March 03, 2012

Superman Saturday: Badder than ol' King Kong and meaner than a junkyard dog

This week on Superman Saturday, we begin a new adventure. After the thrills of the mystery of Dyerville, the Man of Tomorrow has high expectations to meet. But we're sure he will rise to them, Faithful Reader: after all, this story involves strange goings-on! Savages! Treasure! And, last but not least, Science!

Listen on . . .

Episode 22: The Emerald of the Incas, Part 1 (1940/04/01)

Listen!

As Kent is busy writing up a followup to the Dyerville story, he is called into the office of Jay Hamlin, assistant editor. He introduces Clark to Elsie Beecham, a family friend and the daughter of Dr. George Haven Beecham—"explorer, scientist, archaeologist," which is to say, a man of Science! Clark immediately turns on the charm.

Elsie tells them that something has happened to her father. He was supervising an archaeological dig in the South American jungle, but he sent her a strange letter warning her not to meet his boat when he sailed home. Then, she got a phone call from him, in which he sounded very frightened. He instructed her not to contact him; he would be staying in the town of Beechwood, at his Stone House estate, alone except for his "half-breed" servant Zingrid. The previous day, she finally tried to call him, but received no answer. Hamlin instructs Clark to drive Elsie out to Brentwood that evening—which Clark is only too willing to do, after having dinner with her, of course.


Later that night, they arrive by car in Brentwood, and they notice that Stone House looks completely deserted. Clark notices that they have driven past the front gates, and decides to walk back and find out if they are open. It's really a ruse: he thinks the gates look suspiciously well hidden, and he wants an excuse to investigate. When he receives an electrical shock as he tries to climb the fence, he decides that "this looks like a job for Superman." He finds the hidden gates, and commits an act of property damage against his editor's friend's estate. Smash! Zot!

Superman changes back to Clark Kent and returns to the car, where Elsie asks if everything is all right. "I can't say just yet, but things are certainly opening up." Clark, you smoothie. As they drive through the gates, she remarks that they look like they were blown in by a hurricane. Clark assures her that they were just old and rusty and fell apart when he tried to open them.

Clark stops the car in the middle of the lane, and warns Elsie that there might be trouble, since it appears thta Dr. Beecham, or whoever is there, thinks his privacy is vitally important. So Clark wants to take a look around the house and make sure the coast is clear. Elsie is quite frightened, but Clark reassures her, telling her that if she needs him, she only has to honk the car horn and he will come running.

As Superman, he climbs up to a second-story window and looks inside. He hears a door slam inside the house. Suddenly, the car horn honks. The car is being attacked by a pair of mastiffs! She's trapped inside as the vicious guard dogs climb in the windows! Hollering that he's coming, Clark rushes back to the car and beats up the dogs, driving them back to the house. Yes, that's right: "mild-mannered" Clark Kent beats up a pack of mastiffs. One of these days I'm going to start posting a running table of the feats of badassery Clark is forced to commit, just to protect the secret that he is really Superman.

Clark tells Elsie that there is indeed someone in the house. Just then, they hear the sound of approaching drumbeats. Worse, a giant man is coming their way!

What is the giant figure that Elsie saw?

Who or what is in Stone House?

Will Lois Lane be jealous of all the attention Clark is giving this new girl?

You don't want to miss the next exciting program . . .

Episode 23: The Emerald of the Incas, Part 2 (1940/04/03)

Listen!

The giant figure has suddenly disappeared. Clark Kent and Elsie Beecham can't tell whether they actually saw what they thought they saw. However, there's no doubt they heard the tom-toms drumming, so something suspicious is definitely up. Clark wants to go back to the house and investigate, but Elsie is too frightened to be left alone again. As the drumming begins again, this time they both clearly see the giant, whom Clark describes as "a tremendous big black man." Elsie hides herself, but Clark transforms again to Superman and confronts the huge figure—who, being black and from parts unknown, speaks pidgin English in a funny accent. "I fix you, white man," he says. "Oh, you want to fight, do you?" retorts Superman, who, despite his advanced Kryptonian heritage, likes nothing better than beating up dark-skinned foreigners. When the giant man pulls a knife, Superman lifts him up and tosses him into a nearby treetop. Quickly changing back to Clark Kent, he rejoins Elsie who wants to know what happened to the giant. "Uh, he tripped and fell," he says.

Going back to the front door of Stone House, Clark impresses Elsie with another act of vandalism against her family estate: he smashes in the door with a stone. Inside, they can hear someone walking around upstairs. Against Elsie's protests, he leaves her in the library while he goes upstairs. He finds the occupied room and knocks on the door, but no one answers, despite his hearing someone inside the room. As he breaks down the door, someone tries to shoot him. Clark quickly disarms his would-be assailant—it's Dr. Beecham, to no one's surprise. Over the scientist's protests that he'll "never get it," whatever "it" is, Clark insists that he's not interested in "it": he's just a reporter from the Daily Planet, sent by Jay Hamlin. Beecham is not impressed that he's brought Elsie with him to Brentwood, as whatever he's gotten himself into has put her in mortal danger as well!

Suddenly, from the downstairs library, Elsie screams! Clark and Beecham rush downstairs and strike a light, but she is gone. Frantically, they search . . .

Who has taken Elsie Beecham?

What terrible secret is Dr. Beecham guarding with his life?

Does it perchance have anything to do with Incan treasure—just for laughs, let's just say an emerald?

For the answers to these questions, you'll have to wait until next week!

So far, we're off to a good start: this serial is a sort of haunted-house-slash-kidnapping thriller. One thing I noted was the significantly different portrayal of Clark Kent this time round. Whereas in "The Mystery of Dyerville," Clark seemed desperate just to earn Lois' respect, now he seems all too eager to become acquainted with the lovely Miss Beacham. However, it appears that Superman has gone back into "bonehead mode" again, as nearly every time he leaves Elsie alone, she winds up in some sort of peril! I guess that on the radio, just as in the comic books, different writers have a different take on the character.