Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Episode 12 - “North Star Mining Company”

Listen to Superman contaminate a crime scene!

(Note: After I get caught up I will move this back to its proper day)

Summary: June Anderson, the girl who avoided being burned alive in a fire deliberately set in the offices of the North Star Mining Company, has survived a stabbing by Joe Denien and Bart Pemperton. After recovering somewhat, she finally tells Clark Kent her tale.
   Unsurprisingly, Joe and Bart were engaging in illegal activities. June, working as the secretary, discovered that Joe and Bart were selling stock in a worthless mine and bilking investors of countless thousands. She began collecting evidence against the two, but was caught in the act. In an ill timed moment of bravado, she told the men that she had evidence against them hidden away, but let slip that she was the only other person who knew of the crimes being committed. And in this way, June was tied up and left for dead in the fire set by the officially worst bosses ever. I mean, who would put an entire building full of people at risk in retribution for a relatively minor slight?
   Fortunately, June sent the documents in a package to her brother (who is a steamship captain) for safekeeping, although he is unaware of the contents. She suddenly starts thinking about how she was almost burned alive and stabbed in the same day, but the freak-out is cut short when the nurse arrives. The nurse informs Kent that the two men who stabbed her not only were in a sedan, but the sedan is still parked in a garage. She even has the license plate, which almost makes up for the complete waste of time he had spent looking for it,, earlier.
   Off flies Superman to give the car a once over. Technically (legally), it means tampering with a crime scene, but Superman is a walking (and flying) crime lab. Now, 1940's cars couldn't have been that hard to get into – the door locks were simpler, and the windows probably were easier to shatter, too. Tearing off a car door to gain access inside would seem a bit... excessive, but that's exactly what the Man of Steel does – maybe just because he can. He finds nothing but guns, probably laden with fingerprints and other evidence useful in a court of law, but decides to make a statement by crushing them in his hands, just like that Japanese guy. All the racket of shearing metal attracts attention, presumably of the police presence there, although unlike the last two officers Superman encountered, they don't immediately open fire. Superman flies off, once again empty-handed of clues, but enough for a crackerjack of a story for the Daily Planet.
   Meanwhile, our old friends Bart and Joe are in their waterfront hideout, still anxious about the evidence June Anderson may have about their fraud. Pendleton decides to visit the Planet to see how much Kent knows, in the disguise of a nervous North Star investor named Doctor Ambrose. Kent expresses sympathy for the 'doctor' and breaks the news of the fraud to him gently, and Pemperton lingers there long enough for Perry White to come in and confirm that the papers are indeed in the possession of June's brother, including the name of the steamship he's aboard, and their port of destination. 'Ambrose' makes a hasty exit after hearing exactly what he wanted to know.
   Kent decides to visit June again, and lets slip of Ambrose's visit, a name June doesn't recognize from the list of investors. She DOES recognize Kent's description of the 'doctor's' nervous tics, unibrow, and scars as that of her boss, Bart Pemperton. June freaks, knowing the crooks are certain to go after her brother. Kent tries to calm her, but later in the skies as Superman, could not be more delighted that he finally has a break in the frigging case.
   Showing remarkable speed themselves, Pemperton and Denien are already alongside the Madison in a hired boat, and gets her to stop using a fake distress signal. They aren't there to pay a social visit.

  • Clark Kent/Superman
  • Perry White
  • June Anderson
  • A Nurse
  • Bart Pemperton and Joe Denien

  • Although I understand Pemperton's obsession with the papers to be that of a desperate man, there's already enough evidence, circumstantial and otherwise (less so, thanks to Superman), to put both men away for attempted murder and the arson of a twenty story building. Now they've violated maritime law (using distress signals under false pretenses). Compared to all that, the fraud just seems so... small time.
  • Superman's treatment of the suspect's car is bad enough, but his decision to crush the guns is just plain bizarre. I guess it could probably be another chalk mark on the ol' “Because He Can” board.
  • But if we're going to nitpick, if Bart and Joe had guns this whole time, why didn't they just shoot June? They themselves weren't worried about June screaming for help and they were going to burn everything anyway so what would a gunshot matter?
  • And in a bit of “fridge logic”, I realized they never thought to silence the nurse who had seen their faces and admitted them into the room of a women they then tried to murder again.
  • The narrator's piece in between Superman leaving the garage and 'Ambrose' visiting Kent is pretty neat plot advancement.
  • Also, a nice bit of irony – Clark Kent being fooled by a disguise.

In the next episode, Pemperton and Denien dig themselves even deeper with more attempted murder and even MORE arson. It doesn't look too good for the "Steamship Madison"!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Update Panic! or, Leap Years are Not Our Friends

Sorry for missing a couple of updates, a deadline came up on one of my jobs and I have yet to start on my buffer!

... not that it would have mattered, because I was off on my schedule ANYWAY. See, 1940 was a leap year, so the broadcast dates shifted over a day. To reflect this, the new schedule will now be Thursday, Saturday, and Monday.

So I am behind a couple of updates. I hope to be caught up this weekend, so expect a flood over the next day. See you then!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Episode 11 - "Stabbing of June Anderson"

Listen to Superman screw up royally here!

Summary: The mysterious girl has been rescued from the towering inferno in the nick of time, but of course it isn't that cut and dry for Superman. No, it would seem that the girl was the olive in a martini made of arson and INTRIGUE. As a matter of fact, the episode opens on two men making a getaway in a sedan. Bart and Joe, formerly of the North Star Mining Company, sent the fire to cover their tracks of wrong-doing. And by tracks, I mean 'their secretary', the girl trapped on the 20th floor.
  The getaway is cut short when one of the men hears on the car radio the story of the girl's survival. Bart decides to go back and 'fix' the girl before she squeals on them, despite the fact that a) the authorities know that the fire started in their office and b) the two owners vanishing directly after the fire surely would have called for their arrests anyway, even if the girl had died, rendering their need to kill her completely pointless. Bart has a plan to pose as the poor girl's visiting relatives, proving he's a sick bastard as well as heartless.
  Meanwhile (at aforementioned hospital) Clark Kent quasi-flirts with the nurse as he waits for the girl to wake up. He learns from the nurse that the girl was only suffering from smoke and shock and will recover easily. However, she has regained consciousness but once, and mentioned something about two men in a car before falling back to unconsciousness. Armed with the couldn't-possibly-be-more-vague facts and an hour to kill, Kent slips off and as Superman, flies to... look for two men in a car.
  Meanwhile, Joe and Bart park at a garage and waltz into the hospital. If you were paying attention to the title of the episode, you already know this ain't good.
  An hour later Superman has looked into 500 cars already without luck, when suddenly he spots a car with two men! Without thinking he plummets down to stop the car, only to find out (whoooops!) it's a police car and two trigger happy policemen. Superman sheepishly heads back to the hospital just in time to awkwardly explain his absence to a nurse.
  The nurse is hesitant to let Kent visit the girl, until Kent bribes her with the promise of doing a newspaper story (complete with a picture) all about her. But when the nurse goes to check the girl - surprise! - she finds her stabbed. Kent grimly phones this breaking news back to the rewrite desk of the Daily Planet, which is manned by someone who sounds suspiciously like Fred Flintstone.


  • Clark Kent/Superman
  • Joe and Bart, the bad guys
  • June Anderson (nonspeaking)
  • The Nurse
  • Two Cops
  • Fred Flintstone?!


  • Not Superman's finest moment.
  • Seriously, imagine the guy at the rewrite desk saying "Heh, heh, heh" and tell me that ain't Fred Flintstone.
Cop 1: Hey come back! He's flying! Up in the air!
Cop 2: Plug him! PLUG HIM!!
(shots fired)
Superman: Nice shooting, officer!

In the next episode, the plot thickens as we learn the fate of June Anderson's abdomen and the truth behind the "North Star Mining Company"!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Episode 10 - "Fire at the Sterling Tower"

Listen to Superman play god with a young woman's life here!

Summary: After neatly wrapping up the Yellow Mask caper the previous evening, Kent is the hero of the day in everyone's mind but Lois'. But breaking news never sleeps, and a photographer brings news that there's a fire in one of the city's largest buildings. There's a girl trapped in the 20th floor, and her outlook is grim. After some additional info from shutterbug Mike and some needless snark from Lois, we learn that the fire started in the offices of the North Star Mining Co, the same office where the girl is trapped, and that there's the possibility the fire may have been set when two small aircraft collided in midair and crashed into the building by an arsonist. Both Clark and Mike set out for the Sterling Tower at once, and arrive in a sea of hook and ladder trucks and firemen.
Mike makes some idle chat on the way to the ongoing tragedy, and brings up the subject of Lois Lane's icy treatment of Kent. It seems that she's been talking up about how she was rescued by Superman, which strikes Clark speechless, perhaps in fear but more likely, trying not to choke on laughter.
The fire chief is not in a receptive mood to deal with the press, but mentions he's already written off the girl on the 20th floor. Mike and Clark decide to take up position in a building across the street, but Clark first calls back to the Daily Planet to inform them the fire has gone to four alarms. Out on the balcony of the building, Mike's getting some good shots, and Clark spots the girl up high up, still alive and trying to break a window. Clark changes into Superman when a convenient billow of smoke distracts Mike, and zips up to punch into the building, as Superman is wont to do. He finds the office flame gutted but the girl somehow still alive in a closet. With no other option, he scoops the girl up and flies out of the building, and is spotted by the fire chief and his men below. Superman gets the girl to the ground and, as Kent, gets her to an ambulance. He tries to make it seem like the girl found her own way down from 20 stories of fiery death, but the Chief and several other witnesses swear that they saw a man flying up in the sky. Whoops.
The girl comes to, nearly delirious with fright and smoke, and in shock mentions about being assaulted by men who are currently making a getaway. The plot thickens!


  • Clark Kent/Superman
  • Lois Lane
  • Perry White
  • Mike the Photographer
  • The Fire Chief (and his firemen)
  • June Anderson (the trapped girl)


  • Lois acts like being able to write a personal account of being thrown out of a plane by a terrorist and surviving somehow isn't a cool of Clark Kent's exclusive of flying a plane into another plane and surviving somehow. Jealous much?
  • Again another instance of Superman deciding just how much to show himself to the public as Superman, although in this case his hesitance may have cost June her life. Smoke can kill someone very quickly, and here's Clark Kent shooting the breeze with Mike the Photobug on a car ride over.
  • The likely-hood of June surviving as long as she did in the portion of the building where the fire started are pretty slim indeed. There's also the issue with how they knew the fire was set deliberately from 20 stories away on the ground.
In the next episode, Superman pulls a couple of bonerheaded stunts as he waits for the girl to wake up, and in the end fails to prevent "The Stabbing of June Anderson".

Episode 9 - "Threat to the Daily Planet"

Listen to Clark Kent fly a plane here!

Summary: This is it, kiddies. Heel-dragging and general dilly-dally have whittled a 24 hour deadline to less than a single hour, and put an entire building full of media people in danger (and it being the 1940's, they are people still worth saving). The Yellow Mask has proven to have an enormous amount of chutzpah, having made his threat to destroy the Daily Planet before even having the means to do so. By kicking over the sandcastle like security measures of Dr. Dalhgrien he now possesses the super-weapon - but due to an embarrassing oversight, not its atomic ammo.
   At the end of the last episode, Clark Kent, after sending Lois Lane to get to the police with her car, has just peeled back the safe of the good doctor to find him alive but in shock. Michael, the doctor's newly-ex assistant, has assaulted Dalhgrien and blown his way into the safe and out of the room using dynamite, which admittedly, is a lot better than pretending to be a professor (unless you are this professor).
   As we begin, we see the Yellow Mask watching from the proverbial shadows as the gigantic explosion draws police to the professor's lab anyway, rendering Lois's errand a completely useless one. Speaking of Lois, she already managed to get captured by Michael and is now a prisoner. The Yellow Mask decides to use her as a hostage, although interestingly enough against Kent and not the police. Yes, YM sees a 'mild mannered' reporter as a bigger threat than the authorities.
   Meanwhile, Clark breaks the news to the doctor that his trusty assistant was a mole all along. He leaves the laboratory as Superman. barely avoiding police on the way out. He ponders the next move of the Yellow Mask, but decides to try one last time to get Perry White to evacuate the damn building already.
   Back at the Daily Planet,White dines on his fingernails. His priorities are torn between the reputation of his paper in the face of terrorism or the lives and welfare of his employees. A call from the Yellow Mask rubs it in, threatening to throw Lois out of a plane should anyone try to interfere with his act of shooting a building full of innocent people with atomic ray beams. It's not looking too good for Lois Lane here, folks.
   Suddenly, Clark Kent bursts into the room and takes $#@*ing charge.
   Dismissing Perry's questions, he learns that Lois is hostage, the Daily Planet is still full of innocents, and that Perry is still a prideful asshole. In a split second, Kent has to weigh between losing Superman's low-profile by making a very public rescue, or by doing something bad-ass in his persona of Kent. Perhaps still smarting from being called a coward by Lois, or just to screw with Perry's mind, he goes with the Kent option; he commands the White to call a local airfield and warm up a plane. He runs out of the room and out of sight, not even bothering to open the window before flying out of it as Superman.
   A short while later, the Yellow Mask, Michael, and Lois are in a plane and nearly to the Daily Planet. YM is a cackle a minute, while Michael nervously identifies the shadow far behind them as another plane. After a brief glimpse of Perry White sweating bullets, we return to the plane to find out that the shadow is not only is another plane, but it's definitely flying at them. The Yellow Mask makes good his threat just after firing up the beam machine, by throwing Lois out of the plane. But before the machine can fire, Clark Kent flies his plane into the Yellow Mask's, bad guys, super-weapon, and all. Both explode and debris presumably makes rush hour traffic below most interesting that evening. Superman rushes down to save the plummeting (and fainted) Lois in the nick of time, naturally.
   The episode wraps up the next day, almost as if Clark Kent hadn't flown a plane and killed a couple of bad guys, although the staff of the Daily Planet do seem to be grateful that their new co-worker is a crackerjack pilot and a cold-blooded killer. The exception is Lois, who gives Clark a brush-off. It seems she has a faint memory of being rescued by someone in a flowing red cape...
  Meanwhile, a photographer rushes into the copy room and announces that there's a building on fire and there's a girl trapped on the 20th floor! Kent volunteers to cover it, saying that maybe he could 'do something'.


  • Clark Kent/Superman
  • Lois Lane
  • Perry White
  • The Yellow Mask
  • Dr. Dalhgrien
  • Hapless Daily Planet staff


  • Clark Kent can fly a plane. Clark Kent flies a plane into another plane. Holy. Shit.
  • Clark probably didn't intend to crash into the other plane; more like he ditched it in order to save Lois. Compare this 'acceptable losses' policy to the contemporary 'Superman never kills'.
  • Superman's odd handling of this situation stems from his not wanting Superman to be in the public eye "just yet". In a show where your hero can shrug off bullets, fly faster than sound, and break steel beams apart with his bare hands, tension usually came in the form of 'will Clark Kent blow his cover for this?' besides 'can Superman save Lois in time?'.
  • The way most of the other staff at the Daily Planet acts in face of atomic doom suggests that Perry White may not have given them all the details, and he still hasn't ordered an evacuation three minutes before the deadline given by a villain who has repeatedly demonstrated he can back up the threats he makes.
  • Granted, Lois thinks she was saved by a 'parachute', but she also thinks, as everyone else, that Clark Kent crashed another plane into the Yellow Mask's in order to save them all. She may have a nagging suspicion that Clark may have flown the plane into the other plane regardless if he knew Lois was in it or not.
  • Spoilers: the Yellow Mask has plot armor. Other spoiler: Michael does not. RIP.

Clark Kent bad-ass-ry:

  • Recognized as a legitimate threat by the Yellow Mask
  • Clark Kent can fly a plane. Clark Kent flies a plane into another plane. Holy. Shit.

Superman's Body Count:

  • Michael

In the next episode, Clark again has to weigh the risk of rushing in to save the day as Superman or keep up his facade as Clark Kent. Time is running out because there's "Fire in the Sterling Tower!"

Writer's Block (of cheese!)

I was involved with learning the fine art of making mozzarella cheese yesterday, and other adventures yet again today. I'll be posting episode 9 and 10 back to back today, Friday. Both episodes have Clark Kent extremely out of character to modern audiences, such as piloting and dogfighting in a plane among other things, particularly the concept of acceptable losses. It's an episode I didn't want to half-ass, although I should have thought of that before composing the review in Notepad on a laptop with a shaky charge.

I regret missing a broadcast anniversary and care not to repeat the experience! (not that a lot of people follow this blog anyway to observe said milestone... yet.) However, I just recently found out how to automatically post on a schedule ahead of time, something grownup bloggers have been doing for about 15 years or so.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ahhh Post delayed due to shenanigans!

I lost the text for tonight's post, and tonight's post really deserves the royal treatment! So tune back here (as insomuch you can 'tune in' to a blog) for the climax of the Yellow Mask and the Atomic Beam Machine!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Episode 8 - "Atomic Fuel Cylinders Stolen"

Listen to the Episode, featuring the world's most terribly secured super-weapon!

Summary: Superman, realizing that he's dealing with another case of an old man putting lives unnecessarily at risk for the second time in the same week,  makes his way towards the laboratory of Dr. Dahlgrien, curiously located on the terrible side of town. Already at the lab is Clark Kent's brand new 'frienemy' Lois Lane, who thinks she covering a story about mixing red chemicals with blue ones in order to create a cuter breed of kitten. Given that someone deliberately cut off the Doctor's frantic call to the Daily Planet, however, it's more like she's headed into her very first of many super-villainous death traps - the frequency of which, oddly, dramatically spiked within the first few hours of meeting Clark Kent.
   As we listen to a secret broadcast being transmitted from inside the lab, we discover the real reason why Michael failed to prevent the robbery of the atomic beam machine earlier - because he was working for the Yellow Mask all along. In hindsight, then, the half hour of gloating YM gave before making a casual getaway was a well earned reward for being a magnificent bastard. Then again, considering that his mark set up his lab in a run-down neighborhood and (as we are about to hear) in the process of demonstrating his "secret" security measures to a member of the press, it probably wasn't exactly the caper of the century.
   Doctor Dalhgrien reveals to Lois what he was about to tell Perry and Clark before their phone connection was cut: the stolen beam machine only had two atomic cylinders inside of it, and both were spent demonstrating its power to the 'professor'. The rest of the ammo (and an older copy of the machine) are locked up in an elaborate safe, which, in keeping with his character of showing highly classified information to unproven strangers, he shows to Lois. Lois (perhaps humoring the good doctor, perhaps not) seems to think that the security measures are more newsworthy than the terrorist threat against her employer.
   Superman, meanwhile, finally finds the Doctor's lab and lands in time to listen to the Yellow Mask transmit a second (totally redundant) short-wave radio message reminding Michael that shit is, in fact, about to go down. Superman takes note of the name, and off-handedly mentions he can, in fact, hear radio transmissions. He changes back to Kent, greets the good Dr. Dalhgrien, gets the expected icy-cold reception from Lois, and explains why he's there. After a quick comparison of notes all around, it's concluded that a) the Yellow Mask has a deadly super weapon which he intends to use to destroy the Daily Planet, and b) lacks the ammunition to use it. In the most awkward way possible, Kent asks about Micheal, and after an uncomfortable explanation of why he asked, learns the identity of the lab's mole.
   As Dalhgrien wanders off for some reason or another, Lois berates Clark for abandoning the staff of the Daily Planet to their supposed fate at his earliest opportunity despite that she did the exact same thing. Clark rightfully protests being labelled a coward but fails to call Lois out on her hypocrisy. He instead attempts to call Perry White, only to find the line cut and tapped. Just then, the doors to the Doctor's precious safe begin to close with him inside and causing Lois to flip out. Inside the safe, we hear as  Michael gives Dalhgrien his official two weeks notice in the form of assault, battery, and nitro-glycerin. Clark gets Lois out of the room to get the police (how is not exactly clear since the phone is down and the neighborhood is deserted) and peels the safe door open to find the doctor alive but shaken. The Yellow Mask takes time from his busy pre-terrorist act checklist to taunt the two via the elaborate dictaphone system Michael has installed over the years.

  • Superman/Clark Kent
  • Dr. Dalhgrien
  • Lois Lane
  • The Yellow Mask
  • Michael
  • Seriously, why is this man allowed to build weapons of mass destruction in the most least secure place in the city?
  • Despite having shown he can fly vast distances in a matter of minutes, Lois has quite a bit of time to interview the doctor before Superman arrives. Then again, Lois might just be a fast driver, possibly related to Professor Sheriff.
  • Superman must be bordering psychic, considering he knows what Lois Lane's car looks like after just meeting her.for the first time. The other explanation would be he's been peeping on her for some time before formally being introduced, and that's terrible.
  • The second transmission to Michael wasn't even useful as a plot device - the Doctor cries out Michael's name as he's being attacked, making it obvious (to Superman) the identity of the mole (although it is kind of fun listening to him stumble over asking about the name).
  • Another logical flaw: if the Yellow Mask has had Michael on the take all this time, shouldn't he have already known about the ammo? Or the extra copy of the machine? Why even bother with the 'professor' ruse? Why not just blow the safe in the first place?
Powers Introduced
Super-sonic (sub-sonic?) hearing - although Superman has demonstrated he has very sensitive hearing and can listen in on phone conservations and other soft sounds from a distance, this is the first time he shows he can listen to radio transmissions which is considerably more impressive.


Superman: Michael? Who's Michael?

In the next episode, the Daily Planet has an hour before it's destroyed by SCIENCE! How will Superman deal with this "Threat to the Daily Planet"? The answer will shock and amaze you! Don't miss it!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Episode 7 - "The Atomic Beam Machine"

Listen to Episode 7 here!

Summary: Clark Kent may now be the golden boy of the Daily Planet, but there is no rest for the wicked (or super powered illegal aliens, either)! His success with the train story out west scored him a steady job and a brand new enemy-for-life: the Yellow Mask, the man who backed the Wolfe. While Superman is still in the realm of 'crazy urban legend' in the public and evil-doer eye alive, the YM doesn't deal with meddling reporters very well either, and so promises to destroy an entire building full of them within 24 hours, for revenge. But before all that fun panic sets in, we cut to Dr. Dalhgrien and a Prof. Schmidt in the formers' deathtrap-laden lab. Apparently, some party is after Dalhgrien's new invention, which has driven the Dr. to these extreme measures to protect it. He shows Schmidt the raw power of this device, which can reduce any object whatsoever into the sound of breaking glass. Seconds after he demonstrates this, 'Schmidt' unveils his true identity - the Yellow Mask, of course - and with the help of a gun, absconds with the device. Dalhgrien laments this turn of events to his useless lab assistant Michael, who did nothing to stop the robbery.
   Meanwhile, 22 hours later, it's 4pm and two hours to go and no sign of any explosives in the building. Perry is sweating bullets. Clark is about to: enter Lois Lane. Yes, good old Lois Lane debuted on the radio exactly 70 years to the day of this post. Superman's girlfriend, Clark Kent's bane, sassy "girl reporter" and Silver-Age Petty Bitch. She walks in and gosh darn it, you know what? She hasn't really changed a bit. She even calls Kent a 'farm boy' in this opening salvo, which is proof enough that there is rhyme and reason to the cosmos, after all. Lane is not impressed with Kent being the current apple pie of Perry White's eye. She sneers as Kent hears a plane buzz overhead, which makes her assume Kent is some kind of bumpkin. White returns and says that a local scientist, one who doesn't grant interviews, has just called to arrange an interview. One named Sven Dalhgrien. Hmm. Terrorist threat or not, White still has papers to sell, so he dispatches Lane to interview the good Doctor as a human interest story.
   As Lane leaves, White bemoans the situation. Perry, who never will be all that great in making good decisions concerning the lives of his employees, decides against evacuating the building. Just then the Doctor calls, adding some helpful information that may have been of some interest and probably maybe should have been brought up in his first call to the Daily Planet: the Yellow Mask boasted he is going to destroy a newspaper before he goes on to rule the world. Then the line goes dead. Hmmm.
   Kent puts two and two together, and gets 'this looks like a job for Superman!' He gets White's permission to check on the doctor, heads down the hall and gets some ribbing from jealous, doomed newspaper employees, and ducks into a locker room and makes with the whoosh.


  • Dr. Dalhgriem
  • 'Professor Schmidt'/The Yellow Mask
  • Michael
  • Clark Kent/Superman
  • Perry 'Thunderbolt' White
  • Lois Lane (first appearance)


  • The Yellow Mask sure has a set of giant brass marbles - he makes a death threat against a building and doesn't even have the means to carry it out at that time.
  • Lois isn't always mean to Clark, and her resentment is somewhat justified. A woman reporter in the 1940's probably worked long and hard to get to the point where Lane is today, and some guy from out of no where gets there within days. Later her attitude softens to that of almost-friendly rivalry, but her early appearances often come off as ice cold. Even after Kent (as Kent, and not Superman) has saved her life many times.
  • Lois here is also a far cry from the mean-spirited, petty Lois Lane as depicted on Silver-Age comic covers. Modern depictions (noticeably the DCAU version) seems to have moved back to Radio Lois Lane personality.
  • Incidentally, Lois Lane comes from a proud tradition of superhero-related first and last names that start with the same sound. She is the third so far. (Clark Kent and Keno Carter came first)
  • Superman may still be learning the limits of human hearing compared to his own. For him, I imagine it's like a person with normal hearing trying to imagine being deaf. It's a very subtle depiction of his superpower.
  • Also another case of common sense ('evacuate the building') not being considered a superpower, but probably should.

Dr. Dahlgriem: Watch closely what happens to that glass on the edge of the table! Watch!
sound of glass breaking
Professor Schmidt: It's amazing! The glass was shattered!
Dr. Dahlgriem: Now, watch that small steel ball!
same sound of glass breaking
Lois: Now, look Mr. Kent, this is a big town. You'll find quiet a few planes flying around here all day and all night! If it bothers you, you'd better go back to the farm.
Perry: Oh, I got a job for you, Lois.
Lois: A good job?!
Perry: No.
In the next episode: The plot thickens. What's cut off the line? Is Lois headed for her very first brush with certain death? Most likely, as the "Atomic Fuel Cylinders Stolen"!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Episode 6 - "The Silver Clipper"

Listen Episode 6 - "The Silver Clipper" here!

Summary: This is it, kiddies, time to quit fooling around. The Silver Clipper has departed Denver, and lives are at stake if something isn't done to keep the Wolfe diverting the "crack train" into a watery, ouchy-filled grave. Superman has dropped off the two delirious, possibly dehydrated and sun-stroked locomotive crew at a nearby ranch, and with only twenty minutes before the Silver Clipper pulls a swan dive into oblivion, Superman shoots back just in time to- fly to a nearby town, switch back to Clark Kent and catch the local sheriff in his office. What?
   The Professor The Railroad Supervisor The Sheriff finds Kent's story a bit much to swallow, but is convinced to follow up on the lead given to him about the railroad men being found at the ranch. Kent explains to the sheriff (and to us) that his reasoning is that the Wolfe and Keno need to be caught in the act for any criminal charge to stick, proving that while Superman learned an incredible number of things in an impressively short period time, the definition of 'circumstantial evidence was evidently not one of them. With the local authorities compelled into action, Clark Kent excuses himself, walks out of sight and flies back to- haha, just kidding. He asks Professor Sheriff for the use of his phone to make a collect call. What?!
   Clark phones back east to Perry White, casually delivers a badass line about how he spent his afternoon, and makes White promise to hold the presses for the big break in the Silver Clipper story. White, possibly because of his pleasure with his new employee's story about the Limited Express' near miss, complies. With all of the pieces falling into place, Superman finally makes good towards the Silver Clipper. He has about 10 minutes to fly 40 miles to save a train load of people he could have probably rescued ten minutes ago, but wouldn't nearly be as dramatic, or frankly, give Kent a cover story, in all possible meanings of the term. Spoilers: he arrives with a minute to spare.
   Meanwhile, Keno and the Wolfe make some nervous chatter as they leave before 'something resembling the end of the world' occurs in the tunnel to the flooded canyon. The exit just in time to watch a man in a cape and tights undo the entirety of their plan with his bare hands. Pioneering what would be a long line of bad guys making the mistake of their lives, they rush towards him with Keno's guns blazing. Before it dawns on them that the man before them can't be shot, the train approaches and they decided to run to their car and get the hell out of Dodge. Superman finishes fixing the switch, wishes the Silver Clipper a safe journey as it roars past, and finishes the end game of his 'Wolfe hunt'.
   Superman decides to finish this fight passive aggressively by flying ahead of the Wolfe's car and standing in the middle of the road. In the aftermath you can probably imagine, he subdues the two with one hand and finishes wrecking the car to make it look like a proper accident. His work done, he darts off switch back to Kent before Professor Sheriff, who we left 40 miles back in the nearest town not long ago, shows up with the calvary. (It makes since how he can do this, since he also has jobs in  Indiana and Denver.)
   Back east, Mr. Clark Kent is the toast of the Daily Planet, as far as Mr. Perry White is concerned! He's ready to give Kent a new assignment, but before he can a phone call interrupts the two men. A cryptic man identifies himself as the Yellow Mask, the true master behind the Wolfe, and voices his displeasure of having his affairs meddled with. He swears that the Daily Planet building with be destroyed by the stroke of six that night.


  • Clark Kent/Superman
  • The Professor The Railroad Supervisor The Sheriff
  • Keno and the Wolfe
  • Perry White
  • Superman, if you recall, is not in the business of making himself public, thus the rigmarole of setting up the Wolfe and Keno for a fall and getting legal authorities involved. The way Superman plays this out is actually pretty canny of him.
  • Also on the subject, before you jump on the bandwagon (that I was driving) with the idea that Superman was playing with the lives of the people on the train by taking these side trips, keep in mind that it was he, as Kent, who suggested that the Silver Clipper not leave Denver at all. It was the Supervisor's call to let the train depart, and Superman respected the decision while working around it
  • The real art of radio play has to be using dialog to establish action and surroundings. Sometimes you notice it, sometimes you don't. Here, when Superman has the two men with a single hand, I sure did.
  • And no, not to spoil it or anything, it's not the last of Keno or the Wolfe.
  • This is the end of the second week of Superman's original broadcast schedule. the next dozen shows will continue to have unique names, then switch to having multi-part cliffhanger story-lines. It makes it a little easier to track arcs.

Powers Introduced:
Invulnerability: Although he faked (as Kent) being beaten up by Keno earlier, this is the first time in the show where Superman shrugs off a direct hit from a bullet. Poor Keno. 

Perry White: Kent! Good Lord man, I thought you were dead! Where've you been all day?!
Clark Kent: Tied up in a cellar, but I broke out.

Clark Kent: bespectacled bad-ass.

Keno: Come on boss, let's beat it!
The Wolfe: A very sound idea, Keno. In five minutes, or something less, this tunnel will be a most unhealthy place!
Keno: Whadda mean?
The Wolfe: Something resembling the end of the world, Keno! Screaming brakes, raping steel, billowing steam! Yes, decidedly we should move, friend, come.

Say what you will, you can't say the Wolfe can't turn a phrase. Also: 'something like the end of the world' seems to come up a lot in this show.

Superman: Sorry to disturb you gentlemen- don't try to get away!
The Wolfe: Who are you?! Put me down!!
Keno: L-let me go! Let me go!
Superman: In one moment! Just now, while I hold both of you with one hand, I got something else to do!

God help me, I heard this, wondered what he was doing with his other hand, and started cracking up.

Clark Kent bad-ass-ry: From here on out, I'll make a note when Clark Kent does something openly brave or amazing in front of other people, who (of course) don't know he's Superman. There's a reason I'm compiling this list, which you'll see later. Clark Kent, at least here on the early days on the radio, is not a meek coward in the slightest.

  • He was confined to a cellar by bad guys and escaped on his own.

In the next episode! It's terrorist attacks all over again as backlash against Clark Kent is threatened to be taken out on the entire Daily Planet, but that's the least of his worries. Now he must go face to face with a force that can ruin him utterly; yes, you guessed it, kids - LOIS LANE. Also, there's an "Atomic Beam Machine" involved, too. See you Friday!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Episode 5 - "Locomotive Crew Freed"

Listen to Episode 5 - "Locomotive Crew Freed" here!

I'm starting to think that these episodes were named with after-the-fact disregard for any possible spoilers.

Summary: We join Clark Kent in the belly of the Wolfe's lair underneath a railroad yard in Denver. Kent faces his most daunting task to date, namely pretending that Keno's interrogation technique actually hurts. (Seriously, if acting isn't considered one of Superman's powers it really should be.) In walks the Wolfe, and after some wordplay with Kent, he announces his intentions to make the silver clipper disappear as threatened. With typical villainous flair, the Wolfe leaves Kent to starve to death in the basement vault, but not before announcing his destination and how remarkibly solid the vault is constructed. Exit the Wolfe and Keno, stage doomed.
   Kent, of course, recovers from being "knocked out" by Keno and switches over to Superman. He makes short work of his handcuffs and then chills for twenty, to give the Wolfe a sporting head start, apparently. Meanwhile, Keno and the Wolfe head out of town by car, pausing to watch as the Silver Clipper departs Denver.
   With the head start over, Superman flips the flock out on the Vault, peeling out of it as if it were tinfoil. Free, he makes a beeline for the roof of the building, stopping to do a little extra property damage in the form of a locked skylight, first of many fated to be punched by a fist of steel. Superman takes to the night skies bellowing one of the most iconic catchphrases for the very first time.
   Back on the road, the Wolfe explains the entire setup to Keno: by exploiting an old forgotten mining camp's rail system, he can divert a train off of the main line, through a hidden tunnel, and into the bottom of a flooded canyon, which he has already done to the engine and tender that so vexed the rail supervisor the episode before. Proving he has some sort of fetish for leaving people to die slowly and horribly, the Wolfe has captured the crew of the doomed engine (they managed to jump off just in time) and chained them to some rocks at the top of the tunnel.
   Superman, meanwhile, has already caught up and is literally one step ahead of the Wolfe and an increasingly paranoid Keno. He breaks off spying on the two to rescue the locomotive crew, because "they are just the evidence we need!" and, y'know, save their lives but I guess that was implied. He quickly spots the bound and delirious potential witnesses in the dark, frees them, and makes way to a ranch house to leave them. It's a diversion that may cost him, because the Silver Clipper is less than 20 minutes away and already the pieces are falling into place for the Wolfe's watery deathtrap.


  • Superman/Clark Kent
  • Keno and the Wolfe


  • God knows I cherish the Wolfe's voice actor, but he really hams up some of his lines.
  • Yes, this is the first time Superman utters the words 'Up, Up and AWAY!'
  • Superman manages to do some serious property damage. First one trolley in Indiana, then a broken vault and skylight in Denver.
  • For a one time character, that conductor sure gets a lot of references made about him.
  • Superman seems to be going out of his way to downplay his involvement by making it appear that the railway men escaped and crawled to a ranch house on their own, rather than take them to a hospital. It might come off cold, but remember that Superman has vowed to be an observer of mankind before he becomes publicly known. His practical reason, then, is taking the men to a more plausible location. Contrast the 'boy scout' Superman of later years.

Powers Introduced:
X-ray vision: Argue all you like about the physics of it, Superman can see in the dark and through things. He uses it to locate the railway men in almost a passing manner, like how one might casually remind himself he can breathe oxygen.

Superman: Handcuffs, eh? It's a good thing for you I wasn't feeling PLAYFUL!
 This is the single most chilling line I've heard Superman utter yet.

Superman: Now what's this? A skylight! (laughs) Padlocked? Here goes!
Sound of glass breaking
No comment.

In the next episode: Has Superman playing coy put an entire train of people at risk of a watery grave? Will he manage to return in time to stop the Wolfe? Can Superman save... "The Silver Clipper"!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Episode 4: "Clark Kent captured by the Wolfe!"

Listen to Episode 4: "Clark Kent captured by the Wolfe!" 
Summary: Keno the Wolfe make it their hideout overlooking the railroad yards, and Keno tries to convince the Wolfe that the landslide covered the tracks with 100 feet of rock. The Wolfe mocks him, comparing his story to that of the conductor who reported seeing a man in blue tights clear the tracks. But no matter, there's work to do, by Godfrey!.
   The Wolfe has a keen interest in Kent, who seems to have come from the east suspiciously fast. There's word that Kent's at the district supervisor of the railroad's office, so he sends Keno there with a telegram, complete with a messenger's uniform, yet.
   Meanwhile, at the superintendent's office, we meet the Professor the Superintendent. He's not only granting Kent an interview, but permitting him pretty much total access to the case. Kent suggests the sensible thing - to keep the Silver Clipper from leaving Denver tonight - but that tidbit of common sense is rejected by the Superintendent. The Silver Clipper must leave on time. As an alternative tactic, Kent has baited the terrorists with the idea that Kent knows more than what he printed, he'll expose himself to capture. The Superintendent, naturally, blown away by the sheer force of Kent's giant brass balls. He pleads with Kent not to put himself at the mercy of people who have shown that they're not above killing an entire train full of people should the opportunity arise. Kent starts telling him not to worry, but is cut off from explaining further when the Superintendent notices "messenger boy" Keno in the doorway.
   Keno delivers the (fake) telegram and bluffs his way out of the office before suspicions rise. The fake telegram is a taunting riddle from the Wolfe, mentioning that an engine has gone missing. A call informs the Superintendent that an engine has indeed gone missing - completely without a trace - and induces a minor nervous breakdown in the old man. Kent excuses himself out of the room and briefly changes into Superman, flies around until he spots Keno heading into the Wolfe's hideout, and switches back as Kent to wander around conspicuously.
   Works every time. The Wolfe and Keno notice the reporter snooping around and knock him out. They drag him down into a sound-proof basement, not even beginning to realize the size of the angry hornet nest with which they are now playing.

  • Superman/Kent
  • Keno and the Wolfe
  • The Professor The Superintendent of the Railroad
  • The narrator does a particularly nice job recapping here.
  • The Wolfe is the only one who seems it odd that Clark Kent went from Metropolis to a west-bound train just outside of Denver peculiarly fast.
  • The Wolfe's voice actor seems to have improvised some lines when talking about the conductor.One has to wonder just how much Keno gets paid to blow stuff up AND go undercover. I don't want to know where the hell he got the messenger uniform, either.
  • This episode marks the first time (of many) Clark Kent has scoffed at the idea that Superman exists.
  • Oh hey there, Professor. Didn't know you moonlighted for the railroads in Denver. That must be a hell of a commute from Indiana.
Wolfe: [Kent] was assigned to cover the story back east. He seems to have arrived out here incredibly soon.
Keno: He musta flown.
No comment.

Superintendent: Look here, Kent, I've checked with your paper back east, and they tell me that it's all right, that you're here what to do what you can. Now, what do you want to know?
Yes, back then journalism was considered a respectable, helpful profession.

Kent: Do? I'm going out to hunt wolves!
Hell. Yes.

In the next episode, Clark Kent is given a once over by Keno and the Wolfe, then left to die. Golly, I WONDER IF HE GETS OUT OKA- oh, right. Well, tune in anyway, as Superman saves some railroad men, in "Locomotive Crew Freed"! Sunday night!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Man who invented Kryptonite: Bud Collyer

   Radio's Superman got his voice from a talented man by the name of Bud Collyer. He almost did not!

   Mr. Collyer had already some experience with voicing characters with roles such as Terry and the Pirates (Pat Ryan), Renfrew of the Mounted (a radio series based on an RMCP adventure series written for boys, as the title role), and Abie's Irish Rose (about a jewish man courting an irish catholic girl; he was Abie), on top of plenty of narrator gigs. He did not want to get tapped for another series that would get him typecast as a hero, and may have very well been tricked back into the studio after doing the part of a random, unnamed Kryptonian senator in the first episode of Superman. Eventually, it was settled that he'd do the role in secret, a move that satisfied Collyer and delighted publisher Detective Comics (later DC, of course) who had no problems promoting the idea that it was Superman himself playing himself on the radio.
He was uncredited for his role on the show until 1946, when he finally realized the positive impact Superman was having and gave an interview for Time Magazine for a piece about the show's campaign to promote racial and religious tolerance. Thereafter, he was credited to his role as the Man of Steel.

Collyer not only voiced Superman for 10 years of the 11 year run of the radio show (Michael Fitzmaurice took over for the last year), but would reprise his now famous Superman/Clark Kent voice for all 17 of the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons of 1941-1942, as you can listen to up above. During the show's run, he also hosted game shows, and in 1950 he left the show to do Beat the Clock full time. Later, he'd reprise his voice again in the 1966 animated New Adventures of Superman, although arguably it was a very, very different Superman to portray (Double Trouble here).

Collyer had a extensive background in singing, and his voice had a range he could manipulate on a dime. It was this talent that for a large part made Superman's transformation from Clark Kent easily identifible to the listeners. When he was Clark Kent he spoke in a quiet, unassuming voice; as Superman, his voice deepened an octave and took on a commanding tone of a man who could make you bounce like bullets would bounce off of his chest.

And, yes, he invented Kryptonite, or at least caused it to be created. You'd think it came about to knock Superman down a peg, keep him humbled, present the man of steel with a rusty silver bullet, to completely mangle a simile or two. Actually, the show introduced Kryptonite... so Bud Collyer could take a freaking break once in a while. See, while the shows were pre-recorded, they weren't re-run. In a gleaming example of something that was done absolutely, completely awesome, they wouldn't resort to such shenanigans as today's television industry. Recording was constantly scheduled, and Collyer, as I mentioned, had other jobs going on all the time. Introducing an object that could put the Man of Steel out of action in as plausible as a show abouta a man who could put his fist through a locomotive could muster. Kryptonite could reduce Superman into a groaning mess, a role easily filled by a stand in!

Incidentally, giving Collyer his much deserved vacation time was the reason Batman and Robin were later on introduced to the show. Please re-read that last sentence. If you felt a lump of pure joy rise up from your blackened lump of a soul, then you've decided to follow the right blog and become a fan of the right old time radio show.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Episode 3 - "Keno's Landslide"

Listen to Episode 3 - "Keno's Landslide"
Summary: Superman has defenestrated the Daily Planet for his very first time, giving the building its first Clark Kent-related water-cooler story. Cashless and carrying only the clothes on his back (and his secret identity's clothes God knows where else), he's en route to the American West, to investigate the threats against the Silver Clipper, great American 'crack train' from Denver to Salt Lake City. He declares the Wolfe better watch out, because the other side has Superman. Hell. Yes.
   Meanwhile, we meet the Wolfe and his henchmen, Keno Carter ('gunman, gambler, bad man of the Southwest) who are hiding out in a small cabin somewhere in Colorado. It's hinted the two of them get their orders from a higher power, and those orders are 'paralyze the American railroads'. The Wolfe plans on showing the railroads he's dead serious about destroying the Silver Clipper, by sending a landslide onto of another train, the Western Limited. Keno blanches at the idea of murder, but agrees with the plan. He seems aware that defying orders is a terrible career move at Wolfe, Inc. They hear the Limited in the distance.
  Superman happens to notice the Limited as he flies over. He debates getting on the train, a slower mode of transport for a super-man, but decides to get on anyway and look things over as Clark Kent (hey, everything is shiny and new to him, remember?). Just before he flies down and boards, he notices Keno up ahead heading up to set off the explosives that will trigger the landslide. He boards and thinks up a way to stop the train and decides to pretend, as Clark Kent, that he's lost his ticket, so they will stop the train and throw him off. Retrieving his suit from his codpiece, he enacts this plan flawlessly, to the point where the conductor will give him the benefit of the doubt... until they reach town. Whoops!
   Clark then finds a better way to stop the train, by committing his first (possibly second) crime ever - pulling the emergency cord on the train. The train screeches to a stop, and Kent vindicates himself to a furious conductor when a landslide thunders down in front of the train moments later. Close call. Kent then makes a dash for it, changes into Superman, and sets to work clearing the tracks.
   The Wolfe, meanwhile, is back in the cabin overlooking the tracks, and lighting up his 'mission accomplished' cigar. Keno busts in and tells him the bad news - the plan failed. He then explains how he pulled off the most balliest manuever ever attempted in the field of professional henching - he snuck down into the crowd that emerged from the train and found out that it was a reporter named Kent responsible for averting the disaster. The Wolfe is incredulous, more so when the train suddenly started heading west, the tracks now clear. Clark Kent just made a powerful enemy, swears the Wolfe. They make for Denver by plane.


  • Superman/Kent 
  • The Wolfe 
  • Keno Carter (Karter?) 
  • The Conductor 

  • Keno and the Wolfe are Radio Superman's first villains, and are worthy, competent ones at that. The Wolfe has set up an elaborate plan that has baffled railroad investigators and potentially cripple the nation's transportation network. Keno is effective at carrying out orders, skilled at the art of the bluff, and doesn't scare easy. Keno has a conscious; the Wolfe, less so. You should see the heartlessness of the guy they get their orders from (and you will). 
  • As before, it is stated fog and sleet grounded the as of yet unnamed city of Metropolis. It's mid-Februrary in the show, too. 
  • Notice that Superman is raring to check things out on the train as Kent, despite being on a time budget. 
  • Yes, pulling the emergency stop on a train under false pretenses is a crime. Sure, Clark had a good reason, but how was he going to explain it to an angry conductor? 
  • This is the last we hear from the conductor, but not the last we hear of him. Poor guy was just doing his job. 

Powers Introduced:Super-Speed - Superman manages to effortlessly fly hundreds of miles over the span of a few hours. Fittingly, he himself states that he's faster than a locomotive.

Conductor: "Oh, is it? What makes you think so?"
Kent: "Goodbye, Conductor! I'll see you later!"

I know he's new at this whole interacting with people thing, but damn, that seems creepy - especially how he abruptly breaks off the conversation. I get the image of Kent never breaking eye contact and fading backwards into the shadows.

On the next episode, Clark Kent proves himself a brave man, baiting the terrorists to capture him and reveal their secrets. Will his plan work? Listen to the next spoiling-titled episode, "Clark Kent captured by the Wolfe!" Friday 7 PM! And check back before then for a bonus article about Bud Collyer, the talented actor who gave Superman his voice!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Episode 2 - "Clark Kent, Reporter"

Listen to Episode 2 - "Clark Kent, Reporter" 

Summary: After years of hurling in space, the escape rocket finally reaches Earth and lands in an America desert. Exiting it is a super-man, fully grown and by some miracle, not possessing any mental or emotional scars from having spent the bulk of his existence in a coffin-sized personal hell. Superman to flies around for an indeterminate period of time, presumable long enough to eavesdrop and learn the English language. He eventually finds himself in Indiana (sorry, Kansas!).
   While Superman curiously hovers over a trolley station, we go inside to meet the Professor and his son Jimmy. We learn that the Professor is taking Jimmy to the fair. They get on the trolley while the conductor disembarks for a quick drink of water when suddenly the trolley doors slam shut, trapping the two hapless passengers and rolling downhill completely out of control. By the time the Professor breaks a window, the trolley is going far too fast to safely exit, and worse, is about to derail and hit a tree. If that didn't make the day exciting enough for Jimmy and his father, the flying man ripping into the trolley's roof and whisking them to safety probably did the trick.
   Superman sets the two down in a nearby field, narrating as he does so because that's just how radio shows roll. He calmly explains that he's an alien from outer-space from a planet that no longer exists (the fact that the assuredly adrenaline-charged Professor didn't have a stroke and takes it in stride is a testament to 1940's men). He doesn't know his name, but that the people of Earth might call him a 'super man'. The Professor, no stranger to the writings of Nietzsche, nods sagely on agreement, and he and Jimmy swear to the nice man (who they just saw peeling back steel like tin foil) not to reveal the truth of their rescue. One can only imagine the statement the Professor had to give to the police later, re: how they survived being thrown out a wrecked trolley for about half a mile's distance. Hey, that's not Superman's problem.
   Superman explains he's not quite ready to unveil himself to the world just yet. He wants to learn more of his new home, and he's not even sure the best way to go about this. The Professor and Jimmy readily suggest he take up as a newspaper reporter, and Jimmy even helpfully pulls an alias directly out of his ass: the name 'Clark Kent'. Superman likes what he hears, and he and his first friends on this planet (or ever, really) part on excellent terms. And we never hear from the Professor or Jimmy ever again.
   Our hero sets sail for the Daily Planet, and the story hand-waves past the details of how a man in red and blue tights managed to obtain a decent suit and a pair of glasses without any money whatsoever. We jump to the stately offices of the newspaper, and meet Perry "could beat up J. Jonah Jameson" White, who is in a bit of a pinch. Someone's been sabotaging trains, a mysterious man known only as 'The Wolfe', and Perry's short on reporters available to cover it (the one who he speaks to is even on the run, and may have been silenced by Wolfe or his men). In walks Clark Kent, young, eager, and lacking any kind of credentials whatsoever. White dismisses Kent almost immediately, Kent promises he has insider information on the train sabotage, repeating some of the info White had just discussed with another reporter discussing it over the phone. White amazed, particularly when the Wolfe himself calls the office and claims that another attack is forthcoming. White gives Clark a chance to make good on his supposed insider track, and even would have given him a cash advance, had Clark waited around to get it. Instead, he decides to slip out the window and fly there as Superman, which avoided having to wait for the planes to stop being delayed by fog. However, he slips out in the most suspicious manner, and gives secretary Ms. Smith quite a fright. What a super-galoot.


  • Superman/Clark Kent 
  • The Professor and his son, Jimmy 
  • John, the Trolley's motor man 
  • Perry White 
  • Some reporter who may or may not have been killed 
  • Ms. Smith, White's Secretary 

  • Radio Superman didn't grow up on Earth. This is the main departure from all other classic Superman continuities, and frankly, is probably the best. This would persist for two years and over 300 episodes before Kent's Kansas upbringing was retconned back. 
  • The most glaring plot-holes of this episode, of course, are 'how did Superman learn english so fast', and 'where did he get his first suit'. It's plausible, however, that an unstated short period of time passes between his leaving the rocket and after rescuing the Professor and Jimmy. 
  • Another nag - the model rocket took a minimum of twenty years or more to reach Earth, yet Jor-L intended to use it as a 'test-fire'. I'll settle for Jor-L using the small rocket's trajectory to check his math, but either way, it's amazing Kal-L made it close to the solar system at all, much less Earth. Then again, Krypton is only 'millions of miles away' (in contrast, the Earth is about 93 million miles from the Sun) so maybe Jor-L made a colossal mistake that took Kal-L on a needless journey that cost him two decades of life trapped in a tiny coffin-like rocket. 
  • The professor must be decked out in full scholarly garb as opposed to casual dress, as Superman addresses him as 'Professor'. That, or he heard the trolley conductor address him minutes before. 
  • It's likely Jimmy here is proto-Jimmy Olsen, but they are not the same character. This is the only appearance of the Professor and Jimmy, although it won't be the last time you hear the Professor's voice. 
  • Pay close attention to Superman's exchange with Jimmy and the Professor, as it establishes Radio Superman's motivations and basic operating procedure. He intends to lend aid when and where he can - but his primary intent is to observe humanity, not to interfere with it. This is a major difference from the very public Superman of today. In fact, it will be seven months worth of boradcast before Superman makes peaceful, extended contact with another human (Jimmy Olsen, no less), preferring to keep his presence as Superman as much as an urban legend as possible. 
  • This is the first appearance of Perry White in any medium. His comic counterpart at the time was a man named George Taylor, and White eventually replaced him in the comic as well. 
  • The simplest reason for Kent knowing about the Wolfe is that he has supernatural hearing, of course. It's unlikely he had the presence of mind to research and investigate the Wolfe ahead of time, particularly when the threats Wolfe made were not common knowledge to begin with. However, the reporter mentions that he 'doesn't know where your dope came from, chief'. Could the information been leaked by Superman? Or is he only bluffing from what he overheard? Remember, this Superman is scarily un-campy here, and there's no way of knowing exactly how much time he's been establishing himself as Kent before going for his interview. 
  • Seriously, where the hell DID he get his first suit? At some point, he assuredly had to obtain it while dressed as Superman, right? 
Powers introduced: True Flight (he hovers over the station)
Super Strength (peels through the top of the trolley like wet tissue)
Super Hearing (He can hear private conversations)

John: Morning, Professor!
Professor: Good Morning!
John: Going into town?
Professor: That's right, John, taking Jimmy to the Fair
John: Aye, tis a great show, alright.
I have to wonder if the fair was kind of a downer to Jimmy after being plucked from a runaway trolley by a flying man.

Superman: Don't be frightened, you're all right. Had to get you out of there in a hurry! pulling that roof off was the only way.
Uh, couldn't you have just gotten in front and stopped it? I don't know if there were any innocent bystanders when you let that trolley wreck itself to pieces. Also, faulty brakes aside, the trolley company is out of a otherwise perfectly repairable trolley.

Superman: I have no name. I come from a planet that no longer exists.
He's too young to remember his name, but apparently knows Krypton blew up? Remember, Jor-L built the rocket ship not intending to use it to save his son, but to test for a bigger model. I don't think he had time to stuff a care package in with Kal-L as the planet fell in around them. Incidentally, it's probably why the magic fortress-growing crystals were introduced in other media, so Superman would know of his true heritage at all.

Jimmy: Well, how about 'Clark Kent'? That sounds alright!
Yes, Radio's Superman's famous alter-ego was entirely the invention of a little boy named Jimmy. I named this blog in his honor.

In the next episode! We meet the villains Keno and the Wolfe, scourge of the rails. How will their intricately laid out plans fair against a super-man? How well would a house of cards? Also watch how Superman gets a poor railway conductor thrown in the nut house! All this at 7 pm Tuesday: "Keno's Landslide!"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Episode 1 - "Baby From Krypton"

Listen to Episode 1 - "Baby From Krypton"

Summary: Welcome to Krypton, "millions of miles from earth" (so not that terribly far, astronomically speaking) and "like a green star twinkling in the sky". It possesses an atmosphere remarkably like earth, but much larger. Life here developed similar to earth's, but is just plain better. Kryptonians are super-strong, super-smart, and can leap over vast distances like gang-busters. Spoilers: the planet is also about to blow up. Whoops!
   Enter Jor-L, apparently the only scientist on the planet who felt the need to investigate all those ominous earthquakes and volcanic the planet's been having lately, y'know, all over. Not one to break bad news gently, Jor bluntly spells it out to Kyrpton's world government: the sun is drawing Krypton out of its orbit and the planet will soon, quote, explode like a bubble. This is based on calculations which were made by himself, one of the most respected scientists on the planet, and would be presumably easy to verify by another party (if not by the sun which, also presumably, would be slowly appearing larger in the sky). Concerned, the Kryptonians unanimously approve of Jor-L's plan to exodus and resettle on a planet not unlike Krypton, and- oh wait, no. They unanimously vote against doing anything at all, and laugh him right out of the building. Apparently super-politicians are super-idiots on Krypton! Or, heh, were.
   Returning home, Jor-L feverishly works on a plan at least get himself and his family to safety via rocket-ship. Proving he is indeed an intelligent man, he builds a small but functional model that he will fire to verify that his plan is sound. As he explains to his wife, Lara (Lara-L?), Earth is just like Krypton, only populated by beings comparably feeble to Kryptonians. Lara thinks it sounds like a terrible place, but expresses that she only cares about her son surviving, if it came down to that. The Planet Krypton itself decides to call that bet almost immediately by beginning to break apart. The L's work frantically to stuff their yet-to-be-named son into the model rocket and shoot him off towards the planet Earth as the planet literally falls in on itself around them. The rocket is fired in the nick of time, which is of some small comfort to Jor-L and Lara as they and the entire population of Krypton perish from the sun. SUPER-perish.


  • Jor-L, Lara-L, and their (non-speaking) son Kal-L
  • Krypton's governing body of chumps


  • One of the most consistent parts of Superman's origins is the planet Krypton's destruction, and hubris its people experienced by ignoring Jor-L, the same man universally regarded as its smartest scientist. It is because of this is why Kal-L (Superman's real name) is one of the precious few survivors of an otherwise magnificently powerful species. That, or he's the super-one-eyed man in the kingdom of the super-blind, and really really good with building model rockets. Regardless, notice the 'L' here; later, would it double in length to 'El'.
  • It's interesting to note that the transcription spends an entire episode on Krypton, which was only given a mention in the first panel of the original comic (which had baby Superman already hurling towards Earth). I believe this may be one of the first instances of Krypton's fate being explored in the mythology of the series. If so, chalk up another mark on the board, Martha.
  • Also strange is the fact that the very first episode of the show doesn't feature the titular character in a speaking role. Bud Collyer, Superman's voice actor, did have a part in this episode - he's one of the voices in the background when Jor-L addresses the governing body.

Highlights of the episode:

Rozan: Jor-L speaks
Jor-L: Members of the council...I have completed my solar calculations and much as I dread uttering these words, I have come to the conclusion that Krypton is doomed.

He certainly didn't pull any punches. Good thing Kryptonians think he's the best scientist like, ever. Just like we listen to our scientists, right?

Rozan: You have been working too hard Jor-L. You need a rest. Believe me, we have the upmost respect for knowledge and integrity, but this is carrying it too far, planets as large as Krypton do not explode Jor-L.
[rumbling sound is heard]

Jeez, what does it take to convince these guys, is the planet going to have to EXPLODE fir-... oh.

Rozan: When it comes Jor-L…it shall find all of us ready. If Krypton is to die, we shall die with it. The parting would be much too severe!

I didn't know which was funnier, a politician completely ignoring the chance of others who might want to escape the apocalypse, or the complete lack of an angry mob outside the government building, demanding something be done about all the freaking earthquakes.

Jor-L: Yes, I know I know, Lara its been hard on all of us, and particularly hard on you. How is the boy?
Lara: Sleeping Jor-L. That quake this afternoon frightened him, but he's all right now. Can't you come in and look at him? You've scarcely see him these days, what with working all hours on the space ship model.
Jor-L: It can't be helped dear, I'm racing against time. Right now I'm anxious to know whether the model will behave as I hope.

Fun little observation: Jor-L's rocket is not only a working scaled down model of the actual escape pod, but an untested one to boot. What a lucky boy Kal-L is. Incidentally, he IS called by name at the very end by his parents - sadly, he is too young to remember it, and when he lands on Earth some years later, he possesses intelligence and strength, but truly no identity (other than really, really stretched out jammies).

In the next episode, Superman touches down and does mortal combat with a runaway trolley! And just who IS this mysterious Jimmy? And why is he being taken to the fair? And where the hell did he pull the name "Clark Kent" out of his rear? All this and MORE... Sunday at 7pm!

Happy 70th, Radio Superman!

What Radio brought to Superman! (1)

To keep up appearances that I am serious about keeping this blog stocked well and often, I'll be sprinkling articles now and then between the episodic reviews. There's a lot of stories about the people behind the show, as well as the general fun it can be to compare and contrast the Superman of today with the Superman-that-was.

Last Post I rattled off a list of major departures that the radio show initially made from the then-two-year-old comic book that beget it. The radio show turned around and added major characters and devices that the comic would later adopt, and so later the serials, the television show, a number of movie, and eventually led to a heavily armed Santa-Superman facing down Twin Hitlers and a army of mutant Batman clones At Earth's End. What? Damnit, wrong decade!

Yes, anyway, we're back in the early 1940's when Superman had yet to strangle himself under years of conflicting continuities, crossovers, and camp. We're back at the time when the radio show introduced:

Perry White - That's right. Superman's editor in the comics was a man named George Taylor (but usually called Chief or 'the Editor'). The show gave us the grumpy, lovable old Perry White, and he took over Taylor's place in the comic book in 1941. Radio's Perry White *is* Perry White, and actors in other medias would depicted him as voice actor Julian Noa did. Perry's a particular favorite of mine, as he's a risk-taker, taking a chance on a resume-less, literally-walked-in-off-the-street greenhorn named Kent to cover a story he claimed could be 'bigger than the Lindbergh Baby!' Also fun was the time he appeared more concerned that a bomb would destroy his presses than he was evacuating the freaking building. His memory is as notoriously short as his temper, going as far as threatening to fire Kent over petty things. Kent, the man who not only broke open many, many sensational Daily Planet exclusives for White, but also saved White's life repeatedly, (and not as Superman). Then again, you don't get to run a newspaper by being soft with your minions. Oh, speaking of soft - hey look it's copy-boy

Jimmy Olsen - Superman's pal, although technically he's the second Jimmy Superman became pals with (see episode 2). (Jimmy was probably introduced to keep with the status quo of heroes having boy sidekicks, a trend begun by Dick Tracy and Junior in the funny papers.) He first shows up as a copyboy employed the Daily Planet, and jumps into our hearts with a tale of woe as his widow mother being shaken down for protection money for her failing candy-store, shit which obviously did not fly with a superman who took the idea of 'shaking down' rather literally. After that Jimmy accompanied Kent on many adventures, some invited, some not; at least he didn't get under foot too much. He certainly never gained super-powers ("Golly!") or had a time machine ("Golly!", Radio Jimmy was more likely to assist Clark with the mystery of the week, getting trapped in a burning hotel, cave-in, or flooding pirate cave. Interestingly, his voice actor was briefly replaced with a prepubescent boy, before resuming the tone of a teenager. And of course, Jimmy found his way back into the comics and even got his own series! In contrast, the first Jimmy appeared in only one episode and we never find out if he ever got to the fair after Superman flew away. Yes, flew because of

Superman's ability to fly - Yep, calling it, Superman flew first on the radio. As I mentioned last post, Comics Superman jumped around with the proportionate strength of a human-size grasshopper; he could glide, but that's not the same thing of being able to fly under your own power, hover, etc (you're just jumping really high and controlling your fall creatively). Try to convey that to a radio audience, however, using a sound-effect. Superman's original 'whoosh' stood in for him flying, not jumping around, and it was easier to describe (and for the audience to picture) a flying man than get into the technicalities of the thing. Depicting Television's Superman flying involved putting a man into a complicated harness, and even that was easier than trying to simulate a jumping Superman, so it follows that form follows function in this case. Regardless, the artifact of Superman's jump-no-fly days seems to be the famous line: "Leap tall buildings with a single bound!". I have to wonder if Superman never was on the radio, if he would have stayed a jumper rather than a flyer.

Kryptonite - Superman's infamous green Achilles' heel. It deserves an article all on its own, because it owes its existence to the benefit of Bud Coyller, the talented voice actor who gave the iconic superhero his first real voice. Although the radio show was pre-recorded ('transcripted'), re-runs were unheard of and production was a constant thing. Writers could give a voice actor a break (or replace them!) ahead of time by writing his or her character out for a few shows, either by having the character not present, unable to speak, or simply have the narrator describe what the character is doing in passing reference (the latter led to a notable storyline where Lois gets in the thick of some gangsters over the course of several shows, without actually saying a line!). Mr. Collyer, of course, was both Superman and Clark Kent, and had a speaking part the vast majority of the shows. Small breaks could be fudged where Collyer could miss a recording session, but in order to give the man a vacation, kryptonite was invented as a way to incapacitate the nigh invincible Superman in a believable manner.

Bonus: On the subject of giving Bud a break, there was one other way his vacations influenced the show. Although the comics had the crossovers first, five years in Batman and Robin started to guest-star in the show, occasionally filling in whole episodes, keeping kryptonite from becoming a one trick pony, or making it come out with other colors than green or some such nonsense as that.

Well, tonight is the night the first episode, 'Baby from Krypton' debuted! I'll be posting it then. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why Radio's Superman is Different

I'm writing this blog on the assumption that the reader knows who is the guy in the blue pajama suit and red cape, and that the fella can fly. Superman had an undeniable impact on American culture - America's first runaway success in the superhero-ing business. His story origins are the stuff of myth itself, never quite matching up from telling to telling, but it's one of those things that pretty much everyone knows, however peripherally.

The basics being: shot from a dying planet by his scientist dad, landing in Kansas, being raised by a humble farmer and his wife, possessing fantastic powers, using said powers to benefit mankind while keeping up the identity of a timid, bespectacled newspaper reporter. When Superman debuted on the air, however, there were some very significant differences even from his comic book of the time. They lasted until the show rebooted a couple of years later, with more of the elements of the story which people are familiar with today. I touched on them in my first post, and we'll examine them in depth as we come to them, but for now, let's sum up the major ones. For clarity, I use the terms 'Comics Superman' and 'Radio Superman'.

Radio Superman was never raised on Earth - Superman walked out of his escape pod an adult, having spent the majority of his life in a tiny rocket-ship headed towards Earth. Since he left Krypton as an extremely young child, if not an infant, he doesn't even know his real name, so right off the cuff the implications are disturbing. Lucky for us, he seems to have taken the whole ordeal in stride, deciding to help humanity rather than take it over like a deranged man-child. Incidentally, this means that:

There is no John and Martha Kent - Even in the comics, Superman's identity is tied with that of the Kents, the couple who either raised the baby they found as their own, or dumped him in an orphanage (looking at you, Max Fleischer). Because of them, it explains why an alien child learned our customs, our culture, and the basic right from the wrong. Radio Superman's a stranger in a strange, extremely fragile land. The reason for this is likely due to the fact that the comic book Kents of the time had passed on before Clark took his job as a newspaper reporter, and thus it wasn't practical to give them voice actors (having already done 'throw away' roles for Jor-El and Lara, perhaps?) and so gave the roles to the Professor and son Jimmy, who were the first people Radio Superman rescued, from a run-away trolley (The Professor, incidentally, was taking Jimmy to the fair). They have a profound, lasting effect on Radio's Superman anyway, because, you see:

The name "Clark Kent" was pulled out of thin air - Superman states twice in his debut episode (the second one, as the first was entirely set on the doomed Krypton) that he has no name. Comic's Clark Kent is a man who learns he has an alien origin and swears to use those powers well. Radio's Superman has nothing to go on, other than he wants to learn more about Earth and help its frail meat-bags. The Professor helpfully suggests he take on a role of a reporter; little Jimmy (not Olsen) gives him the name of 'Clark Kent'. He might as well have called him 'Hugh Jorgan' or 'Heywood Jabloeme' and Superman would have bought it. Luckly, Jimmy knew better than to play around with a man who demonstrated he could peel back a trolley roof like tin-foil, and also can fly. Oh, also:

He can fly right away - No duh? Well, in his very earliest of days, Comic's Superman didn't fly so much as leap - much like how a grasshopper the size of a man could hypothetically jump high (thus 'leap over tall buildings in a single bound). There's no indication that Superman does anything other than fly through the air, rather than leap, although Lara-El mentions it only takes her 'a step' to her relations over in the mountains some miles away. The reason is most likely that it's difficult to rely the act of leaping by sole use of sound effects (and flying is way cooler). It's implied Radio Superman can hover, or at least land gently. I am not sure if this preceded Superman's ability for true flight in the comics. Speaking of flight,

His powers are kind of vague - Superman's 'Golden Age' and 'Silver Age' are best define that the latter proved he could pretty much do anything, which to me led to severe character decay. Punch a planet out of orbit? No problem, Silver age, baby! Radio Superman is firmly in the Golden Age levels of power, which the running rule being 'just enough to pull off what the story called for'. Later, being able to bust out of a steel room or to push over some large boulders became less remarkible when it's been established your main character can carve his name in the Moon, from Earth, by looking at it really hard. Superman's powers did add up over time, and it's kind of a hoot to hear Superman toss out a line such as 'good thing I can see in the dark!' or when he speaks underwater. Also!

He is not at all a public figure - Contemporary Superman is a very public figure. He's an inspiration to everyone, he's the leader of the Justice League, he constantly makes public appearances, he saves the Earth and basically everyone knows it's him doing it. It all leads to a very different kind of storytelling than Radio's Superman uses. Early episodes on the radio revolved around not only keeping his identity of Clark Kent a secret, but Superman's very existence as well. I'm well over a hundred episodes into the old show by now, and Superman still has managed to keep himself practically an urban legend. It serves him well - like the time he just walks into the headquarters of a villain, gets captured (dressed as Superman), and goes along with it exactly long enough to learn what the plan is before giving them the surprise of their very lives. This one alone would make this a very different story from the Superman today, when an entire world would mourn his supposed death. And because Superman plays down his exploits a lot, it leads to the impression that...

Clark Kent is a total badass - We all know Superman is a strong, manly-man and Clark Kent is a push-over, a wimp, right? At first glance, that might seem to be the case in the Radio. However when I started listening to the radio Adventures of Superman I realized just how incredible Clark Kent came off. Radio's Clark Kent brought down terrorist networks, exposed criminal rackets, and played detective so effectively that it gave him a reputation today's journalists only wish they could have, and this is solely on what the public sees him do. Yes, we know that Clark Kent is secretly super Superman, but they don't! Kent would constantly do heroic things (or appear to, anyway, to cover up the act being that of Superman's) and yet still be called a coward. Not that Kent cares (just the opposite, he encourages it), but it's amazing just the same to listen to the episode where Clark Kent appears to climb out on an airplane wing with a rifle to return fire at a pursuing plane. Or when he flew a plane into another plane, or when he singlehandedly lead Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen out of a forest fire, or when he stood up to an extortion racket, or when he...

One last thing, which probably deserves an entirely separate post - Radio's Superman is not a boy scout. He's not a bad guy by any means, but he's not above threatening the occasional goon, demonstrating he has the means to do grievous harm with his pinky fingers alone. To paraphrase a line he uses more than one occasion: "Bullets just bounce off of me, let's see how YOU bounce! It may not have been intentional, but it is interesting this aspect of Superman is coupled with a version who was not raised on Earth - he is very much a dangerous alien being who, fortunately, is on the side of law and order. He's not off doing good deeds constantly, he's more of a proactive observer, only stepping in to help if he's truly needed, and no more. Again, it's a side of Superman many are not used to seeing.

Friday starts my vigil! On the day of its 70th broadcast anniversary , I'll cover an episode in detail. I'll link to the show on BOTAR, and you are welcome to listen along! See you then.

Friday, February 5, 2010

About Taking Jimmy to the Fair

"We now present the transcription feature, 'Superman'!"

If you were a kid in the 1940's, chances are you heard the immortal opening to "The Adventures of Superman". It was produced for nearly 10 years, featured the ionic character of Superman in his salad days, a true example of the Golden age of radio.

Superman obtained legendary stature in comics, television, and cinema (in various degrees of quality) as his popularity surged (and waned); yet he owes very much to the radio transcriptions (prerecorded radio). The show began broadcasting about two years after his first appearance in Action Comics! magazine. This is a rawer Superman, containing so many elements most already know (in some cases, because the radio show itself introduced them in the first place - such as Kryptonite) and some that might surprise you (Clark Kent is pretty brave for a supposed coward, despite the other characters doing their best to ignore that completely).

Radio's Superman put the character into a new light for me, a child of the eighties who only knows the baggage from decades of retroactive continuity and camp. This Superman is not the complete boy scout who is constantly off fighting floods, earthquakes and aliens invasions - he IS an alien, taking on an identity of an intrepid reporter to find out the best way to use his powers to benefit humanity. Today's Superman is a story about Kansas-raised Clark Kent dealing with being from an alien world - Radio's Superman is ubermensch alien learning to be Clark Kent, to be a human. It's an interesting departure, one the franchise might consider giving another look.

Taking Jimmy to the fair is an in-depth look into this show and old radio shows in general. This week we'll visit a little history of the series and of the show itself. Starting next week, on February 12, 2010, I will be reviewing an episode from the Adventures of Superman on the anniversary of its first broadcast.

One caveat: I may be tongue-in-cheek at times (off-color at others). I will certainly do my damnedest to keep myself in check and things PG-13. I want to make it clear I have nothing but respect for this show and I want to pass that on to fans old and new alike.

Special thanks to http://www.botar.us/archives.html for allowing me to link to their broadcasts of the show. They have a sizable collection of many other series, ones I will visit from time to time.