From Purple Prose #9 (v3.1), July 1998
Author: Richard Bleiler
“Kingdon Cole: One of Doc’s Ancestors?”
The Unknown Seven – Detective Story Magazine
Five Parts: August 27 – September 24, 1921
Author: Harry M. Coverdale
“Kingdon Cole: One of Doc’s Ancestors?” By Richard Bleiler –Going through some old fanzines today and found an interesting article from Purple Prose #9, dated July 1998. The magazine includes an article by Richard Bleiler titled, “Kingdon Cole: One of Doc’s Ancestors?” The article points to some similarities in a story serialized in five parts in Detective Story Magazine from August 27 – September 24, 1921. That story is “The Unknown Seven” by Harry M. Coverdale (Hermon Landon).
The focus of the story is a secret group of seven individuals who form a discrete organization with the purpose of aiding justice. The group has a secret headquarters in one of the tallest buildings in the city. Bleiler’s article points to some interesting parallels when compared to “The Man of Bronze.”
- In both stories, the hero jumps onto an elevator cable and slides to the ground.
- Dictaphones appear as a means to covertly gather information.
- Gold also figures prominently in both stories.
- The Unknown Seven threaten Cole during his initial interview with a “simple” brain operation that will leave him “a grimacing lunatic by morning.” They back up their threat by producing man who is such a lunatic. This is an idea later introduced in the Doc Savage series with the Crime College.
Like Doc Savage, the Unknown Seven do not follow the laws of man. Rather, like Nietzsche’s superman, they create their own morality and act upon it.
The article presents some interesting food for thought and is well worth the time.
The story was published in book form by by Chelsea House in 1927.
There is a sequel to “The Unknown Seven.” The January 14, 1922, issue of Detective Story Magazine featured the first part of four of the new story, “Four Knocks on the Door.”