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/
10. CRIMSON SHACKLES – With the death of their leader Primus in the previous Moon Man story, the Red Six is now the Red Five, with their second in command, Secundus, the criminal organization’s new leader. The red-masked gang and their black-masked and blackmailed underlings, most of them pillars of the community with something to hide, pull off a daring robbery of Great City’s Van Ormond Museum.
In addition to looting the museum of all the valuable art and relics they could carry in this commando- style raid, the Red Five capture Stephen Thatcher when he and the rest of Great City’s police force give chase. Secundus reveals to Stephen that before Primus’ death he had stolen the evidence proving that Thatcher is really the Moon Man. Once again Stephen is forced to don his Moon Man costume and Argus glass helmet and pose as the field commander of the Red Five.
As the Moon Man and his assistant Angel conspire to once again foil the gang’s next caper from behind the scenes Secundus shows our hero he means business by exposing Stephen Thatcher’s dual identity to Steve’s lady love, Sue McEwen. While the stunned Sue contemplates turning her love in to her father, Lieutenant Gil McEwen, another prominent citizen falls victim to the Red Five’s deadly poison which distorts the victim’s face into a macabre smile to match the bronze skulls the Red Five use as calling cards.
In the end MM foils the gang’s attempt to rob the Municipal National Bank, during which Quintus, another gang member, is shot to death. Sue McEwen shows up at the scene of the robbery as the cops arrive and, following her heart, helps Stephen Thatcher escape the bank with his secret identitiy intact. The rest of the gang, now the Red Four, escape.
11. BLOOD BARGAIN – In the action-packed opening of this story, the Moon Man, now toting two automatics instead of one, is leading (because he’s still being blackmailed like the Red Four’s other criminal lackeys) a daring robbery of Staten and Company, Great City’s largest department store. Adding to the tension of the situation is the fact that Sue, black-masked like the other lackeys of the Red Four, is being forced to participate in the caper, too.
When the Moon Man turns the loot over to Secundus at the gang’s secret headquarters on the top floor of the Royale Apartments, the red-masked leader of the criminal organization shows Thatcher they now have an even tighter grip on Sue. Their agents took photos of her in her gang outfit participating in the robbery. There’s dissent in the ranks, however, as Quartus, one of the Red Four’s leaders, is planning to overthrow Secundus and become the new crime boss of Great City.
The mental chess match of this internal conflict creates an opportunity for the Moon Man to pull off a daring raid of Secundus’ private vault, securing all the evidence incriminating both him and Sue, all unknown to the Red Four, who become the Red Three by story’s end, as Quartus is slain by his colleagues for his treachery.
12. THE BLACK LASH – In this fourth and final tale about the Moon Man’s war with the Red Three the cops, Stephen Thatcher included, get a shocking revelation about the gang’s next evil scheme. The Secretary of Great City’s Chamber of Commerce displeased the Red-masked gang ruling Great City with an iron glove and, naturally, was exposed to their deadly poison with no cure.
His attempt at an explosive suicide (to avoid the pain and the posthumous disgrace of being exposed as one of the Red Three’s blackmailed lackeys) is foiled, so as he dies he reveals the gang’s upcoming plans to kidnap the governor for a million-dollar (in 1930’s money) ransom. (?) As Zero Hour for the Red Three’s planned kidnapping approaches, the Moon Man and Angel endeavor to thwart the gang. The Red Three decide to simply get rid of MM once and for all by exposing him to their deadly poison when they next meet.
Meanwhile, Sue takes it upon herself (and remember, these stories were actually written in the 1930’s, so this is pretty forward- thinking) to infiltrate the Red Three’s lair in the Royale Apartments, where she succeeds in sabotaging the gang’s elaborate plan to snatch Governor Walsh. As the plan falls apart, the Moon Man engages in final battle with the Red Three in their own headquarters.
He takes out Tertius and Sextus in a running gunfight, then, amid the raging inferno unleashed by Secundus during the battle, our hero and the gang leader have their final confrontation. MM eventually knocks Secundus to his death on the streets below, and with the burning of the Red Three’s lair all their blackmail evidence against the honest citizens they were forcing into being their accomplices goes up in smoke.
I’LL BE SYNOPSIZING MORE MOON MAN STORIES SOON!
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