1935-10 Dust of Death

Cover Date: October 1935
Volume 6 # 2
Copyright Date: Friday, September 20, 1935
Author: Lester Dent and Harold A. Davis
Editor: John Nanovic
WHMC: The collection contains fifteen folders for this story, f. 311-325.

Dust of Death by Kenneth Robeson
Fury of the Tombs by Laurence Donovan
By His Own Hand by John H. Compton
The Doc Savage Method of Self-Development
Doc Savage Club
Adventure’s Field of Honor
The Iceberg Menace
Foretelling Eruptions
Big Business and Deep Sea Fishing
From Our Members

Western Historical Manuscript Collection: This story is attributed to Harold A. Davis.  The material in the archive indicates a rewrite by Dent.

Chemistry: Before Chemistry there was Tarzan’s monkey friend, Cheetah the chimpanzee.  Cheetah is probably the most famous ape of all time.  Well, second most famous, with King Kong coming in first. 

Cheetah made his first appearance in Tarzan, the Ape Man, (1932).  His next appearance was in “Tarzan and His Mate,” 1934.  Technically, Cheetah made an appearance in name only as a human in a monkey suit portrayed him.

A new character joins the Doc Savage crew in “Dust of Death.”  Ham encounters a small tailless ape in the jungle around Santa Amoza.  After the ape attacks Monk’s pet pig Habeas Corpus with a stick, Ham instantly decides to keep him as a pet. The ape’s name is chosen so as to inflict maximum pain on Monk.  I can’t help but wonder if the popularity of Cheetah in the Tarzan movies was a motivating factor for the interjecting of a pet ape into the Doc Savage series.

Censorship: We can see other examples of Street & Smiths’ conservative nature in this story. “Dust of Death,” centers around two South American countries at war Santa Amoza and Delezon. The reader never exactly figures out the actual names of the two countries that are involved. But we do know from historic fact that Bolivia and Paraguay fought the Chaco War from 1932 until 1935. Armed clashes had started in late 1928 eventually leading to full-scale war.

Doc borrows Ace Jackson’s plane.  It is a Jenny which is the nickname for a Curtis JN-4 biplane.

The story mentions a problem with Bowden control wires rusting out in the wet tropical climate.  This is the same type of cable used today for the hand-brake system on modern bicycles.  The Bowden system dates back to 1902 and was used as a replacement for the rod system in common use.

Monk and Ham are captured by natives who use blowguns with poison darts.  A likely substance for the poison is curare.

Monk and Ham are staked out as prey for army ants.

Doc Savage communicates with Long Tom using the Continental Code which is different from American Morse Code.

Doc Savage uses his connection with the Mayans to get out of a tight spot.