1937-07 He Could Stop the World

Cover Date: July 1937
Volume 9 # 5
Copyright Date: Friday, June 8, 1937
Author: Laurence Donovan
Editor: John Nanovic
WHMC: There are not items for this story in the collection.
Recurring Characters. The entire Iron Crew are all present in this story.

He Could Stop the World by Kenneth Robeson
The Decoy by Harold A. Davis
The Death Tree by George Allan Moffatt
Bad Luck Ruby by Alan Hathway

Jujutsu – Self-defense explained so that anyone can understand it.
Test Your Wits! – You’ll have to put on your thinking cap for these.

Doc Savage Club

  • Leaders
  • A Whale of a Stomach Ache
  • Stuttering Lighthouse
  • Seeking the First Man
  • Yukon Air Service


Some time back Thomas Fortenberry pointed out that this Doc story had its origins in a Victorian era novel titled “A Dweller on Two Planets” by Phylos (Frederick S. Oliver). This story is available on the internet. It is in print and apparently very popular with the Atlantis folks.

There are several notable items in the story.

  • Criminals are treated by means of magnetic fields whereby the blood supply to certain areas of the brain are restricted in order to atrophy that part of the brain “where are located the organs of greed and of destruction. ” The description given in the book is similar to the mind control techniques employed on Johnny by Professor Randolph.
  • The airship Silver Cylinder is very similar to the air cars described in Oliver’s story. The explosive power used to power Randolph’s ship parallels the explosive called the “Night-Side of Nature” in the Victorian story. “Vailxi” is the name used for these aerial craft. Windows in the craft are made of a crystal that has enormous strength, much the same as the crystal city

  • Mount Shasta is mentioned several times in this book.  Professor Randolph builds on Mount Shasta in “He Could Stop the World.”

  • A strange disintegrating ray plays havoc with victims in the Doc Savage story. Readers of Oliver’s account learn of the Vis Mortuus, which is an occult energy that can be projected any distance with disagreeable results for its target. It is specifically cited for its ability to allow the user to “work undetectable murder” by means of disintegration.
  • The word “su” appears in the glossary. It has nothing to do with the later
  • Doc adventure by the same name (“Secret of the Su”) but it is a made-up word and it is odd that Dent uses it later on.
  • There is also some business in the story whereby people are changed into stone — literally! 


Superman: A remarkably similar tale appears in Superman #8 (January-February 1941): Superman and “He Could Stop the World”

Tesla: Like the previous story” Mad Eyes,” “He Could Stop the World” from July 1937 has more rays than a reader can reasonably count. There are rays that disintegrate people. Other rays propagate a form of mind-control. Climate control is achieved, and the snows of Mount Shasta are melting as tropical temperatures are imposed.

Laurence Donovan: One other point that is important about Donovan goes back to his authorship in the Doc Savage series. Donovan had a history of recycling plots. He incorporated elements created by other authors from “The Monsters,” “The Fantastic Island,” and “The Land of Always-Night” into his own stories. His final Doc story, “He Could Stop the World,” recycled elements from several of his own previous eight Doc stories.

The Street & Smith Manuscript Tracer Cards indicate Laurence Donovan submitted a  copy of “He Could Stop the World” on September 16, 1935. A second card shows a date of December 6, 1935 for an apparent resubmission.

Manuscript Tracer Card