Haunted Ocean – The Motion Menace

Moving on to May 1938 and The Motion Menace we find a huge secret organization located in Manchuria that is about to embark upon the conquest of Soviet Russia. This organization is headed up by a group of exiled Russian scientists and professors. To simply say this group is angry at their treatment by the Soviet government would be a mammoth understatement. The Elders, as they are known, have at their disposal an ultra effective weapon that will allow them to act virtually unopposed in their plans.

What has all this to do with any other Doc story? Recall a Mr. Kama Dbhana whom we encounter in Haunted Ocean back in June 1936. Mr. Kama hails from San Tao. 

Renny heard Mr. Kama say he came from San Tao. The engineer had heard of San Tao while he had been supervising a great tunnel in western China. He recalled San Tao was an isolated, little known, but immensely wealthy, mountain province of southern China.

Who could possibly be backing Kama Dbhana in his attempt to obtain the power from the Man of Peace and to what purpose? In the course of the story we never learn anything about Kama’s backers. I would suggest that Kama was an agent of the Elders and they were extremely concerned that the instruments of the Man of Peace would prevent them from using their inertia weapon to conquer Russia. In fact, the Man of Peace states that his purpose is to eliminate war from the face of the earth. The Elder’s plans will all come to naught if this is successful.

During this time, the Elders are headquartered at San Tao, which is located in southern China. After Kama’s defeat, the Elders relocate to Manchuria, which at this time is now controlled by Japan

The Empire of Japan is only too happy to secretly assist in an attack on Russia. The Japanese authorities are cheerfully unaware of exactly how much power the Elders will ultimately possess and that they will eventually become a target for conquest once Russia is completely subjugated.

Safely ensconced under the clandestine protectorate of the Japanese Imperial Army, the move serves a two-fold purpose – to foil any attempt by Doc Savage to locate them and to move closer to Russia for the coming attack. This is backed up by the fact that Captain Wizzer mentions they have been working on the Manchurian location for two years. 

There’s been a lot of work put in on this place,” Monk muttered.  

“Vell, ve has been vorkin’ like ha’al ha’ar for two year,” said Captain Wizer.

And it has been almost two years since the events of Haunted Ocean, a curious coincidence to say the least.

It is fascinating to note that Doc makes an inquiry to the Soviet secret police, the OGPU, and receives information confirming that Ky Halloc is not a member of that organization.
Who in this secret organization could be so forthcoming with information to a famous capitalist? Recall from January 1935 in The Mystic Mullah where a Texas native, Oscar Gibson, admits to being a member of the Russian secret police. Not only is he a member but he also confesses to being one of its four highest officials. Here then, is the probable source of Doc’s information.
Finally, there is one last oddity, Viscount Herschel Penroff. He is described as a small elderly gentleman with a white mustache and snowy Vandyke.

The Viscount is head of an important and powerful international banking house. This description of Penroff puts me in mind of another person – Boris Ramadanoff from The Fantastic Island in December 1935. Renny describes Ramadanoff as an “Old-fashioned little guy with a black cutaway coat and a black Czar-of-Russia mush all over his map.”

Is there a connection between the two? Surely Penroff would have been in a position to handle the financial matters of the Ramadanoff family. Also, there may be more to this than a mere business relationship. A familial connection may exist with Penroff being the Ramadanoff’s uncle on the maternal side. Penroff is a high official in with the Elder’s organization and while it is never explicitly stated, he is likely himself a Russian expatriate.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Again, this is all speculation based on circumstantial evidence but it is fun..