Joker in the Sunlight


The Green Hair has it


Coyle T. Ravin


Oh Susano weeps an ocean.

Fools’ Poker’s a chancy,

tricksy, yet stirring game

laughs Aunt Nancy,

raking in the pot.

Sticky-fingered Brother Lepus dealt

a card dropped

face up. Before Loki glints

a regal, radiant, royal dame

Loki winks,

with a medial spin and shifty motion

the Queen became a Joker

in the sunlight.


Bedecked and Bedeviled

Count Bruga  (1931)



Part One: Lily Bugov, Countess Idivzhopu

Section One: What lies beyond the Mountains?

As readers of the Doc Savage saga know John Sunlight is the only villain to have crossed paths with Doc twice, at least during the initial run of the magazine. Wold Newton and Farmerian scholars point to the prequel of the Doc Savage series Escape From Loki as the possible origin of John Sunlight. Win Eckert has postulated that John Sunlight was the son of Clark Savage jr. through an intimate encounter with Lily Bugov, the Countess Idivzhopu. Fellow researcher Christopher Paul Carey agrees that the intimate encounter took place but poses a more controversial theory; that John Sunlight and the Countess were the same person, that is that John Sunlight was a woman.

There are chronological problems with Win Eckert’s theory as to John Sunlight being Doc Savage’s son, primarily that when John Sunlight encountered Doc Savage in 1937 he would have been barely 18 years old. John Sunlight had been exiled to Siberia in 1935 but prior to that he had been a solider in the Soviet Army. In 1935 John Sunlight would have been 16 years old.  Mr. Eckert claims that Dent deliberately fudged Sunlight’s age to cover up the sin of the son. While it is true that Doc Savage escaped from the prison camp Loki, when he was but 16, it should be remembered that John Sunlight was not Doc Savage either in intellect nor in physique.

Admittedly there is a certain symmetry in believing that Doc Savage’s arch enemy was also his son.[1] If the child of Doc Savage and Lily Bugov had used a potion to artificially age himself, as suggested by Rick Lai, it could account for the great discrepancy in age.[2] It also true that Sunlight often acts like a teenager given to petulance and odd choices in clothing. However I find that I am forced to dismiss the notion that Sunlight was Doc Savage’s son and agree with Carey in his speculation that John Sunlight and Lily Bugov were the same person.


Mr. Carey’s theory that John Sunlight was Lily Bugov unfortunately has one major problem, this being that John Sunlight was undeniably male. Carey suggests that she became a man because she could not achieve a lust for power as a woman. How was this gender transformation accomplished? Was it through mere transvestitism, or more radically, through surgery?


The surgical procedure for changing a man into a woman was in its infancy in the 1930s. The procedure for altering a woman into a man is far more complicated and was not successfully achieved until the 1950’s. The transvestitism angle might have worked but for the fact that Lily was described as having very large breasts, even with severe binding the massive breasts would be hard to conceal. Now Lily could have simply had a double mastectomy and faked the rest but it should be remembered that Sunlight had been a solider in the Soviet army, such major scarring would have been hard to hide. If, as Carey suggests Sunlight was able to heal his scarring by imbibing the elixir created by Baron Von Hessel, the elixir would have healed the scarring but would have also undone any surgical modifications. In A Feast Unknown it is revealed that in the ceremonies of the Nine, a man’s testicle is routinely removed and eaten like a communion wafer. However due to the healing properties of the Elixir the testicle eventually regenerates, ergo the removed breasts would have therefore re-grown.


If it was unlikely for Lily Bugov to transform herself into man either through surgery or through transvestitism, it would appear that Mr. Carey’s theory is proven false. That is unless you look at the theory from another angle and examine evidence that might appall some Doc Savage fans. Lily Bugov did not become John Sunlight but was already John Sunlight. To quote another hero in the Wold Newton Universe, “That ain’t no woman, it’s a man, man!”.[3]  In other words Lily Bugov did not exist—as a woman!


Haven’t I just contradicted myself? Haven’t I just stated that Lily Bugov could not have become John Sunlight without undergoing massive surgery because of her large breasts? That is true, if those breasts were real. While it is true that Lily Bugov displayed her breasts in gowns that accentuated her cleavage, it is also true that for the most part she was never seen up close except by Clark Savage and the Baron’s inner circle. Usually when Lily was paraded before the men under the Baron’s command or the men in the prison camp, Lily was in the distance.


On the occasions that Clark Savage was in relatively close proximity to the Countess he had been distracted. On the first occasion Baron Karl laid out a sumptuous culinary feast that overwhelmed the half starved Savage’s senses.


Despite his training and prodigious skill in many disciplines it should be remembered that Clark Savage was not yet at the height of his powers. Despite his gifts he was a sixteen year old boy being seduced by two masters in the arts of seduction, manipulation and misdirection. Lily’s Bugov’s large, half displayed bosom was an intentional bit of misdirection drawing all eyes towards this portion of her anatomy. In doing so it kept attention away from other areas of her body. The large, half displayed breasts drew attention away from a close examination of her face and her throat. It was the latter that was most important although not critical.


One method that is often used to unmask male transvestites is by examining the adam’s apple. While this is usually effective it isn’t 100 percent accurate. The adam’s apple is a protrusion composed of thyroid cartilage. The larynx is surrounded by a skeleton of cartilage plates that prevents it from collapsing. The Adam's apple, properly called the prominentia laryngea, is the central ridge where two plates of cartilage meet. The size of the adam’s apple varies from individual to individual and although the adam’s apple is often seen as a secondary sexual characteristic, it really is not one. Although generally men have more prominent adam’s apples than women, this is not always the case. Some men have small adam’s apples and some women have large ones. Lily Bugov seems to have a small adam’s apple, perhaps like Anne Coulter.


The first false bosom was patented in 1858 and was a wire frame device.[4] This was later surpassed by rubber bosoms but these also had problems with distension or deflation. I suspect that the Baron’s genius was able to construct a wire frame device covered with flesh toned latex rubber that created the illusion of breasts.


While I admit that this theory that Lily’s large breasts were false can also bolster Mr. Carey’s theory of Sunlight being a woman. Instead of a man Lily could have been a flat chested woman who used these enhancements as an allure. This then removes the need for Lily to undergo a double mastectomy in order to become John Sunlight.


However I have found other pieces of evidence which I believe can bolster my theory. The Countess is described as having broad shoulders and thin hips. These are physically male attributes; generally a woman has slim shoulders and wide hips.


Another clue lies in her name, Lily Bugov. In Russian naming conventions surname endings are determined by gender.  ov is a masculine ending and ova, as one might expect, is a female ending,. Lily Bugov should have been named Lily Bugova A careful researcher such as Philip Jose Farmer would have undoubtedly known this, so the masculine ending is undoubtedly a clue as to “Lily’s” real gender.


There are other clues as well.


One of Lily’s attendants is a big brute of a man named Zad. He is assigned to bath Clark Savage and makes suggestive comments and gestures while forcibly stripping Savage for his bath. Losing his temper Clark Savage defeats the huge Cossack in a fight. Savage encounters Zad a couple of more times in the book. At one point Zad blows him a kiss. Now this could be simply mockery but it could also point to Zad’s homosexual orientation. This may be among the reasons he was “Lily’s” attendant. He attended all of “Lily’s” needs.


The fact that camp was named Loki may also point to some male to female transvestitism going on, for according to the myths Loki disguised himself as a woman quite often, and indeed once physically transformed himself into a female.  To retrieve Thor’s hammer, Loki traveled to Jotunheim disguised as Freya’s Handmaiden. When the great walls Asgard was being built by a giant who has asked for the moon, suns and goddess Freya in payment the gods had agreed if he completed the task with in a certain time. The builder had a giant horse Svaðilfari with whose help he was easily going to make the deadline. Loki transformed himself into a mare and lured the giant stallion away, preventing the builder from completing the task on time. Loki returned a few months later with a colt. Loki had not only transformed himself into a mare he had also allowed himself to be mounted. Loki was also known for having lured the goddess Idunn away from Asgard where she was captured by a giant. Significantly Idunn was the cultivator of the golden apples which gave the Gods immortality. When she was captured the gods began to age. Most version of the tale have Loki luring her away as himself, although in a couple versions he did so as a woman. Finally Loki assumed the guise of an old woman to learn the secret of Balder’s vulnerability, a secret that resulted in Balder’s death.


Farmer does not specify what sort of sexual liaison went on between Lily Bugov and Clark Savage jr. He does however point out that Clark had distanced himself from the sexual mores of The United States. While this could mean that Clark had loosened up enough to engage in premarital sex, it could also mean that Clark also engaged in sexual acts that many in the United States would have found repugnant or perverted, at least in 1918, such as cunnilingus, fellatio or sodomy. Lily may have, after a suitable seductive interlude suggested the latter two acts as an alternative to one that could get her pregnant. One should not forget that Baron Von Hessel was by this time a well trained biochemist with access to long forgotten herbal lore. It is possible that he gave Lily a potion that would dull Clark’s senses while raising his libido.


Although Baron Karl states that Lily believes that she is the next Catherine the Great, the next Cleopatra, we have only his word that she is sexually promiscuous. The only sexual act that she is depicted as having in Escape From Loki is with Clark Savage Jr. 


At the end of Escape From Loki Lily is savagely attacked by a Sergei Khutzinov, a young Russian soldier who slashed her face with a bayonet, damaging the eye and leaving a great scar on her forehead and cheek. Just as an aside, is it possible that Sergei Khutzinov was merely an invention of Philip Jose Farmer? There seems very little doubt that the “Countess was attacked but perhaps the attacker was not this Sergei Khutzinov. The name Khutzinov may be a bit of a joke by Farmer as well as being both a clue and a deliberate mislead. The name Khutzinov may equal the phrase Cuts it off.


Who attacked Lily and why? In A Feast Unknown Farmer tells how the repressed Doc Caliban was sexually suppressed due to his strong moral background, over large genitals and lack of familiarity with women. On one case he was drugged and tied down by a female criminal who raped him. The loss of his control so infuriated Doc Caliban that he broke his bonds and then literally twisted the woman’s head off of her neck. Although I agree with the position that in the Wold Newton universe at least, Doc Savage and Doc Caliban were two different people, their lives ran a very close parallel course, designed by the Nine. Could the young Doc Savage have committed a similar act?


As the story went Young Savage interrogated Lily Bugov about the Baron’s formula when she was suddenly attacked by this soldier, which happened so rapidly Savage had no chance to stop. Later it is said he wished he had interviewed her privately. Given Savage’s proximity to her and his superlative reflexes it seems odd that he could not have overpowered the mad Russian. One also has to wonder where the Russian prisoner had acquired the bayonet. There is also the odd fact that the Savage would ask her about the Baron’s highly secret project in front of her attendants and the room full of prisoners.


Consider this as an alternative theory. What if Savage had in fact taken Lily into a private room to interrogate her? What if she had tried to vamp him once again? However this time Savage was not exhausted and half starved. His mind was clear and he suddenly perpetrated Lily’s hoax. Realizing how he had been mislead and tricked into engaging in behavior that would  have been repugnant even to his enlightened attitudes he attacked Lily with the bayonet. The bayonet bisecting the eye and scarring of the face are very symbolic. The bayonet, a phallic symbol raping the face that had deceived. The eye hearkening back to the old biblical adage, if thine eye offends, pluck it out. The bisected eye would also leave a puckered scar that could have seemed faintly vaginal. As if Doc had given this false woman a permanent symbolic brand. Yet given the clue of Khutzniov or cuts it off, did the mutilation end there?  Did Doc with crude surgery emasculate “Lily” making “Lily” into a caricature of the sex she pretended to be?


Doc heard that long after the crash that Lily had her back broken and had been paralyzed from below the waist. Perhaps this paralysis was not the result of a train crash but rather from a bayonet being used in two other regions below the waist.[5]


If our theory about Lily actually being a man is true it may explain one of the reasons why Doc Savage had such difficulty relating to women. The psychological impact of Clark Savage jr. having been fooled by such a disguise would have alone been disillusioning to the nascent superman. Then there is the special impact that his first sexual encounter was tainted not only by deception but that it had been tantamount to homosexual rape, even if Clark had not been on the “catching” end of the encounter.  It undoubtedly left lingering issues of not being able to trust women, although it was not through any fault of womankind. It also left scars of doubt in Clark’s psyche about his own sexuality. What did it mean that he could have been so easily fooled? Had he really been fooled?  Was there a bit of latent homosexuality in Doc Savage that he suppressed until the opportunity arose to act on his desires, and having acted upon it was so repulsed that he forwent sexual activity? [6]


Why would “Lily” undergo the pretense of being a woman?  As with many of the aspects of “Lily’s” life, there seem to be two main answers to this question. First and foremost was that it was an effective disguise; the second answer was that it allowed for him to openly express his sexual desires.


As signified by the name of the camp, Baron Von Hessel and “Lily” embodied aspects of the trickster. It should be remembered It is not uncommon for the trickster to assume the role of another gender. A modern example is the trickster Bugs Bunny, the modern form of Brer Rabbit, Nanabozho or Chi-waabooz, dressing up as a gorgeous female to lure Elmer Fudd or Donald Duck into a trap. That young Clark Savage was being led into a trap, into a web of lies and deceit is foreshadowed by the very first line of Escape from Loki. “Spiders, men and Mother nature makes trapdoors” 

The trap was designed to lure Clark Savage Jr into being under the influence of Baron von Hessel, either through bribery via the elixir of life or via blackmail courtesy of Lily.[7]


Lily Bugov, Countess Idivzhopu may have been an entirely fictitious name. The name Lily means virtue and purity, which is the diametric opposite of what the Countess supposedly was. This flipside name may have been another clue that the Countess pretended to be something other than she was. The name Bugov may also have been a modification of Bogrov, Ivan Zarov’s most famous impersonations. Farmer may have deliberately altered the name to Bugov to create a punish name Bugov equally Bug off, this is especially true when the Countess’ estate name is taken into account, Idivzhopu seems to be a modification of the phrase Eedeh vy zhopu, which is Russian for Go to Hell. Therefore taken together Bugov, Idivzhopu form Bug off, Go to hell


We are given rather scant information about “Lily’s’ background and most of it from two rather unreliable sources. The first source of information is from Baron Karl. He merely states that she was the daughter of a Russian Count who opened property and thousands of peasants. She had on occasion severely whipped for her own amusement. However the Russian Revolution had caused her holdings to fall into the hands of the peasants. She had escaped with some of her jewels but had to trade on her sexuality and beauty to find a position of luxury and comfort.


The second source of information was Sergei Khutzinov, a young Russian soldier who attacked the Countess and slashed her face with a bayonet, damaging the eye and leaving a great scar on her forehead and cheek. Khutzinov said he had attacked the Countess because he had been one of the peasants on her estates. The Bugov family had held manhunts in which peasants were hunted like game. Khutzinov’s brother had been killed by Lily on one such a manhunt.


Although this statement may not be entirely truthful, in that the source may not have been Seregi Khutzinov but may have been Lily. Couched in a sexual boast about always getting “her” man Lily may have boasted about the hunting activities of the “Bugov” family. Despite what source that was its origin the story allows us to pinpoint “Lily’s” origins a little better. In Richard Connell’s famous short story, “The Most Dangerous Game” General Zaroff, another Russian émigré, conducts manhunts on his island retreat. Zaroff owned an island in the Caribbean and he manipulated the channel lights to trap ships. He hunted the ship wrecked crews for sport.  Zaroff was eventually beaten at his own game by a big game hunter named Sanger Rainsford. Defeated by Rainsford in a sword duel, Zaroff was left to feed his hungry dogs.


In a bizarre bit of synchronicity Doc Savage also had an adventure on a very similar island. On this island a Count Ramadanoff and his brother used a similar method of luring and trapping ships. The ships’ crews however were not taken primarily for hunting but rather to work in a mine on the island. The escapees however were hunted. General Zaroff’s island was in the Caribbean and Count Ramandoff’s island was in the Galapagos. However the similarities were so profound that both authors were probably talking about the same island. Connell’s account of the location and name of the host is probably the most accurate. Dent had to change certain facts to avoid any hint he had lifted material from Connell.


Rick Lai has suggested in his article that The Brother’s Zaroff that the General Zaroff and Count Ramandoff were brothers, although he speculates that the incidents took place on two different islands. As Count Ramandoff lay dying he told Doc Savage that he had assumed the name of the real Count Ramandoff after his men had murdered the real Count.


Since Connell wanted to tell the story of a big game hunter who had to pit his wits and skill against a madman who hunted human prey and he left out Sanger’s description of the slave operation as an unnecessary distraction. This left the door however for Dent to tell the fuller story of the island hellhole, however he had to keep out elements that were too like Connell’s account. What emerges from a combination of the two stories is that a group of Russian aristocratic exiles took refuge on a Caribbean island. They soon discovered that a unique emerald was contained in the volcanic soil of the island. Working the small native population to death they trapped more miners by manipulating the channel signals around their island.


A true autocrat Zaroff lived apart from the other exiles who ran the mining operation and slave pens. Intractable slaves were given the chance for freedom if they participated in Zaroff’s hunt. The trophy heads dissuaded most from participating in this contest.


After Sanger defeated Zaroff and left him for dead, his younger brothers killed him under the pretense of putting him out of his misery. After killing his brother one of the brothers assumed command of the island. However he felt guilt over the act, considering it murder. This was the man Dent called Count Ramandoff.


Unless manhunts were a widespread practice among the Russian aristocracy, there was undeniably some connection between “Lily’s” family and General Zaroff. In fact, “Lily” was a Zaroff or Zarov rather than a Bugov for as we will show later,


“Lily’s” name and title were entirely fictitious. According to “The Most Dangerous Game” the Zarov family had large holdings in the Crimea. The Crimea was a bastion of the Russian aristocracy and it was the stronghold of the anti-Bolshevik White Army. When the White Army was crushed the remaining members of the army and the last remnants of the Russian aristocracy had to board ships and flee through the Black Sea. Few records exist from that tumultuous era however a report on the Zarov estate was uncovered during the recent opening and categorization of the Soviet Archives. An army squadron was to take the Zarov family into custody and were issued warrants for Alexander, Ilya, Boris and Ivan Zarov. The first three brothers were Alexander, who was depicted in Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” and Ilya and Boris who were depicted in the Doc Savage Adventure Fantastic Island.  Of the last brother Ivan there was no record although there was a special notation for him to be taken alive if possible.


This information prompted a further research into the Russian Archives, assisted by Russian archivist Natalya Simonova. According to his research Ivan Zarov, the youngest son’s share of the inheritance would have been minimal, as would any title he might have received. He needed another means to achieve power and prestige and so Ivan Zarov became an agent of Ohkrana. One of his earliest investigations was into the activities of a man named Dmitri Bogrov. Bogrov was the son of a wealthy Jewish attorney from Kiev. Bogrov had studied law at Kiev University and at Munich University and upon his return to Russia had been interrogated by the Okhranka and died as a result. Ivan Zarov assumed the identity of Dmitri Bogrov and became an agent provocateur. He informed his superiors on the activities of Social Democrats, anarchists and other dissident groups.  To his compatriots in the know Ivan insisted that this was his way of getting information on the Okhranka's activities. He could also remove disloyal revolutionaries.

In 1911 Dmitri Bogrov, the supposedly loyal Ohkranka agent, assassinated the then Russian Prime Minister Petr Stolypin in the Kiev Opera House in front of Tsar Nicholas II. Bogrov was sentenced to death by the district military court. He was executed on September 24 (September 11 old style), 1911. The investigation of Stolypin's assassination was discontinued by the order of Nicholas II.


The execution was a sham but the Dmitri Bogrov identity had to be discarded. After 1911 the name Ivan Zarov once more appeared in a few messages available in the archives. It is not certain what he was doing but it appears that he was still working as an agent provocateur among the various democratic and socialist organizations that had been clamoring for reforms in the Tsar’s autocratic rule since 1905. Besides stirring up the Socialists Ivan Zarov also had contacts with Polish nationalists and worked in the sections of the Russian Empire that had once been Polish territory. Among the contacts that Zarov made in Russian Poland was the Prussian Baron Karl Von Hessel. Records indicate that Von Hessel may have been a double agent working for both German intelligence and for the Ohkranka. His first allegiance seems to have been towards Germany but his true allegiance may have been to an international organization rather than to any one nation.


Although this is the first recorded contact between Ivan Zarov and Baron Karl von Hessel, it may not have been. As early as 1906 Baron Von Hessel was on occasion seen in St. Petersburg reportedly in the company of Grigori Rasputin.[8]  At an early stage in his career Ivan Zarov was one of the Ohkrana agents assigned to the constant surveillance of Rasputin, in essence this meant not only watching his activities but becoming one of his acquaintances.


Section II

Wolf’s Cub


The connection between Rasputin and Baron Karl Von Hess is an intriguing one. In Son of Holmes, John Lescroat reported that Auguste Lupa a.k.a Nero Wolfe’s birth name was John Hamish Holmes, the son of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler. He also revealed that Grigori Rasputin was the son of Professor Moriarty. This would make Baron Von Hessel and Grigori Rasputin half brothers. It is unknown if either knew of their relationship, or that Moriarty even knew about Rasputin until they became involved with the Nine, since there is evidence that Rasputin was also an agent of the Nine.


Win Eckert has speculated the Lily Bugov was “the granddaughter of Sir William Clayton and Sir William’s wife, a Russian woman named Natalie, daughter of the Prince of Kiev, who disappeared shortly after their wedding in 1855.”  I agree with this genealogy but dispute the gender of “Lily”. Natalie had run off with a former suitor, the heir of the Zarov family, having married Sir William only at her father’s insistence. Sir William was the grandfather then of Count Zarov and his brothers.


Lily was referred to as Baron Karl’s mistress, if Lily was truly Ivan Zarov a man, was this merely a cover story? For the most part I believe that it was part of their cover however it should be remembered that in earlier portions of his life, Baron Karl had been a sailor. Sodomy although extremely frowned upon in most Navies, was not uncommon. We know of three sexual encounters that have been accounted to Baron Karl, two in his persona of Wolf Larsen and one as Baron Karl. As Larsen he wed, bedded and quickly abandoned Arronaxe Land. He and his crew raped a group of Japanese women. Later as Baron Karl he, according to Win Eckert, Baron Karl married a Greek woman whowas the granddaughter of Aspasia Clayton, who was the daughter of Sir William and Ermione Khatamagos.”  She gave birth to one child in 1908 but the relationship does not seem to have lasted long. However, Larson was using the Von Hessel name at this time, so although Larson may have fathered this child, he did not marry the mother. It is also interesting to note that this Greek woman was Baron Karl’s second cousin.


One has to wonder if perhaps, Baron Karl Von Hessel merely had sexual relations with these women with the express purpose of begetting a child.


In his persona of Wolf Larsen, Baron Von Hessel was involved in a strange triangular relationship between Humphrey Van Weden and Maud Brewster. The Sea Ghost rescued Humprey Van Weden after the ship he had been traveling upon collided with a steamer. Larsen forced the weak young man into virtual slavery to work for his passage on the ship. Van Weyden was a highly educated man and Larsen was a self taught genius. Larsen formed an odd bond with Van Weyden due to Larsen’s need for intellectual stimulation. In Van Weyden’s mind they formed an affiliation much like a master and a favored slave. However Larsen may have seen the association in a different light, viewing himself as the dominant member of relationship that satisfied his emotional, intellectual and possibly his sexual needs. While Van Weyden was still on board the Sea Ghost also picked up another castaway, Maud Brewster a female scholar and poetess. Van Weyden was immediately attracted to her because of her intellect and her beauty.


London’s outward depiction of the triangle formed between Larsen, Van Weden and Maud Brewster seems to indicate that both men vied for the affections and possession of Maud Brewster. Yet Larsen exhibits symptoms of jealousy when Maud Brewster appears on the scene due to Van Weyden’s attraction towards her. Larsen acts out his jealousy in petty acts of cruelty against his crew. Later Larsen does seem to make overtures towards Maud Brewster and may have attempted to rape her, only to be stopped by Van Weyden. Normally, even armed with a knife the “sissy” Van Weyden would not have been able to overpower the burly and heavily muscled Larsen but Larsen collapsed as Van Weyden confronted him. Yet after Van Weyden stabbed Larsen once in the shoulder, the big man collapsed as a sickness took hold of him.


The collapse of the brute Larsen after such a minor wound can be attributed to two causes. The primary cause is that Larsen was indeed ill and was suffering from a medical condition that affected his neurology. This condition, which we suppose to have been a brain tumor or a series of strokes would worsen causing blinding headaches, paralysis and eventually his death in the novel. A secondary but lesser reason is that Larsen collapsed out of a sense of despair and betrayal. Part of why Larsen made a coarse courtship of Maud Brewster may not have been so much because he desired her but because Van Weyden did.


In a sense Larsen was reasserting his dominance over Van Weyden demonstrating to Van Weyden that he was still Van Weyden’s master, holding such power over Van Weyden that he could deny Van Weyden what he most desired. Rape being an act of violence rather than love or lust, Larsen also wished to violently avenge himself on this woman who had stolen Van Weyden’s affections. Yet at the same time Larsen made overtures to Maud Brewster in an attempt to make Van Weyden jealous. However when Van Weyden chose Brewster over Larsen to extent of literally stabbing him in the back, this made Larsen realize that despite all of his overtures towards Weyden that Van Weyden would never impale him with anything but a knife. Even the strongest man can be brought to his knees by unrequited love. It is telling that when Larsen is afflicted by blinding pain he called out for Hump, his nickname for Humphrey Van Weyden.


Although it is possible that reading homosexual connotations into the relationship between Wolf Larsen and Van Weyden may be stretching things, one should note that a slang term for a predatory homosexual during the turn of the century was a wolf. Also the general depictions of a homosexual pairing during that era were of a strong masculine figure coupled with a weaker, effeminate man. The latter was known as a punk or a sissy, which is how Van Weyden was called aboard the ship. [9]


If Karl Von Hessel a.k.a. Wolf Larsen was indeed a homosexual, or at least a bisexual with a preference for men, then why did he bed and abandon two women, rape one and attempt to rape a third? The answer to this question also resolves the mystery of his neurological condition, his longevity and apparent resurrection from death and his relationship with Rasputin and Ivan Zarov. 


Karl Von Hessel was born in 1858 the son of Professor James Moriarty and Amalie Luise, the younger sister of Count Karl Frederick, a member of the Danish nobility with ties to the Royal family and to the house of Hesse. Amalie Luise was a woman of surpassing beauty and intellect. Amalie Luise’s intellectual outlets were however severely constrained from by both her gender and her position in society. It was no doubt a surprise to both when their passionate discussion of mathematical theory evolved into a passionate embrace. Both were slightly embarrassed by their loss of control and avoided one another during the remainder of James Moriarty’s Copenhagen visit.


When James Moriarty concluded his European lecture series he returned to England and was offered the mathematics chair at one of the smaller universities. The prestigious university gave him academic credentials and the small student body allowed James Moriarty to work on his magnum opus The Dynamics of an Asteroid, a work that ascended to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that few people were capable of understanding it much less criticizing it.


While James Moriarty was giving birth to his greatest work, Amalie Luise gave birth to his two sons, whom she named Karl and Jeppe. Unwilling to dishonor her family with illegitimate children she sent them to be raised as simple peasant children by the relatives of one her courtiers. When they were approximately eight years old James Moriarty found Karl and Jeppe.[10] At this time James Moriarty was using the name of Nemo and was Captain of the submersible ship known as the Nautilus. Karl and Jeppe served as cabin boys aboard the vessel. When the Nautilus sank in the maelstrom off of the coast of Norway, Karl and Jeppe were among the survivors. They were taken in by a family of Norwegian seal hunters. Jeppe was content to live this life but Karl yearned to resume the education that he had begun under his father’s tutelage. Enlisting on a British ship at age of twelve, Karl eventually made his way to England in 1873. 


Somewhere between 1873 and 1880 he was approached by representatives of the Nine who offered him virtual immortality in exchange for becoming their servant.  Through contacts with agents of the Nine Wolf embarked on an eclectic education in between missions for the Nine. He also learned the truth about his parentage and his connection to the German and Danish thrones. Although his studies were informal they revealed him to have an innate genius for mathematics and chemistry.


In between missions for the Nine, Wolf’s friendship was cultivated by Iwaldi, one of the Nine who encouraged his rebellious streak. He helped Wolf establish, through sophisticated extortion among the aristocracy of Germany and Denmark, the identity of Baron Karl Von Hessel. However the Nine preferred that he use the identity of Wolf Larsen and that he use his profession as a seal hunter as a cover for world wide missions. Most of the Nine’s missions were courier jobs, piracy or the occasional murder however there were a couple of incidents that Wolf found extremely distasteful. One of the Nine’s interests was eugenics and to this end they bred people like cattle or so it seemed to Wolf. He was ordered to wed, bed and impregnate the daughter of a fellow sailor, Ned Land. And in 1885 he turned his considerable charms onto the sixteen year old Arronaxe Land and seduced her. After ensuring she was pregnant he abandoned her.


Five years later he was told to kidnap a certain group of Japanese women and impregnate a particular woman. Once this had been accomplished he was to let the women return to their families.


These two incidents persuaded him break the hold that the Nine had on him. Iwaldi encouraged him to work on an alternative to the Nine’s Elixir. In a fortuitous accident, Wolf cultivated a bacteria that exuded the same active ingredient as the Nine’s elixir. He kept the active samples in his “ancestral” castle. 


The Nine learned that he was seeking to betray them, although they do not seem to know he had succeeded in creating a life extension formula. He was ordered to go an extensive voyage and because of his planned betrayal of the Nine he was denied his yearly dose of the elixir starting in 1891. After the first year he discovered a rather insidious secret about the elixir; it was addictive. The addictive element however was not replicated by his bacterial form. His withdrawal symptoms manifested a severe neurological condition. In 1893, while Wolf was traveling on The Ghost, a fire broke out in his “ancestral’ castle and destroyed his bacteriological samples. Although there is no evidence that the fire in Schloss Sigmaringen was arson, it seems likely that the Nine destroyed his work.[11] The neurological condition brought on by Elixir withdrawal caused him to suffer a brain aneurism that nearly killed him. Had it not been for the bacterial form of the elixir in his system, he probably would have died.


Knowing that his bacteria samples had been destroyed and not wishing to undergo another withdrawal attack, Wolf attempted to get back into the good graces of the Nine once more. With his Wolf Larson identity certified as being dead, he assumed the Karl von Hessel identity full time.[12] To gain the polish and education that his new role required he attended several schools from 1895 until 1905.His innate genius served him well and within a sort period of time he personified his role to such an extent that even at times even he was almost convinced he had been born a German nobleman. Once his training had been accomplished, to best serve the interests of the Nine Von Hessel became part of the Imperial German Secret Service under the guise of being part of its diplomatic service.


In this capacity he was first assigned to Russia from 1905 until 1908. Also arriving In St. Petersburg of 1905 for his second visit to the capital was Grigori Rasputin.


As stated earlier, like Wolf Larsen/Baron Von Hessel, Grigori Rasputin was also the son of Professor James Moriarty. According to all known records Grigori Rasputin was born sometime between 1868 and 1873 in Siberia to Effim and Anna Rasputin.[13] . The most likely date is January 10, 1869. Why would James Moriarty have been in Siberia of all places in 1869?


As detailed in many other articles and novels, James Moriarty, in addition to being the Napoleon of Crime, was also one of the men who were called Captain Nemo.[14] Although no one has yet detailed this, it is believed that in 1868 the two Nautilus submersibles met and fought off the coast of Norway. Damaged in the battle both were sucked into the maelstrom,  Moriarty’s ship got the worst of it and broke apart, although much of the extensive damage may have come about through sabotage.[15]  Moriarty was picked up by a Lithuanian fishing trawler. When he appeared on shore he was met by an old man with an eye patch at first claimed to be a Capellean Elder. Eventually however the old man revealed that he was part of an organization far older than the Capelleans. Aware of the Eridanean and Capellean organizations and their conflict this group had co-opted some members from both organizations and had on occasion used the names of these organizations while carrying out their own stratagems.


The Nine offered Moriarty an even longer life than that promised by the Capelleans. To prove that they also had access to knowledge and technology far superior to the Capelleans, who at best grudgingly provided its adoptees with advanced technology, the old man with the eye patch sent Moriarty to Tobelesk, Siberia to look among certain kurgans.


Kurgans were barrows or burial mounds that dotted the landscape between Eastern Europe, Russia and Mongolia. The name for the burial mound was also given to the people who created them. The Kurgans were an Indo-European people that practiced a form of mummification and also sacrificed the servitors, concubines and horses of the deceased. However as of 1868 very little of this was known about the Kurgan. Arriving at the village where the old man had directed him, Moriarty asked about for a guide to the mounds. He was told to ask after Anna Egorova, the wife of Effim Rasputin. She was of Samoyed and Mongolian stock and knew about the barrows.[16]


With Anna Egorova and her two children in tow, James Moriarty toured the barrows. After digging through the rock coverings of several and breaking into them to discover only ancient artifacts, mummified corpses and the skeletal remains of horses he began to believe that the old man had in fact been an Eridanean agent that had successfully gulled him. However one of the barrows was quite different.


The walls of this barrow were covered with glyphs comprised of lines, squiggles and minute squares. There was mummified corpse much like the others only this one sat in stone throne with a seat of woven metal. Although the metal was blackened and pitted with age and corrosion it caught his eyes for it was not made of copper or bronze but rather when scraped yielded a silvery glint like steel. He noted with a start that the mummy wore a vest of what appeared to a fragment of a larger piece of clothing. The cloth shimmered like silk yet had the texture of woven metal. On the shoulder of the vest was a faintly colored rectangle as if an insignia had been there. The corpse’s skeletal hands crisscrossed over a hand-sized box. Cracked black ceramic of some type covered the outside of box but a silvery flash caught Moriarty’s eyes. Ripping the box from the skeleton’s hands Moriarty’s nails tore at the ceramic which crumbled. Beneath the black covering were dark lines scribbled upon a piece of glass. These resembled the hieroglyphics on the wall. Underneath his thumbnail the darkness was replaced by the shininess of metal.


Moriarty made an intuitive leap that only one of his level of genius would have made. This corpse was a space traveler like the Eridaneans and Capelleans. The device was a sophisticated piece of machinery with the metallic lines being an integral part of the device’s function.[17] Moriarty compared the lines in the device to those on the wall and discovered that they were different. He quickly copied them in his note book. Giddy as a schoolboy his discovery he impulsively kissed Anna Egorova. Her eyes widened at this and she ordered her children out of the barrow. She then attacked Moriarty with the ferocity of a lioness in heat. Instinct won out over intellect. Moriarty left the village the next day. Nine months later Anna Egorova presented her husband with a new son. Seduced by the promises of the Nine Moriarty became one of their servants. He would find it to a devil’s bargain. Some quirk in his biochemistry allowed the Nine’s elixir to be addictive but denied him the benefit of its longevity. What’s more it neutralized the longevity treatment given to him by the Capelleans. When Moriarty realized that the elixir was not benefiting him he attempted to break from the Nine. Withdrawal gave him a persisting neurological condition.


Grigori Rasputin had very formal education but showed flashes of brilliance and intuition at an early age. At eight years old he denounced a man as a horse thief. Investigation proved him to be correct. Although his uncovering of the thief was attributed to mystical powers, he most likely discerned the horse thief through intuition and observation, like his kinsman Holmes. Grigori married early but despite this he was a rather wild youth given to drunkenness, womanizing and thievery. He and his friends were accused but not convicted of horse thievery. Faced with banishment Grigori proposed that he instead be allowed to make a pilgrimage 260 miles northwest to the Verkoturie Monastery.


At the monastery he underwent a conversion of faith and returned as an ascetic man of faith. During the next decade he underwent a spiritual journey that led him to explore various religious beliefs. One sect that struck a chord in him was the Skoptsy sect. This flagellant cult believed that sin must be experienced before it could be forgiven. Although it seems that he was never a member of the sect he seems to have been influenced by it. His spiritual journey was also a physical one and the Siberian peasant traveled to Greece and to the Holy land.


It was most likely during this journey that Rasputin was approached by servants of the Nine and became one of their servants.


Rasputin had visited St. Petersburg in 1903 and made acquaintances from all strata of society. During the 1903 visit Rasputin established his reputation as a starets, a wandering mystic with powers of prophecy and healing. In 1905 he took up residence in St. Petersburg and began gathering disciples from the middle class and aristocracy. In 1905 Rasputin was introduced to the Imperial couple and after that he came under scrutiny by the Ohkrana. The early surveillance was not as intense as it would later become when Rasputin became considered a member of the court. Assigned to befriend and keep tabs on Rasputin was young aristocrat Ivan Zarov. He became one of Rasputin’s circle of friends.


The Nine had long range plans for Russia with Karl von Hessel and Grigori Rasputin playing important roles. It was through the confluence of Rasputin and Von Hessel that Von Hessel became acquainted with Ivan Zarov. The Baron saw some very unique qualities in young Ivan, qualities that with proper guidance and molding could make Ivan someone with whom be reckoned. Much like he had with Humphrey Van Weyden Von Hessel made Ivan into his protégé. He convinced Rasputin that they should sponsor him as a servant of the Nine. The Nine were not entirely sold on Ivan Zarov, wanting him to prove that he would follow their orders as directed. 


It was under their orders that Zarov in his Bogrov guise assassinated Prime Minister Stolypin. Petr Stolypin had to be eliminated because he was a danger to the Nine’s plans. His agrarian reforms and ruthless persecution of terrorists were defusing the long smoldering tensions of the peasant class. Further more he denounced Rasputin and attempted to discredit him with the Imperial Couple.


Shortly after he had become Prime Minister in 1906 an assassination attempt on Stolypin injured the Prime Minister’s children. Tsar Nicholas sent Rasputin to aid them. Stolylin recounted that Rasputin ran his pale eyes over him and that Stolypin began to feel an indescribable loathing for the vermin sitting next to him. He realized that Rasputin possessed great hypnotic power. Rasputin’s attempt to control the Prime Minister had failed. His efforts with the Imperial family however bore fruit by his ability to heal the Imperial heir when he suffered from life threatening injuries brought on by his hemophilia.


Shortly after Rasputin’s failed attempt to influence Prime Minister Stolypin a leftist student by the name of Dmitri Bogrov died while being interrogated by the Ohkrana. As part of Stolypin’s crack down on revolutionary groups, Ivan Zarov assumed Bogrov’s identity and infiltrated several leftist groups. Known to Stolypin, he became one of his most trusted agents.


In 1908 Von Hessel was assigned to take up residence in Gdingen, West Prussia. There he was to keep tabs on Russian agitators, Polish nationalists and also to cultivate the friendship of Greek military officers. Greek military officers were often trained in Germany.  Some of these Greek officers however became involved with the Polish nationalists. Ordered to create a scandal that would discredit the Polish nationalists, Von Hessel decided to also get back at a Greek officer that had for some reason offended him. Raping the daughter of this Greek officer, he convinced all involved that the rapist had been a member of the Polish nationalists. Although the accused Polish national denied all, he was forced to marry the girl. Afterwards he was found dead. Von Hessel had successfully stopped the Polish nationalists from gaining allies among the Greeks. This Greek girl was the granddaughter of Aspasia Clayton, who was the daughter of Sir William and Ermione Khatamagos. Their child was born in Gdingen on May 28, 1908 and was named Ernst Stravo Blofeld. For a time Blofeld would be the Nine’s fair-haired child and lead their criminal and terrorist enterprises until stopped through by the actions of British Intelligence.[18]


In 1910 Baron Von Hessel returned to St. Petersburg and was ostensibly part of the German diplomatic entourage. By 1911 through constant propagandizing against Rasputin, Stolypin had succeeded in getting Rasputin banished from St. Peterburg.  After Stolypin’s assassination Rasputin returned to St. Petersburg.


There were no shortage of suspects as to whom had hired Bogrov to kill Stolypin.  Various terrorist organizations wanted Stolypin out of the way because of his oppression. The Bolsheviks wanted Stolypin dead because his reforms quelled the fires of revolution. The conservatives wanted Stolypin dead because they feared his liberalism might expand and end their class privileges.  The Germans also wanted Stolypin out of the way because they feared that his policies might make Russian even more economically powerful than Germany. Rasputin and his disciples were fairly far down on the list. Bogrov was hung rapidly and the investigation into the assassination declared closed by the Tsar. This has given credence to the theory that Stolypin had been assassinated by conservative elements of the aristocracy aided by the secret police. This does seem to have been the case.


After his successful guise of Dmitri Bogrov came to an end, Ivan Zarov’s rise in the Ohkrana paralleled the rise of Rasputin in the imperial court. Under many names he worked as an agent provocateur exposing the conspiracies of leftists and their Jewish and homosexual allies. It was during this period that Ivan learned to impersonate a woman with perfection. Despite having obeyed the order of the Nine Ivan was not allowed to join the Nine as of yet. Von Hessel transfused some of his blood into Ivan with the hope that the life extending bacterium he had discovered would be transmitted to Ivan. It was not and this is when Von Hessel began to suspect that the bacterium in his body was dying out.


Although Rasputin and Ivan outwardly worked for the good of Russia while Baron Von Hessel worked for the good of Germany, in reality they worked in concert to accomplish the goals of the Nine. While Baron von Hessel undoubtedly had figured out the Nine’s long range plans, neither Rasputin or Ivan realized what would be the culmination of the Nine’s plans. Even in their later careers, neither Rasputin nor Ivan Zarov would be very successful in working out the consequences of their actions.


As planned Rasputin worked his way into the inner circle of the Imperial Court until he had a distinct influence with the Imperial family. That a peasant was given such power outraged the conservatives at court. They also played up his influence at court granting him svengali-like powers, they exaggerated his drunkenness and sexual antics.


Despite carrying out his instructions for the Nine, Rasputin had also acquired a true affection for the Imperial family. In 1914 he obliquely warned Nicholas about becoming involved in the Balkan situation. Rasputin was summoned back to his home in Tobolesk and left on the pretext of visiting his family. While in Tobolesk Rasputin was stabbed in the abdomen by a female follower of his main detractor Illidor. The wound was so deep and wide that his intestines spilled out of the wound. He was expected to die. Although the dates for the stabbing are inexact, author Colin Wilson in The Occult discovered that Rasputin was stabbed on the same day that the Archduke Ferdinand was shot to death. The one person that would have advised Tsar Nicholas not to enter the war was unavailable because of his stab wound. Rasputin recovered from his seemingly fatal wound and once again took up his post at the Imperial court.


Realizing the consequences of crossing the Nine, he went along with their plans. As per the Nine’s instructions Rasputin advised the Tsar to ignore the advice of his generals and to take personal command of the war. Once Nicholas was gone Tsarina Alexandra was in command. Rasputin used his influence over her to place some of his friends in government posts. Enemies of Rasputin spread innuendo and gossip about Rasputin’s relationship with the Tsarina, declaring that Nicholas was a cuckold.  His detractors played up the Tsarina’s Germanic background and promoted the idea that Rasputin was also a German sympathizer was convincing the Imperial couple to make peace with Germany.


Unbeknownst to Rasputin, it was Ivan Zarov and Baron von Hessel that were instrumental in creating the propaganda against Rasputin among the upper and lower classes. The Nine felt that Rasputin had compromised himself by becoming emotionally attached to the Imperial family. It was part of Rasputin’s function in their plan for him to become a lodestone of controversy that reflected badly on the Imperial family. He was also to advise the Imperial family in such a way that their bad decisions would further alienate them from their people. He however failed in this duty.


Ivan Zarov was able to use his proclivities for homosexuality and cross dressing to further the plans of the Nine. Using the name Dmitri he befriended the bi-sexual and cross dressing Prince Felix Yussupov, the Tsar’s nephew. Zarov convinced Felix to befriend Rasputin and after a time convinced him to partake in a plot to murder Rasputin. Although in his memoirs Felix states that he had joined the assassination plot out of political considerations and to 'save' Russia, his real motives remain elusive. Felix had never shown any interest in politics or the country, so this claim of his is questionable.


The true reason may have been to aid his friend Dmitri, not the Dmitri who was Ivan Zarov in disguise, but rather Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, the cousin of the Tsar. Dmitri had at one time been engaged to Olga the daughter of the Tsar. However his friendship with Felix Yusupov had caused the Tsarina to break the engagement. Many accounts report the rupture came about because it was believed that the relationship between Dmitri Paulovich and Felix had been homosexual in nature.[19] This however does not seem to be the case, the Dmitri who was Felix’s lover was in fact the cover identity of Ivan Zarov. The similarity of names caused confusion. Ivan convinced Dmitri Paulovich and Felix to assassinate Rasputin for several reasons. Ivan had convinced Felix and Dmitri Paulovich that it had been Rasputin who had spread the lie about them being lovers and had convinced the Tsarina to cast Dmitri aside. He also convinced them that Rasputin was in the pay of both the Germans and the socialists and that his influence on the royal family would cause the Imperium to fall. He pointed out that it seemed to be Rasputin who kept the Imperial heir alive and if he were removed, the heir would probably not live to his majority. This would pave the way for Grand Duke Dmitri to become the next Tsar.


Whether or not Rasputin truly had prescient powers or was just intuitive enough to realize that events had moved beyond his control, he did attempt to warn the Imperial family of the plans of the Nine before his assassination in a document that has come to be known as his last letter. He warned of his assassination, the coming revolution and the fall of the aristocracy.[20]


On December 16, 1916 Felix Yusupov invited Rasputin to his home to meet his wife Irina. He was served sweetcakes and wine. At first Rasputin refused to eat possibly put on alert by the presence of people he did not know. When Ivan Zarov in his Dmitri guise showed up Rasputin was put at ease and ate the cakes and wine. Both were supposedly laced with poison. However after an hour or so Rasputin still did not show any ill effects and according to Yusupov he went upstairs got a handgun and fired into Rasputin’s back. He and all his conspirators assembled to get rid of the body. Rasputin however jumped up and attacked them. Yusupov and his fellow conspirators[21] fired into Rasputin, one of the bullets supposedly struck his head. As they attempted to carry Rasputin from the room he once again started flailing about. The conspirators then beat and stabbed him until he lay still.[22] They threw his body into the Neva river. Yet Rasputin was found on the ice of the river having died from either drowning or hypothermia.


Despite having ensured that Rasputin’s influence on the Imperial family had been removed so that the Nine’s plans for Russia could move apace,  Ivan Zarov discovered that he had to go into hiding from his fellows in the Ohkrana as the Tsar put pressure on discovering all of the conspirators in Rasputin’s murder. Ivan Zarov took refuge among his leftist contacts after the Revolution he was exposed as an Ohkrana agent and as an aristocrat. Disguised as a woman Ivan fled towards Germany.


Meeting up with Baron Von Hessel, the Baron convinced Ivan to create the identity of Lily Bugov. It allowed Ivan to hide without fear of discovery and to carry one a semi open relationship with the Baron that would not cause tongues to wag, at least with rumors that could have ruined the Baron’s reputation rather than accentuate it.


Although Lily’s tryst with Clark Savage Jr. was part of the Baron’s plan to entrap the young man, it was it was not a chore that “Lily” minded in the least. Lily had a healthier libido than the Baron, which is why “her” attendants were strapping men with the same proclivities. However the tryst between Lily and young Savage caused a rift in the relationship between Lily and the Baron. Lily had become enamored of the young flier. Although the Baron’s passion had cooled, he was perturbed at losing Lily’s affection rather than he being to one to cast “her” off.


After Savage and successfully ruined the Baron’s biological experiments and arranged the escape from Camp Loki, the Baron and Lily went their separate ways. Having been wounded in the face and perhaps elsewhere Ivan dropped the Lily persona. Besides a woman with a horrific facial scar would have been more noticeable than a man with such a wound.


Returning to Russia Ivan deliberately created several conflicting stories about his past. He was a German defector, A Finn, Latvian, Lithuanian  or Pole attracted to the Revolution. He had been wounded fighting against the Whites. Ivan adopted a variation of his family name Ivan Zarya which translates as John Sunrise or as Lester Dent wrote it John Sunlight.


Part Two: Ivan Zarya a.k.a John Sunlight


Section One: The Monochromatic Maniac


At the beginning of The Fortress of Solitude, John Sunlight escaped from a Siberian prison camp and discovered quite by accident Doc Savage’s Fortress of Solitude.


John Sunlight had been sent to the prison camp for “using blackmail on his superior officers in the army to force them to advance him in rank”. The prosecutor found John Sunlight not merely contemptible but a horrible thing. "This thing known as John Sunlight," Serge Mafnoff said earnestly, "is incredible and shocking. We owe it to humanity to see that he is shot." Considering the virulence of Serge Mafnoff’s statements we have to wonder what exactly John Sunlight had used as blackmail against these superior officers.


John Sunlight’s description is as follows “He resembled a gentle poet, with his great shock of dark hair, his remarkably high forehead, his hollow burning eyes set in a starved face. His body was very long, very thin. His fingers, particularly, were so long and thin--the longest fingers being almost the length of an ordinary man's whole hand.” With the possible exception of the hands this description sounds like a clean shaven Rasputin.

That John Sunlight has a commanding almost mesmeric charisma.

“John Sunlight stepped out on the bridge of the ice-breaker, and forty-six persons sank to their knees in craven terror. This pleased John Sunlight. He liked to break souls to do his bidding.

No one had been killed yet. The forty-six included the crew of the ice-breaker, and the convicts. For one of the queerest quirks of John Sunlight's weird nature was that he preferred to control a mind, rather than detach it from the owner's body with a bullet or a knife.”

So it would appear that Ivan Zarov alias Ivan Zarya had learned lessons from both Baron Von Hessel and Rasputin.  When one considers our speculations about Sunlight’s sexual proclivities and about his powerful mesmeric personality it is not hard to image what the circumstances of blackmail might have been. The very nature of the acts that were the basis of blackmail would have been enough to have many people consider John Sunlight a loathsome “thing” However Serge Mafnoff must have realized that Sunlight had not merely found other officers who shared his orientation but rather that Sunlight had used his charisma and hypnotic powers to seduce these men into performing acts that they normally would not have done. He then either blackmailed them or allowed them to reward him with promotions. .

Considering his speculated connection to James Clark Wildman, alias Doc Savage, immaterial of whether John Sunlight was Lily Bugov or Lily Bugov and Savage’s son, it does seem to be rather coincidental that Sunlight would just stumble onto the location of Doc Savage’s Fortress of Solitude. Why did Sunlight command the ice breaker ship to go north rather than south when they escaped from Siberia? Even after the ice breaker’s supplies ran out and his crew began to starve Sunlight persisted in pursuing the same course. The most probable explanation is that Sunlight knew of the Fortress and of its general location. Finding the Fortress was his specific purpose rather than sailing south towards freedom from both the Soviets and the ice.

While Ivan Zarya was rising through the ranks of the Soviet Army, his mentor Baron Von Hessel had, by necessity since the re-creation of his elixir had been destroyed, become a loyal adherent of the Nine’s plans. In Germany he convinced his follow Junkers to sponsor the rise of a rabble rousing politician with a ridiculous moustache. Once Hitler had become Chancellor, Von Hessel had been dispatched to Hungary. His mission there was to foster National Socialist sympathies while at the same time undermining Hungary and its relationship with its neighbors. Von Hessel was successful in creating tensions between Hungary and Roumania over Transylvania.

Von Hessel had kept a close eye on his grandson however and heard that he had acquired some method for extending his life span. He wondered briefly if Savage had been recruited by the Nine. However the Nine discouraged questions and only disseminated information that would serve their mysterious purposes. Von Hessel also learned that young Savage had a secret retreat where he created miraculous devices, products, medicines and even botanical creations. Von Hessel became determined to learn the location of the secret base. When German Intelligence, which had a superlative file on Savage, with much of the information having come from Von Hessel, had reports of Savage on occasion re-fueling an airplane in Western Soviet territory, he knew the base was somewhere around the North Pole.

Von Hessel made several stratagems to discover the base or rather have it discovered since the Nine would not allow him to leave his post in Hungary, although he did travel to the United States on diplomatic jaunts. He convinced one of Hitler’s Thule Society brothers that the Polar opening discovered by the Zeppelin O-220 in 1929 should be explored for possible ties to Thule and Atlantis. He also convinced Himmler that an expedition should be launched to get absolute proof of the World-Ice theory.

His last stratagem involved his sometime protégé and it was the one which he thought had little chance for success. Through coded messages he told Ivan about his suspicions about Savage’s secret hideout. He did not expect much since Ivan was quite content with his position in the Soviet Union. After having the eyeball slashing blow to his face Ivan had become unhinged, fixated on the subject of Clark Savage jr. When Von Hessel hinted that if Sunlight did actually find the sanctorum, he would prove to Savage that he was the better man.  Yet these were enough for Sunlight to destroy his carefully created cover and embark on a floundering, almost futile expedition. Knowing that he could not win the Nine’s approval to leave his post in the Soviet Union and that any attempt to get leave to search for Savage’s fortress would be denied, Sunlight arranged to have his career destroyed by exposing his activities. He also knew that it was likely to sent to Siberia so he would be that much closer to his goal.

During the year he was in the Siberian prison camp Ivan took the opportunity of isolation to hone his hypnotic skills. He loved to dominate men. As Dent so aptly said “He did not want men to die. A man dead was a man he could not dominate” In the Siberian prison John Sunlight made “friends” with Civan a large, bull of a man who reminded him of his bodyguard and attendant Zad. He also befriended and then controlled two American amazons named Titania and Giantia Jeeves. They were vaudeville performers sent to Siberia for espionage. According to Dent “They were a little queer, maybe, because all their lives men had been scared of them.”  He also said “Titania and Giantia were afraid of John Sunlight. They had never been scared of any other man. But they did not worry about John Sunlight.”

Chris Carey has speculated that this could have been an indication of John Sunlight having been a woman. However I think that the message is even more complex than that. The sisters had nothing to worry about from John Sunlight because he was homosexual, his masculinity did not threaten their sexuality. Also the reverse was true, normally John Sunlight could have seen these amazonian women as sexual competitors, however as Dent states, “they were a little queer”, which may indicate that they were lesbians and so were no sexual competition for John.

It is interesting to note that it is said several times that John Sunlight does not like to kill men but prefer to control and dominate them. The operative word seems to be men. Although Sunlight uses Gigantia, Titania and their sister Fifi, he plans to have them killed once their usefulness ends. Apparently he does not have a deep desire to control or dominate women, although he does use them as henchmen. Interestingly enough Sunlight used women as proxies, as his main muscle against Doc Savage. In The Fortress of Solitude, he used Titania and Gigantia by manipulating their concern over their sister and by making them think Savage had killed Fifi. In The Devil Genghis, Sunlight used Toni Lash, a female mercenary specializing in intelligence work. Perhaps he saw the women as disposable cannon fodder or perhaps he chose them because he knew of Savage’s discomfort around women.

Dent may not have known any of this but even if he did all he could only hint at it in the pulp story. In The Fortress of Solitude Dent tailors the story to suit his dramatic needs.

One example is John Sunlight’s relationship with Baron Karl. Baron Karl was the head of a Balkan nation’s spy system. He characterized as something of a coward and a dandy with an eye for the ladies. Baron Karl is treated as though he were willingly subordinate to John Sunlight. Karl is said to be so afraid of John Sunlight that he had immediately come to America when Sunlight demanded it.

Dent has Baron Karl as being reluctant to go to the arctic with John Sunlight because of the temperature. However John Sunlight insists on taking him there to demonstrate a new weapon. In fact how it evens transpired was probably quite the opposite. Baron Karl demanded to know the location of the Fortress and insisted on traveling there as Sunlight tried to forestall him. Although Sunlight met with Baron Karl in the Arctic it was not anywhere near the Fortress. Sunlight tried to buy the Baron off with a couple of the weapons. When this did not work, Sunlight told the Baron that unless he took the weapons he offered and forgot about the rest, his country would not last for very long. Although Baron Karl probably did not have strong patriotic feelings for either Germany or Hungary, he did not want to take the chance of Ivan Zarya wrecking the Nine’s plans for Europe.

Sunlight remained uneasy about his deal with Baron Karl. After Baron Karl the Arctic, Sunlight wanted to make certain his pilot had flown him back to New York. He became worried when learning that Baron Karl had demanded to be flown into Montreal.

One of the possible misdirections that Dent used was in how the relationship between Doc Savage and John Sunlight played out. After surviving hardship and near starvation, finding and then attempting to get into the Fortress, John Sunlight steals a great many devices and then makes a bee line for New York. According to Dent his purpose is to revenge himself on Serge Maffnof while at the same time demonstrating to the world that he had weapons of great power.

Dent stated that John Sunlight wanted to achieve a utopian world without war or want, ruled by him. Yet his first move at this was a bit odd. He did not contact any World powers at that time. Sunlight did not contact the United States, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia or Japan. Instead he arranged for two rather small countries to be allowed to buy the first set of weapons. While it is remotely possibly that John Sunlight feared having his weapons seized by the Great Powers, if he had truly been serious about his planned utopia, then making one nation a dominant world power would have accelerated his program. Sunlight merely played at being a philosopher and a utoptian. He really wanted to create chaos rather than order.

Once Sunlight had acquired the weapons he had gone to New York City and killed Serge Maffnoff, who was now a Soviet diplomat. After the news of this had reached the papers his man Civan posed as a cab driver who picked up Doc Savage. During the cab ride Savage grew suspicious of the cab driver and made the driver go down an empty street. He and the driver exited the cab and he waited until it exploded. The plan had been for the driver to have to make a short stop at a cigarette or newsstand and avoid the blast. Capturing Civan Doc Savage took him to the Hidalgo Trading Company for interrogation. Civan accidentally mentioned John Sunlight but claimed that he was working for a man named Eli Camel who had just left on the Amazon Queen.

Doc Savage, Monk and Ham investigated the odd happenings at Serge Mafnoff’s home. As they left the house, Gigantia and Titania rammed their car into Monk’s car and took him captive. They believed Monk and company were in the employ of John Sunlight, since they had seen Civan with them.

John Sunlight had kidnapped their sister to make certain they kept quiet about the blue dome. Monk told them about Doc Savage and they decided to see if Savage could save Fifi. While they were in Doc Savage’s office, a plane flew by the window and Fifi’s voice told the girls not to say anything to Doc Savage. The girls clammed up but Monk told them about the blue dome. Doc Savage was so shocked at this news he had to physically calm himself.

Doc and Monk went after the plane while Ham and Long Tom watched the girls. Monk chased after the plane in a car while Doc triangulated the radio signal. The plane exploded but Doc was able to discover where the signal had originated. He found six thugs holding a diminutive but superbly shaped Fifi Jeeves. Doc rendered the thugs unconscious through gas and rescued Fifi.

Giganta and Titania had gone wild when the plane blew up and escaped from Ham and Long Tom. “They left swearing they were going to join John Sunlight and help him get Savage, to pay Savage back for causing Fifi's death in the plane."

From the captive thugs Doc Savage learned that John Sunlight was sequestered in a house on an island in Hudson’s bay. Doc put the house under surveillance and managed to plant a super-sensitive microphone on one of the walls of the house. However he could not get into the house because Sunlight had many guards as well as an alarm system. Doc and saw Baron Karl and the former Crown Prince of another small European country visit the house. Rick Lai has brilliantly speculated that the former Crown Prince was King Carol II of Rumania.[23] 

Doc Savage decided to make a raid on the island and capture John Sunlight. The sequence in which this takes place in the novel is a bit odd and telling.

Since Sunlight had bodyguards prowling his estate and electronic buoys guarding any approach by water to the house, Doc Monk and Ham donned diving gear and walked along the river bottom. They intended to scale the cliff face and enter Sunlight’s stronghold.

When Doc and his two companions arrived at Sunlight’s headquarters, Doc handed them each a headset. As soon as they put on the headphones they heard John Sunlight ask Civan who his greatest enemy had been. Civan said Serge Mafnoff. Sunlight told Civan how he now had a new great enemy and while he wished to match wits with him, he had to go to the Arctic.

Through the subterfuge of a small fire outside the house, Doc was able to lure away one of the guards. Doc and his companions entered the house and dropped gas and smoke grenades. They were confronted by the bull-like Civan who started to fight with them until ordered by Sunlight not to fight them but to get Sunlight’s men out of the house.

Doc ordered Ham and Monk out of the house. They made it out a few moments before the house exploded.

Doc had recognized the weapon that killed Serge Maffnoff, he knew from the Jeeves Sisters that Sunlight knew about the Fortress of Solitude, he heard Sunlight state he was heading for the Arctic but had not learned the exact location of his meeting with his two buyers. The King cavorted in nightclubs and so it was a small matter for Doc to have a bartender slip something into the King’s drink which temporarily blinded him. Doc and Monk posed as the King bodyguards and accompanied him to his meeting with Sunlight.

Doc arranged for little problems that would upset John Sunlight’s carefully orchestrated schedule such as causing the plane they were on to crash, stranding them with Sunlight and having King Carol remain blinded so Sunlight had to postpone the demonstration of his weapon. Gigantia and Titania had been in the role of cooks. Through ventriloquism and imitation of Sunlight’s voice Doc convinced the Jeeves sisters that Fifi was alive and well and that they had once again been manipulated by Sunlight.

Sunlight kept a watch for Savage and was elated when his men spotted a plane a few miles from their camp. Doc’s plan went awry when Civan and his men captured Long Tom, Renny and Fifi Jeeves, who promised to tell Sunlight where Doc Savage was, in exchange for her own life.

Sunlight had King Carol and his two bodyguards brought before him. He told them about the story of Doc Savage and his Fortress of Solitude. His story was interrupted by the arrival of the plane carrying Civan and his prisoners.

After meeting with Civan John Sunlight announced that he was going to demonstrate the weapon and he chose the disguised Doc Savage as the target. He asked Fifi to confirm that the bodyguard was indeed Doc Savage. Rather than fleeing Doc confronted John Sunlight who moved out of the way. A melee broke out in camp and John Sunlight ends up running for his life across the arctic ice. Doc and his men found the tatters of Sunlight’s clothing next to a Polar bear. They did not however find the cache of weapons.

When the whole of the first John Sunlight incident is viewed upon by unbiased eye, we can see that there is another interpretation the various events and how they were arranged. John Sunlight kept Doc Savage off balance and played him. When Baron Karl had tempted John Sunlight with the Fortress of Solitude and its power, the love-hate conflict that John Sunlight had for Doc Savage came to the forefront and became a monomania. On one hand he wanted to destroy Doc Savage and on the other hand he wanted to love him, in the most literal sense.

Sunlight wanted to prove to Doc Savage that he was worthy of him, so he attempted to outsmart and even to prove he could kill him. Conversely he wanted Doc Savage to prove that he was worthy of Sunlight. Each step of the way Sunlight was a couple of steps ahead of Doc Savage but Sunlight had an unfair advantage, he knew Doc Savage from their previous encounter and the Baron’s accumulated information on Savage.

Doc Savage was also at a disadvantage when dealing with Sunlight because there was some unknown quality about Sunlight that threw him off.

John Sunlight did not go to New York for the express purpose of getting revenge on Serge Mafnoff, that was merely icing on the cake. Sunlight would have used the machine on any member of the Soviet diplomatic corps in New York. He had gone to New York because it was known to be the headquarters of Doc Savage. He used the high profile murder with the unique weapon in Doc Savage’s home town to announce to Doc Savage that someone who was cleverer than he had found the Fortress of Solitude and stolen its treasures. When Doc Savage took the bait, Sunlight set his first feint, his first trap. Of Civan with the booby trapped cab. Sunlight thought that Doc would easily overcome this trap and capture Civan so he had set up another feint with in this one.

He had hypnotized Civan to give Doc Savage the false story of working for Eli Camel who was heading for South America. Yet Civan was to accidentally drop the name John Sunlight once to see if Doc Savage caught the mistake. When Doc ignored the Eli Camel story and investigated Serge Mafnoff’s house Sunlight worked the next portion of his stratagem. Monk and Ham went to Serge Mafnoff’s house taking Civan with them. Sunlight launched a rescue of Civan while Doc watched from across the street. Sunlight’s men used weapons from Doc’s arsenal to further tease Doc Savage. Although usually Sunlight did not order men to be killed he gave orders that when Civan was rescued that Doc Savage’s men should be killed. Sunlight knew the anguish this would cause in Savage.

Although his men rescued Civan they failed to kill Doc’s men. However Sunlight had a back up plan. He knew that the Jeeves sisters were hunting for their sister and for Sunlight. Sunlight had arranged for a remote controlled plane that he planned to entice the Jeeves sisters attack Doc Savage to keep their sister safe. However the sisters played into his hands by attacking Monk who convinced them to go to Doc Savage’s headquarters. Sunlight gave them sufficient time to spill some of their story before sending the plane to fly around Savage’s headquarters and warn the sisters about spilling the beans about John Sunlight. That Sunlight had previously arranged for the plane seems fairly obvious. Sunlight would not have had time to equip a remote controlled radio operated plane and place Fifi in a secure place on a nearby rooftop within the few moments that it took the Jeeves sisters to arrive at Doc’s headquarters and tell their story.

Although Sunlight had hoped that when the plane exploded and the sisters thought Fifi had been killed they would kill Doc or at least the aides. However they just beat the living tar out of Ham and Long Tom. Sunlight also miscalculated on how rapidly Doc Savage found the rooftop that Fifi was being held. Sunlight had planned on Doc Savage capturing one or two of his men but wanted to keep Fifi in his custody so he could continue to manipulate the Jeeves sisters.

Sunlight knew that Doc would discover from his henchmen where his temporary headquarters were. But he also knew Doc would not move against him once he realized that Sunlight knew about the strange blue dome. Sunlight moved quickly ahead with his plans the planned to sell his weapons to two competing nations with the hope that they would actually use the weapons and destabilize the status quo in Europe.

As part of his challenge to Doc Savage he also wanted to see if Savage could get these weapons away from his clients before they used them. While Savage was busy retrieving the weapons from Baron Karl and King Carol, Sunlight planned to further destabilize Europe while building up a power base in Asia.

John Sunlight knew that Doc Savage had planted a listening device on his stronghold. He had most likely acquired some equipment from the Fortress or adapted some it so that he would know when someone was actively listening to his conversations. He could then feed them the information he wanted. The most telling example of this is when Doc, Monk and Ham start to tune in on the listening device after crossing the Hudson River. The first words out of Sunlight’s mouth were to announce to his underling that Doc Savage was now his greatest enemy and that he was leaving for the arctic. In effect Sunlight was issuing a challenge for Doc Savage, if Savage could survive the next test.

That Sunlight knew Doc would eventually raid the house can be determined by his booby trapping of the house. That Sunlight was aware that Doc was outside the house when he was talking to Civan can be seen by how quickly all of his men were evacuated. Sunlight had to remind the rather dull witted Civan that the house was booby trapped.

Realizing that the house was booby trapped Doc ordered Monk and Ham outside immediately.

John Sunlight had expected Doc Savage to pursue him immediately which is why he had arranged for Baron Karl to meet him a few miles away from the Fortress of Solitude. He thought it would be poetic justice for he and the Baron to destroy Doc Savage and wreck his plans next to his stronghold just as Doc Savage had ruined their plans in the Baron’s stronghold. Despite having left so many clues Doc Savage either overlooked the obvious or deliberately stayed away from the Fortress so as not to further reveal its location. Either way, Savage did not arrive before the Baron had to leave, so this opportunity for revenge was missed.

When Savage and Monk showed up disguised as the bodyguards of the temporarily blinded King Carol, John Sunlight must have been almost immediately suspicious. He was probably not certain what exactly the temporary blindness meant but almost found it too convenient. He did not know if it was merely a delaying measure or if one of the bodyguard or both were members of Savage’s crew. When another landed plane was sighted, Sunlight was certain Savage was close.

Evidence that Sunlight had pierced Doc Savage’s disguise can be seen in these two passages.

“John Sunlight stood, a tall dark tower of a figure; he had given up his show of not feeling the cold, and had donned dark clothing and a black cape and an aviator's black helmet. He presented a picture that was not in any sense pleasant. He showed his teeth.

"Your master treats you roughly," he said.

He spoke these words in the tongue which Adonis and Beauty were supposed to use.

Doc replied. He spoke the tongue fluently, as he spoke many others.

"Our lot is not a bad one," Doc replied in the language. He used the illiterate form of the tongue, as Adonis might be expected to do.

"You have been with his highness long?" John Sunlight asked.

"A long time," Doc replied promptly.

He didn't know whether that was the correct answer; there had been no time to check on all details of the prince's two bodyguards.

"Where were you born?" John Sunlight asked.

Doc immediately named a small mountain town in the prince's native land.

"I have heard of the place," John Sunlight said. Then he added, "Well, you will be out of the cold weather before long. Your master will probably start back at dawn. I shall send you all in one of my planes."

Although it seems as though Sunlight is merely making small talk with King Carol’s two guards. In retrospect of what happened later we can see that Sunlight was toying with Doc. His statement “Well, you will be out of the cold weather before too long” takes on sinister connotations.

Prior to his demonstration of the super weapon for King Carol, Sunlight launched into a discussion about Doc Savage and his Fortress. King Carol was bored with the lecture and wondered about its revalence. Well, the revelance was that Sunlight knew Savage was present in disguise and wanted Savage to know that he knew who he was. Later after Long Tom, Renny and Fifi Jeeves were captured and brought to Sunlight’s camp John Sunlight did not even talk to Fifi when he pointed out Doc Savage. He merely asked her to confirm his identification.

Like many of Doc’s villain’s John Sunlight’s plans were too complex and unraveled rapidly when one thing went wrong. Sunlight fled rather than fight.

Even Doc Savage believed that John Sunlight is dead, or at least he wished it to be so.

John Sunlight makes his next, and only other pulp novel, appearance in The Devil Genghis which was published a few months after The Fortress of Solitude. Despite being the title character, John Sunlight does not appear in much of The Devil Genghis but acts behind the scenes. The book opens following the trail of madmen. An Eskimo became insane when his clothes were stolen by a spirit. A pilot became insane and his plane disappeared. A wealthy American living on the Riviera became insane after he became betrothed to socialite Toni Lash. Each of these men had been driven insane through a combination of drugs and hypnosis. The first two as Sunlight escaped from the Arctic where he had supposedly been eaten by a bear. The third was driven insane because he stood between Sunlight and Toni Lash. Sunlight did not want Lash for himself because of her womanly charms but because he needed her skills to capture Doc Savage. The majority of The Devil Genghis is about Toni Lash’s attempts to kidnap Doc Savage while he follows the trail of the insane men.[24]

After having escaped from the arctic John Sunlight had established himself as a sort of modern day incarnation of Genghis Khan in the area beyond Afghanistan. He had bought several fighter planes and was training an army. Sunlight intended to use the weapons he had stolen from the Fortress to rule the world. To do this he wanted Doc Savage to show him how to operate them but there seems to be more to it than that.

The setting for the section of The Devil Genghis where Doc Savage and John Sunlight confront each other is I think, significant.  It takes place in John Sunlight’s candlelit bedroom.[25] Doc Savage enters the bedroom and sees John Sunlight reclining on the bed. Doc seizes John Sunlight’s head only to discover that he had been fooled by a wax figure. John Sunlight’s voice tells Doc that the bed is one great shrapnel shell and the wax figure was the triggering mechanism.

When Sunlight learned that it is Doc Savage in his bedroom he reacted very strongly.

“John Sunlight fell back a pace, and his hands--he wore blue gloves--jerked up as though to fend a blow. He fell to trembling and biting his lips, then pulled a great sob of air into his lungs and got control of himself.

The shaking of John Sunlight's arms and legs continued, but it was joy now. Utter, unrestrainable delight. So pleased he was that he tried several times to speak before he got anything more than an incoherent gobble. “[26]

When Doc Savage first caught sight of John Sunlight in The Devil Genghis he saw that John Sunlight still had his peculiar habit of wearing clothes and accessories of all of one color, however his once dark hair had become white.. Doc Savage was not certain whether John Sunlight’s hair had turned white from his ordeal in the arctic or whether he had dyed it as part of his affection since Sunlight had been wearing white at the time. When Doc confronted Sunlight person to person, Sunlight was wearing a blue turban.

However the monochromatic color scheme and change in hair color were part of Sunlight’s hidden, subliminal signals to Doc Savage as to whom Doc was really dealing with. The monochromatic color scheme is something that John Sunlight carried over from his Lily Bugov impersonation. However Doc Savage failed to comprehend the rather subtle clue. So by this time Sunlight had colored his hair a platinum blonde like Lily’s  had been, but Savage remained oblivious.

Doc stated that he knew Sunlight intended to force him to teach him about the advanced weapons.

However Sunlight astonished Doc when he tells him he never meant to force him. They both shared the same aims in life. Sunlight explains how he plans to conquer the world and bring about a utopian world under his totalitarian rule. He wanted Doc to aid him in this effort for the sake of the world.

As we can see by the setting of the scene this was a proposal in both definitions of the word. John Sunlight was not merely offering Doc Savage to be his partner in the conquest of the world, he was offering Doc the chance to be his consort.

Doc rejected this offer and kept the bed exploding (I think the metaphor in that is quite obvious) and leapt for Sunlight. Sunlight however had talked to Doc behind a partition of thick but invisible glass. Doc was trapped in the room while Sunlight ran away. Once Doc was alone he took cover and triggered the explosive on the bed so that the glass was shattered.

Once he was free Doc proclaimed that the false Genghis (Sunlight) had tried to kill the All Powerful.

Although Dent states that Sunlight fled in terror, Sunlight knew that the thick glass would keep Savage at bay for a few moments at least. Sunlight actually turned away in rage and humiliation. As the two factions of Genghis supporters started to fight, Sunlight tried to flee the mob. He was caught by the mob and butchered.

Or so it appeared.

Section II

Hell Hath No Fury

Although John Sunlight did not appear in another pulp novel, he did come back once more in “The Monarch of Armageddon” Millennium Comic’s sequel to The Devil Genghis.

A synopsis of The Monarch of Armageddon is as follows:

Shortly after being attacked by the mob of Mongols who had believed him to be the reincarnation of Genghis Khan, John Sunlight is rescued by the Lama Dorijieff and taken to a lamasery in Sikkim.  Lama Dorijieff is a Russian Mongolian, a true descendent of Genghis Khan who has the title of Tsanyis Khan-Po, the King of Fear. In Sikkim with Dorijieff is a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Doc Savage. His name is Xauz, a Thulian from the legendary land of Ultima Thule. Xauz immediately dislikes Sunlight, believing him to be too arrogant.

In Late Spring of 1938 Doc Savage and his men stop a dirigible from dropping a bomb on New York. The dirigible was manned and operated by Bundists. Doc is tired of this life, claiming he has been doing it for over ten years. Doc intends to take a sabbatical to Hidalgo.


John Sunlight meets with a representative of the Third Reich who berates Sunlight for his inaccessibility. The dirigible operation had been Sunlight’s idea although funded by the Third Reich. Herr Ganth is most upset when he learns that John Sunlight had alerted Savage to the plan. Herr Ganth reveals that one of the captured Bundists, Smith knows too much about Project Neu Menschlich. When one of Sunlight’s men calls him Tsanyis Khan-Po Ganth is perplexed for that was Dorijieff’s title. Sunlight reveals that Dorijieff has been killed and he has assumed the title. Sunlight then commands Xauz to dispose of Ganth which he does by snapping his neck. Sunlight then reveals his plan is the systematic destruction of everything the man of bronze holds dear.


As Doc leaves for his trip to Hidalgo he instructs his men to find out more about Smith and the Silver Shirts. Smith has a daughter named Helena in the East Village.


When Doc arrives in Hidalgo he is attacked by some of the Mayans. He demands to know where King Chaac and Princess Monja are. Stunned from a blow behind him he is shocked to discover that Princess Monja had led the attack on him.


Chained to a wall Doc Savage is dosed with a powerful hallucinogenic drug and taunted by Princess Monja.


In New York Monk and Ham attend the opening of Patricia Inc. Pat Savage’s spa. Pat is under attack by a group of Tibetans in Western dress. They are about to administer a potion in a hypodermic when Ham and Monk arrive. They drive off her attackers. One of the Tibetans yells Tsanyis Khan-Po and poisons himself. Monk takes the syringe to analyze the drug.


When Doc Savage dies from his ordeal, a teary eyed Monja orders Doc thrown into the pit. She tells her men she will inform the Thunderbolt. Doc has been playing possum and overpowers his captors when the try to throw him in the pit.


Renny went to the police station to talk to Smith. As Smith was being transferred a group of mobsters use gas to capture him. They also captured Renny but threw him out of the car. Breeze Castliglione is trying to find a cache of German weapons for his own use.


On Sunlight’s Yacht his Tibetan henchmen tell that they failed to capture Patricia Savage due to the arrival of Mayfair and Brooks. Sunlight has the failed henchmen shut up in lightless boxes for forty eight hours. He then orders Xauz to visit Helena Smith to see what she knows of Project Neu Menschlich.


Claiming to be Herr Ganth, Xauz visits Helena Smith claiming that she might have inherited some money if she could produce a necklace similar to the one he produced. This was a pendant of green jewel set in the shape of a pyramid framed by silver with a silver streak of lightning across the stone face. Xaux is interrupted by one of Castligione’s men. As Xauz and the mobster fight, Johnny and Long Tom arrive to speak with Helena Smith. Rather than fight all three Xauz makes a strategic retreat.


Castliogine interrogates Smith but only gets garbled phrases such as “The New Man is intrepid and cruel”  “Green Rock Thule.”


Doc Savage finds King Chaac being held captive by Princess Monja. Chaac berates her for having betrayed the man who preserved the Mayan way of life. Monja replies that if it had not been for Savage they would not need protection. Sunlight had made it so clear.


Savage told Chaac and Monja he realized that Sunlight made them act in a drug induced psychosis. Monja laughs at that. Sunlight only used words to persuade her to turn against Doc Savage, the man who spurned her. She tells Doc that Sunlight has allied himself with true supermen whose existence has been whispered for centuries. Monja also claimed that Sunlight had removed his legacy of gold and laid waste to his headquarters in New York.


Monk, Ham and Renny search for and locate Smith in an abandoned water tower. He has been dead for days. They find a note book which they intend to look for impressions. Monk tells them that the drug that the Tibetans tried to inject into Pat was the same psychotropic Sunlight had used on Renny.


At the office Johnny gives Long Tom, Pat and Helena Smith a lecture about Thule. He says it was a Hyperborean island in the extreme North of the Atlantic, supposedly a continuation of the Atlantean civilization. The medallion that Helena Smith possessed has an outline of the island giving its approximate location. He says that the man fit the description of the Aryan superman that supposedly populates Thule and did speak a proto-german dialect. A group of police officers visit the offices. They are Tibetans in police uniforms who fire upon the group. However they are safely behind bullet proof glass. A hand grenade shatters that and knocks them off their feet. Sunlight and his Tibetans capture the women. After leaving the office Sunlight receives a telegram that Doc Savage had died of an allergic reaction to the drug.


Renny, Monk and Ham return to the office and find Johnny and Long Tom unconscious. Once the two are awake they tell them that Sunlight took Pat and Helena Smith. As the five leave to find Pat, they find that Doc has returned from Hidalgo.


Sunlight laments the fact that Savage is dead. He has a terse conversation with Pat who curses and bites him. Xauz returns as Sunlight is about to kill Pat. Xauz said that the Smith girl knew nothing important. Xauz wishes to leave for Thule. Sunlight muses that it is unfortunate that Xauz had not met Savage. Sunlight theorized that Savage was related to Xauz’ people.


Doc Savage appears with his five companions. In hand to hand combat Xauz overpowers Doc Savage who has been tortured and endured a non stop flight from Hidalgo.  By threatening Pat’s life Sunlight get Doc and his men to leave the yacht. Watching from a distance they follow Sunlight and see a body thrown overboard. Racing to the body, the find it is not that of Pat but rather of Helena Smith. As Doc Savage follows Sunlight, Castligione follows Savage.


Savage finds the Thunderbolt adrift. There isn’t any sign of Sunlight or his crew. However there was the crew of a German submarine aboard, all of him died from Prussiate compound. Doc finds a medallion on the Submarine captain’s body that identifies him as a member of the Thule society.


As they get back underway Doc tell his men of myths around Thule that state it predated Atlantis and that its inhabitants were the inspiration for the Norse Gods and ancient Germanic Gods. The same cataclysm  85,000 years ago that sank Lemuria, Mu and Atlantis tore Thule asunder.  The island exists as a desolate rock some twenty miles long. Exploring the island they find a grotto that leads to an underground cavern. This is where the city of Thule exists. They have a high technology as seen by their ventilation system. The leader is Wothenjaz, Odin. Doc tries to persuade them not be become allied with the Nazi’s. He must fight Xauz in single combat. This time Doc defeats Xauz however their fight is interrupted by the arrival of Castiglione who mow down the Thulians with machine guns.


Castiglione spots Xauz and shoots him in the head for having killed his henchman. The Fabulous Five aid the Thulians while Doc Savage goes after John Sunlight who has fled. Sunlight and Doc fight on a stretch of barren rock over some ocean side cliffs. Sunlight goes over the edge and catches hold of a stone wall. However he would rather die than submit to being captured by Doc so he pushes away from the cliff face and falls into the ocean. After the fight, the Thulians burn their dead and call for the spirit of evil and darkness to descend upon the outside world. Woten commands Doc and his men to go.


One of the more interesting things about The Monarch of Armageddon is that John Sunlight is depicted as having a scar that bisects his eye. A scar much like the one that Lily Bugov would have had once her injury had healed. Sunlight is not depicted as having such a scar in either The Fortress of Solitude or The Devil Genghis.


“The Monarch of Armageddon” takes places shortly after the events of The Devil Genghis. At the end of The Devil Genghis John Sunlight is attacked and apparently dismembered his disillusioned Mongolian warriors.  “That cry got started somehow, and spread, and there was not enough of John Sunlight's body in that one place for all the swords to find it; so that suddenly it was in a dozen sections all over the flying field, where it was available to more swords.” However in “The Monarch of Armageddon” it is revealed in the confusion Sunlight pushed another person in front of him while he fled.


We are to think then that this scar was the result of the injuries that he incurred while being attacked by his men. Yet given the speculation that Ivan Zarov was both Lily Bugov and Ivan Zarya aka John Sunlight this scar takes on some importance.


Yet where did the scar go between the end of Escape From Loki and the end of The Devil Genhis.  Certainly Dent would have mentioned such a striking disfigurement. We know despite the Baron’s efforts to get his favorite inducted into the fellowship of the Nine, this did not happen. So the disappearance of the scars probably did not come about from the regenerative properties of the elixir. If they, the question then arises why did the come back? If indeed the scars had healed, perhaps Sunlight performed an act of self mutilation as a response to being scorned by Doc Savage.


There is the possibility that the scars had not healed at all. Sunlight may have covered the noticeable and disfiguring scar with flesh covered latex pieces. People would tend to notice the scar more than the face, a bit of misdirection that he had learned from his false bosom. These latex pieces may have been ripped off in the fight or Sunlight may have deliberately removed them to disguise himself. The most likely explanation is that Sunlight had plastic surgery to cover the scars and during the fighting with the Mongols the thin layer of skin grafted over the scars broke revealing the seam underneath.


He used this scar as a personal symbol of his being scorned not merely once by Savage but thrice. The brutal and methodical way in which Sunlight sought vengeance against Savage and all he holds dear, brings to mind more the burning hatred of a lover scorned rather than the cool calculating plot of a villain’s whose plans had been upset.


During this period he made no attempt to hide the scar. This I believe hearkens to the earlier speculation that he deliberately revealed his scar to change his appearance. He did this to hide the identity of the man behind the destruction of Savage’s life would be a surprise to Savage. Yet the scar should have been the most telling clue of them all.


As the synopsis of The Monarch of Armageddon demonstrates John Sunlight took a particular delight in going after the women in Doc Savage’s life. Having learned of Doc’s affection for Monja, he turned her against Doc Savage and against her own family. He probably took a particular delight in having her torture and think that she was the cause of Savage’s death.


Sunlight also showed great determination in capturing Pat Savage. Baron Karl may have told John Sunlight about the rumors swirling about Doc Savage and his cousin.[27] When Pat eluded capture one the first attempt Sunlight put more effort in capturing her. After she was in his custody, Sunlight was given the news that Savage had died from a bad reaction to his psychotropic drug. Since he had no further use for her, he was going to eliminate her. Although Sunlight showed more willingness to kill men in this story, he continued to have no compunction about killing women. Helena Smith for example was tortured and killed without a thought.


We should also discuss John Sunlight and his relationship to Xauz. According to The Monarch of Armageddon Xauz was from Ultima Thule in the far north. Thule was part of an continent that sank 85,000 years ago. At first Xauz is depicted as brely tolerating John Sunlight but shortly thereafter he is depicted as his most devoted servant.


When the tale takes us to Ultima Thule where we learn that the Thulians spoke a proto-german and that they had access to high technology. Their leader is Wothenjaz and it is strongly implied that the Thulians were immortals who inspired the legends of the Aesir, with Wothenjaz being Wothan or Odin. According to Philip Jose Farmer’s novels A Feast Unknown, Lord of the Trees and The Mad Goblin, the leader of the Nine was named XauXaz was an elderly one-eyed man who was also known as Odin.[28]


Now granted the story of the Ultima Thule as depicted in The Monarch of Armageddon may very well be literally true, however much of the story may also be reconstructed exaggeration. Ultima Thule may have been the remnants of an ancient civilization populated by Nordic immortals, possibly even some Lemurian or Atlantean connections. I suspect that Ultima Thule was a hidden sanctuary of the Nine, one which they discovered and conquered. The Thulians were the immediate family of XauXaz and his descendents who preserved their original culture in isolation. It may have also been one of the manufacturing areas for the elixir. The high technology was already in place and they could only operate the machinery not duplicate it. Ultima Thule suffered great and probably irreparable damage during the fight between the Thulians and Castligione’s gangsters.


In A Feast Unknown it was revealed that XauXaz was most probably the grandfather of Lord Grandrith and Doc Caliban, the Nine’s Tarzan and Doc Savage doppelgangers. The man Xauz could have been another grandson of XauXaz. John Sunlight would have been immediately attracted to him, not simply because of his resemblance to Doc Savage but also because Xauz presented a challenge to him. Since Xauz hated him on sight it gave Sunlight the perfect opportunity to break him, dominate him and put him under his power.


Having worked for the Nine and from his contact with Baron Karl, Sunlight probably realized Xauz was related to the Nine. Since Sunlight had been denied the chance to receive the elixir, Sunlight may have thought Xauz was his ticket in doing so. He may have learned from Xauz that the Nine were ambivalent about Doc Savage. He often wrecked their plans yet they were reluctant to deal with him because of their religious beliefs. Sunlight believed that if he succeeded in his mission of vengeance and destroyed Savage and his organization, he could prove his worth to the Nine, for it would free them from the chains of their theology. Sunlight may have also thought that he could use the technological marvels in Ultima Thule to his own advantage.


Like Castiglione he was attracted to Ultima Thule by the promise of treasures that did not exist.


One of the main plot points of The Monarch of Armageddon was Xauz’s proposed plan to ally the Thule with Nazi Germany. This, however was probably only his idea and not one shared by the full council of the Nine. Generally the Nine operated on a more global scale and did not align with any particular nation. Sunlight also did not have any particular allegiance, especially not to Nazi Germany as seen by his slaughter of the crew of the German submersible. 


During the melee fight between the American gangsters, the Thulians and Doc’s men John Sunlight took the opportunity to flee. Doc Savage went in pursuit. John Sunlight jumped over an ocean swept cliff rather than submit to being captured by Doc Savage. The final humiliation was perhaps after all he had done to Savage, after all the clues that Sunlight had given him, Savage still had not twigged as to whom John Sunlight truly was.


John Sunlight clung to a cliff face high over the ocean. Rather than be rescued by Doc Savage John Sunlight released his grip and plummeted into the ocean.


This is the last we have we saw of John Sunlight… under that name anyway.


Part III 

Loki Reborn


The Green Hair Has It


This section of our article may very well be the most controversial of them all, even more so than speculating that John Sunlight was a cross dressing homosexual with a love/hate fixation with Doc Savage. As we have discussed Ivan Zarov in his personas of Lily Bugov or Ivan Zarya, a.k.a. John Sunlight embodied the trickster. Frequently the Trickster figure exhibits gender and form variability, changing gender roles and engaging in same-sex practices. The Trickster brings knowledge and wisdom to humanity and to epic heroes by challenging their intellect and prowess through tests and tricks. Loki, the Norse trickster, also exhibits gender variability, in one case even becoming pregnant; interestingly, he shares the ability to change genders with Odin, the chief Norse deity who also possesses many characteristics of the Trickster. The Trickster motif as well as the odd friendship between Odin and Loki can be seen in Escape From Loki  through the relationship between Baron Karl and Lily. Lily symbolizes the gender transformed Loki whereas the monocled Baron symbolizes Odin as a trickster. They both test and challenge the young epic hero Doc Savage.


The son of a giantess, Loki was a small giant but a tall man.  Loki is often depicted as a tall, dark haired man.[29] As in most often seen in the Marvel Comic’s version of him. One need not be reminded that in The Fortress of Solitude that Sunlight was a depicted as a tall, dark haired man. He personified the Trickster who both tested and tried to destroy the Hero. As we have shown the events of The Fortress of Solitude could be seen as a series of tests put forth by John Sunlight to Doc Savage.


A year after Doc Savage saw John Sunlight fall into the ocean depths, there appeared in New York City a man who personified the darkest, most horrific aspects of the Trickster Gods. I hope to prove that this deadly trickster was John Sunlight, or at least what was left of him.


After Doc Savage and his men had left Ultima Thule the Thulians were surprised but not entirely shocked when the drenched and bloody form of John Sunlight stumbled into the remnants of their sanctuary. They would have killed him outright had Sunlight not been one of their servants. XauXaz was also interested in Sunlight because he combined aspects of both Wotan and Loki in one person.


Sunlight’s scarred eye bothered XauXaz as did the fact that Sunlight was responsible, in part, for the death of Xauz. XauXaz decided that Sunlight represented a sign that events were recycling. Sunlight’s leap into the ocean after the death of Xauz, replicated Loki’s transformation into a salmon and leaping into the ocean to escape after the death of Balder.


Loki had been chained to a rock so that a serpent’s acidic venom would drip upon him, torturing him for all eternity. Sunlight’s punishment was more modern, He was strapped down to a table while his injuries were fixed without the benefit of anesthetic. Minute amounts of the elixir were given to him but only to keep him alive. Although the elixir kept him alive and aided his recuperation the minute amount did not undue the severe damage that a full dose of the elixir would have done. The fall on the rocks had severely damaged Sunlight’s face and had given him severe head trauma. In layman’s terms the rocks had made an omelet out his already scrambled brains. Sunlight’s mouth had been ripped open on the rocks giving him the equivalent the injury given to Gwynplaine or what is colloquially called a Glasgow Smile.[30] When healed his pulverized cheekbones, ripped cheek muscles and torn lips formed a permanent rictus. In addition to the scars around his lips other scars marred his face. Although XauXaz ordered the scar bisecting Sunlight’s eye to be removed, seeing this mark as one that could be used to promote Sunlight as a possible rival to XauXaz.


Sunlight lost most of his personal memories, he knew he was named John, had a love hate/love relationship with a man in New York City. This man was the epic hero to his trickster. While recuperating John became fascinated with the stories of the Trickster and learned all he could about the character from the collected lore of the Nine. Because of his permanent grin he became convinced that he was the personification of the Trickster, the ultimate synthesis of that being.  He was the Fool, the Jester, the Harlequin, and the Joker. The Fool signified a new beginning, a new life for him and a new beginning for mankind. The Trickster reshaped creation in new and often terrifying ways. Although John Sunlight had been relatively mirthless, the new John discovered humor but this was the humor of the prank and the pratfall, the cruel humor of circus clowns and Punch and Judy.


He highlighted his rictus by wearing bright red lipstick. This may have also satisfied, in part, his desire for transvestitism. He covered his facial scars with thick, white clown make up. Rather than go with the traditional red hair color of the clown however, John chose to color his hair green and to make it semi-permanent he dosed himself with high levels of copper. The copper toxicity also contributed to his madness. He chose the green color because as the Fool he signaled a new beginning a new birth. The god Dionysus was the god of reborn god of fertility who wore ivy in his hair. He left a trail of madness in his wake. This was echoed in the legends of the Wild Hunt who ferocity gathered followers as it went along. The leader of the wild hunt was often called Herla Cynig or Hellequin, and was often believed to be an avatar of Odin in his trickster or god of war aspect. Herla Cynig evolved into Harlequin, the mischievous and cruel clown. Rather than adopt Harlequin’s piebald look he went with a solid purple color scheme. This hearkened back to his forgotten days as Lily Bugov and memory flickers of John Sunlight. Purple was the regal color and John was the reborn king of comedy and the king of terror. In his eyes, these were the same thing.


John had been taken to a sanitarium owned by the Nine and run by Doc Caliban in New York State. The operation to remove John’s criminal tendencies was not believed needed since he only had spotty remembrances. However seeing Doc Caliban dredged up John’s feelings of love/hate for Doc Savage. He knew, on some level, however that Caliban was not his enemy so he escaped to find him.


John adopted the name of Jack Napier. Jack is of course another name for John. Napier derives from an old French world meaning Keeper of Linen. Linen was often used as a cloth as a second layer of clothing. The word linen derives from the old English lin which means made of flax. Flax derives from the Norse word for flay. So then we have John who has been divided into two layers, possibly by the act of flaying. Flayed alive, John had been driven into a permanent schizophrenic state. 


Jack Napier also adopted the nome de guerre of The Joker. [31] Although this derivation may not be quite as odd as it sounds. There is an Alsatian cardgame called juckerspiel which name derives from the fact that its two top trumps are Jucker, meaning “jack.” The word Jucker may also have influenced the choice of the term joker for the extra card introduced into American euchre in the 1860s to act as the “best bower,” or topmost trump; bower is derived from the German bauer. Of course Farmerians know of a person who used the name Bauer who was something of a trickster.


The Joker can be an extremely beneficial, or an extremely harmful, card. In Euchre it is often used to represent Benny, the highest trump. In poker, it is wild. However, in the children's game Old Maid, a solitary joker represents the Maid, a card that is to be avoided. That the Joker represents the maid hearkens back to John’s inner conflict of being either a homosexual or a woman in a man’s body.[32]


In 1935 a criminal named The Joker had dressed up like a clown and terrorized New York but this seems to be a coincidence, rather than any direct connection between the newer villain.


The Joker acquired a potent poison from a chemical researcher named Veetor. Veetor had been one of three men who had worked for the Millcote Chemical Corporation and struck out on their own.[33] They had a falling out and Veetor was ruined. The Joker encouraged Veetor to test his concoction on his two former partners. This chemical compound caused a person to die laughing with a rictus frozen on their faces.[34] It later became known as Joker venom.


In July of 1939, The Joker began his first foray of terror. Perhaps because of a glittering blue dome which haunted his memories, the Joker had a lust for rare and exotic gems. He combined his passion for gems with his first joke against New York City. The grinning trickster created the first series of challenges against the hero of the city.


In a case that Lester Dent’s unpublished notes called The Men Who Smiled Forever the Joker faced off against Doc Savage.[35]


A few of my readers are saying Whoa!!. The Joker faced off against Batman as depicted in Batman Volume 1, Number 1. Not so. This tale, like many other early Batman stories, portrayed events that actually involved Doc Savage, The Shadow, The Spider, the Avenger or some other New York based pulp hero. I did say this would be controversial… Another example would be “The Monsters of Hugo Strange”, also from Batman Volume 1, number 1. “The Monsters of Hugo Strange” was a rewritten version of The Doc Savage tale The World’s Fair Goblin.


In his opening move, the Joker intended to sow discord and pay tribute to his mythological roots by killing nine men in bizarre and darkly humorous ways.


Announcing his intentions over the radio, the Joker states that he would kill the industrialist Henry Claridge and steal the Claridge diamond. Despite massive police protection Claridge died laughing uncontrollably and with his face frozen into a rictus. The Claridge diamond was discovered to have already been replaced by a duplicate under which lie a joker playing card.


A few days later the Joker broke on another radio broadcast and claimed he would kill Jay Wilde and steal the Ronkers Ruby. Again despite police protection Wilde died. A poison dart hit him in the neck and a gas knocked out the police protection. Joker had been in the house hiding in a suit of armor.


Although normally Doc Savage did not bother with basic criminal activity but Wilde was a distant relative of his and Patricia’s. In addition to having Doc Savage on his trail, the Joker also had a crime boss named Brute Nelson after him. Nelson had wanted to steal the two gems. He put a murder contract out on the Joker. The Joker visited Nelson’s house just as Doc Savage arrived to question Nelson. Thinking Savage was there to arrest them Nelson’s men attacked him. As Nelson’s men detained Doc, The Joker killed Nelson.  The Joker fled in a car but Doc jumped on the car’s running board. Joker tried to dislodge Doc and lost control of the car which crashed on a bridge. The Joker knocked the half conscious Doc Savage off of the bridge..


Joker once again broke into the radio broadcast claiming that he would kill Judge Drake at ten for having sent him to prison before.[36]  Nervous about the threat Judge Drake paced back and forth in his study. His friend the Chief of police persuaded him to play cards to calm down. As he dealt the cards Drake began to laugh uncontrollably and died laughing, a rictus frozen upon his face. The cards had razor edges daubed with poison. As Doc Savage examined Drake, the Police Chief slipped away.


Curious at the Police Chief’s sudden departure Long Tom followed the police chief as he left the Judge’s house. The police chief traveled to an old deserted house. Long Tom was detected entering the house and knocked out from behind. The Chief of Police was the Joker in disguise. Doc Savage arrived just as Joker finished trussing Long Tom up in a chair. Doc Savage fought The Joker and found him to be freakishly strong. Knowing he would lose a direct fight the Joker knocked over his chemical apparatus and started a fire. The Joker escaped while Doc rescued Long Tom from the fire. Long Tom told Doc that Joker had boasted about stealing the Cleopatra necklace next. This necklace was owned by Otto Drexler who lived in a Penthouse in one of the city’s tallest buildings. Doc and Monk staked out the building.  When Doc stopped the Joker from entering the Penthouse the Joker shot Doc Savage and was puzzled that his bullets have no effect. The Joker leapt off of the balcony and Monk dove after him in pursuit. After a fight among some skyscrapers Monk knocked the Joker off of the building and onto some building scaffolding for a structure that was being built next door. In a scene oddly reminiscent of his previous encounter with Doc Savage the Joker hung off of a precipice and Doc Savage reached for him. [37] This time however when the Joker let go, Doc Savage was quick enough to pull him up.


Taking a page from Doc Savage’s playbook, the Joker soon escaped from jail by pulling out a false tooth.[38] This tooth contained an explosive that blew a hole in the all of this cell. After escaping from jail, the Joker took refuge in a factory closed by the depression.[39]


Keeping close to his plan, the Joker. The Joker broadcast a threat to the actual Chief of Police. The police chief is called to the phone. A loud sound erupts from the receiver, sending a venom coated dart into the Chief’s ear. Despite how implausible it sounds this was actually how the Joker killed this person, although it was not the Chief of Police, it was the Chief of Detectives. The Joker was either able to slip into Police headquarters in disguise or he had set this up trap even before he had started his crime spree.


 A famous painting is stolen and a joker card left in its place.


 A gem is stolen and a joker card left in its place. In both cases the owners of the stolen items were found with the Grinning Death


Over the radio the Joker threatened to break into the Drake museum and steal the Cleopatra necklace.[40] Stepping out of a mummy case the Joker gassed the police contingent. As he stole the gem Doc Savage arrived. The Joker was immune to his own gas and in fight Doc Savage succumbs to the gas fumes. The Joker intended to finish him off as one of his sacrifices but police reinforcements arrived in gas masks. The Joker fled.


A reformer named Edgar Martin cried out for the capture of the Joker. Incensed the Joker threatened Martin’s life. Martin was protected by the police but he began playing solitaire to calm his nerves. Although the cards in the room had previously been checked Martin discovered,. to his dismay, the cards were all jokers with sharp edges that cut his fingers. He perished of the Grinning Death. 


Doc Savage and the Police Commissioner concocted a story to trap the Joker, luring him to steal the Fire Ruby.


Although the Joker suspected that the news story may be a trap he is determined to steal the ruby. He broadcast his intentions.  When he arrived at the house where the Ruby was kept, he was greeted by gas mask wearing police officers. He gunned his way out. Monk Mayfair chased him across the roof tops but the Joker laid in wait and Joker knocked him off a roof. A handy flag pole saved the life of the ape-like chemist. On the street The Joker confronted Doc Savage boasting he will shoot Doc in the head. Monk dropped onto the Joker from his flagpole perch.  Doc wrestled with the Joker who drew out a venom coated knife which proved useless against Doc’s armor. Since it is near midnight and the Joker must kill his Nine men prior before the nine days have ended, the Joker stabbed himself in the chest. Although he appears dead, in the ambulance it is revealed that the joker will live.


Months after these events, Doc Savage learned that the Joker is still alive. Doc intends to have him released and take him to the Crime College where his criminal tendencies will be cured.  The Joker however hired some mercenaries to break him out.[41]  The Joker escaped while his mercenaries engaged Doc Savage.


Through the use of a poisoned needle planted in a shoe, the Joker killed E. S. Arthur the owner of the Pharaoh Jewels. When the Joker went to retrieve the jewels, he found the famed jewel thief The Cat-Woman stealing the jewels.[42]


Robin who had been trailing the Cat-Woman attempted to capture the Joker. To save Robin’s life, the Cat-Woman freely offered the Joker the Pharaoh Jewels. The Joker and Batman engaged in a sword duel. Batman was knocked off the balcony but latched onto a vine. Cat-Woman and Robin have barricaded themselves in the library but the Joker set the heavy oaken doors afire. Batman arrived and fought with the Joker, knocking him unconscious. He starts Robin and Cat-Woman up the ladder to the hovering Batplane. Cat-Woman jumped off the ladder into a lake. Joker was left in the burning building.[43]


The Joker escaped the fire with the Pharaoh Jewels. He had three more objects to steal. Returning to his original modos operandi, he announced on the radio that he will be stealing the Staff of Seti I from the home of Walter Emerson, a noted Egyptologist. The Joker released Joker venom in gaseous form in the house of Emerson. Savage and his men had staked the house out and escaped the gas by using masks. Savage’s unnaturally keen nose had tipped him when the gas was released. The gas however was a feint as Doc and two of his men checked the source. Joker slipped into the room where the staff was being guarded and shot Peabody and Renny with a dart gun. The darts had a slow acting version of the joker venom and Joker challenged Doc to find a cure. Joker escaped with the staff.


The Joker next announced he was going to steal the Scarab Ring of King Tut from noted Yale Egyptologist William Omaha McElroy. Despite precautions taken by Doc Savage, the Joker in disguise rigged Professor McElroy’s lectern microphone so that it would release a dose of the gas into his classroom. While Doc and his crew were busy saving the students, the Joker kidnapped the giggling McElroy. While enroute to his home McElroy revealed that the ring in his safe was a duplicate, he always carried the real one on him. Joker stole this from McElroy, coshed him and shoved him out of the car they were using. Although Doc Savage was able to save McElroy’s life, the combination of the blow to the head and the joker venom would cause a unique brain damage that would manifest in periodic bouts of mania in which McElroy believed he was the reincarnation of King Tutankhamun. However these did not manifest until the 1950’s, after Doc Savage’s disappearance so he could not have helped McElroy.


The Joker’s final act in this particular series of crimes took place on New Year’s Eve 1939. He announced over the radio that he would bring in the New Year with a bang that would leave the entire city laughing in the final moments of the year and the final moments of their lives. Doc Savage and his men discovered that several New Year’s baby displays had been set up in various areas of the city without authorization from the city. Aided by the Batman and Robin, and other vigilantes present in New York city, the babies filled with Joker venom were discovered prior to being activated. Several of the babies had colored water rather than venom.


Doc Savage realized that this was another feint and took his crew to the New York Museum of Natural History where a gala ball was being held. While Doc’s men located the hidden joker bomb at the ball, Doc Savage made his way to the Egyptian wing and prevented the Joker from stealing the golden statue of Harpocrates. Harpocrates was a depiction of the God Horus as a child, representing the new born sun and new born year. All the Egyptian objects that the Joker had stolen were connected to Horus either by being affiliated with Horus, his wife Isis or his brother Set.


Harpocrates was also seen as the symbol of the 0 card in some Tarot cards, although the most common depiction was that of the Fool.


Laughing the Joker allowed himself to be captured.[44]


The Joker was taken to the Crime College. Two disconcerting problems were revealed at the Crime College. The first was that The Joker’s madness was inoperable because he had already suffered extensive brain damage. The second was that the Joker had wanted to be sent to the Crime College. While there he managed a break out that kept Doc Savage busy. In the mean time the Joker and three others wreaked havoc on the East Coast in a gang that they called the Four Cards. They carried out deadly random practical jokes. This case had both the Batman and Doc Savage involved. The events however were broken up into two Batman comics stories. In Batman #5 (spring 1941): "The Riddle of the Missing Card" and Batman #7 (October-November 1941): [The Joker's Practical Jokes]  Lester Dent’s notes termed this case The Green Haired Madman. Although the Joker attempted to attract Doc Savage’s interest over the next few years, he usually attracted the attention of the Bat-Man, although the Joker and Doc Savage fought four or five more times. The list of the other unpublished encounters between the Joker and Doc Savage is as follows The Symbolic Jester [45],  The Terror Clown[46], The Giggling Ogre, White Hyena of Gotham and Laugh of the Devil


A much distorted version of The Symbolic Jester appeared in Batman 159, “The Great Clayface-Joker Feud”,  November 1963.  As with all the other Doc Savage derived Batman stories DC comics based their account on newspaper accounts rather than the actual notes of Doc Savage as transcribed by Lester Dent. The Terror Clown also was turned into Batman comics, although bits of the adventure made it piecemeal into three different Batman Comics, “The Cross Country Crimes” (Batman 8, December 1941-January 1942), “The Case of the 48 Jokers” (Batman 55, October-November 1949) and the "The Joker Jury" (Batman 163, May 1964)


The Joker continued to plague Doc Savage through the early forties, although as Doc spent more and more of his time away from New York the Joker became fixated on the Batman.[47]


In late 1943, the Joker became involved in a scheme promoted by Baron Karl, whom the Joker, without knowing why remembered with some fondness. Using a proxy the Joker became involved in stealing the plans of the planned atomic bomb. Captain America and the Batman worked together to foil their plans. When the Red Skull tried to kill the Joker, the Joker turned on him. The Joker’s venom and the Red Dust were chemically similar so the two villains had to fight it out hand to hand. Falling from a dirigible the Joker ended up behind Russian lines. He was sent to a camp in Siberia. This provided the basis for the Captain America/Batman graphic novel, although the in the graphic novel the time frame was moved up to 1944 and involved the Red Skull and Joker stealing the actual Fat Man bomb and being caught in its blast.


The shock of being sent to Siberia may have unlocked the Joker’s lost memories. It is not know if Ivan Zarya actually did fully recover his memories or if he underwent a schizophrenic break or suffered from a form of hysterical disassociation that split him into two distinct personalities. [48]


In any event Ivan escaped by posing as a woman. In early 1944, the Countess Lily Bugov once more appeared on the scene. She donned an eye patch as a signal to Doc Savage and as a challenge to the Nine. There are rumors she sponsored an auction to steal one of the never recovered weapons from Doc Savage’s Fortress but her efforts were foiled by one of the New York vigilantes. Caught in the force of the weapon, Lily was injured and presumed dead. The Joker made reappearance shortly thereafter. With memories intact however Ivan Zarya, took up the role of the Joker until 1948. After Doc Savage’s disappearance the Joker’s character changed dramatically becoming less of a deadly menace and more of whimsical annoyance. At the same time however, the Lily Bugov also began making reappearances. This leads this researcher to believe that the mantle of the Joker was taken up by someone else, the legendary Joker perhaps. The early cases in which Robin encountered the Joker’s Daughter may in fact have been heavily distorted cases of Batman, Robin, the Fabulous Five or other vigilante’s encountering Lily Bugov, or the Joker’s Daughter may have been a third personality a fusion between Ivan’s  Joker personality and his desire to be female. Although possibly both speculations are true[49]


The fun loving non-lethal Joker of the late forties, fifties and early sixties does seem to be a different character than the earliest version. Possibly it was a copycat or a trained replacement.[50] The Joker may have also tailored his modos operandi and personality to better play against this opponent.


The return of the psychotic killer returned to comics in 1973. However as demonstrated in several articles comic book time is not real time so this return probably happened much earlier, possibly as early as 1963 or 1964 when the public soon realized that there was a new Batman. Although also interesting to note that the depiction a psychotic female hating Joker resurfaced in the 1980s after the reappearance of Doc Savage, with The Killing Joke being published after the public reappearance of Doc Savage[51]  However as pointed out in the Batman article by Dennis Power the events of The Killing Joke actually take place much earlier.


One of the dichotomy’s of the Joker’s personality is while he wanted to defeat and unmask the Batman, or in psychosexual terms conquer him and strip his naked when he often had the chance to do so, he balked. Often he claimed that ultimately he did not want to want to know who was under the mask because it would have taken away all the mystery and fun. However it may have been that like many Don Juans he preferred the chase to the actual consummation which was always disappointing. If our earlier speculations are correct perhaps he still had lingering psychological problems that prevented him from actually consummating his relationships and so sublimated his need for climax through domination and murder.

Another reason was because he had formed an emotional connection with this mysterious dark figure and did not really want to know the person beneath the mask. Although he may have intellectually realized that the second Batman was Robin grown up, he emotionally ignored that fact because he wanted to fantasize that it was the same man wrestling with him, physically as well as metaphorically.


The Joker especially disliked Robin and he also hated Batgirl. These feelings most likely arose out feelings of jealousy. The Joker regarded the partnership of Batman and Robin, and of Batman and Batgirl to be threats to his one on one connection with the Batman. When the Joker accidentally learned the identity of the second Batman, he realized that the connection between Batgirl and Batman was more than just a crime fighting partnership. Infuriated he set out to destroy their lives and enacted The Killing Joke which left Barbara Gordon/Grayson[52] paralyzed. When the third Batman acquired yet another Robin, the Joker felt obligated to torture and destroy him as well. [53]


Jealousy may have been the primary motive for the brief return of John Sunlight. Shortly after the reappearance of Doc Savage, it was announced that Doc Savage had been reunited with his estranged wife Monja only to have her die in a South American jungle. Stunned by this new the Joker went into a state of fugue and wandered about New York in a state of amnesia. His face slackened and lost its rictus.  Startled by his appearance he scrubbed the make-up from his face.


Grasp, a former member of the Weather Underground recognized the wandering amnesiac as a dead ringer for John Sunlight, who had become something of a legend to terrorist organizations in the world. He had a desperate, lunatic plan to use him as a figurehead to rally various terrorist organizations. Among those he contacted were former members of the Red Brigade, Baader-Mehnoff gang,  Red Army Faction and Action Directe who had forsaken their revolutionary backgrounds and become corporate leaders. He blackmailed them into cooperating and funding his operation. He concocted a story that wherever and however Doc Savage had been Sunlight had been with him and they had both returned as young as when they had disappeared. Recounting the story of how Sunlight had stolen and secreted weapons from Savage’s secret hideout, Grasp claimed that Sunlight would lead them to a secret cache.


Grasp was pleased that his Sunlight stand in warmed to the part to the extent that he seemed to believe it. Grasp and his partners, Anders Holstrom and Merete Lundquist however fall under the charm and hypnotic charisma of “John Sunlight”. He slowly acquired the leadership role by playing all three of the partners against each other. Sunlight’s memories slowly return to him and Grasp realized that this was the true John Sunlight. He then tried to accelerate Sunlight’s memories by giving him the published accounts of Sunlight’s two encounters with Doc Savage. Sunlight quickly devoured all the rest of the novels that he could locate.


Identifying Long Tom as the weakest link among Savage’s companions, Sunlight directed a raid against Long Tom’s apartment that gained them access to Savage’s computer network. When Sunlight learned what Savage is working on he was infuriated but did not take direct action against Savage. He waited for Savage to travel to his Fortress of Solitude, knowing that Savage had undoubtedly moved it after Sunlight had discovered it. They had planted a homing device on Long Tom Roberts and were delighted when it started north.


Sunlight and his men raided the Fortress once Savage and his crew were inside. The sneak attack was successful and they locked Savage and his crew away while they ransacked the Fortress.  Grasp and the others wanted to kill Savage to make an example of him before the world but Sunlight wanted to convert Savage to his cause. As Sunlight and his cronies were stealing material Doc escaped from his cell. Sunlight and the others were able to leave with a couple of the devises by taking the body of Monja as hostage. Doc had taken it to the Fortress so that he could revive Monja as he had the Pharoah Pey-deh-eh-ghan.


They were only able to figure out the use of two of the devices that they had stolen from Savage. Sunlight made a deal with Saddam Hussein to launch a rocket into orbit that would have one of Doc’s devices as the payload. Sunlight kept Monja’s body because he knew that if nothing else would lure Savage to him. Sunlight was wisely out of Iraq after the rocket launch having left Ander Holstrom to supervise this part of the operation. Sunlight had conned Hussein merely borrowing his rocket facility without actually giving him anything in return. Holstrom fell victim to Hussein’s justice.


Once in orbit Doc’s machine was deployed. Doc had created an energy screen keep out radiation, in the event of a nuclear war or nuclear accident, John Sunlight realized that this could be used a weapon. He used the device for extortion, informing the United Nations that unless they met his demands he would bring darkness to the world. He demonstrated his power by knocking out the power grid in Quebec cutting off electricity for six million people.[54] Unlike Blofeld or Dr. Evil who had used much the same trick, Sunlight did not demand money. He demanded that the United Nations unify under his persona command and that Doc Savage be delivered to him. When Grasp realized that Sunlight was serious in not seeking wealth he attempted to kill Sunlight but was shot dead by Merete Lundquist.


Doc Savage persuaded the United Nations to accede to Sunlight’s demand that he be turned over to him. Doc Savage was “captured” and dropped off at a neutral location before being taken to Sunlight’s headquarters. It came as no surprise to Doc that Sunlight had made his headquarters in Doc Savage’s abandoned Fortress of Solitude. He was made to enter the structure naked and was then thoroughly examined for a planted tracking device or anything that could help him escape. During the thorough examination it was discovered that the bronze skin coloration was artificial. It was not Doc Savage but his associate Beau Faulkner impersonating Savage.[55]


Doc had entered the Fortress disguised as the guard accompanying Doc Savage. When Sunlight realized the mistake he sent guards after Savage, after giving the mercenaries sufficient time to capture Savage Sunlight and Merete Lundquist made their way to where Savage had been spotted. They followed a trail of unconscious mercenaries and found Doc Savage ripping apart the last component of the machine that created the electronic screen. He had also uploaded a computer virus that infiltrated the computer system that Sunlight had installed.


Gun in hand he motioned Doc out into the corridor and held him at gunpoint while Merete looked over the machinery.


Nonplussed, John Sunlight told Doc Savage how had confidence that Savage could rebuild the device. He launched into his spiel designed to convince Doc to join him in ruling the world. Merete Lundquist watched Sunlight with growing dismay and anger. She realized that Sunlight did not have as firm a grip on reality as she had been led to believe. She also realized from watching how Sunlight reacted to Savage and the almost purring, cajoling voice he used that Sunlight was playing for the other team, despite his overt displays of affection for her. Sunlight had used her and in doing so had ruined her career and her life.


When Doc Savage once again refused to have anything to do with Sunlight he grew petulant. Doc Savage counter offered to cure John of all of his aberrant behavior.[56]  Doc Savage’s statement, his absolute rejection of all that was John Sunlight caused a mental melt down in John Sunlight and he began laughing in the chilling, mirthless laughter of the Joker. Sunlight had rigged the Fortress with explosives and triggered the self destruct mechanism. Merete attacked Sunlight and was shot twice in the stomach. As Doc moved towards the control room Sunlight laughed even harder.


“Although this is not quite how I pictured our relationship consummating, you, I, your wife and dear little Merete here will join in a ménage à quatre ending in an explosive climax.” Sunlight revealed that bombs had been placed on Monja’s cryogenic chamber. Merete realized that Sunlight wished to lure Doc into the control room so that they would all be immolated together and she lurched across the control panel hitting the button that sealed the control room and a steel shutter covered the door. It is not known if she did this as one last act of goodness to save Doc’s life or whether she merely wished to thwart Sunlight of his revenged.[57] Doc was unable to see what happened in the control room but he heard gunshots and screams. He tried to open the door but was knocked off of his feet when a blast rocked the control room. Other blasts sounded throughout the Fortress, Doc chose to try and get as many of Sunlight’s men as he could out of the Fortress as it exploded.


Days later Doc explored the ruins of the Fortress, he found the remains of Monja’s cryogenic chamber. Fragments of Monja and Merete’s body were found and a few tissue samples from a male body. It appeared that Sunlight had very close to the explosive when it detonated and was blown to bits. Doc Savage was not so certain Sunlight or the Joker was truly gone.


Sunlight at least never made another appearance, two months after the Sunlight Rising incident, Doc Savage once again disappeared and has yet to reappear.[58]


After Doc Savage’s second disappearance, the Joker once again surfaced. The Joker used a modification of his joker venom that turned people into versions of  himself.[59] These carried out acts of violence, murder and terrorism on a world wide basis until the Joker was finally captured on his base on Easter Island. It was later stated that the Joker had enacted this wave of global violence as a result of being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. The Joker supposedly succumbed to his injury.[60]


Yet… he surfaced once more a year or so later.


Was the Joker who attempted to have one last laugh really John Sunlight or was it merely an imposter? Was Sunlight already dead, was this truly his end or is he still out there, waiting for the right hand to play?




[1] Novelist Aaron Allston had modified this theory a bit in his two Doc Savage pastiche’s Doc Sidhe in which Doc Sidhe’s archenemy is his son by the Princess Monja counterpart. Admittedly Sunlight does possess anomalous strength and speed. His intelligence is also supposed to be on the genius level. However it should be remembered that many of the people related to Sir William Clayton also possess these same qualities such as Richard Benson, Tarzan, James Henry, etc. And we agree with Eckert that John Sunlight was descended from Sir William Clayton.


[2] This theory is discussed in Lai’s A Brief Biography of Dr. Caber (ed.)


[3] These immortal words were spoken by MOD agent Austin Powers as depicted in “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery”


[4] For more information on this remarkable invention please see Inventing Beauty by Ann Riordan, Broadway, 2005


[5] The report of Lily’s injury sounds suspiciously like what had happened to Anna Vyrubova in 1915. Vyrubova was the best friend and lady in waiting to Alexandra the Tsarina. An early disciple of Rasputin, Vyrubova is, according to some accounts the person who introduced Rasputin to the Imperial family. In fact Vyrubova was supposedly dying from her injuries and it was Rasputin healing prayers that saved her life, although she remained paralyzed from the waist. The similarity of Vyrubova’s story to Lily’s purported fate plus Vyrubova’s connection to Rasputin casts some doubt on its authenticity.


[6] Sprinkled through the Doc Savage are a few asides the may point to Doc’s latent homosexuality. In Quest of the Spider Monk states "For the woman isn't made who can get a rise out of Doc." And in Resurrection Day Monk says, “Doc ain't never gone for the fems,”  Granted this may not be due to homosexual or bisexual feelings but rather Doc innate shyness with women having arisen first from his lack of female role models and or companions in his childhood and youth and then exacerbated by his first sexual experience being with a man disguised as a woman. A psychosexual conflict probably arose because he had enjoyed the experience and because he felt most comfortable in the company of men rather than men. To him women were almost alien creatures. That Doc did eventually have at least three sexual relationships with women with marriage to two of them may point to that he was  not homosexual by nature. Although a heterosexual marriage, especially in the pre-sexual revolution era does not necessarily preclude homosexuality.. His relationship with Louise Ducharme as related Doc Ardan: City of Gold and Leper by Guy d’Armen and “The Vanishing Devil”  by Win Scott Eckert (Tales of the Shadowmen Volume 1  Blackcoat Press 2005) may have been one derived from friendship but ultimately done to prove to himself that he was not homosexual. Although a child was begotten Savage and Ducharme did not remain that close.  Doc still was not able to relate with a woman in a romantic man to woman relationship; although he used his mission as an excuse for not becoming involved the main reason was probably because of his intimacy issues. It was only after his cousin Patricia became one of his close companions that he was able to engage in a long lasting relationship with a woman. Patricia Savage helped Doc overcome his male dominated socialization to one where he was also comfortable with female companionship. Patricia was in a unique position to help Doc overcome his inhibitions. As his cousin he felt blood-kinship with her and because she was an adventurous, “tomboy” she was able to relate to as a person for he could ignore her gender. Yet despite being adventurous and “tomboyish” Patricia was also quite beautiful and reveled in her feminity.  Once Pat became his companion he began to see her more fully as a person as a result her feminine attributes could not have escaped his attention or admiration.


In Philip Jose Farmer’s A Feast Unknown and The Mad Goblin explicitly states that the relationship between Doc Caliban and Pat Wilde was romantic and sexual in nature. Even if Caliban and Savage were two different people, it does not preclude the idea that Doc Savage and Pat Savage may have had a similar relationship. Even if Doc Savage and Patricia Savage only had a romantic but non-sexual relationship to the American readers this would have been shocking because of the uniquely American taboo on cousin relationships. It should be remembered that until the very late nineteenth century marriage and relationships between first cousins were as prevalent in the United States as they were in Canada and Europe, which is to say they were not uncommon at all. In fact many states in the United States still permit marriage between first cousins, so if Pat and Doc were indeed in love they should not be condemned for being so. Although an American citizen Doc was not entirely entrenched in the prevalent American mores of the time and Patricia was Canadian.  A very interesting book on the subject is Forbidden Relatives: The American Myth of Cousin Marriage by Martin Ottenheimer (1996)


Whether or not Pat and Doc did have a relationship it did not evolve into marriage, possibly both realized that they were too much alike to be fully committed to one another.


[7] In what also may be a bit of foreshadowing although more obliquely. Prior to being captured by Baron Von Hessel Clark Savage jr. discovers a secret sanctorum in a Chateau which had been used for satanic rites. Crawling among the bones of the sacrificial bones is a worm unknown to science. The worm unknown to science and coupled with the depiction of satanic rites is also interesting. Sexual perversion was often an instrumental act in the rites of satanic cults. The worm crawling among the bones of the sacrificial victims could be a foreshadowing of Clark’s encounter with another sort of worm beyond his experience.


[8] Rasputin was considered the leader of a pro-German contingent in the Royal Court. Empress Alexandra, who had been German prior to her marriage, was looked upon with suspicion and her friendship with Rasputin added to this suspicion.


[9] The sexual connotations of Hump, Larsen’s nickname for Van Weyden should not be overlooked.


[10] It still remains unknown how he learned of their existence.


[11]  Although in A Feast Unknown the Nine, or at least Anana makes the claim that the Nine encourage their servants to seek other avenues of longevity, in reality they had a monopoly wanted to keep it. Then again Larsen may have been mistaken that the Nine knew the full extent of his experimentation. It is quite possible that his sponsor Iwaldi stole Larsen’s samples and notes and these formed the basis for the rejuvenation formula that Iwaldi began to use in the mid- 1960s.


[12]  Why Karl Moriarty chose this name and its hidden meanings will be revealed in an article by my colleague Dennis Power entitled The Sons of No One. (ed).


[13] Although many accounts state that the name Rasputin means  debauched or licentious this does not seem to be the case so far as Rasputin’s family name was concerned. There is a very similar Russian adjective "rasputnii" (распу́тный) which does in fact mean "licentious". The name Rasputin also has the connotation of "mud", as in rasputitsa (распу́тица) — "mud season" (i.e., "rainy season"). However, most historians agree that his name signifies, roughly, a place where two rivers meet, which describes the area from which the Rasputin family  came from. That being said, it may be that the Grigori also used his last name symbolically to connote the licentious aspect.


[14] Starr, “A Submersible Subterfuge, Farmer The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, Lai The Secret History of Captain Nemo. (ed.)


[15] See The Other Log of Phileas Fogg for details. The other Nautilus limped back to its submarine pen in Lincoln’s Island in the South Seas.


[16] While it seems unlikely that she was one of the Servants of the Nine who had received the Elixir, she may have been a servant of the Nine due to religious or hereditary ties. Grigori Rasputin may have had a closer tie to the Nine than he had ever known, having been one of their descendents.


[17] From out modern perspective it is easy to recognize the metallic lines as printed circuitry. However for a man of the Victorian age this was an astounding feat of genius.


[18] See Thunderball, On Her Majesties’ Secret Service and You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming (ed.)


[19]  Although there are a plethora of sources on the murder of Rasputin, this one Grigory Yefmovich Rasputin <> has a concise overview. (ed.)


[20] The text of Rasputin’s last letter can be seen on this site Grigory Yefmovich Rasputin at ,> (ed.)


[21] In 1993 an investigation into Rasputin’s murder uncovered ties between Yusupov and the British Secret service. An SIS man named Oswald Rayner was in attendance. He had known Yusupov when Felix attended school in England. (ed.)


[22] Rasputin’s great stamina and ability to shirk off death has been either regarded as a fabrication created by Yusupov and the others to somehow justify their actions against the devil’s spawn, others have credited Rasputin’s seeming invulnerability to his mystic powers or faith. However the answer seems to be in the effects of the Elixir combined with an extraordinary Wold Newton derived metabolism.


[23] Lai, Rick The Chronology of Bronze, Pg. 46


[24] This leaving a trail of madmen behind was a trait that Sunlight would continue in his next incarnation.


[25] Yes, I was rather surprised at the imagery myself but you can check it out for yourself if you harbor any doubts.


[26] This extreme display of near ecstatic joy seems a bit extreme if all Sunlight really wanted Doc to do was to aid him in ruling the world. This sounds like a Victorian depiction of a woman in the throes of passion.


[27] These rumors may have been prompted by the James Caliban and Trish Wilde. Baron Karl may have never met Doc Caliban but may have heard about the man who answered the description of Doc Savage having been inducted into the service of the Nine. This man was rumored to have a relationship with a female cousin with similar physical features.


[28] If the Elixir really did have regenerative powers then the patch over his eye may have been symbolic of his station.


[29] At times he is also portrayed as a red-headed man with green eyes. This depiction undoubtedly gave shape to Kickaha, Philip Jose Farmer;s trickster from the World of Tiers series. Although if Paul Janus Finnegan were a real person them perhaps he was a descendent of the red haired Loki.


[30] The corners of the mouth and cheeks are slashed so that a permanent disfiguration looking like a ghastly, unceasing, smile is created.


[31] While my colleague Dennis Powers in his Batman article has theorized a different origin for the Joker, I must disagree with his findings. It is quite understandable how he made the error however, the Joker was notorious for creating elaborate and conflicting origins for himself, as a joke.


[32] It is interesting to note that the Clownfish is one of the species of fish in which individuals can actually change genders.


[33] The Millicote Chemical Company was the company which was the center of the Shadow novel, Partners of Peril. This became the basis for the Batman comic strip "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate”. Later writers tacked the Joker’s origin into this Batman tale. While it might be possible that this was a case worked by both the Shadow and the Batman, it probably was just a Shadow tale. When Finger and Kane were starting their Batman strip they really did not have much information on The Batman’s cases and often cribbed their stories from pulp magazines.


[34] Veetor poisoned his partners, encouraged by the Joker. Veetor was apprehended by The Shadow as depicted on the Shadow Radio play, “The Laughing Corpse” March, 10 1940.


[35] Lester Dent’s notes for these cases of the Doc Savage vs Joker were not found among his papers  in the Lester Dent collection at the University of Missouri-Columbia but rather were among various notes held in trust by the Omega Group. The Omega Group, headed by Prince Zarkon, was the successor team to Doc Savage and his Fabulous Five.


[36] This is probably one the Joker’s first deliberate misdirectons about his origins. He made everyone believe that he was a man with a previous criminal record in the United States.


[37] However The Joker did not remember this encounter and Doc Savage did not know he was dealing with John Sunlight.


[38] Although this was one contiguous adventure, the DC Comics split it into two tales. We could call the second portion The Grinning Death. 


[39] In the comic The Joker takes refuge in a deserted cemetery. A trick tombstone opens up a secret passage leading to an underground lair complete with a laboratory. Naturally this was shown to show the dichotomy between Bruce Wayne and the Joker, Wayne’s headquarters is beneath a palatial mansion, whereas the Joker has his headquarters in cemeteries or beneath old shacks.


[40] Either Otto Drexler had donated or loaned the necklace to the Drake Museum because of the attempt on his life or his name was accidentally changed in this story.


[41] The Finger-Kane version of the story has a criminal gang, in desperate need of a leader breaking the Joker out of jail so he could plan the theft of the Pharaoh Jewels.


[42] As previously speculated by my colleague in the aforementioned Batman article Dennis Power, The Cat-Woman of the forties was the same Cat-Woman that Batman met in the miniseries Claws of the Cat-Woman. Unable to retrieve the gems looted from her Egyptian cities through legal means, she turned to crime. Her going after the Pharaoh jewels makes sense in this context. 


[43] This was actually the first time that the paths of the Joker and the Bat-Man crossed. The events were depicted in Batman Vol 1, No 2. Doc Savage was not depicted in the comic book story, except by allusion. In the Comic it was Batman who was going to kidnap the Joker and take him to have his criminal tendencies removed by a famous brain surgeon.


[44] Sadly this was never published as either a Doc Savage adventure or a Batman comic story. There were however notes by John Nanovic who called this case Harlequin’s Deadly Treasure.


[45] Although it is not certain by any means that either The Doc Savage Magazine or Dent would have retained the title of The Symbolic Jester


Here is its synopsis.


In early 1941 Doc Savage was asked by the city of New York to examine the Trylon and Perisphere as part of a project to preserve the exhibits as tourist attractions. As Doc Savage was examining the interior of the abandoned Perisphere he was attacked by a large amorphous mass. He recognized it at once as something he had thought long destroyed. (As a young man Doc Savage under the name of MacReady encountered an gelatinous alien monster in the Arctic. This was depicted in the short story Who Goes There? By John W. Campbell.)The thing chased him through the closed New York World’s Fair. Doc Savage destroyed the blobby protoplasm by luring it into the General Electric building and blasting it with artificial lightning. However the damage to the World’s Fair exhibits was extensive and the city decided that rebuilding them would be cost prohibitive. (According to no less authority than Philip Jose Farmer, William Harper Littlejohn encountered a similar being to the one encountered by Doc Savage as part of a Miskatonic University expedition. This was depicted in the H. P. Lovecraft story At The Mountains of Madness.)


Doc is scheduled to attend a charity function in Los Angeles with his cousin Patricia, so he asks Long Tom and Johnny to make certain that the creature had been destroyed. Johnny had also encountered this particular horror although at a different time and location than Doc. Doc and Patricia Savage were attending a dinner hosted by entrepreneur and philanthropist George Page. During their dinner a mammoth climbed out of the La Brea tar pits and began wreaking havoc in Hancock park and the surrounding area. Doc Savage, accompanied by Monk, Ham and Patricia work to stop the animal which is composed is seemingly composed of asphalt and a gelatinous substance that Doc knows all to well. Containing the mammoth they set it aflame, the mammoth is consumed leaving behind charred but fossilized bones. Doc Savage believes that the thing had used the skeleton of the mammoth to form a more solid, if ultimately temporary body. In the darkness outside of his hotel bungalow Doc Savage is attacked by a man who attempts to strangle him with thick, slimy ropes. When the fight is carried to the light Doc sees that the slimy ropes are tentacles that are looped about his neck. The tentacles blossom from the nose and throat of the “man” attacking Doc. This man has this head of an octopus with tiny feathered wings where ears should have been. It looked like the Octopus God of Ral brought to life.( Doc had encountered the cult of the Octopus God in the adventure titled The Feather Octopus. The Octopus God sounds suspiciously like Cthulhu and the island of Ral sounds like a contraction of R'lyeh)


Patricia Savage attacked the thing but it shrugged her off. Desperate she grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher and pummeled it to no effect but when she sprayed it the being literally shrank away from the foam. Some chemical reaction made it’s substance freeze upon contact with the carbon dioxide. Between Patricia, Doc, Ham and Monk the thing was frozen. The frozen material was then chopped into bits and incinerated. While they could have kept the bits frozen, Doc thought it was too great a risk.

After conferring with Long Tom and Johnny, Doc learned there were no further attacks by the Thing in New York. For whatever reason some unknown person had acquired samples of the Thing, learned to manipulate it and was sending it after Doc Savage. Prior to returning to New York, Doc Savage stopped in Roswell, New Mexico to confer with Dr. Robert Goddard. The United States Army had requested that Doc Savage turn his prototype rocketpack into a one readily available for mass production. Doc thought that the rocketpack was too dangerous for individual use but demurred making a decision until consulting with the greatest living expert on rocketry. (As a result of the conference with Goddard Doc Savage would refuse to build his rocketpack for the Army, so they turned to Howard Hughes. (The results of this are seen in Dennis Power’s Iron Man articles. Ed.)


While Doc and Pat Savage visited Goddard he launched a test rocket. A viscous mass oozed out of the rocket after its launch and caused it to wobble in flight and fall. The mass changed into a winged sphinx which Patricia fired at with her six shooter. It grabbed Patricia and flew away. While Monk and Ham helped put out the fire caused by the solid fuel, Doc chased after the sphinx in his plane.  A flaming fireball suddenly appeared in the sky above Doc’s plane. It fell in an arc hitting the tail section of Doc’s plane. Doc escaped from his burning plane and the sphinx flew away with Patricia. The flaming ball that had appeared before his plane in conjunction with the shape-shifting mass confirmed Doc Savage’s belief that someone had discovered one of the caches of weapons and material stolen from The Fortress of Solitude by John Sunlight. The flaming fireball had been generated by a plasma gun Savage had designed as a countermeasure to volcanic eruption or oil fires. He believed that the person behind the attacks on him was Sunlight’s partner Baron Karl.


Meeting back up with Monk and Ham, Doc bought a car and set off for Phoenix. He was not certain but thought that the sphinx might be a clue and the nearest city with a Egyptian connection was Phoenix, the whose process of life and rebirth from a worm could be equated with the Thing. The Thing had been spotted flying into a Hohokam site outside of Phoenix. Doc Savage and his men entered the Hohokam settlement and were alerted to the presence of a trussed up Pat Savage. When they entered the pueblo to free her, she warned them that the thing was still around. Sure enough as they cut her bonds, a portion of the adobe wall broke away and came for them. . It quickly formed into the shape of a large humanoid porcupine. Unlike a porcupine it shot quills at Doc and his men. They subdued it with Co2. As they were leaving the pueblo Doc Savage suddenly blasted the lower torso of Patricia Savage with co2. He had noticed that her skin had hardened slightly when they had sprayed the thing that had arisen from the floor Although Doc attempted to question the Patricia thing, all it responded with were cries for him and the warning. Freezing it into immobility, Ham and Monk chopped it up and burned it with a flame thrower. Doc scoured the pueblo and found a bound and gagged Pat in one of the pueblos. She could not give him anymore information about the thing, who was controlling it or how.


Returning to New York City Doc secluded himself in his lab with some of the samples taken from the various appearances of the Thing. So far as he could tell these were all grown from the sample he had taken from the arctic in 1925. He was fairly certain that Baron Karl was responsible but did not know why he had waited to strike, perhaps it had taken him this long to culture the Things. While he had some of his agent make inquiries he dressed for another event that he was obligated to attend. He, Johnny and Patricia were to make an appearance at the Museum of Natural History, a new exhibit was being opened in the African wing. (The exhibit consisted of artifacts from Lost Cities of Africa such as Cathne, Opar and Numidia. The artifacts were courtesy of Doc Savage’s cousin.) Shortly after cocktails were served Doc heard a slight hissing noise. Using sign language he told Pat and Johnny to put in nose filters. Almost all of the people who were in the room burst into laugher, those who had drank cocktails fell to ground and died their faces twisted into grins. Johnny tried the doors but they were locked shut. Near a large disc of pure gold that represented the Flaming God, stood a statue which shimmered changed shape into that a giant moth which gripped the golden disc. Doc Savage rebuked himself for not noticing that the statue was Dahomean rather than Khokarsan and so out of place in this exhibit. Doc scoured the room for the source of the gas while Johnny and Patricia attacked the giant moth which was having trouble lifting the heavy golden disc. They froze it with fire extinguishers while Doc blocked the vent where the gas had originated. Johnny and Pat broke open the door and summoned police and emergency crews while Doc Savage provided medical care. At least Doc Savage knew who was opposing him.


Rather than wait for the next attack, Doc Savage planted an item in the newspaper citing that the Sultan of Zanzibar would be giving him a large diamond known as the King of Diamonds to help with Doc Savage’s charities. The diamond would be given to Doc in front of his foundation. He hoped the lure of the gem would prove too overpowering for the Joker. Although the Joker undoubtedly knew it was a trap.


The Joker disguised as a policeman attempted to steal the diamond. When Doc Savage attempted to stop him this Joker was revealed as a Thing, the real Joker grabbed the gem as Doc Savage grappled with the Thing. The Sultan however grabbed the Joker who the Joker realized was Doc Savage in disguise. As Doc Savage struggled with the Joker whom he found was freakishly strong, he hesitated for a second, realizing with a shock just who the Joker really was. As the Joker slipped away from Doc Savage he found his egress blocked by the Joker. Seeing his double the Joker began laughing and was promptly knocked out by this ersatz Joker, who was Patricia Savage in disguise.


Even under Doc Savage’s powerful truth drugs, the Joker did not reveal much, the damage to his brain that prevented him from being operated upon also prevented the truth serums from working.  He would only tell Doc that he had remembered where the stuff was hidden but did not know how he knew it had been hidden. He claimed to be working alone. Doc Savage learned that he had controlled the Things by implanting an electrode into a nerve cluster of the Things and was able to control them through radio waves. The electrodes had been invented by Doc Savage as part of his crime college brain operations. Over Doc Savage’s protests The Joker was sent to Bellevue Mental hospital where he soon escaped.


There may have been a code that only Doc Savage and perhaps his cousin Pat understood in the symbolism of the shapes made the Things take and in the locations used for the attacks. Attacking Doc in the World of Tomorrow mocked his status as the hero to technopolis. The Mammoth was a tweak to his possible connection to the Nine. The use of the Octopus god of Ral was a more subtle symbol. It tweaked Doc Savage because the Octopus God cult had been lead by Lo Lar, who was actually his cousin Lorelei Larsen his great Uncle’s daughter. Wolf Larsen was his grandfather who later adopted the guise of Baron Karl von Hessel. The flaming ball in the sky, which in the comic book version was made more explicitly into a meteorite twigged his relationship to the Wold Newton family. This was further twigged by the choosing of the African exhibit, donated by his cousin Lord Greystoke. The Joker was telling Doc Savage that despite hiding behind the Savage name he knew who Doc Savage really was or at least believed he did.


[46] In February 1941 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Doc Savage was given special powers of investigation and arrest by the Justice Department under the aegis of J. Edgar Hoover. At the ceremony a shot barely misses Doc Savage and wings the Director of the FBI. The Joker is spotted leaving the scene. Since it is uncertain if Hoover or Savage was the target of the assassination a nation wide manhunt is declared for the Joker. The Joker blatantly gasses a theatre in New Jersey steals diamonds used in the play as a publicity stunt. A few hours later he appeared in Ohio sabotaging a roadway so that a bus carrying a convention of jewelers would go off the road. Joker gassed the crashed bus and stole the Jewels. The next day The Joker appeared simultaneously in Kansas, Delaware and Rhode Island. Doc Savage had figured out that the Joker was spelling his name using the names of states and nabbed him in Rhode Island. However as soon as Doc Savage had taken him into custody the Joker began to laugh and convulse. This person whom Doc had caught was a Joker impersonator.


The next day a nationally syndicated bank was robbed by the Joker, in every state at the same time. The Joker made a radio announcement telling the nation that he was now syndicated. If the United States did not pay him 48 million dollars, he would carry out acts of terrorism and sabotage against the United States, one crime for every department in the government. The president refused to pay and acts of arson were carried out in each of the capital cities of the United States. The joke of course being that that there wasn’t a national fire department. In the course of the next few weeks Public works projects were dynamited, sewers were filled with joker gas, street signals were sabotaged and railroads were derailed. Doc Savage was able to capture the New Jersey alive The duplicate Joker was not as he feared a Thing. However when he subjected the duplicate joker to truth drugs he discovered something very disturbing. The joker had been mentally conditioned to obey commands to key words. Beyond to everything else he laughed uncontrollably. Through a combination of drug therapy and hypnosis he was able to get the joker to utter some phrases like hundreds of clowns and clown college. However the effort left the joker in a catatonic state.


Doc had his agents scour past issues of newspapers for any mentions of training schools or colleges for entertainers or clowns. They found five such places one in each of the regions of the country. Doc assumed that these were meeting places from where the prospective candidates would be taken to the clown college. Doc aided the FBI in making a concerted nation wide effort to capture as many of the joker’s as possible. He knew that it would be dangerous for both the FBI men and the jokers to be captured. Ten of the Jokers were captured, five of them died in captivity, four died taking out the arresting officers. The remaining joker displayed the same mental conditioning as the New Jersey joker.


Doc’s clipping service kept watch for any new mention of the crime college. When an advertisement appeared in late September of 1941 Doc answered it. He was instructed to go to a certain place on the New Jersey shore. Doc knew that a stakeout would prove fruitless so he went alone and in disguise. He was blindfolded and taken by boat, plane and car to somewhere in the Midwest. He was led into a large dining room were about a hundred other men, mostly young and desperate for work sat waiting. A group of Jokers walked into the room. One of them walked up and down the aisle of new recruits. He asked one hapless fellow to smell his flower. The man fell back with a scream as the flower squirted his face with a strong acid solution. Laughing the Joker whirled to face Doc Savage. He asked Doc Savage how many more men would have to smell the flower or experience his joybuzzer before Doc stopped his charade of wanting to be a funny man, everyone knew he did not have a sense of humor.


Continuing with his theme of governmental departments the Joker told Doc that the Department of Justice would now handle his case. Doc was forced to dress like a clown and under go a Trial by combat that involved him undergoing trials with a circus theme. He had to wire walk across a greased wire over a pool of acid, tame a starving lion, juggle cannon balls and run a gantlet of clowns. When Doc Savage survived this the Joker decided to have an actual trial with him as the judge, some of the Jokers as the jury and prosecuting attorney. Doc did not get to display his legal knowledge however when the Joker refused to let him plea his case. Doc was sentenced to death. The Joker laughed that Doc would be the Department of Justice caper and the Department of Health would be carried out right under his nose as he died.


Doc was made to step into a cell stark naked. The door was sealed and joker gas was pumped into the room. Doc Savage laughed uncontrollably pitched forward and died with a smile on his lips.


A half hour after his death the guards entered his cell to remove his body. Doc moved quickly and disarmed his guards and rendered them unconscious. He found the Clown College deserted. Quickly examining it he found it a bizarre, twisted duplicate of his own Crime College. He also ascertained what the Joker’s had planned. Finding a phone he called for an National Guard autogiro to pick him up and take him to the airport where he purchased a tri-plane and flew directly to Washington D.C. At a Savage Foundation charity auction for Polio a large group of masked doctors filed into the room and placed it under quarantine claiming there was an outbreak of plague. They called for the attendees to line up so that they could receive inoculations. The doctors discovered however that they faced armed men and that the doors were blocked. The Joker had his Jokers thrown down vials of fluid and then threw down grenades of Joker gas, however the men had been inoculated for small pox and wore nose filters against the joker gas. The Joker’s men however were not immune to the joker gas and began suffering from the effects. Joker slipped away during the confusion. However as he slipped out of the hall he ran into Doc Savage. After a brief wrestling match the Joker surrendered.


Doc Savage would spend several months trying to cure the Joker’s victims, to undo the mental conditioning imposed by the Joker at his clown college. He only had limited success.


[47] Much has been written about the reason for the Joker’s odd love/hate fixation on Batman. Most writers tend to portray the Joker as the dark side of Batman, that the two exist to play off one another in ongoing battle of intellect and morality. While there may be an element of truth in this assertion, the truth seems be that the Joker had transferred his affections towards Batman. The most blatant example of the Joker’s possible sexual orientation is n The Outsider’s Vol 3, No 3.  Lex Luthor was kidnapped by the Joker. After being tortured by the Joker Luthor asks the Joker if it bothers him that Batman likes the Catwoman better than him. He jibes the Joker that he will never love him. Joker’s violent reaction can be interpreted as due to him being a homophobe, that of an unrequited lover being teased about his emotions or perhaps the over reaction of a homosexual who loathes his nature while paradoxically reveling in it. Something one could easily see as actually occurring with the Joker. Although Lex Luthor is portrayed as the President of the United States at this time, this is due to the political commentary of the editorial staff of DC comics at the time that the story published. The event if it truly occurred would have been in the late seventies or early eighties. The Lex Luthor in question was undoubtedly Alexis Luther aka the Post Crisis Luthor and the Kingpin.


[48] The small amount of the elixir combined with the remnants of the bacteriological form of the elixir that the Baron had given Ivan may have slowly been healing his brain as well. In any event even if it did not heal the brain injuries it probably had by this time fixed the facial scarring and permanent rictus of the Joker, by this time were an extension of the Joker’s personality and so remained as a psychosomatic condition.


[49] Although Dennis Power’s extensively researched The Lethal Luthors: William Luthor states otherwise, one has to wonder, with her one-eye coupled with the green hair, if the early appearances of Viper alias Madame Hydra were actually Marvel’s  portrayal of Lily Bugov.?


[50] As depicted in "The Son of the Joker" Batman 145 (February 1962)


[51] As depicted in DC miniseries Doc Savage (Nov 1987 - Feb 1988)


[52] The Joker may have intended to shoot and humiliate Barbara Grayson while dressed in her Batgirl outfit but instead chose to have her strip naked, shoot her in the spine and take Polaroid’s. He wanted to punish the wife rather than the desecrate the symbol of the Bat.


[53] As seen in the controversial Death in the Family storyline Batman #426-429 in which the fans voted to determine Robin’s fate.


[54] There actually was a massive blackout in March of 1989, although it was blamed on Sunspots rather than Sunlight.


[55] Beau Faulkner said he was carrying on an old family tradition of impersonating Doc. Pat Savage had hinted that Doc had stand ins. In some of the sagas Doc Savage acts very differently than one expects, so is it possible that this was also a stand in? Did Savage have more than one stand in? Was Doc Caliban one of them? Was Faulkner a descendent, perhaps of Trish Wilde and Doc Caliban? More research is certainly needed upon this topic.


[56]  It should be remembered that at the time Doc Savage had been sent into the Phantom Zone homosexuality was considered to be treatable mental disorder. He had by now realized John’s orientation and fixation on him and had not totally acculturated to the new psychiatric standards.


[57] In the Doc Savage comic version Merete was accidentally shot by Sunlight’s men. She and Sunlight shared a tender moment before she died. Even in the 1980s the truth about Sunlight’s true nature was censored.


[58] Where he went is perhaps best explained in Win Eckert’s “Doc Wildman” Out of Time” Farmerphile no. 6. October 2006


[59]  The modified joker venom must have also contained a genetic virus that compelled the victims to make themselves look like the Joker. Although the rictus, black humor driven violence and unsettling laughter were common among the jokerized, the compulsion to actually look like him only affected a third of them. The events of this were depicted in the DC crossover/mini-series Last Laugh which ran through the DC comics in 2001.


[60]  A rather scurrilous rumor circulated that the Joker did not actually die from the brain tumor because the brain tumor was in fact a joke played on the Joker. Instead Nightwing, believing that the Robin had been killed by a jokerized Killer Croc/Lizard beat the Joker to death.