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 damage in her car was obliged to remain some time in the Fonseca estate. From there they only left to go to Spain in her honeymoon trip. There she knew the relatives of her husband that lived in a beautiful castle on the Tajo river. She fell in love with the country of the noble ancestors of her husband that she only decided to abandon it after the repeated requests of her in-laws, that desired to know their newborn grandson. Thus, in spite of being naturalized in the United States, Jim Wallace was a Spaniard and he had seen first seen the light of day in a bed that centuries before a queen of Spain had occupied.


His infancy passed in the enormous estate of their grandfather, who by his bribery managed to conserve it in spite of the efforts that infinity of Americans trying to snatch it from him when, due to the conquest of California by the United States, all the crimes and abuses were permitted.  But Don Gerardo of Fonseca y Guzmán had been educated in the Toledo military academy and was afraid of nobody. To their expenses he, organized a personal force, in which all their servants and friends were enlisted servants.  Supported by this force, he did defend their interests so brilliantly that more than two hundred the bandits were hung in his rancho.  At last he was left in peace. Since then, each morning, the laborers grabbed their Winchesters and, formed as troops, they attended the raising of the Spanish flag in the tower of the old colonial large house. The happy colors of the Hispanic banner were greeted with the sound of the diana of the Regiment of America, military unit which Don Gerardo had belonged


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 justice. Besides, the life in the open spaces that he experienced in his first nineteen years him predisposed him for the work that later, at the death of its parents, he was going to undertake. Despite his grandfather’s wish for him to remain on the ranch because he handled the rope as the best cattleman, mounted all types of horses and shot with so mortal aim that in more than one occasion its gun put an end to the career of many a famous bandit, he felt he needed to say goodbye. When he arrived at New York, he made the acquaintance of the veteran detective Nick Carter, and became one of his  main assistants, and eventually becoming an independent private investigator.


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 will be explained later) was born in 1899 (1) in a castle situated near the Spanish city of Toledo, on the banks of the river Tajo. The Echagües were an aristocratic family native of the Spanish region of Castlla La Vieja. One of its branches had moved and prospered in California since the 17th century. Jim originated from this branch


In the past of the Californian Echagües, there was a fascinating history of an avenger who protected the poor and helpless of the tyranny of the… American oppressors. El Coyote began its adventures in 1851, just after the Yankee occupation of California and appeared in an intermittent way until 1875 approximately. It was evident that its style was inspired by that of El Zorro but with a more violent attitude against the criminals. An expert marksman, the Coyote didn’t hesitate in eliminating those whom deserved it. And if he did not eliminate them, he left then his mark, blowing off the culprit’s earlobes with a shot of his guns.


The Coyote had a lot of support from the inhabitants of Hispanic and Mexican descent that were with no protection from the Americans that arrived at California. For them, the Coyote was its protector.


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).


The second Cesar, though equal in intelligence than his father, was always of a warlike and abrasive nature. When young, he flirted with the possibility of a double life like his father but paternal pressure managed to keep him from following this perilous path. He channeled his abilities toward the management of the family possessions. But a trip to Spain would change his life.


Cesar Junior was invited by the distant kin of the Echagüe, the Fonseca, to visit their possessions in Spain. Thus, in 1887, the second Cesar de Echagüe met the Spanish branch of the family and their ancient possessions.  The infatuation was immediate and Cesar Junior would pass many holidays with the Fonseca family, an ultraconservative Spanish aristocratic family. Their relationship reinforced his aristocratic vision of the world, his class and cultural pride. So proud of his origins he was he, that Cesar began to raise the Spanish flag in his Californian lands. He obliged his laborers to greet the Spanish flag as if he was in Spain.


A fortuitous accident permitted at the second Cèsar of Echagüe to know his future wife, a rich heiress of the high American society called Wallace (3) (we do not know her first name). By chance (the text says that a damage in its car, but the dates do highly improbable that it was a car, a technology that barely began to appear in those times) she need to be lodged a season in the Echagüe estate. Seems that there was an explosive romance and the couple soon married and left for a long honeymoon trip to Spain. There, more exactly in the ancestral home of the Fonseca, would be born James (Jaime in Spanish) Echagüe Wallace.


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.


One of the distortions made by the Mallorquí text was that the Echagües only spoke Spanish in their house. Though (keeping in mind the paternal fondness by Spain and its culture) Spanish was a second language for Jim the idea that in his Californian house only spoke Spanish was an exaggeration- fruit of the time and place in which the text was written. The Echagüe had always been open-minded and they recognized the need to have friendly relations with the American elite from start of the annexation of California. Don. Cesar Sr. distrusted of the political Yankee machine and he fought against it legal and illegally to protect the people whom live there. But his sister married an important U.S. politician, one with Don Cesar always had the greatest respect and affection. And he and his son were friendly with many WASPs.  Therefore the English was cultivated equally by Jim Wallace and was really their first language.


At the age of 18, Jim was enlisted as a soldier of the American army in the WW1 and fought in Europe, with bravery and ability. But the war would mark him especially and young Jim would receive in that period ideological influences that oriented his political thought toward the left, as it did many youths of his generation.


When he returned from the war, he would be given the sad news of his parents’ passing in an accident. For a time, he administered his hacienda but his heart was not in it. So he decided to leave other people in charge of his land and went to New York.


We do 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 for opening his own private detective agency, being helped by some of the old 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 Jim Wallace Agency shortly obtained fame for its honesty and capability in the resolution of difficult cases. Knowing this, Nick Carter decided to speak with Jim at the beginning of 1930.


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.


From 1931 to 1936, Jim was the main investigator of the Nick Carter Agency, acting with efficiency and bravery, despite being a lot more prone than his boss to engage in fighting and shootings. The great majority of the novels of that period of Nick Carter are based on their feats.


But something would appear in the horizon that would change all: The Spanish Civil War. When this conflict erupted, Jim could not resist the double call of his familiar and ideological influences. It was the Spain whom his father loved the country that was in war and it was a government with whom he ideologically agreed the one that was being attacked by the fascism. Forgetting its previous promise to Nick Carter, Jim would support in public acts the cause of the Spanish Republic. This brought him in continuous arguments with Nick. At the end, Jim decided to resign the Agency. He then enlisted in the Abraham Lincoln International Brigade and went to help the Spanish Republic. Nick Carter decided to close the agency and to put finally all his effort in the work of intelligence that was going to be clearly necessary in the coming years.


We do not know a lot from about  the role of Jim Wallace in the Spanish Civil War. We are sure that he knew in Barcelona one young Spanish called José Mallorquí who was a translator of English and a pulp writer. We do NOT know exactly how they met for the first time but between them a solid friendship was established soon. Quickly, Jim told Mallorquí about his mysterious activity as the substitute of Nick Carter and also told him of his grandfather in California, stories that Mallorquí registered conscientiously. He took note of the relation of Jim with the Fonseca, a relationship broken at the moment, since the Fonseca were active followers of the general  Francisco Franco.


 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 his friend. When the Editoria Molino, in which he worked, decided to publish (mainly for the Latin-American market, since Spain was completely demolished economically after the Civil War) a collection of pulps of Street & Smith, Mallorquí managed to convince the editorial director to buy the rights of the stories of Nick Carter. Then he convinced that they put the name of the REAL protagonist of those histories. Also it would be he who would write the introductory paragraph transcribed at the start of the article describing briefly the life of the disappeared Jim.  He decided to name him Jim Fonseca Wallace instead of Jim Echagüe Wallace to stand out the relationship with his conservative family and besides to give an accent markedly Hispanic and Imperial, who was better according to the ideological times of those years.  Because of it, he distorted anecdotes and emphasized his origins in a Spanish “good family”. Everything was written with the express purpose of trying to liberate his friend.


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.


Roberto Barreiro


(1) We know from The Silk Secret that Jim participated as a young man in the First World War. Keeping in mind that the United States entered to the war in 1917 and considering that the minimum age were 18 years, we can deduce that Jim Wallace was born in 1899.  We are able then to deduce that his adventures started when he was 34 years old.

(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…