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  • By Michael Brown
    Jan 5, 2011
    Altus Press' latest reprint volume collects all the stories about "Mr. Death", an early, but lesser known pulp hero. This collection actually has 3 sets of stories. The first the serialized novel "Alias Mr. Death", written by DL Champion and published under the house pseudonym of G. Wayman Jones in "Thrilling Detective" Feb 1932 thru Oct 1932. This was published when the only pulp hero at the time was The Shadow. In some ways, it set down some of the tone of Thrilling's Phantom Detective, which would come out in 1933, and first written by DL Champion under the G. Wayman Jones byline. In this 9-part novel, we met young man about town James Quincy Gilmore. His father is murdered by the vicious "Murder Club", led by 9 unknown individuals. Gilmore sweares vengence on them as "Mr. Death", and in the 9 parts, goes after and kills each of the 9 leaders, leaving a calling card saying "Alias Mr. Death". In the last story, after... More > eliminating Number One, he kills himself in a plane crash. Reading this story today, one would assume it to be highly derivative, as we see many things that is common place today. But we need to keep in mind that this was written BEFORE these things became common place. Gilmore sweares vengence. He pretends to be a petty playboy to throw off suspension, he goes about with a hood and cloak, and the like. Each chapter is about 20 pages and are a fast read. While you can assume how some things will play out (I figured out who Number One of the Murder Club was in the first chapter), some things turn out a little different from how you expect. There are a few problems with the story. At first he is sloppy about hiding his face, then he adopts a hood & cloak like the members of the Murder Club. Then, later on its said out of the blue that his cloak is different from the Murder Clubs' by having a white outline around the eyeholes. Then, in the last story his hood has a small white skull above the right temple!!! Also, strangely enough, he gives away his identity in the last story to the police, making him a marked man. The book contains 3 further stories. First off are 2 additional "Alias Mr. Death" stories, written 1939 in "Thrilling Detective" by George Fielding Eliot. Clearly they were part of a revival attempt of the character. Some changes were made. Obviously, Mr. Death had survived the plane crash. They gave him a scar that goes up from his left eyebrow, and throbs in the presence of evil (shades of Harry Potter!). And he now wears a domino mask instead of a hood. He has apparently decided to come out of retirement, as Mr. Death is needed. But there are other changes. Forgotten is the fact that Mr. Death had revealed his identity to police in the last story. He is now a master of disguise, and apparently had setup other hideouts and drives a special car, which he didn't have before. So they have made an attempt to turn him into a more standard pulp hero like the Phantom Detective or the like. The final story is "Alias Mr. Death" by Harold Ward. Ward, another pulp writter, is probaby best know as the author of Doctor Death in 1935. This story was one the Ward tried to sell in 1933, and was returned unsold in 1937. It was found amoung his papers. While it appears to be written about a possible Mr. Death revival, the character is much different from the James Gilmore Mr. Death. As noted in the forward to this story, its more alike Ward's Doctor Death, where he took a previous villian character from Dell and revamped to a new Doctor Death. A final note. Some have commented about the cover, saying its kind of plan and boring. Actually, its the cover of the original hardcover reprint of the original "Alias Mr. Death" novel, done in 1932 by Fiction Legion. I really wish this had been pointed out, because its not noted in the book itself.< Less
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Product Details

Edition
First Edition
Publisher
Altus Press
Published
August 1, 2011
Language
English
Pages
277
Binding
Hardcover (dust-jacket)
Interior Ink
Black & white
Weight
0.99 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6 wide x 9 tall
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