THE NICK CARTER THAT NEVER WAS
By Roberto Barreiro
One of the mysteries of the Wold Newton Universe that has not been adequately explained has been the disappearances and reappearances of Nick Carter; each reappearance has also been marked with a very notable change of personality.
Two periods of those disappearances exist. One between 1923 and 1932 and another between 1937 and 1964. Reappearing twice in the public eye, the Nick Carter of each resurgence is very different from the previous one, as demonstrated by Professors Todd Rutt and Arn Mc Connell in The Mysterious Case of the Carters Or, How Hirohito became Nick Carter' s Aide.
It has been postulated as a theory that Nick Carter had immortality or a extended longevity as an explanation of how he could have such a long, active career. Though it is possible that this really happen (with Wold Newton genes explaining this), the character’s changes of personality cast doubt that this was the same man in every incarnation. Recently the Professor Dennis Power in its Lethal Luthors: A Deceptive Brilliance William Luthor (1903 -1967) explains (in a footnote, to be specific) that the Nick Carter of the Killmaster period was a literary fiction that based its histories in the three operatives of the Agency Axe, known like N1 (Hamilton Nash), N2 (Nick Carter jr.) and N3 (Nick Fury), all agents of the organization mounted and directed by the real Nick Carter. A mystery is explained here.
But it remained to resolve the mysterious change of personality in the histories of Nick Carter between 1932 and 1937, where the personage is a typical hard Boiled detective, in little keeping with the Nick Carter of the dime novels. The explanations of that return never have been convincing, explaining the public disappearance of Carter in those years as having been in the spirit of traveling to surpass the death of his woman. This explanation turns out to be less convincing to explain the psychological change of Carter from a rationalizing investigator into a type more expert in hitting blows to obtain results as is the Carter that appears in the pulps of the you years 1932 -37.
Part of the reason that this has never been adequately explained is that most of the investigators of the Wold Newton Studies are natives of English-speaking countries. They did not possess an important piece of the puzzle that was only clarified in the Hispano-american editions of Nick Carter. That piece is the simple confession that Nick Carter never returned to its detective work between 1932 and 1937 and was another person (with the consent and the public authorization of the one real Nick) who occupied its place.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Jim Echagüe Wallace.
Before continuing with the tale, it’s indispensable to explain the sources used by this article. Sources that are evident and clear, like you will see next. We start with the cover of the first number (could be any but the comparison will be fortified if is done with the first issue of the pulp) of Nick Carter Detective Magazine, published in 1933. There in the cover reads itself clearly:
But if we see the cover of the same novel translated in Spanish that went out into the street for the first time in 1941 (four years after the second “disappearance” of Carter) we find us with the following cover:
The name Jim Wallace has replaced prominently that of Nick Carter! But the history is identical in both books... except in a small addendum at the beginning of the first chapter. I believe that this deserves to be transcript (and translated) in its totality, being the proof that sustains this article:
Jim Fonseca Wallace descendent of an old Californian family that for more than one hundred years, has been preserved completely pure, marrying only with other Spanish or South American families that could present heraldries without defect. There had been only one exception and of her was born our protagonist, who, in spite of the mixture of races, showed to be always as much a gentleman as his better ancestors.
The father of Jim fell in love
with a rich American heiress that on account of a
in her car was obliged to remain some time in the Fonseca estate. From
they only left to go to
His infancy passed in the
enormous estate of their grandfather, who by his bribery managed to
in spite of the efforts that infinity of Americans trying to snatch it
when, due to the conquest of California by the United States, all the
and abuses were permitted. But Don
Gerardo of Fonseca y Guzmán had been
educated in the
From all these details it will be understood that Jim Wallace had all the inclinations and qualities of a Spanish gentleman. He had been educated in a house where only Spanish was spoken and only read newspapers and books written in the same tongue.
At the age of five Jim rode as a consummate rider on the endless plains of the Fonseca hacienda. In that land there was gold and petroleum, but they never consented to extract neither of them. The Fonseca traded with cattle and with the fruits of its orchards. Their rectitude in the business was very known: when they put for sale any herd of cattle they had many buyers, who were there with the certain assurance of not being deceived by the Fonsecas.
This environment of manliness,
rectitude and bravery made the young Wallace a true champion of
Besides, the life in the open spaces that he experienced in his first
years him predisposed him for the work that later, at the death of its
he was going to undertake. Despite his grandfather’s wish for him to
the ranch because he handled the rope as the best cattleman, mounted
of horses and shot with so mortal aim that in more than one occasion
put an end to the career of many a famous bandit, he felt he needed to
goodbye. When he arrived at
Later, when the great Nick, feeling the weight of the years, began to decline in his career, the jobs being offered were coming fewer and far, his assistants went to offer their services to Jim Wallace and, presently, all the collaborators of Nick Carter were under the orders of the youth and famous detective whose fame came close to surpassing of that of Nick itself, as being a name feared by all the delinquents.
Looking at the difficulty of the American people to pronounce the name Fonseca, Jim decided to use the surname of his predecessor which was more in, more in harmony with his occupation.
Beyond the evident Hispanic ultranationalist hyperbole (we recall that this text was written in years where the nationalist, right-wing regime of Francisco Franco was in his heights) this text retold with enough accuracy the real history of Jim Wallace. This article cleans up that hyperbole and clarifies the exaggerations to give a more detailed life of the personage.
Who was the author of this text, an obvious attachment to the book made in the Spanish translation of 1941? It is quite obvious to assume that he was the translator of this novel, a gentleman called José Mallorquí. Take note of this name: he will appear subsequently.
From this text we began the investigations that carried to discover the history of Jim Wallace, the true protagonist of the adventures ascribed to Nick Carter in the period 1933 -1937. This is their history:
Jim Echagüe Wallace (the surname Fonseca was a
deliberate distortion of Mallorquí that
explained later) was born in 1899 (1) in a castle
near the Spanish city of
past of the Californian Echagües, there
was a fascinating history of an avenger who protected the poor and
the tyranny of the… American oppressors. El
began its adventures in 1851, just after the Yankee occupation of
Coyote had a lot of support from the inhabitants of Hispanic and
Mexican descent that were with no protection from the Americans that
The young Jim was fascinated by the many stories of this avenger. The stories came alive because the man who told them to him was his grandfather, Don Cesar de Echagüe, who was also the man behind the mask of the Coyote. Cesar de Echagüe was publicly known as a man spectacularly afraid of violence but gifted of cunning and a prodigious ability to convince and seduce people. With these skills, Cesar not only he resisted all legal maneuvering and illegal attacks made by the Americans to expropriate his hacienda, but he expanded his possessions and diversified his wealth. He was a generous and loyal boss with the ones under his command, which assured him the absolute loyalty of his subordinates.
He married two times, first with Leonor de Acevedo, daughter of another family of ancestry of the zone. She gave birth to his older son, also called Cesar (we will name from now Cesar Jr. to avoid confusions) in 1855, before dying of birth complications. The grieving Don Cesar disappeared after that a couple of years, in which he worked under pseudonym as a spy for the Confederate government during the American Civil War. His son was raised by his housekeeper, Guadalupe, who had secretly been in love with the widower since she was a child. When Don César returned, he will married again, this time to Guadalupe. She would give him a daughter, Leonor.
The career of the Coyote finished around 1875, when age would not permit Don Cesar to continue with his double life. Likewise, in those years there was much less need for the Coyote and he felt that his second identity could be abandoned without trouble. Don César continued with the administration of his properties with the aid of his son, Cesar Junior (2).
second Cesar, though equal in intelligence than his father, was
always of a warlike and abrasive nature. When young, he flirted with
possibility of a double life like his father but paternal pressure
keep him from following this perilous path. He channeled his abilities
the management of the family possessions. But a trip to
Junior was invited by the distant kin of the Echagüe,
the Fonseca, to visit their possessions in
fortuitous accident permitted at the second Cèsar
of Echagüe to know his future wife, a rich
the high American society called Wallace (3) (we do not know her first
By chance (the text says that a damage in its car, but the dates do
improbable that it was a car, a technology that barely began to appear
times) she need to be lodged a season in the Echagüe
estate. Seems that there was an explosive romance and the couple soon
and left for a long honeymoon trip to
The infancy of Jim happened in the Echagüe hacienda, listening the stories of his grandfather Don Caesar who told the youngster his adventures as the Coyote. As child Jim also learned to ride like a veteran rider and became a crack marksman. His masters in this last apprenticeship were his father and grandfather, both excellent gunmen.
the distortions made by the Mallorquí
text was that the Echagües only spoke
their house. Though (keeping in mind the paternal fondness by
age of 18, Jim was enlisted as a soldier of the American army in
the WW1 and fought in
he returned from the war, he would be given the sad news of his
passing in an accident. For a time, he administered his hacienda but
was not in it. So he decided to leave other people in charge of his
not know exactly when he first met Nick Carter. We know,
that he was one of his many assistants from 1919 until
Nick withdrew in 1922. Keen on the work of private detective, Jim opted
opening his own private detective agency, being helped by some of the
assistants of Nick in this task. Slowly
and patiently, he decided to be known by his maternal name, Wallace,
and not by
his paternal name due mainly to the prejudices that a name like Echagüe would bring to his work, in view and knowledge of
the buried racism of the epoch. Thus the
Nick Carter was already beginning to collaborate with the U.S. Government but wanted to restart his agency, with him as figurehead.. For this cause he sought his former assistant and proposed him to be the acting head of the new Nick Carter and Associates Agency. Jim would be the responsible for all and would have the huge resources that Nick could provide him, including the juicy contact with Street & Smith, the pulp editorial. They would again publish the stories provided by the Agency, with the condition that in the fiction, Nick Carter would be the star of the stories, even when he had nothing to do with them in real life. Jim did not mind that their name weren’t public: he was not a man worried by the publicity.
There was a point of conflict, nevertheless: the leftist positions of Jim, that had grown and solidified in the midst of the Great Depression. Though Jim never had embraced completely the Marxist theories, he openly supported the New deal of F. D. Roosevelt and had helped unions attacked by strike-breakers groups, free of charge. Some people (including the FBI, with whom Nick was obliged for the moment to have fluid contact) did not want that “this pinko” (as Edgar Hoover called Jim once) were the public face of Nick Carter and Associates. Carter asked Jim that he abstain from mixing in ideologically tricky situations, a condition that Jim accepted grudgingly.
1931 to 1936, Jim was the main investigator of the
something would appear in the horizon that would change all: The
Spanish Civil War. When this conflict erupted, Jim could not resist the
call of his familiar and ideological influences. It was the
not know a lot from about the
role of Jim Wallace in the Spanish
Civil War. We are sure that he knew in
In 1938 Jim became prisoner of the nationalist troops after the battle of Teruel. It is known that already under heavy guard, he was sent to be cured of some wounds at a military hospital. Shortly after his admittance to the hospital all traces of him are lost. Apparently he was imprisoned until he died but the date is not known. A sad destiny for somebody so brave.
After the war, José Mallorquí tried to find his friend. He managed to discover that Jim Wallace was a prisoner. Without being able to do a lot directly (he himself was regard very well by the pro-Franco officials since he was known as a Republican, though never a militant), Mallorquí began to try to contact people who could help him. There wasn’t a way to find Nick Carter (by those years already compromised in the secret agenda of the American government and for this, he went underground) but he managed to speak with the Fonseca and convinced them to free to their “red” relative. The Fonseca made some tepid attempts that amounted to nothing. Nevertheless they were very generous with Mallorquí and they passed him more information on the family Echagüe. Little by little, Mallorquí would know more about Don César de Echagüe than about his unlucky grandson.
But Mallorquí would take advantage of one of
the opportunities of the Destiny to call attention at the existence of
friend. When the Editoria Molino, in which
decided to publish (mainly for the Latin-American market, since
Unfortunately this was not possible. The pulps of Jim Wallace would then be the final legacy of a skillful and brave man that was during years the secret Nick Carter. Let this article be the deserved and deferred homage by which all the investigators of the Wold Newton Universe will know him.
(1) We know from The
that Jim participated as a young man in the First World War. Keeping in
(2) There will be a future article that explain more in detail the history of The Coyote.
(3) ¿Were her family descendent of the Scottish leader William Wallace? We do not know with accuracy but could be a trail to investigate…