Sunday, 16 June 2013

Shadow – Go Mad!

In the mid 1960s, Belmont books acquired the rights to The Shadow and launched a new series of paperbacks, attempting to update the pulp crime fighter for a new era. For the first book in the series, they hired the original Shadow writer, Walter Gibson, who penned The Return of The Shadow. Despite being set nearly fifteen years after the original run of the series, that book was nearly indistinguishable from the original pulps. After a bit of searching, I got my hands on one of the later books in the series: Shadow – Go Mad!

Written by Dennis Lynds, who wrote all 8 of the non-Gibson books in the series, this book is closer in feel to the old James Bond movies than it is to the original Shadow stories. Here The Shadow runs a world-wide organization of crime fighters, each of whom wears a radio-ring modelled after The Shadow’s famous girasol. The Shadow still looks basically the same, but he has acquired the power to ‘Cloud Men’s Minds’ that he had in the old radio show. This power can make him invisible, hypnotize his enemies, and also (somehow) allows him to effect electronic circuitry – a useful power in the 60s, a devastating power these days. In one of the book’s stupider twists, The Shadow only has these powers when he’s wearing his hat and cloak, not because either have any special properties, but just because...well, it never really explains why.

The book itself is underwhelming. It starts interestingly enough, with a series of seemingly unconnected, motiveless crimes. However, the mystery is solved in the first thirty pages and the rest of the book is basically a budget spy novel, with the Shadow taking on various disguises and battling the minions of the evil criminal corporation known as CYPHER.

In truth, there is very little to recommend this Shadow – God Mad! is probably one of the worst ever associated with the character, and it doesn’t even make particular sense in the context of the story. The cover is also rather poor. Although it gives us the classic Shadow profile, he is apparently firing some sort of laser gun (as opposed to the automatic pistol he uses in the book).
novel. Even the title

As a Shadow collector, I can take some small delight in having read this book and learning more about this short era of the character’s life. Unless you are the same, avoid.

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