March 10, 2012

Superman Saturday: Don't want no short people 'round here

Welcome! This week we return to the Superman serial "Emerald of the Incas," which we began last week.

The story so far: At the personal request of assistant editor Jay Hamlin, Clark has driven Hamlin's family friend Elsie Beecham to the family estate, Stone House, to see if they can ascertain the whereabouts of her father, Dr. George Haven Beecham, who broke contact and vanished after returning from an archaeological expedition to South America. At Stone House, Clark and Elsie were attacked—first by guard dogs, then a dark-skinned giant. As Superman, Clark made short work of both before he and Elsie entered the house. While Elsie waited in the library, Clark discovered Dr. Beecham hiding in an upstairs room, just before they heard Elsie scream for help . . .

Episode 24: Emerald of the Incas, Part 3 (1940/04/05)


Clark and Beecham rush into the library but find Elsie gone, apparently escaping through a broken door—or being taken. There is no sign of her outside. Dr. Beecham calls for his half-native servant Zingrid, but he too seems to have disappeared. Beecham again accuses Clark of putting Elsie into danger by bringing her to Brentwood.

And, frankly, he's right.1 Elsie's sole function in this story so far is to be the designated screamer. She has been attacked by mastiffs, a giant black man, and assailants unknown who took her hostage, all because Hamlin and Clark decided she had to come along for the ride—and because Clark continually left her alone while he went to investigate something or other. It's not even her fault. She caught the Distress Ball early in the game, and she hasn't been able to pass it on yet.

Anyway, Clark Kent again becomes Superman and takes to the air to search for Elsie. Wondering if the giant man he fought in the previous episode was involved, he checks out the treetop where he left him. Sure enough, the giant is gone. Then, Superman spots a car and, suspecting the driver might have had something to do with the situation, swoops down and yanks the driver right out of the speeding vehicle. The last time Superman went searching for escaping suspects in a car, he mistook a police car for a getaway car. Apparently, he hasn't learned not to make these arbitrary decisions. In spite of that, though, Supe is right—the terrified driver was hired by two "little brown guys" to drive them to Stone House. The "funny business" going on there—meaning the drumming, dogs, and giant—gave him the creeps, so he left in a hurry. Superman takes him for a quick flight just to put the fear of, um, Superman into him. Then, back on the ground outside Stone House, he quickly changes back into his Clark Kent outfit and severely warns him that none of it ever happened. Elsie must have fumbled the Distress Ball on the way out, and the hapless driver caught the intercept.

Beecham comes outside and reports that there is still no sign of Elsie. Suddenly, something flies past Clark's head. The Little Brown Guys are trying to kill them! Quickly the three men rush back into the house and take cover in the library. The taxi driver tells Clark and Beecham that the Little Brown Guys had had a piece of bamboo with them—a blowgun. Even a graze from one of their poison darts could mean the end!

Clark guesses that the Little Brown Guys must not have Elsie, otherwise they wouldn't be trying to shoot at them: they'd be using her as a hostage, instead. Vis-à-vis his logic, he doesn't show his work, though. It's just as likely that, after years of humorous stereotyping on the radio, they just want white people dead. As he pressures Beecham to tell him what they're really after, suddenly Beecham is struck by a dart and collapses!

A weakened Dr. Beecham tells Clark that he has a dose of serum in his pocket that will fight the poison, but it may already be too late for him. As Clark injects the fading archaeologist with the serum, he mutters: "The sacred emerald of the Incas—it may save the whole human race! The emerald . . . emerald . . ."

Is it too late to save Dr. Beecham?

What has happened to Elsie?

What is the "sacred emerald of the Incas," and are we ever going to find out why it merits an entire 6-part serial named after it?

The answers to all these questions and more are only a moment away, True Believers!

Episode 25: Emerald of the Incas, Part 4 (1940/04/08)


As this episode begins, the narrator informs the Faithful Listener that Dr. Beecham is recovering from the poison dart that struck him in the last program, and that the taxi driver has fled to the cellar of Stone House in fear. Neither of these things was hinted at in the previous episode. I guess they just couldn't let excitement and suspense get in the way of some good, straightforward exposition!

It's 2 am. Beecham revives, his poison antidote having done its work. He asks after Elsie, who is still missing. Clark repeats his unfounded theory that he doesn't believe the Little Brown Guys have her. Just then, there's a knock at the door. It's Elsie! (Hmmm. Turns out Clark was right after all.) With her is Beecham's servant Zingrid. It was him that rescued Elsie from the Little Brown Guys and saved her life. (OK, so they did, temporarily. Half a point to Clark.) Unfortunately, he is suffering from a bad case of dart poisoning and, as there is no more serum left, he dies.

Finally, Dr. Beecham tells his story. The Little Brown Guys are Aztlán Indians "from the headwaters of the Orinoco." (What's that you're saying? The Aztlán were Aztecs, not Incas, and lived in Mexico, not Brazil? Shuddup and stop making trouble, you.) While on his expedition, Beecham stole their sacred emerald, a stone larger than any known emerald, carved into an idol three inches wide and eight inches high. He has it hidden in his upstairs safe. Beecham believes that the emerald has mystical powers; the Aztlán were once known as the "Immortal People" because they possessed the emerald god. He is trying to decipher the mysterious engravings on the stone, which he believes may hold the secret to life itself.

Clark and Elsie try to persuade Beecham to work on the emerald's message at a museum or some other safe place. Just then, there's an explosion upstairs—the Little Brown Guys have blown the safe, and the house itself is starting to collapse around them!

The front stairs are blocked by debris, but Beecham and his daughter think they can head off the thieves at the back stairs. Part of the house collapses behind them, conveniently enabling Clark to turn into Superman once again and bash his way through the rubble on the front stairs. They meet again in the upper room where Beecham had been hidden, only to find the safe blown open and the emerald gone. Outside they hear the sound of a motor—the thieves are escaping in an autogyro!

Is the secret of the sacred emerald lost forever?

Will Superman get to beat up on more visible minorities?

Does anyone care about the driver in the cellar?

You'll have to wait until next Saturday to find out!


1BadPun™ footnote: Not to be confused with Frank Lloyd Wright. Though Dr. Beecham is clearly a man of Science!, he's an archaeologist, not an architect.2

2Foot-footnote: There. I've got it out of my system.