that end they stalk and capture Angel, torture him with a soldering iron and also wind up with our hero’s lady love Sue McEwen in their clutches.
Against the backdrop of a heavy snow storm blanketing Great City this thrilling story plays out, with car chases, gun-fights, fist-fights and a dramatic finale at a wharfside hideout on “Murder River”, so-called because of all the mob victims fished up from its murky waters. Thanks to some Scarlet Pimpernel- level trickery MM manages to free the hostages and corral the bad guys, but as the arriving cops surround the wharfside building our hero is forced to dump his Moon Man costume and Argus-glass helmet into the depths of Murder River in order to preserve his secret identity. This landmark tale concludes with Angel at last learning that his beloved boss is really Stephen Thatcher. With their new hideout discovered earlier in the story MM and Angel need to find a new lair once again.
8. SILVER DEATH – This story picks up a few weeks later, as Stephen Thatcher executes a dangerous maneuver on Murder River’s ice floes in order to retrieve his Moon Man paraphernalia from the river- bottom. He succeeds just in time to get caught up in the murder of a low-life crook and gambler who was killed for the eight thousand dollars he won at one of Great City’s illegal underground casinos. MM wants the eight grand for the deserving poor of the metropolis and competes with the gambler’s murderer as well as the late victim’s girlfriend to secure the money.
This venture is complicated by the fact that the big-wigs of Great City’s three-man Police Commission have decreed that if Chief of Police Peter Thatcher (our hero’s father) and Lieutenant Gil McEwen don’t catch the Moon Man within twenty- four hours they’ll be dismissed from the force and replaced. Naturally Stephen winds up with the eight grand, brings the murderer to justice and also contrives to save the careers of his father and future father-in- law by spectacularly faking the Moon Man’s death at a spot ominously called Suicide Point.
9. MARK OF THE MOON MAN – After a hiatus from his double-life, Stephen Thatcher is literally forced to resume his nocturnal activities as the Moon Man. He is being blackmailed into once again donning his MM costume and Argus-glass helmet by a sinister crimson- masked figure called Primus who has evidence that Stephen was the presumably dead Moon Man. Primus is the leader of a criminal organization consisting of a half-dozen similarly- masked figures known as the Red Six. ( Y’know, even for the Pulps, the citizen-to- gangster ratio in Great City is pretty astounding)
This villainous outfit has plenty of other operatives all over town and enforces loyalty via a deadly poison with no cure. That poison causes a slow agonizing death and contorts the facial muscles into an obscene smile on the corpse, a smile matching the small bronze skulls the Red Six use as calling cards. Primus and company force the Moon Man back into action to spearhead their hit-and- run robbery of Great City’s wealthiest citizens at a grand Costume Ball. With the help of Angel, whom MM has set up with a new identity and dyed hair, our hero engineers the foiling of the robbery (in mid-heist)and the recovery of the loot, but five of the Red Six escape. Luckily, however, Primus, the only Red Six member who knew about Stephen’s secret identity, winds up dead from the Six’s deadly poison during his battle with the Moon Man in the action- packed finale.
I’LL BE SYNOPSIZING MORE MOON MAN STORIES SOON
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