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"!