(FULL DISCLOSURE: I acquired this audiobook as the result of compension through proofreading work for Radio Archives. Otherwise, my opinions are my own.)
With winter hitting Chicago hard, I have had more time to play "catch up" on writing, blogging, and listening to audiobooks. My growing love of pulp literature has led me to a variety of outlets....and to exploring some of the hidden heroes of pulp. Individuals who not only might not have gotten the attention they deserved, but who never really received anything other than a few appearances.
One such hero is Captain Satan, and listening to The Mask of the Damned - an audiobook released by Radio Archives (available in CD and digital download format....and yes, there is an ebook) - not only am I surprised by how great a character this is....I really wish there were more adventures - even if I had to write them myself.
One of the great things about Captain Satan is that there's much about him that is reminiscent of other pulp and comic characters. Like Doc Savage, he has a team that works with him; like Jimmy Christopher, he engages in a great deal of straightforward action with a slightly political overtone; like the Spider, he has a very distinctive "mark" (a flashlight that shows....well, the devil's silhouette). Despite seeming derivative, there's a nice, noirish quality to the prose, and the audiobook moves along at a pretty good clip.
(It also helps that he robs from criminals....and keeps for himself. That part's pretty cool)
Much of the success of the audiobook must go to Michael C. Gwynne, whose smoky vocal tones provides a great deal of the weight and nuance to the story. Taking on a variety of voices and tones, Gwynne provides a nice swing to the narration - nothing feels out of place, and Gwynne manages to hit the right emotion at the right tone. Given the plot - a small incident eventually leads to greater, more pressing implications for national security - Gwynne's vocal work never makes the story feel over-the-top or out of time. Except for a few references, the story feels very contemporary in spirit....
Captain Satan: The Mask of the Damned is a really great audiobook, and which deserves your full attention. Since it's available as a digital download, if you're stuck inside - or even if you plan for this as a "beach listen" during the summer - this is well worth your attention.