Superman: The Unauthorized Biography
Glen Weldon (Author)
A celebration of Superman's life and history - in time for his 75th birthday. How has the Big Blue Boy Scout stayed so popular for so long? How has he changed with the times, and what essential aspects of him have remained constant? This fascinating biography examines Superman as a cultural phenomenon through 75 years of action-packed adventures, from his early years as a social activist in circus tights to his growth into the internationally renowned demigod he is today.
Hardcover: 352 pages
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Original Broadcast Dates: January 29, 1946-February 14, 1946
"Is There Another Superman?"
A series of bank robberies in the outskirts of Metropolis have been committed by someone who apparently possesses superhuman strength. The vault doors were ripped open, and all the stolen money has been given to various charities. While taking a patient to the hospital, a witness named Doctor Trumble saw someone in a blue costume and red cape leave the Linhaven National Bank. Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, who are in reality Batman and Superman, are questioning the sheriff and the doctor. Clark is doubting his sanity, but Bruce says that it wasn't Superman who took the money.
The Linville sheriff has gotten a phone call saying that the European War Orphans' Relief Society in Metropolis has received the ten thousand dollars that was taken from the bank. The name of the Linhaven National Bank was on the card that came with the stolen money. Bruce and Clark return to Metropolis to speak with the secretary of the society, who is called Mister Keeler. He shows Clark and Bruce the card that came with the cash. Clark becomes stunned by what he has seen. The card is written in his handwriting.
Bruce is demanding an explanation as he and Clark are in Keeler's office. He begins writing the card's message on a piece of paper. He uses his left hand like he always does as Superman. He uses his right hand for Clark Kent's penmanship. Clark shows Bruce that the handwriting on the paper is identical to that on the card. Clark doesn't want to believe this, but Bruce theorizes that there is another Kryptonian on Earth.
Just then, Clark gets a headache. He's been getting them a lot recently for some reason. Kent and Wayne then decide to leave the European War Orphans' Relief Society, and Clark returns to his apartment.
The phone in Clark's apartment has been ringing for quite some time. Finally, at midnight, Clark answers it. He had fallen asleep in a chair while reading a newspaper. He awakened six hours later to hear Bruce Wayne's voice on the phone. Clark has never dozed off like this. The bank in Groveton has been robbed of twenty thousand dollars. The vault had been ripped open like the other robberies. Superman flies with Bruce to Groveton. Both men are surprised to hear what witnesses are saying after the Man of Steel dons his reporter's garb. The thief was seen in a red cape and blue costume like in Linhaven, but this time, he was flying away from the bank.
Witnesses are giving conflicting descriptions of the Superman Bank Robber. The only things that seem to coincide is the red cape and blue costume, the superhuman strength, the flight and the fact that the thief wore a mask. Bruce and Clark don't know where to go until Groveton's Constable Higby says that the stolen money was found in Benson City. Bruce and Clark arrive there to speak with Police Chief Morris and Mrs. Green, matron of the Benson City Old People's Home. Mrs. Green was given the Groveton Bank's money by the robber. Her description of the thief matched that given to Clark and Bruce by people in Groveton. She even says that the Superman Bank Robber flew away after giving her the cash.
Clark and Bruce have finished speaking with Mrs. Green. Clark thinks that he knows who the bandit is. When he and Bruce are alone, Clark says that he himself committed the crimes of the bank robber, and he's been doing it as Superman. Clark explains what he means after much debate between himself and Bruce. After his exposure to the Kryptonite radiation of the Atom Man and Mister Jones' cyclotron, Clark has been suffering from headaches, and he's been dozing off a lot. This has caused him to be in a kind of haze at times. Bruce dismisses Kent's theory by saying that there has to be another Superman.
Bruce and Clark are now in a diner looking at a map of the state while eating. Wayne marks the cities in which the bank robberies had occurred. The path of the areas form a partial circle. There are two other towns that will complete the pattern - Sommerset and Lourdeville. To prove that there is another Kryptonian, Batman and Robin will patrol Sommerset while Superman goes to Lourdeville. If the other Man of Steel comes to either city's bank, he can be captured by the heroes. Should Batman and Robin need help fighting the false Superman in Sommerset, they will call the real Man of Tomorrow through a walkie-talkie and vice versa.
Batman and Robin are watching over the bank in Sommerset. They see a man in a blue costume, red cape and mask land in front of the financial institution. The Boy Wonder calls Superman on the walkie-talkie, but the masked bandit hears him and approaches the Dynamic Duo. The Superman Robber throws Batman and Robin around like a pair of rag dolls. The Caped Crusaders then try their best to catch up to him, but the superhuman thief leaps into the air and disappears.
After having no success in contacting Superman, Batman and Robin take the Batmobile to Sommerset. They don't find the Man of Steel until he lands in front of them. He had flown to investigate something he saw in the sky because nothing was happening at the bank until the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder had shown up. The Man of Steel listens to Batman and Robin recount their fight with the bank robber. They even say of their trying to call Superman before and after the battle. The Man of Tomorrow claims to not have heard any call from the Caped Crusaders, and the walkie-talkie is on his back. Thinking that the radio might not be working, Batman and Superman test it. It functions properly leaving the Dynamic Duo to wonder why their friend didn't come to their aid in Lourdeville.
Batman and Superman are trying to ponder the situation. Superman even asks about if the other Superman used his voice. However, Batman and Robin both say that the other Man of Steel did not speak. The heroes then continue to guard the Lourdeville Bank until sunrise.
Our heroes go to speak with Doctor Alfred Helper, director of the Metropolis Hospital, the next morning in their guises of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. Helper dismisses Clark's theory that sleeping spells and headaches can cause a change in Superman's personality. Clark is somewhat relieved until he sees a newspaper story. Metropolis Police Inspector William Henderson has evidence of the bank robber's identity, and according to what authorities have, he is none other than Superman himself.
Clark and Bruce are in Inspector Henderson's office. He has shown them the notes that have come with the stolen cash for the various charities. Each card has handwriting matching that of an autograph that Superman had given to Jimmy Olsen. Henderson wants to make this evidence public knowledge, but Clark convinces him that he and Bruce can produce the real bank robber in twenty-four hours. If they don't, Clark will give Henderson Superman.
Bruce and Clark are taking a taxi cab while the mild mannered reporter explains himself. While everything is still rather vague in his mind, Kent believes that someone is trying to frame the Man of Steel. Clark has a plan. If he and Batman cannot trap the real thief tonight, Superman is ruined.
While private detective Candy Meyers and his men investigate Sommerset, Batman, Robin and Superman guard the Lourdeville Bank. They try to call Candy on the walkie-talkie, but Robin had pressed the receiving key for the radio instead of the one for sending. This also explains why Superman never heard Robin call when the super strong thief had attacked them last night. Candy does not see any sign of the robber.
Superman has just seen the same humanoid shape in the sky that he had seen in Sommerset. Leaving Batman and Robin to guard the Lourdeville Bank, he follows it into the clouds. Thirty minutes later, the Caped Crusaders get the shock of their lives. The other Superman has landed in front of the bank. It looks like the real Man of Steel has met his match.
Batman and Robin follow the costumed thief into the basement vault of the Lourdeville Bank. Robin tries to bound the robber's feet while Batman tries to tackle him. The Dark Knight ends up being hurled head-first into the safe door. Batman is now unconscious.
Superman has just awakened Batman, but both caped heroes find no sign of Robin. Batman is grief stricken. The Superman Robber quite possibly has captured the Boy Wonder.
In hopes of finding clues to the whereabouts of Robin, Superman shows Batman that the bank robber is not another Superman. The human shape that the Man of Steel had followed was a cleverly camouflaged dirigible that had a motorized wench and rope ladder. The thief had used them to simulate Superman's power of flight. The pilot of the airship had parachuted away and later fell to his death before the Man of Tomorrow could catch up to him. All that is needed to find the masked thief and Robin.
Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne are in Inspector Henderson's office the following morning. The twenty-fours hours for them to capture the Superman Bank Robber have not expired. Bruce is distraught over the disappearance of Dick Grayson. He is begging Henderson to find the boy. There has been no sign of Dick and no sightings of the dirigible.
Clark gives Henderson a theory. The bank robberies have been a way of discrediting Superman. The group responsible is planning a bigger heist. It's just a matter of figuring out where it will happen.
Clark and Bruce are helping Candy Meyers investigate the Lourdeville Bank further. Clark mentions a faint odor like burning coffee that he had smelled last night. A call from Robin is then broadcast on the walkie-talkie that Batman had given Candy. The Boy Wonder had followed the false Superman in order to learn of the thief's hideout. Robin is somewhere south of Highway 17-A. Unfortunately, the lad was spotted, and the call has been cut off before he could tell Clark and Bruce which city he was near.
Superman and Batman are now searching for Robin. They spot his walkie-talkie in some tall grass. There are six bullet holes in the radio. The Boy Wonder has possibly met with a cruel fate. Or has he? Superman and Batman find him in some dense woods south of the highway. Robin then tells them that the super strong robber and those working with him were worried when the dirigible failed to pick up the Superman impersonator. However, they still plan to steal fifty million dollars even without the airship.
Superman, Batman and Robin are searching the old farmhouse and barn that served as the bank robbers' hideout for clues about where the thieves will get fifty million dollars. Superman remembers something while the trio is looking at a map of the state. If he's right, he'll be able to confront his impersonator and stop the theft of the money with the help of Batman and Robin.
Batman, Robin and Superman are in the Daily Planet library. They find in the special Christmas magazine that the Metropolis Bank Note Corporation will cease printing paper money on February 13, which is today. The corporation has printed currency since the American Revolution and has done a total of fifty million dollars since this Christmas. The money is now in the underground vaults.
Superman, Batman and Robin are now guarding the Metropolis Bank Note Corporation. They find nothing for hours until Superman sees his impersonator and his partners in crime in some sewer tunnels under the building. Batman and Robin take care of the six gunmen while the Man of Steel takes care of his imitator.
The man impersonating Superman is really a Russian named Boris. He was tricked by George Simpson, one of the men knocked out by Batman and Robin, into robbing the banks. Boris had used an aluminum cylinder with cables and a battery to bend steel bars and tear open the vault doors. When the case later went to trial, the judge realized that Boris had been duped. The strong Russian is now in the custody of Clark Kent, who has given Boris a job running the printing presses of the Daily Planet.
Jimmy Olsen is using Lois Lane's office while she's out of town. Poco, Perry White's fat, rhyming chef, has called the cub reporter. An inventor named Professor Twiddle wants Poco and Jimmy to meet him at 2:30 PM. He wants them to take a trip to the moon with him in "The Radar Rocket" next week, boys and girls. Be sure to tune in then for this unusual serial in The Adventures of Superman.
"Is There Another Superman?" is one of those serials that works better when one listens to the entire story arc rather than playing individual chapters. Certain episodes tend to drag when heard separately. Perhaps if some things had been edited or cut a bit the saga would be a little better. For example, more could have been done in the area of making the police and citizens of Metropolis believe Superman was guilty of the bank robberies. The problems that parts of "Is There Another Superman?" have also make the ending feel sudden and like it's come out of nowhere. The editing I had mentioned before could have allowed for the writers to improve the conclusion.
The rest of "Is There Another Superman?" is very good despite the serial's flaws. We're given an intense mystery that makes everyone involved, including our Kryptonian protagonist, wonder if Superman's going mad or if there is another person from Krypton on Earth. The audience is left to think anything from mind control to sleepwalking made the Man of Steel become the Man of Steal. I found this to be a very entertaining aspect of the story.
Clark/Superman's headaches throughout "Is There Another Superman?" were explained very well and plausible when one considers that he had been exposed to Kryptonite by the Scarlet Widow, Der Teufel, the Atom Man, the Laugher and Mister Jones. We are lead to believe that this long term exposure has some lingering effects on our hero. This shows a tight continuity that isn't negated or messed with by certain facts pulled out of the blue like in some issues of Kurt Busiek's run on the comics in 2008. Point A gets to Point B in a clear and precise manner without confusing the listener, and this is great.
One thing I noticed in "Is There Another Superman?" is the fact the Batman in the radio show is different from the Cowled Crusader of the current comics. The radio version is ready to find Superman innocent of any crime, but the comic book Batman would be distrusting of the Man of Steel until he had proof that somebody else had committed any crimes. Batman in this serial cried when he believed Robin had been killed. The Dark Knight of this time period would remain stone-faced and wait for evidence to show him that it's really his partner that had died. Okay, you're all going to say, "What about Jason Todd?" First, he came back from the dead. Secondly, it was Jason's death that made Batman more emotionally distant in my opinion. In every case, it's interesting to see that these versions of the character are as different as night and day.
I must admit that I cringe in horror for next week's serial, "The Radar Rocket," which will feature the irritating Poco. However, I'll still be here in seven days or so to review it. Who knows? It might still be good despite the annoying rhymes. We'll find out together, Superfans. Until we meet again, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.