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Sexton Blake: The First Super Villains


“I dream of the day when all the great Blake characters are made available in their own reprinted anthologies of stories.” ~Michael Moorcock, Sexton Blake Detective, Edited by George Mann, 2009

Monsieur Zenith, Waldo the Wonder-Man, Prince Wu Ling, Dr. Huxton Rymer, Professor Francis Kew, Leon Kestrel, Count Ivor Carlac, the Criminals Confederation, Gunga Dass, Prince Menes, Miss Death… Sexton Blake’s list of super villains is a long and diverse one filled with talented criminal masterminds from all around the globe.

The first ‘super villains’ to match wits with Blake sprang from the pen of Michael Storm in 1908. George Marsden Plummer, a Detective-Sergeant at Scotland Yard turned criminal, made his debut in The Man from Scotland Yard in January of that year. Rupert Forbes appeared ten months later in The Mystery of the Egyptian Bonds, a short story published in The Penny Pictorial. Both men were devious, cunning, and highly intelligent, masters of strategy and disguise, and shared a passionate—verging on psychotic—hatred for Blake.

They each starred in a sequel, Forbes in The Ghost of Rupert Forbes, a double-length Union Jack published at the start of the Christmas season in 1908; Plummer in In Deadly Grip, a great tale from the summer of 1909, then teamed up to exact their revenge on Blake in The Mervyn Mystery, published in The Boys’ Friend Library in September of that year. Plummer would go on to match wits with Blake repeatedly for the next 25 years, appearing in 125 tales. Forbes would appear in only three, but his impact was profound. Look closely and you’ll find many of his traits in other Blake super villains, even in Plummer himself. So began the era of ‘Blake versus the Super Criminal,’ an era that would span more than twenty years and see the creation of a fabulous rogues’ gallery by numerous talented authors.

Little is known about Michael Storm, the British author who created the first Blake super villains. His real name was Ernest Sempill and he was born some time between 1855 and 1865 and he died in 1910. He started writing detective, school and mystery stories in the early 1900s and penned over 120 tales featuring Sexton Blake. Blakeologist Walter Webb, writing in Collector’s Digest #100, stated that Storm “possessed a powerfully descriptive pen” and in the matter of description “had no equal among Blake authors.” Many fans consider The Mervyn Mystery, to be one of the greatest Sexton Blake tales ever written.

This is first of several anthologies to feature the works of Michael Storm. Each edition includes all of the original illustrations! Enjoy!

Preview on Kindle Cloud

The Egyptian Bonds Mystery: Mark Hodder, Sexton Blake Bibliography, Blakiana

The Ghost of Rupert Forbes: "A long, extremely well-written and thrilling tale." Mark Hodder, Sexton Blake Bibliography, Blakiana

The Man from Scotland Yard: "The debut of George Marsden Plummer is a tremendously entertaining and well-written tale, leaving the reader in no doubt that a star criminal has entered Blake's world. Plummer is gloriously psychotic, his emotions switching from chilling calmness to twisted rage and back again in the blink of an eye. Cunning, intelligent, resentful and ruthless, he's a good match for Blake and by the end of the story it's impossible not to want more of him. This issue is where the whole 'Blake vs super-criminal' concept began, sending the series towards its Golden Age." Mark Hodder, Sexton Blake Bibliography, Blakiana

In Deadly Grip: "A fantastic and very well-written tale." Mark Hodder, Sexton Blake Bibliography, Blakiana

The Mervyn Mystery: "Possibly the best ever Sexton Blake story, this is incredibly well-written, gripping with every single paragraph." Mark Hodder, Sexton Blake Bibliography, Blakiana

Imprint ROH Press Great Detectives and Master Criminals
Published 02/08/2020
ISBN 978-1-987886-69-6
Length 446 pages
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