Thursday, April 21, 2011
Re-Discovering The Green Lama
The Green Lama made his debut in the April 1940 issue of Double Detective. Conceived by Kendell Foster Crossen as Munsey’s response to the runaway success of Street & Smith’s The Shadow, the character showed surprising longevity despite never achieving the same degree of popularity as his principal rival.
Modern readers would likely find the character an interesting cross between Marvel Comics’ venerable sorcerer, Doctor Strange and their noirish vigilante, Moon Knight. Like the latter, The Green Lama shares multiple aliases/personalities that cut across class lines from millionaire playboy Jethro Dumont to gritty soldier of fortune Hugh Gilmore to Buddhist ascetic Dr. Pali. Like Doctor Strange twenty years later, The Green Lama studied under the tutelage of a Tibetan monk who taught him the secrets of Lamaism. He returned to the United States to fight crime while preaching non-violence and evangelizing for others to follow the path of Buddhism.
As with Doc Savage, The Green Lama is surrounded by a colorful cast of supporting characters from the brilliant Dr. Harrison Valco to the well-educated ex-gangster Gary Brown and his debutante girl friend Evangl Stewart to grizzled Lieutenant Caraway to the Lama’s Tibetan mentor Tsarong to the magician Theodor Harrin to the acting duo of Ken Clayton and Jean Farrell to the mystery woman Magga and the Lama’s chronicler Richard Foster (the pseudonym Crossen used on all of his Lama stories).
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