The Spider battled many an over-the-top enemy in his ten-year career crushing super-criminals. None of them came near the insane spectacle of Aronk Dong, the Lion Man from Mars. A man-monster capable of hurling thunderbolts from his fingertips, he appeared on Earth in the March, 1935 issue of The Spider.
As this drama unfolds, tragedy has already struck the Spider. Ronald Jackson, who had served under Major Wentworth during World War I, had fallen in combat in the story called The Pain Master. Never before had death touched a member of the Richard Wentworth’s inner circle. Now they—and their readers—understood that all of them were living on borrowed time.
With their numbers diminished, the crime-busting band must soldier on as they face their most unbelievable foe. Writer Norvell W. Page must have dug deep into his fevered imagination to produce this nightmare foe. I can’t prove it, but I think he had a little help. Page was good friends with Doc Savage writer Lester Dent, and The Flame Master bears a strong resemblance to an earlier Lester Dent story called “The Flame Horror,” where the master villain turned out to be a—but I don’t want to give away the ending here. It is one of pulpdom’s wildest and most self-referential.
Around the time The Flame Master appeared in print, Doc Savage Magazine ran a novel called Death in Silver, which reads as if it was plotted by Norvell Page. My unsupported theory is that one day over drinks the author of Doc Savage helped Norvell Page plot a Spider novel, and vice versa. Dent handed Page an old plot device he had used early in his career. Page ran with it, producing this riveting Spider installment.
While we may never know the truth behind this thunderous tale of terror and torment, it stands as one of the most bizarre and memorable Spider novels ever committed to pulp paper. Fans of the Spider who never experienced it are destined to have their minds blown by its sheer, headlong drama.
The Flame Master is produced by with a full music score and sound effects. Nick Santa Maria voices the story, backed up by Robin Riker as the unforgettable Nita van Sloan.
#18 The Flame Master
by Norvell W. Page, writing as Grant Stockbridge
Read by Nick Santa Maria and Robin Riker. Liner Notes by Will Murray
Chapter 1: Man-Made Lightning
Chapter 2: The Lion Man
Chapter 3: The Lion Man's Plot
Chapter 4: The Fiend's Lightning
Chapter 5: Earl of the Electrons
Chapter 6: A Machine Gun Interrupts
Chapter 7: Victory ... and Defeat
Chapter 8: Madman's Conquest
Chapter 9: The Precious Pawn
Chapter 10: A Thin Trail
Chapter 11: Seal of the Spider
Chapter 12: A Lead At Last
Chapter 13: A Duel of the Mighty
Chapter 14: Battle On Steel
Chapter 15: Face to Face
Chapter 16: A Test for the Brave
Chapter 17: The Spider Is Brave
Chapter 18: Death's Auction
Chapter 19: Beneath the Lion's Mane
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