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Murania’s First Release of 2017

Posted in Murania Press,The Johnston McCulley Collection on February 3, 2017 @ 8:44 am

Yes, it’s been a long time since this blog was updated. But at last we have some exciting news to report. Pulp fiction’s first super-villain is back after nearly 100 years in obscurity—and his criminous exploits are just as thrilling now as they were a century ago!

After a lengthy, unanticipated delay we’re finally releasing the first volume of our Johnston McCulley Collection, which brings back into print several long-forgotten characters whose adventures were chronicled by Zorro’s creator for Detective Story Magazine. McCulley’s most famous hero has long overshadowed the others, but this astoundingly prolific ex-journalist also wrote series with more than 20 recurring protagonists, good guys and bad guys alike, for that legendary Street & Smith pulp.

The first of these debuts in 1915, Detective Story‘s first year. He is named Black Star, after the star of jet emblazoned on the hood he wears to conceal his identity. His minions, also clad in black hoods and robes, use vapor guns to subdue their victims and adversaries. These non-lethal weapons emit a gas that instantly renders unconscious those who breathe it in close quarters. Black Star avoids the use of deadly force and always keeps his word. But that doesn’t make him any less terrifying.

An early 20th-century metropolis trembles in fear at the mention of his name. His meticulously-planned depredations leave victims quaking in their shoes and baffle the police, who seem helpless to stem the rising tide of panic that threatens to engulf the city. Amateur criminologist and millionaire clubman Roger Verbeck, aided by his loyal valet Muggs, sets out to apprehend Black Star and finally does. But the master criminal makes good his escape and, once again in command of his army of robed and hooded henchmen, plots a campaign of revenge that will find the mayor, police commissioner, and prominent citizens under his control and at his mercy—with even the brilliant Roger Verbeck powerless to stop it!

Johnston McCulley’s Black Star stories—the first few of which were published under his John Mack Stone pseudonym—were incredibly popular among early readers of Detective Story Magazine. These World War I-era yarns anticipate much of what would become common in crime and hero pulps during the Depression era. You’ll find them fascinating.

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3 thoughts on “Murania’s First Release of 2017

  1. Could you please share what story from the series of Black Star stories “The Return of Black Star” reprints? The back cover of your book shows the cover illustration from Black Star’s Masquerade, and there is an original Black Star story entitled Black Star’s Return. I just can’t tell from the covers or description what this reprint includes.

    • This reprint includes the novelettes “Black Star’s Return” (October 2, 1917), “Black Star’s Rebuke” (October 23, 1917), and “Black Star’s Hobby” (January 29, 1918). Together they form a loosely knit narrative.

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