Pulp and Adventure Heroes: N

Nace, Lee. Created by Lester Dent, of Doc Savage fame, Lee Nace, the "Blond Adder," appeared in Ten Detective Aces in 1934. Nace was a scientific detective and user of gadgets, a tall, gaunt, solemn man who dealt with weird and almost unnatural villains--angry skeletons, crazed murderers who lined caves with the skulls of their victims, mad scientists who could make men explode with their death rays, and a master villain known as the Green Skull. Nace was "very long, bony, blue-eyed," with a scar in the shape of an adder on his forehead. ("A Chinaman had once hit Nace on the forehead with a knife hilt which bore a serpent carving.")

Navy Boys. The Navy Boys were created by Halsey Davidson and appeared in the six-volume "Navy Boys Series" running from 1918 to 1920 and beginning with Navy Boys After the Submarines, or, Protecting the Giant Convoy. They were a pair of white Christian patriots who fought the Huns as members of the Navy, sinking a U-Boat as part of convoy duty, chasing down a "sea raider," sinking more U-Boats, rescuing the victims of U-Boats, rounding up the surrendering German fleet, and guarding a sea-borne Treasury shipment.

Naylor, Nancy. Nancy Naylor was created by Elizabeth Lansing and appeared in the five-book "Nancy Naylor" series, whhich began in 1941 with Nancy Naylor, Air Pilot. Nancy is a teenage pilot whose adventures go increasingly war-related. She is a nurse as well.

Needle Mike. Mike was created by William E. Barrett and appeared in Dime Detective in the mid-1930s. He was a millionaire playboy who, bored with a life of luxury, created an alternate identity that he could use to fight crime. This identity was “Needle Mike,” a tattoo artist based in St. Louis who also investigated and solved crimes.

Nettle, Paul. Paul Nettle and his friend John Hatherleigh were created by "Charles Cooper," the pseudonym of the Australian writer Arnold Charles Cooper Lock, and appeared in at least two novels, beginning with The Turkish Spy (1932). Paul Nettle is an agent with the British Secret Service. John Hatherleigh is a member of the Australian Light Horse. Together, they fight against the Turks and later the Germans in Egypt during WW1.

Nevorozhin. Nevorozhin appeared in Venjamin Kaverin's Ispolnenie zhelaniy (The Fulfillment of Desires, 1927). He's not the hero of the story–that's Trubachevsky, a patriotic, zealous, and altogether tedious young Russian student of literature who makes an important literary discovery. He and his friend Kartashikhin, the proletariat agricultural worker, are contrasted, with Trubachevsky being shown to be the hero but also to be less important to society than Kartashikhin. It's all very 1927-and-hail-the-glorious-worker's-paradise, and accordingly dull. But Nevorozhin, ah, he's a different story. He's a "political detective" in Moscow who by story's end is revealed to be an agent of a Western anti-Soviet emigré association.

Newberry, Millicent. Millicent Newberry was created by Jeanette Lee and appeared in three novels, beginning with The Green Jacket (1917). Millicent is an older woman of the middle class who is single, either widowed or never-married (it's not clear which). She is slight and wears only gray. She's also the head of her own detective agency and works as a self-proclaimed "mind nurse;" she only accepts cases if the offender or suspect will be turned over to her for rehabilitation.

Nighthawk. Gerald Frost, the Nighthawk, was created by Sydney Horler (created of Tiger Standish) and appeared in several stories and books, beginning with The Curse of Doone (1928). This charming character is a cracksman and jewel thief who thinks nothing of breaking laws and stealing but is so offended by "society ladies of questionable virtue" that he makes a habit of targeting them. He steals jewelry from them and uses their own lipstick to scrawl the word "wanton" on their pillows as they sleep. He's forgotten about today, and deserves it.

Night Wind. The Night Wind was created by Frederic van Rennselaer Dey (author of innumerable Nick Carter stories) and first appeared in The Cavalier from 1913 to 1919. The Night Wind was Bingham Harvard, a bank clerk wrongly accused of theft. Harvard did not go quietly into custody, however, instead becoming a fugitive. The police pursued him closely, only to discover their mistake as Harvard began preying on them. Harvard, called "the Night Wind" by the police for his elusiveness, did not kill the police, but he was quite content to break their limbs. He found this easy to do, as he was stronger than a normal man. Quite a bit stronger, as a matter of fact--at least five times' worth. (The source of his strength is unknown, as he was adopted as an orphan) The police finally call in Kate Maxwell (later Maxwilton), a nurse turned police detective, to capture Harvard. She becomes convinced he's innocent, they fall in love, and together they escape from Gotham after having gotten married. They eventually return to the States, and after various harum-scarums and to-dos over various story arcs they are happy together, corrupt police and bank staff uncovered and Harvard's good name restored.

Noble, Nick. Nick Noble was created by none other than Anthony Boucher and appeared in nine stories Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine beginning in 1942. Noble is an alcoholic ex-cop with a yen for cheap sherry and the disconcerting habit of swatting invsible flies away from his face. . He solves the cases from the dive bar the Chula Negra, in L.A., what the police call the "Screwball Division." For all of his drunkenness he's rather clever, and the older cops respect him a lot and call on him for help with the very tough cases. Noble is a wizened man with dead-white skin who reminds me a great deal of Baroness Orczy's Man in the Corner, although in Noble's case his crime-solving theory is "Find the pattern. See what isn't the pattern. That's all."

Noel, Dorus. Noel was created by Arthur J. Burks and appeared in All Detective Magazine from 1933 to 1934. Noel was a Sinophile, white by birth but Chinese by inclination and choice. He’d spent many years in the “Far East” and had learned much about China and the Chinese, and when he’d returned to New York City, his place of birth, he’d joined the NYPD and taken on a special job, that of being the secret officer in charge of keeping the peace in Chinatown. Towards these ends he took a house near the intersection of Pell and Mott Streets, so as to better monitor Chinatown. His house was a thing of much interest, filled with “synchronized clocks, dragon screens in corners and numerous wall paintings. One of the clocks had been given originally to Emperer Cit’leu Lung (sic) by Louis XV of France. Many other valued treasures filled his study.” Noel reported only to his nameless superior, who reported directly to the the police commissioner. Noel’s legal powers were far beyond the average policeman. His secret telephone number was known only to his boss and the commissioner.

Noel had no wife, and was served by only one man, but Noel’s enemies in Chinatown broke in to his house in nearly every story and killed his servant, so each story featured a new figure serving Noel. Noel was twenty-six, handsome with reddish-brown hair. His skin was yellowed because his time in China had “inoculated him with the virus of the ancient land.” On his chest were three parallel, horizontal bars, an inch in length, crossed by a diagonal slash. These were the Chinese characters for “ruler” or “master of men,” and had been burned into his skin in China by Chu Chul, the Cricket, Noel’s Chinese arch-nemesis. The Cricket had the distressing habit of returning from seemingly sure death, but Noel, who was fluent in many languages, a good detective, and an expert in jiu-jitsu.

Noggins, Peter. Noggins was created by Johnston McCulley and appeared in Detective Story Magazine in 1920. Noggins is a detective for the City Police (which City is never specified, but in all likelihood it’s Gotham). He’s a small, frail man, a widower with a bundle of nervous tics and an apologetic manner. He’s thoroughly lacking in the physical necessities of policework. However, he has in abundance the most important requirement: brains. He’s very, very smart, and proves it, both to the Chief of Police and to the criminals, by capturing various thieves and murderers. He’s brave, too, risking sure death to catch his men, and taking beatings and bullets and still surviving.

Norcross, John. Norcross was created by W. Wirt and appeared in Argosy All-Story Weekly in 1927 and 1928. Norcross, like Jimmie Cordie, was a soldier of fortune. He was, variously, an agent for American G2 Intelligence, an AEF member, the leader of a group of African-American troops in WW1, and a mercenary in Turkestan.

Norgil the Magician. Norgil was created by Maxwell Grant, the creator of the Shadow, and appeared in Crime Busters and Mystery Magazine from 1937 through 1940. Norgil (no first name was ever given so far as I know) was a very good stage magician, world-renowned and capable of selling out houses night after night. Luckily for everyone, he was also a dedicated crime fighter. He didn't have any real magic--in this, as in many other things, he was like Mandrake--but he didn't need any; the tricks and gimmicks he learned on-stage were sufficient for him to capture the bad guys, be they city racketeers or jewel thieves or villainous magicians. Norgil has very quick, very sure hands, is known and feared by other criminals, and is assisted by Fritz, who sometimes doubts his boss and sometimes needs to be rescued but is always faithful.

North, Jack. See the Amos Henderson entry.

Norroy, Yorke. See his entry on the Victoriana site.

North, Mr. and Mrs. The Norths were created by Frances & Richard Lockridge and debuted in The Norths Meet Murder in 1940, going on to appear in 26 more novels and in a variety of other media. Jerry North is a mystery publisher based in Manhattan. He's married to Pamela North, a restless and screwball-comedy-type heroine who acquires a taste for investigating mysteries. Jerry gets drawn into cases, as does Lieutenant Bill Weigand, their best friend on the force. Their cases were very ordinary (that is, if murders and kidnaps can be counted as "ordinary"); anything exotic or outré did not appear in their cases. Nor were the Norths particularly insightful or skilled at detecting. But, somehow, through blind luck and slightly-better-than-ordinary intelligence, they got by.

North, Hugh. Hugh was created by Van Wyck Mason and appeared in around thirty cases, beginning with Seeds of Murder (1930) and continuing through the 1960s. North is a tall, lean (but strong) intelligence agent for the American government. He begins as a captain in Military Intelligence but quickly rose to the rank of full Colonel, at which he remained for several decades. He is a foe of the enemies of democracy, given to pipe smoking, enjoying beautiful women, and generally living life to its fullest. In many ways he was James Bond decades before Bond was created. (Dennis Power notes that in the Yellow Arrow Murders "several spies from all over met in Cuba where an expatriate american was going to sell a mysterious ray that could conk out engines. Among the nations represented were England, France, Japan and Germany.")

North, Myra. Myra North was created by Charles Coll and Ray Thompson and debuted in Myra North, Special Nurse on 10 February 1936, her adventures running through the end of August, 1941. Although she was nominally an ordinary nurse, Myra North kept getting entangled in rather involved and often violent adventures. She'd take on and solve blackmail, kidnaping, piracy, murders, spies, corrupt wardens, and any other crooks, and see to it that justice was done. She uncovered the secret of the Great Pyramid, she worked as a nurse in Spain (well, it was a European country torn by civil war and assailed by fascists--you decide which country it was supposed to be), she helped stop mad scientists, such as Dr. Zero, who wanted to use the secret of invisibility to enrich himself, and she took on a Dragon Lady by the name of Ming Sin. A very efficient nurse, our Myra North.

Northeast, Guy. Inspector Guy Northeast was created by "Joanna Cannan," aka Josephine Pullein-Thompson, and appeared in two novels, beginning with Death at the Dog (1940). Northeast is a plodding, dogged Scotland Yard inspector, albeit one with much greater gifts for introspection and a feeling of apartness than is the wont for that type.

November Joe. November Joe was created by Hesketh Prichard and appeared in various short stories in Pearson's Magazine and then in the collection November Joe: The Detective of the Woods (1913). November Joe was a "special contract detective" for the "Quebec Provincial Police," operating in the wilds of southern Canada and northern New England. He is fearsomely good at tracking criminals through the wilderness and reading Nature's signs to catch the bad guys. He's an excellent woodsman and an ace shot. He depends on "clear reasoning" and his knowledge of woodcraft to find clues and track down criminals.

November Joe is "near six feet tall, lithe and powerful, with a neck like a column, and a straight-featured face, the sheer good looks of this son of the woods were disturbing. He was clearly also not only the product but the master of his environment...he has splendid grey eyes." November Joe is notably chivalric towards women, who in turn find him very appealing, half for his looks and half for his personality and manners. Joe is Watsoned by James Quaritch, a former miner forced to take a vacation due to his nerves.

Nyctalope.The Nyctalope was created by Jean de La Hire and debuted in L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre dans l'Eau (The Man Who Could Live Underwater) (1908).  I don't know that much about the Nyctalope, not ever having read any of his appearances myself. So all I have to go on is secondary criticism about him. He's a superhero, of sorts, having night vision. (He also, interestingly, has an artificial heart) His nemesis is Leonid Zattan, a Yellow Peril type who is a "worthy imitation of Fu Manchu." (Nyctalopia, by the way, is night blindness; go here to see more about it.)

After writing the preceding Jean-Marc Lofficier sent along, on a mailing list, the following information about the Nyctalope, and I'm going to just reproduce his words verbatim, and let him correct my errors above, which I'll leave in just 'cause:

The Nyctalope was Léo Sainte-Claire, or Jean de Sainclair (depending on the novel, continuity not being La Hire's strong point), a super-powered avenger who could see in the dark and sported an artificial heart. He made his first appearance in L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre dans l'Eau (The Man Who Could Live Underwater), serialized in the daily newspaper Le Matin in 1908. His adventures comprised seventeen, luridly-entitled volumes, the most famous being Le Mystère des XV (The Mystery Of The XV) (1911), Lucifer (1920), L'Antéchrist (The Antichrist) (1927), Titania (1929), Belzébuth (1930) and Gorillard (1932).

The Nyctalope, even more than Rocambole, Lupin or Fantômas, was the first, full-fledged super-hero in the history of pulp literature. What made him so were not only his super-powers, secret origins, and devoted band of fearless assistants, but his colorful rogues' gallery that even Doc Savage or Superman would envy. These included the megalomaniacal Baron Glo von Warteck, aptly nicknamed "Lucifer," the mad monk Fulbert, the devilish Oxus, the "Red Princess" Diana Ivanovna Krosnorow, Queen of the Hashishins, the mad Engineer Korridès, and finally, Leonid Zattan, truly evil incarnate. The Nyctalope's allies included his fiancée (later, wife and mother of his son, Pierre) Sylvie Mac Dhul, the Japanese Gno Mitang, the mysterious Jewish wizard, Mathias Lumen, and finally, the international C.I.D. (Committee of Information and Defense (against Evil)) which he, himself, created. The Nyctalope's adventures took place on Earth, under water, in Tibet, on Rhea, an unknown satellite of Earth, on Mars, and even in the future.
La Hire's prodigious superhero, the Nyctalope, made his first appearance in L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre dans l'Eau (The Man Who Could Live Underwater) (1908) and continued to delight audiences until the mid-1950s. The Nyctalope's adventures were pure, unbridled science fiction: In L'Homme Qui Peut Vivre dans l'Eau, mad scientist Oxus grafted a shark's gills onto a man; in Le Mystère des XV (The Mystery Of The XV) (1911), Oxus tried to conquer Mars; in Lucifer (1920), Glo von Warteck tried to impose his will on Earth using "Omega Rays" and the "teledyname"; in Le Roi de la Nuit (The King Of The Night) (1923), the Nyctalope flew to Rhea, an unknown satellite of Earth, using a spacecraft patented by Dr. Cavor (La Hire's tip of the hat to Wells) and settled a war between its winged day-siders and night-siders; in Belzébuth (1930), the villainous Mezarek sent the Nyctalope's wife and son to the future year 2100.

Some fun, eh, folks?

Jean-Marc Lofficier's excellent illustrated site on Nyctalope.

Nyoka. Nyoka debuted in Jungle Girl (1941), a Republic Serial written by Alfred Batson and Ronald Davidson; she appeared in another film, Perils of Nyoka, and in various comic books. Nyoka is the daughter of Dr. Meredith, a kindly man who moved to Africa to help the sick and dying and to avoid being identified as his evil twin brother "Slick." Nyoka accompanied her father to Africa, and she grew up among the natives, learning their ways. Slick shows up, looking for diamonds, and kidnaps her brother. Luckily, Nyoka, in a Sheena-style outfit and with Sheena-style abilities, stops Slick and saves her father. She is aided by the pilots Jack Stanton and Curly Rogers.

A. The Abbey Girls to Dusty Ayres
B. Bagley to Scott Burton
C. Orhan Cakiroglu to Dr. Theodore Cunliffe
D-E. Dana Girls to Don Everhard
F. Ralph Fairbanks to Miss Fury
G. The Gadget Man to G-8
H-I. Dr. Hackensaw to Baron Ixell
J. Jack, Doc & Reggie to Justice Syndicate
K. Calvin Kane to Kwa of the Jungle
L. Major John T. Lacy to Langhorne Lyte
M. Professor Maboul to Mr. Mystic
N. Lee Nace to Nyoka
O. Fergus O'Breen to Ozar the Aztec
P.  Penny Packer to Judge Pursuivant
Q.  Oliver Quade to Sebastian Quin
R. Ed Race to Captain Rybnikov
S. The Safety First Club to Tom Swift
T-U. Tahara to Godfrey Usher
V. Lieutenant Valcour to Norton Vyse
W. Inspector Wade to Dr. Xavier Wycherley
X-Z. X Bar X Boys to Zorro

Write me!

Go to the Main Pulp Heroes page.