“It is in my power to bring a dead man back to life,” Doc Savage informs America in RESURRECTION DAY.
It’s a one-time only deal so the normally publicity-shy Man of Bronze takes to the airwaves to solicit Americans’ views on who should be brought back. Kids ask for parents. Parents ask for kids. Napoleon and Edison are both nominated. But the winner? Doc and his advisors figure the world needs wisdom most of all, so it’s going to be Solomon (Doc’s aide Johnny recently found his mummified body).
This touches off a sensation, which Dent captures well: Solomon hot dogs, Solomon cigars, Solomon balloons, he’s a big name and out-of-copyright so the sky’s the limit. A burlesque manager offers to marry his entire lineup to Solomon, claiming the women are so hot, it’s as good as having a thousand wives!
Unfortunately the hoopla draws the attention of General Ino, a ruthless international criminal (with a quirk of faking accents) who decides to exploit it. With the help of his crooked lawyer, Shaster (with a quirk of cutting off heads) he switches Solomon’s corpse for Pey-dey-a-gen (or as Monk puts it Payday Again), a pharaoh whose buried wealth has never been uncovered, hoping to use the resurrectee to find the hoard.
Which is where the book lost a lot of its steam for me. Doc just brought an Egyptian pharaoh back from the dead; it seems a shame the rest of the book concerns something as mundane as buried treasure rather than, say, lost Egyptian super-science or something of the like. It’s still a fun adventure—Ino is a formidable adversary—but not completely satisfying. Dent does have fun, though, comparing Doc to movie resurrections of the dead (“There was always enough electricity in attendance to execute a penitentiary full of convicts.”).
Trivia points include that Doc has a way of giving instructions that makes them impossible to forget; the use of a drug that lets you stay underwater without breathing (presumably the same one used in Mystery Under the Sea); and the complete lack of any female characters, very unusual for a Lester Dent story.
THE VANISHER is one of Dent’s most comic-book villains as the hunchback disguise shown on the cover (the villain is never referred to as the Vanisher, just “the hunchback”) makes him a costumed criminal with a super-scientific gimmick—teleportation. In the opening scene, the hunchback gases a guard at the state pen, then uses his tech to transport twenty prisoners out for revenge on the organization that framed them. A score of businessmen take the prisoners’ places—why yes, they do tie to the organization, how did you guess?
Dent does a good job keeping what’s really going on murky: the escapees vanish into a truck, weird music comes from inside and when the cops break in they regret it—there’s nothing but a pool of acid on a glass floor (the acid, as we learn later, has wiped out the teleporting tech). More impossible crimes follow, including the shooting of a prominent FBI agent who sounds suspiciously like J. Edgar Hoover. And once again, Doc is framed for the killings.
Ultimately it turns out the hunchback isn’t out for revenge. The organization is running a big stock swindle and rather than use his teleporter to rob banks or the like, the Vanisher is terrorizing the businessmen into cutting him on their scam (as Dent specifically identifies them as insurance executives, I wonder if this refers to some scandal of the day?).
It’s a good yarn, though as with Mystery Under the Sea, the fact the teleporter is still usable at the end (as opposed to being smashed or requiring some rare element that’s been used up) seems like a big loose end. Sure, Doc specifies it only works line-of-sight, but there’s still plenty of commercial uses for something like that. Or just for his own use, there have been stories a teleporter would have come in mighty handy.
Covers by James Bama; all rights to current holder.