Searching For The Shadow

Gregory Pepetone writes in his chapter “Pulp Heroes in the Shadow of God“:

The Great Depression with its snaking bread line, massive unemployment, rumors of impending war, and rampant crime punctuated this long chronicle of a decline in democracy. Meanwhile the authoritarian conception of nationhood that characterized colonial America found expression in post-World War I ideologies such as populism and religious fundamentalism. The American dream reversed into a society that was in many respects the antithesis of the New World Eden it had originally hoped to be.

It was into this political arena, this “Jekyll and Hyde” enantiodromia, that pulp heroes were born. They comprised an imaginative phalanx against a rising tide of official and unofficial corruption. These pop culture shophetiym (“ones who bring justice”) welled up from America’s unconscious, yearning for a renewal of faith in a dysfunctional democracy. Such pulp champions of the people as the Shadow, Doc Savage, the Spider, Operator #5, and others provided weekly reassurance to an increasingly anxious public that the cause of justice was not irretrievably lost. They offered hope that the vindication of right would ultimately triumph over the rule of might, however improbable such an outcome must have appeared in the cold light of the latest headlines and bread lines.

The current resurgence of interest in the mythology of pulp fiction in the Western world may suggest that public confidence in the ability of the legal/political systems to offer protection against criminality, in or outside of public office, is once again at a low ebb. [220-221]