Sunday, July 21, 2013

Scourge Of The Black Legions!

The Scourge of the Black Legions from the November 1938 issue of The Spider is the third and final chapter in what is called "The Black Police Trilogy". In the previous two novels we were introduced to the evil "Master" who uses corrupt politicians to seize power in the state of New York and bring about a tyrannical rule which uses extortion, biological warfare, and blatant murder to terrorize the populace and under the disguise of constitutional authority hides these crimes from the federal government. In those two novels Richard Wentworth pretending to be The Spider leads a rebel force against the Black Police forces, trying time and again to discover the identity of "The Master" and dispose of him.

In this final installment the pacing is very much like an old-fashioned movie serial, with an episodic plot that takes the Spider from danger to danger with not much aside from the rigors of plotting to connect them. He's confronts poison gas in a dungeon, then runs from a cascading deluge, and such as that. The overall impression is one of  ever increasing momentum leading the finale which does reveal the secret of "The Master" and  does resolve to some extent the wild and ferocious events.

The story does reach a satisfying resolution, though as is often the case with these romps, the chase is superior to the payoff. The picture of society painted by Page's trilogy is a grim one indeed. Clearly there was a nervousness in the country about the future fabric of society if the wrong people came to power. The creators saw what was happening in Europe and they certainly felt that it could indeed happen in America.

While it likely will not happen in the uproarious fashion detailed in his unruly trilogy, we should all realize that the comity and good order we take for granted is far more fragile than we imagine.

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