by Vic Sage from the Retroist
As always I would like to thank our friends over at Radio Archives for giving me the opportunity to review another of Will Murray’s Pulp Classic audiobooks. This time around it’s for what might possibly be the pulpiest sounding character I’ve ever had the privilege to learn about, Captain Satan: King of Adventure!
To be fair I always take my time looking over the newsletters that Radio Archives send me, just checking out the new Old Time Radio programs or Audiobooks that might catch my eye and that are worthy of your attention. Just a few weeks ago an item in the latest newsletter made me sit up straight and immediately send in a request to review Captain Satan, you see for many years now I’ve had a Captain Satan print hanging on the wall next to my Universal Monsters posters…the same image of Captain Satan above…I’ve always been so curious as to what this character was all about. Thankfully I got my chance and I’ve added this fantastic character to my top five favorite pulp characters of all time!
Why? Well, when author William O’Sullivan crafted Captain Satan and his wealthy alter-ego Cary Adair he took the best elements of the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (Reverend Syn/Doctor Syn), the Shadow, Doc Savage and even some of Robin Hood and crafted a dark pulp avenger for the ages.
How can you not love Pulp prose like this: “He held in his hands the burning brand of Hell and in his heart was locked the courage of the Gods. Wise Guys and Tough Mugs, Crooks and their thieving Mobs knew the mark of Satan.”
Now that Pulp writing is just from the intro and for Pulp Fiction fanatics you can spread it on some toast and eat it up! Don’t take my word for it though, listen to the Opening Credits that Radio Archives has so kindly provided.
Sadly one of the reasons I couldn’t find out much about the character was that O’Sullivan wrote only five Captain Satan novels in his day though he penned many Sports, Crime, and Aviation Pulp tales in his time. After listening to this first Audiobook for Captain Satan, the story which was originally published by Popular Publications in March 1938, I can only hope that Will Murray and the talented narrator/actor Michael C. Gwynne will team up to bring us the other four adventures in the series!
I cannot praise Michael C. Gwynne enough for his performance on this audiobook and I swear he is channeling James Coburn when he is playing the part of Cary Adair/Captain Satan…maybe with a bit of Patrick McGoohan thrown in as well? Michael is no stranger to retro TV and movies by the way, he landed roles on Dallas, Kojak, and Falcon Crest, Hill Street Blues, Cagney and Lacey, CHiPS, and an episode of Amazing Stories that just happened to be directed by Martin Scorsese before teaming up with the talented Will Murray.
So what does the story The Masked of the Damned entail? I’ll avoid big spoilers of course but we learn early on from the character Jo Desher, who just happens to be the Head of the F.B.I. that things in Washington are going off the rails. Military officials are acting odd, crying for changes that will drastically lower the effectiveness of the armed forces. The Treasury Department is concocting a scheme that rational voices point out will shatter the economy as well as the Labor Department asking for permission to unionize all Government Employees including all branches of the Military.
Luckily for the Head of the F.B.I. though unbeknownst to him…at least for the time being…his well-to-do layabout friend Adair is none other than the legendary Captain Satan. After the two men survive no less than two assassination attempts it’s time for Jo to leave for Washington D.C. and for the “good” Captain to assemble the Satan’s Crew. Which is like a dark version of Doc Savage’s The Fabulous Five, a collection of scoundrels with code names like Slim, Frenchie, Big Bill, Soapy, Kayo, Happy, Doc, Mike and Gentleman Dan who answer the summons of Captain Satan and you certainly are made aware with their introductions that it’s not prudent or healthy to cross Captain Satan. Of course to be honest it’s not necessarily healthy to team up with Captain Satan either…unlike Doc Savage’s aides against crime and tyranny, the Captain’s allies don’t all get to come home and fight the good fight another day. Though with the Robin Hood aspect, the reason the Satan’s Crew are convened is not 100% for noble reasons:
“You know my principles: To smash every crook I can lay my hands on—and what he has is mine. I’ll break every petty or large crook, every swindling racketeer or grafting politician or gyp banker I can lay my hands on. The terms you already know. What they have is ours. I pay the expenses and take a one third cut. You boys split the remainder on equal shares.”
So will Captain Satan and his Crew be able to take on this shadowy organization that seems to have infiltrated the United States Government? Will our soiled do-gooders be able to outsmart both the combined forces of G-Men headed by Jo Dershel and the evil ‘Gang’ that seems intent on wrecking the United States itself? What of the Mask of the Damned?
Well, you’ll just have to pick up the first Captain Satan audiobook to find out won’t you? It’s available right this very minute from Radio Archives for a mere $11.99 as a digital download, which includes the bonus short story Mr. Detective Is Annoyed, read by Roger Price, you get 6 hours of Pulp entertainment that low price! If your prefer the physical discs you can pick it up on the site for $23.99 and if you would rather enjoy the prose version of the first appearance of Captain Satan you may download it on the site as an eBook for only $2.99!