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Flax, Dr. Dr. Flax was created by the French author Louis Forest and appeared in the story serial “Le Voleur D’Enfants” (Le Matin, June 25-Sept 29, 1906; as the novel On Vole Des Enfants a Paris, 1909).

Dr. Flax is a Evil Surgeon Mad Scientist. Dr. Flax is a sinister, romantic, charming, and insane scientist who is responsible for the abduction of thirty-one six-year-olds from well-to-do Parisian families. These kidnappings produce mass panic and drive the police to a furious investigation. Among the men investigating the disappearances is William Trisson, the noted American detective (and a nasty swipe at Harry Dickson; Trisson/Dickson is portrayed as a boastful and conceited drunkard), and three journalists from Le Matin. They are assisted by a scientific commission who investigates the stranger aspects of the abductions: no blond children are taken, several "brown children" are, and the children's clothes and valuables are abandoned. This commission is headed by the noted German surgeon, Dr. Flax.

Flax is unable to maintain the deception for long, and he is soon unmasked. With his accomplice and lover, the Comtesse of Houdotte, he flees to Switzerland and holes up in his mountainside fortress of Frutt. Further investigation by Trisson discovers that the stolen children all have one thing in common: they are all extremely intelligent. Flax and the Comtesse operate on the children and increase their intelligence by injecting them with a small amount of "Flaxium," an extract of radium of Flax's own invention. These operations have the effect of making the children geniuses in different specialties, from engineering to ballooning.

Meanwhile, an international coalition of troops leaves for Switzerland to capture Dr. Flax. But Flax is helped not just by his fanatical followers, two of whom are seven-foot-tall giants, but also by his child geniuses, who create for him various SCIENCE! weapons: weather-control machines, electricity amplifiers, needle-rifles, and so on. Flax et al. handily defeat the besieging forces, but he finds that dealing with the conflicting egos of the mutated children is not so easy. His plans falling apart, Flax and the Comtesse marry and then commit suicide together.

* I've included "Le Voleur D'Enfants" in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because of the imagination on display throughout the stories. Like a lot of favorites, the serial starts small--children disappearing--and keeps building and building, adding on plot twists and imaginative concepts and square-jawed protagonists and deeper and more insane villainy from Flax until it reaches a climax of fantastika. Recommended. 

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