The Avenger Chronology

or

A Whiter Shade of Pale

 

by Win Scott Eckert

 

The Avenger

 

The Avenger pulp novels were first written by Paul Ernst under the Street & Smith house name of Kenneth Robeson. Some of the later novels were also written by Emile Tepperman. Justice, Inc. through Midnight Murder appeared in The Avenger magazine from September 1939 through September 1942. Death to the Avenger through Cargo of Doom appeared in Clues Detective magazine from September of 1942 through May of 1943. To Find a Dead Man appeared in The Shadow Magazine in August 1944. The Avenger was seen no more until Ron Goulart took over as Kenneth Robeson and wrote twelve more novels in the 1970s, The Man from Atlantis through Demon Island, published by Warner Books.

 

With thanks to Rick Lai, whose Chronology for The Avenger is a definitive work. This timeline includes comic book and other non-canonical appearances, for the benefit of the interested Wold Newton reader.


Legend:

N = novel

J = DC Comics' Justice, Inc.

S1 = DC Comics' The Shadow, Volume 1

S2 = DC Comics' The Shadow, Volume 2

GN = DC Comics' Justice, Inc. graphic novel


1909

Birth of Richard Henry Benson, great nephew of Phileas Fogg.

1919

Birth of future Justice Inc. agent Nellie Gray, the daughter of Tarzan and Jane (see The Daughters of Tarzan).

May-June 1938

N, J 1

Justice, Inc. (Extreme shock transforms Richard Henry Benson into the Avenger, a man with a dead white face and hair, and with facial skin the consistency of putty that can be manipulated into any shape. With two of his agents, Fergus "Mac" MacMurdie & Algernon Heathcote "Smitty" Smith, the Avenger forms Justice, Inc.)

 

October 1938

N

The Yellow Hoard (Nellie Gray joins Justice, Inc.)

 

October 1938

N, J 2

The Sky Walker (Josh and Rosabel Newton join Justice, Inc.)

 

November 1938

J 4

Slay Ride in the Sky

 

December 1938

N

The Devil's Horns

 

December 1938

S1 11

The Night of the Avenger (The Shadow & his agents fight with the Avenger and his agents against Shiwan Khan.)

 

May 1939

N

The Frosted Death

 

June 1939

N

Tuned for Murder

 

July 1939

N

The Glass Mountain

 

July 1939

N

The Flame Breathers

 

July 1939

N

The Blood Ring

 

August 1939

N

Stockholders in Death

 

August 1939

N

The Smiling Dogs

 

September 1939

N

The River of Ice

 

September 1939

J 3

The Monster Bug (Sequel to The Shadow: Night of Neptune's Death (S1 5).)

 

September 1939

N

Murder on Wheels (Cole Wilson joins Justice, Inc. Benson is transformed back into a normal human being, with regular skin and black hair. Almost two years after Justice, Inc.)

 

November 1939

N

The Three Gold Crowns

 

April 1940

N

Nevlo

 

May 1940

N

House of Death

 

May 1940

N

The Hate Master

 

August 1940

N

Death in Slow Motion

 

August 1940

N

Pictures of Death

 

September 1940

N

The Green Killer

 

May 1941

N

The Happy Killers

 

May 1941

N

The Black Death

 

July 1941

N

The Wilder Curse

 

July 1941

N

Midnight Murder

 

July 1941

N

Death to the Avenger

 

August 1941

N

Vengeance on the Avenger

 

August 1941

N

Cargo of Doom

 

August 1941

N

To Find a Dead Man

 

January 1942

N

Calling Justice, Inc.

 

March 1942

N

A Coffin for the Avenger

 

October-November 1942

N

The Man from Atlantis

 

December 1942

N

Red Moon

 

February 1943

N

The Purple Zombie (Cole Wilson mentions that Lamont Cranston (the identity often used by The Shadow) is a casual acquaintance. Cranston (most likely really The Shadow) is actually briefly glimpsed at a Hollywood party. Norgil the Magician is also mentioned.)

 

February 1943

N

Dr. Time (Smitty mentions his inventor friend, Click Rush.)

 

May 1943

N

The Nightwitch Devil

 

June 1943

N

Black Chariots (Norgil the Magician is again mentioned.)

 

June 1943

N

The Cartoon Crimes

 

October 1943

N

The Death Machine

 

November 1943

N

The Blood Countess

 

December 1943

N

The Glass Man (Norgil the Magician is again mentioned.)

 

December 1943

N

The Iron Skull

 

January 1944

N

Demon Island (There is a reference to the occult text, The Necronomicon.)

 

 

(Conjecture:) Sometime after Demon Island, the Avenger sets out to search for his wife and child, who were previously thought dead. He learns that they are indeed dead, and by the end of this incident his face has reverted to its white and malleable state.

 

1948-1972

GN

Trust and Betrayal (It is revealed that the Avenger's peculiar facial condition is not natural, but was inflicted upon him in 1938 by an unscrupulous surgeon and an amoral government agent named Grayl. The Avenger's reversion to his normal state in Murder on Wheels in 1940 must have been due to a failure of the original operation. The incident in 1942 that caused his condition to recur was probably engineered by the government. Justice, Inc. dissolves in 1951; Benson and his agents go to work for the ISD. Suppsosed deaths of Fergus MacMurdie in 1964 and Nellie Gray in 1966. Josh Newton leaves the ISD in 1966. In 1968, the Avenger kills Grayl and takes his place as the head of the ISD; Josh Newton is his personal assistant.)

(Conjecture:) In Trust and Betrayal, it is revealed that Richard Benson and Nellie Gray are lovers. Nellie is killed in 1966. However, I believe that Benson and Gray faked her death and she went into hiding, in order to protect her from further involvement with the ISD. Once Benson takes over the ISD in 1968, Nellie is safe and can resume her normal life. This accounts for her appearance in The Earth-Shaker in 1971.

Fellow researcher Brad Mengel further proposes that "Benson, in fact, never injured or killed any of his former teammates, but faked all of these events in a master plan to get them from the clutches of the ISD. This would seem to be confirmed out by the appearance of Nellie Grey in 1978. The reason for this error is that Andy Helfer, who wrote Justice, Inc.: Trust and Betrayal, was working from leaked ISD files." (Keeping Secrets: A Speculative History of the Modern British Secret Service).

April 1971

N

The Volcano Ogre (Prince Zarkon meets the Avenger, among others, at the Cobalt Club. Novel by Lin Carter.)

June 1978

N

The Earth-Shaker (Former Justice, Inc. member Nellie Gray, alive and well, makes a cameo appearance in this Prince Zarkon novel by Lin Carter.)

June 1987

S2 14-19

Body and Soul (The Avenger, now 78 years old, has left the government. He runs a costume shop in New York City and does freelance "contract" work. While on a job, the Avenger encounters some of the Shadow's agents; one of the Shadow's agents, Dr. Tam, recognizes the Avenger from the incident in 1939 when they both fought against Shiwan Khan.)

 


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