By what strange twist of Fate did the fearful menace, which was to shadow every man and woman in New York City, first rear its venomous head in the distant Caribbean? When terror suddenly boarded a little tramp steamer and left crimson havoc littering its narrow decks, a spluttering wireless flashed the doom of every living thing aboard. Within a week, the same ghastly fate struck a gigantic new ocean liner, its luxurious cabins occupied by the elite and powerful of a dozen different nations! Death - swift and terrible - rode the ocean lanes. And the Spider - taken for once off guard - was supposedly dying in a hospital room on the very day when that terror from the seas first showed itself above the city skyline. How can the Spider, fighting death himself, help the nation he loves in her hour of greatest need?
The great pulp magazines of the 1930s and '40s produced a number of heroes, but none as action oriented as the Spider. From October 1933 to December 1943, the Spider was the scourge of the underworld, doling out his own particular brand of justice and imprinting his dreaded red Spider seal on the foreheads of those he killed for the good of mankind.
The Spider followed the established pulp pattern of a wealthy man-about-town, Richard Wentworth III, master of disguise, dilettante of the arts, in perfect physical condition, and completely devoted to the pursuit of justice for the downtrodden, no matter what the cost to himself or loved ones. Secretly donning a decrepit black hat, a tattered black cape, a false hunch to his shoulders, a lank wig of stringy hair, an application of sinister face makeup, and a pair of .45 automatics, Wentworth prowls the streets of New York as his Spider alter ego, chasing down criminal masterminds bent on enslaving or destroying humanity.
Nick Santa Maria reads "Builders of the Black Empire" with all the intensity of his superb talent. Originally published in The Spider magazine, October 1934.
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