Pulp and Adventure Heroes: V

V for Vengeance. See the Deathless Men entry.

Valcour, Lieutenant. Valcour was created by Rufus King and appeared in eleven novels, beginning with Murder by the Clock (1929). Valcour is the son of a former Parisian policeman who left France to join the Dominion police in Quebec. Valcour was forced to leave McGill University following his father's death, and after two years with a private detective agency in NYC joined the NYPD, where he served for more than thirty years, making his way up to the rank of Inspector. Valcour has a "typically French" approach to solving crime, playing on a suspect's emotions, but as he grows older he pays more attention to clues and logic and less attention to intuition. He is quiet, polite, smart, and unswayed by the upper classes among whom he usually works.

Valentine, Jimmy. Although he only appeared the once, Valentine was memorable enough to have his name permanently associated with gentlemen safe-crackers. He appeared in "A Retrieved Reformation," which was in Roads of Destiny (1909). His creator was the singular "O. Henry," née William Sydney Porter (1862-1910), an American writer still remembered for his twist endings and, of course, for his "The Gift of the Magi."

(Valentine also appeared in a very popular play, Alias Jimmy Valentine (1910), but never mind that.)

Valentine is, simply, a top-notch safe-cracker, capable of breaking into anywhere and taking anything. He has a wide range of equipment available to him and what he can't buy he makes; he's even invented some tools for himself. He's done some time, but his string of successes is much, much larger than his failures. He works alone, gets away clean, and enjoys the high life.

Unfortunately for Valentine one day in Elmore, Arkansas he saw Annabel Adams: "Jimmy Valentine looked into her eyes, forgot what he was, and became another man." Jimmy becomes "Mr. Ralph Spencer," a shoe salesman, "the phoenix that arose from Jimmy Valentine's ashes--ashes left by the flame of a sudden and alternative attack of love."  He meets and woos Annabel Adams, impresses Elmore, and becomes a respected member of the community and Annabel's fiancé.

Unfortunately, Annabel's younger sister is accidentally locked in the vault of a bank. Jimmy is faced with the choice of cracking the safe and revealing himself--and he knows that his pursuer is close on his heels--or letting the sister die. Jimmy smoothly opens the safe and then reveals himself to his pursuer, who tells him, "Guess you're mistaken, Mr. Spencer. Don't believe I know you" and then walks away.

Just go ahead and read the story. It's a good one, and Valentine a memorable character.

"A Retrieved Reformation"
The e-text to the story.

Valiant, Prince. Prince Valiant, created by the immortal Hal Foster, debuted on 13 February 1937 and continues to appear today. Prince Valiant is one of the best adventure strips of all time; I very much regret that I don't have the space on my page to put images of Foster's work.

Prince Val is a Norse knight whose father left Camelot to live in his ancestral homelands. Val, eager for adventure, left his father's homestead and went to Camelot, and from there began a series of adventures across the world.

The First Adventure Strip
A nice summation of Prince Valiant and of Foster.

Hal Foster
Perhaps the best Foster & Valiant site (which isn't saying much, unfortunately)

Prince Valiant
An okay site with some Foster images.

Prince Valiant
A good all-around coverage of Foster & Val.

Valmont, Eugene. Eugene Valmont was created by Robert Barr and appeared in eight stories in Windsor Magazine and Pearson's Magazine in 1904 and 1905 and were later collected in The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont (1906). To quote Willard Huntington Wright,

In Robert Barr's The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont we have an Anglicized Frenchman of the old school who undertakes private investigations of a too liberal latitude to qualify him at all times as a crime specialist; but, despite his romantic adventures and glaring failures, he unquestionably belongs in our category of famous sleuths if only for the care and excellence with which Mr. Barr has presented his experiences.
Valmont is not particularly successful, but is a careful investigator, a former Chief Detective to the Government of France (he was forced to retire in disgrace, despite the blame lying elsewhere), and carries himself with surety and no small amount of flair. He has, as one critic puts it, "swagger, pretension, arrogance and urbanity," is a master of disguise, and is distrustful of both the Americans and the British. (Valmont was an influence on Agatha Christie and is a predecessor of Hercule Poirot.) In his stories he takes on jewel thieves, terrorist anarchists, kleptomaniac English noblemen, a mysterious will, and con men, among others.

Ed Love, Man Among Men, sent along the following:

Eugene Valmont appeared in a collection of short stories called "the triumphs of eugene valmont" by robert barr. he's the chief detective to the government of france and has been suggested that he is the model for hercule poirot, an honor also given to hercule popeau. valmont does have a little bit of holmes in him: supreme confidence in his own abilities and a bit of disdain for the english police and legal system (the story reprinted here "the absent-minded coterie" takes place in london). if this one story is to judge, unlike holmes, valmont's ego may exceed his ability a bit.
The Triumphs of Eugene Valmont
E-texts of Valmont stories from our friends at Gaslight.

Vance, Aylmer. Vance was created by Alice & Claude Askew and appeared in a series of stories in Weekly Tale-Teller in 1914. Vance was a "Ghost-Seer," an occult detective who could see the shades of the dead through his heightened sensitivity and who fought vampires and werewolves and cleared up mysteries involving the dead and undead. Vance also has vague and undefined psychic abilities, so that he can match wills with (and usually master) occult enemies; in one story he wins a psychic duel and breaks a victim free of a vampire's spell. He is also assisted in his war on evil by...well, it's never really described, but it's referred to as "That" (note the capital) and it's capable of exorcising the undead, so I assume it's the Holy Host. Vance is assisted, one might even call it Watsoned (though Vance seems to have more respect for his assistant than Holmes had for Watson), by the narrator, Mr. Dexter, who has clairvoyant abilities of his own.

Vance, Philo. The snide, arrogant, supercilious Vance was created by S.S. Van Dine and debuted in The Benson Murder Case (1926), appearing in several novels and other media thereafter. Vance is a tall, handsome man with gray eyes and a bad attitude. He's aristocratic, superior, insufferable, and has a manner inspiring murderous thoughts in the reader (as well as in poor Sergeant Ernest Heath, who has to put up with Vance's interference in numerous cases). Unfortunately, he's also a good at what he does, and solves a number of hard cases. Vance is very well-educated, especially in art and psychology. As far as I'm concerned, the final word on Vance belongs to Dorothy Parker, who memorably wrote "Philo Vance/Needs a kick in the pance."

Van Doren, Hannah. Hannah Van Doren was created by Dwight V. Babcock and appeared in three novels, beginning with The Gorgeous Ghoul (1941). Hannah is a young and very beautiful writer of true crime stories. She's also the daughter of a police detective and is a hard-drinking, hard-bitten women with ghoulish interests. She lives in New York City and solves murder cases there, her particular interest being crimes with a sex angle. Her colleagues and friends know about this interest of hers, which earns her the nicknames "Homicide Hannah" and the "Gorgeous Ghoul." Her sidekick is Joe Kirby.

Van Dusen, Professor Augustus S. F. X. See the Thinking Machine.

Vania, Kara. Vania appeared in Scarlet Adventuress in 1936; I do not know who created her. Vania, aka "Secret Agent XW9," aka "the Lady of Doom," aka "the Tiger Woman," aka "the World's Most Glamorous Spy," is a freelance espionage agent and adventuress, who works on a global level for whoever will hire her. One story has her recovering stolen papers and fleeing Soviet agents from London to Shanghai; she manages to regain the papers but lose her clothing at least twice.

Van Manderpootz, Haskel. Haskel van Manderpootz was created by Stanley Weinbaum and appeared in a series of stories beginning with “The Worlds of If” (Wonder Stories, August 1935). Van Manderpootz is an eccentric, brilliant scientist whose creations are very powerful but ill-conceived, like idealizator, which allows Manderpootz and his friend the playboy Dixon Wells to view the ideal form of anything they think of. Another such creation is the car-eating machine van Manderpootz devises to kill autos.

Venture Boys. The Boys (don't know their names, sorry) were created by Howard R. Garis and appeared in the "Venture Boys Series," which consisted of The Venture Boys Afloat, or, The Wreck of the Fausta (1917) and The Venture Boys in Camp, or, The Mystery of Kettle Hill (1918). The Boys solved mysteries and were indistinguishable, as far as I can tell, from a dozen other sets of characters.

Verano, Teddy. Thanks to Marc Madouraud I can give you some information on Teddy Verano. Verano was created by Maurice Limat and appeared in at least sixty novels, beginning in 1936. Verano was in some ways a traditional private eye, but his adventures ranged from the ordinary, albeit tawdry (cocaine smugglers) to the somewhat more adventurous (fighting spies) to the outré (an alliance of lepers avenging themselves on pretty, innocent citizens) to the outright science fictional (murderers wearing mechanical wings, a scientist capable of knocking down planes with radio waves). Once he arrives in the Angoisse collection of stories, starting in 1963, he becomes a full-fledged "occult investigator" (occult detective), taking on sorcerous possession, zombies, phantoms, and so on. Verano is described as a man of about 30 years of age, tall and slender, with a slightly ironic face.

Verne, Jules. Yes, it's that Jules Verne, put in the same position as Diogenes and Anne Radcliffe (see the Selene entry), among several others, and being forced to adventure for another writer's amusement and profit. In this case, the guilty author is the Austrian Jew "Ludwig Hevesi," aka Ludwig Hirsch, and the guilty book is Die fünfte Dimension (The Fifth Dimension, 1906). Die fünfte Dimension is a collection of stories in which the shade of Jules Verne wanders through Heaven and Hell, having humorous adventures. Alas, I don't know much more than that about the book, it not being available in any library in the States or even in English.

Vertue, Inspector. Vertue was created by Bernard Capes and appeared in The London Magazine in late 1906 and 1907. Vertue was an Inspector for Scotland Yard whose cases brought him in contact with crimes that have a scientific element to them; one featured radium used to create an instant combustion, and a new chemical which makes horses run exceptionally fast but burns them out and ages them prematurely.

Villabaja, Venancio. Villabaja was created by E.C. Delmar and appeared in El Misterio del contador de gas, Piojos grises, and La tórtola de la puñalada, all written in the early 1930s. Villabaja was a police inspector who with his sometimes sidekick Juan Bandells fought crime in Madrid, using a combination of logic and intuition.

Vilsa, Hari. Hari Vils was created by Vlastimir Belkic and appeared in Avanture detektiva Hari Vilsa (The adventures of the detective Harry Wils) beginning in 1935. Hari was the first original comic strip character in Serbian and Yugoslav newspapers. He was a detective, and although the strip was somewhat amateurishly done it still deserves pride of place for being first.

The Voice. Dennis O'Ryley was the Voice, a G-Man character created by Edward S. Williams and appearing in Ace G-Men from 1940 through 1942. O'Ryley is "a big man with blue eyes that burned with the cold, hard light of a diamond" and "a rugged Irish bog-trotter." He is "a tall man with the silent, flowing grace of a tiger." (etc etc etc) He had formerly been an anti-espionage agent, but his great success in capturing the enemies of America had brought him too much publicity and media attention, and so he was transferred from anti-espionage to other departments. ("Publicity and the work of the F.B.I. cannot mix.") O'Ryley is a hard man who doesn't mind killing, and is quite good at it. He is more endowed physically than mentally, although he's cunning enough to get by and find his enemies. His nickname comes from his other identity, the Voice, the mysterious, unknown man who forces his way into radio stations at gunpoint in order to broadcast the truth about the Japanese, the Germans, criminals, or other bad guys. He is assisted by Anna Walther, an anti-Nazi German who poses as a Nazi to help O'Ryley bring down spies, and "little Nick Novak," another tough Fed.

Voraus, Professor. Professor Voraus was created by the Austrian author Rudolf Hawel and appeared in Im Reiche der Homunkuliden (In the Realm of the Homunculids, 1910). Professor Voraus (aka "Professor Forward") is a Viennese professor who in 1907 invents a suspended animation machine. The Professor receives an ungracious reception from his university colleagues, so the Professor and his servant freeze themselves. They awake in the year 3907, exactly 2000 years later. Earth, in the year 3907, is peopled by asexual androids, all of whom look alike. The creation of artificial life had begun in the 22nd century, and the birthrate of ordinary humans declined, with the last woman dying in 3174. By 3907 the androids, who are created by "heat pistons," have established a global empire, of sorts, with ordinary humans only surviving in remote northern locations in Iceland and Greenland. The androids have advanced technology and a solar power-based society, with planes capable of traveling 250 kilometers and hour at a height of 2000 meters.

Voyant, Claire. Claire Voyant was created by cartoonist Jack Sparling and debuted in P.M. on 10 May 1943; the comic strip lasted through 1948. "Claire Voyant," a stage actress, was on a liner that was torpedoed by a U-boat. She was the only survivor, escaping on a lifeboat. When she was finally found, however, she'd been drifting for days and had lost all memory of her past, including her name. In place of her memory she'd gained various psychic abilities, including being able to see the future. She chose the name "Claire Voyant" to reflect this and began using her new powers to help the Allies against the Axis, both on sea and on the land.

Vyse, Norton. Vyse was created by Rose Champion de Crespigny and appeared in Psychic Magazine in 1919. Vyse is an occult detective, a "psychic investigator" who uses his skills, including his "psychometric" ability to see the future, to fight crime and evil and to "delve deeply into mysteries which remain impenetrable to most." Vance is a well-to-do gentleman adventurer, with a country house in Essex, rooms in Piccadilly, servants, a Darracq car and a chauffeur. He is assisted by Dexter, a friend who is particularly susceptible to psychic influences. While Vance is seemingly omniscient, and does have some psychic ability, his advice seems to fail as often as it succeeds. Despite this, he has an overbearing attitude, almost insufferably smug towards his listeners' ignorance, and is long-winded about the spiritualist matters he's called in to solve.

Norton Vyse: Psychic
The publisher's page for a reprint of the stories. Includes a useful and informative review.
 

Introduction
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
Links.
 
 

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