1934-04 The Monsters

Cover Date: April 1934
Volume 3 # 2
Copyright Date: March 16, 1934
Author: Lester Dent
Editor: John Nanovic
WHMC: The collection contains nine folders for this story, f.149-157
Recurring Characters. The entire Iron Crew are all present in this story.

The Monsters by Kenneth Robeson 
Thunder at the Dam by Hal Field Leslie 
Alaska Thaw by Conrad Gerson 
The Teakwood Box by Milton Burns 
Doc Savage Club 

This story actually started around July 23, 1933. An articles in Sooner State Press, dated Saturday, July 22, 1933, notes that Lester Dent is at the Chicago Exposition.

This excursion may have provided the mental seed for a couple of the items that appear in this story.  The first one is the appearance of the three native “pinheads” at the local circus and who then appear again in the story as giants. Robert Bogdan, in his book “Freak Show: Presenting Human Oddities for Amusement and Profit,” explains how promoter Nate Eagle passed off two black men from Alabama as African tribesmen. Eagle referred to the two men as “pinheads” while presenting them as members of the African “Ituri” tribe who practice head binding. Not only was the exhibit demeaning but it also a fraud. The use of “pinheads” in circus exhibits had been around for some time prior to the Chicago Fair. They were usually presented as being missing links of low intelligence.

The second item Dent may have gleamed from the fair was the basic idea for giants.  The human giant, Robert Wadlow made a well-publicized visit to the Chicago World’s Fair. Wadlow stood nearly nine feet tall.  The idea for extraordinarily large people was not a new notion.

July 6, 1933

Dent appears to have borrowed the basic idea for this story from H. G. Wells.  “The Food of the Gods and How it Came to Earth” was published in 1904.  The story plays off the idea of a new compound, Herakleophorbia IV, which causes living organisms to grow to gigantic proportions.  In Wells’ story, the first animals used for experimentation are chickens.  Dent names his first character Bruno Hen.  Wells’ experimental farm is tended by a married couple, the Skinners.  Bruno Hen is a trapper or skinner of animals.  Giants in both stories wear iron shoes.  The giant, Caddies, is imprisoned in a chalk pit where he is condemned to work.  Dent has the giants in his story imprison Doc Savage and his men in a deep pit. 

Another book dealing with giants is “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carrol.  This 1865 story details Alice’s strange adventures which also including growing to gigantic proportions.  A movie version was released on December 22, 1933, by Paramount Pictures.  The movie featured many popular stars such as Gary Cooper, W. C. Fields, and Cary Grant.  The story was also a very popular play on Broadway in 1932.

Potent explosive rounds come on the scene.  Exactly how does one go about making explosive rounds for a machine pistol?  One method that might work would be to have a binary type bullet similar to that used for chemical weapons.  The hollow shell of the bullet would be divided into two chambers separated by a thin membrane.  The shock from firing would break the membrane and allow the two chemicals to mix forming the explosive.  Another method would be to have tiny wax spheres suspended in a liquid.  The heat from firing the round would melt the wax spheres, releasing the chemicals contained therein and creating an explosive compound.

The George Washington Bridge is mentioned.

Pacs are lace boots with waterproof bottoms and leather uppers.  They are more commonly known as shoe-pacs.

Renny hires a hydraulic mining firm to excavate the old coal tunnel.  A steam shovel was also mentioned.

Doc uses special shells for a .410 shotgun.

One of the villains falls in quicksand.

Comics: Here is another story that makes its way into the comics, albeit without Doc Savage.  The second story of Batman #1 is especially interesting as it has many of the same elements seen in “The Monsters.”  Human beings are injected with a compound that speeds up their growth glands.  The end results are “giants” who are as tall as fifteen feet. These massive creatures are limited in intellect are used for simply robberies albeit on a large scale.

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