Friday, February 3, 2017
Friday's Favorite OTR
The Adventures of Superman: "The Dead Voice," 9/26/46-10/16/46
One of the interesting things about Superman on radio was just how well-constructed the show was as a straight mystery. Clark Kent, less of an overt wimp than he was portrayed in the comics at the time, was a skilled investigative reporter, following clues in a straightforward and logical matter as he looked into a case.
In fact, Superman rarely encountered a super-powered threat in the series (though this did happen on a few memorable occasions). Most of the time, he was busy busting up fairly normal criminal rackets. He spent a lot of time exposing crooked politicians and city officials, with a nice emphasis on how corruption really hurts the poorer citizens of Metropolis.
In "The Dead Voice," Superman teams up with Batman--something that occured a number of times on the radio show in the late 1940s. In this particular version of Superman's universe, Batman lived in Metropolis rather than Gotham City, making their occasional team-ups more convenient and believable.
This time, Bruce Wayne calls in Clark Kent to help with a rather puzzling mystery. Bruce's ward Dick Grayson (alias Robin) was receiving threatening phone calls and letters. The real mystery is that the person making the threats was supposed to have died in prison two weeks earlier!
It's a well-plotted, solid mystery, with Clark and Bruce investigating the threats. Sometimes they're in their civilian identies and sometime they are in their superhero identities--depending on the particular situation. The case takes a turn for the worse when Dick Grayson and Jimmy Olson are both kidnapped.
Great storytelling throughout. Back then, it wasn't automatically assumed that children were wimps, so there was no hesitation in dropping an occasional dead body into the mix as the story progresses. At the same time, the violence is not particularly graphic or overly horrific--it's just a natural part of a story that respects the intelligence of its young listeners. The producers and writers of The Adventures of Superman never talked down to their audience. Consequently, it remains excellent entertainment for both kids and adults seven decades later.
Click HERE to listen or download the first episode. The entire serial is available HERE.