Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews

1947: Superman Versus Kryptonite

Reviewed by: James Lantz

Original Broadcast Dates: May 14, 1947-June 27, 1947

"Superman Versus Kryptonite"

"Just mention one word to Superman - Kryptonite."

These are the words a recently paroled Big George Latimer said to Clark Kent in the reporter's office at the Daily Planet. The racist political boss found a piece of the deadly meteor thanks to a deathbed confession from the Laugher, who had purchased some from the Scarlet Widow in an effort to destroy Superman some time ago. Latimer now clearly wants to meet with the Man of Steel. However, Kent becomes enraged and grabs the hate monger. He seems to want to kill Latimer until Lois Lane enters the room. She wonders what has gotten into Clark once the bigot leaves, but the mild mannered reporter doesn't want to answer any questions from Lois and editor Perry White. Clark flies out the window as Superman while Lois gets the chief. The Man of Steel has gone to the woods to ponder his options. At the same time, George Latimer tells Lois via Clark's office phone that if he doesn't see Superman by 10:00 tonight, there will be trouble.

Clark Kent is speaking with Bruce Wayne, who is in reality Batman. He agrees to help him get the Kryptonite from George Latimer and destroy it. As Clark and Bruce continue discuss their plan, a police officer arrests Kent. Perry White later reveals that Clark's being in prison was the only way for the chief to find him. Lois Lane then shows the mild mannered reporter a shocking article in the Daily Star claiming that Superman had framed and blackmailed Latimer. The Man of Steel is to meet the former political boss in front of an audience tomorrow night to discuss the charges. That night, Superman flies over Big George Latimer's home. However, after he enters through the window, Latimer awakens and knocks open the lead box of Kryptonite. Has the Man of Steel signed his own death warrant?

Big George Latimer is leering at the sight before him. Superman has collapsed as result of being exposed to Kryptonite. Putting the lethal substance away, the former political boss challenges the Man of Tomorrow to deny the accusations against him in an auditorium tomorrow night. Afterwards, our hero takes Perry White's advice and decides to face his foe. Not seeing the deadly meteor while in his guise of Clark Kent the following evening, our hero decides to confront Latimer in his true identity of the Last Son of Krypton. What Superman does not realize is that Big George Latimer does actually have the Kryptonite. The Man of Steel may meet his doom in front of thousands of people.

Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are in the audience as George Latimer claims that he can bring the Man of Steel to his knees. The Dynamic Duo is pushing through the crowd as Superman approaches his nemesis. Every moment is tense as our hero gets closer to Latimer. Suddenly, the former political boss presses a lever that opens a lead lined microphone. From within the device is the jagged, glowing green fragment of Kryptonite. Big George Latimer seems to have gained the upper hand in his battle with Superman.

Pandemonium has occurred in the auditorium. Batman and Robin are taking on some of Latimer's men. The Boy Wonder, in the confusion, brings down the stage curtains. This buys Superman some time to escape the Kryptonite. Despite public opinion now pointing in Latimer's direction, Superman explains to Robin (Batman knows this already.) about the effects of the meteor has on his person and of the Scarlet Widow's selling four pieces of it to a quartet the Man of Steel's enemies. All fragments were believed to be destroyed. However, no evidence of the Laugher's chunk's demise was ever found. Now, Batman and Robin intend to help their friend by taking the Kryptonite from George Latimer. Can they succeed in helping the Man of Tomorrow, or will the crooked political boss have the Dynamic Duo trapped in his web of deceit?

Batman and Robin are now hidden under George Latimer's bed. The Boy Wonder suddenly has to sneeze. Latimer hears this and calls his men to search his room. Batman and Robin avoid the thugs by going into the shadows of the roof. Once they deal with Latimer's people, the Dynamic Duo re-enters the house through the basement. In the subterranean level of Latimer's home, they hear a throaty growl of a large mastiff dog. Batman and Robin are trapped.

Superman has arrived in time to prevent Latimer's canine from attacking Robin. He then orders the Dynamic Duo to go home. The Man of Steel will meet his friends later. Some hours afterwards, the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder become worried and return to Latimer's mansion only to be arrested. They later explain to Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson that they went back to look for Superman and the Kryptonite. Along with Henderson, the Caped Crusaders search George Latimer's home. They find nothing, which worries Batman. Superman has not turned up. Big George Latimer may have eliminated him.

George Latimer is angry and has thrown Inspector Henderson, Batman and Robin out of his home after Superman had not been seen in the political boss' home. He tells them that he believes that the Caped Crusaders were attempting to save the Man of Steel's reputation. Knowing that the Kryptonite will only weaken Superman, Batman believes that Latimer will attempt to find the true method of killing our hero while he is exposed to glowing meteor fragment. The Dark Knight and his partner take the Batmobile back to Latimer's mansion in hopes that the bigot will lead them to Superman. However, the Dynamic Duo may be too late. Blake, Latimer's assistant, is taking his employer to the hideout where the Man of Tomorrow is being kept. Latimer will stop at nothing to terminate his superhuman foe.

The Batmobile is following the station wagon carrying Bake and Latimer, The headlights of the shadowy vehicle have been seen. Latimer and Blake double back to the highway. This doesn't stop the Dynamic Duo from pursuing them. The crooked political boss has a plan. Once he and Blake stop at a curve hidden by some trees near Bill Anderson's farm, he will be rid of Batman and Robin for good.

Latimer and Blake have pushed their station wagon off a nearby cliff into the river. Batman and Robin see the vehicle crash, but, upon closer examination, they don't find the bodies of the two men. Now, the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder must find where Big George Latimer is keeping Superman. Meanwhile, Latimer himself is in a secluded mill confronting his prisoner. Despite being weakened by the Kryptonite, the Man of Steel is still determined to stop the corrupted political boss. In the meantime, Latimer is more eager than ever to bring about the end of Superman.

The Kryptonite is still weakening Superman, but bullets, fire, poison and a knife fail to kill him. George Latimer then stumbles upon the means of eliminating his foe thanks to a phrase the Man of Steel utters about bread and hope. Latimer now intends to starve Superman to death as Batman, Robin and Alfred Pennyworth, the Dynamic Duo's butler, search for their ally with the Batmobile and Batplane. The aircraft is currently flying over the old mill. Can Superman signal his friends before he meets his end?

As George Latimer continues to deprive the Man of Steel of food and water, the Batplane piloted by Batman is circling the old mill. Latimer's men have shot one of the engines of the aircraft. Superman writhes helplessly in anguish because he is unable to help his friend. Robin and Alfred are in the Batmobile just a few miles away from the structure where our hero is being held prisoner, but they may be too late to save their comrades. Superman is too weak to move, and the Batplane has crashed. Batman may have been killed by Big George Latimer.

Robin and Alfred have found Batman as they are just two miles away from the old mill. Batman and Robin then go to the secluded building as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson only to find George Latimer and his men have taken Superman and the Kryptonite to an unknown location. Later, Latimer is in the barn of a farm. In the hay loft, the Man of Tomorrow is still weakened by the deadly, green meteor. Doctor Marsh, a former Nazi scientist who has studied a sample of the Kryptonite, says something that could literally mean the death of our hero:

"In a few hours, I can have you free of Superman - forever!"

Doctor Marsh has shown Latimer a colorless liquid made from a Kryptonite sample. If Superman ingests it, he will fail to remember anything about his life. Six drops of the solution must be put in water or milk every two hours for a day in order for it to work. However, Superman refuses to drink the milk containing the serum, and Latimer forces it down the Man of Steel's throat. Meanwhile, Batman has told Perry White that Latimer has kidnapped both Clark Kent and Superman with the aid of the Kryptonite. Private detective Candy Meyers then calls the Dark Knight with a clue to the Man of Tomorrow's whereabouts. It looks like Batman might be able to rescue Superman.

Candy Meyers and Batman are waiting for Robin to bring a cattle farmer named Mister Wilkins, who witnessed Latimer's men leave the old mill with Superman. Meanwhile, Superman has no recollection of his identity after only two doses of Doctor Marsh's Kryptonite solution. He is even dressed in overalls instead of his trademark red and blue costume. Latimer is pleased with the results, but he must leave for Metropolis. At the same time, Wilkins tells Batman and Candy that Latimer possibly took Superman in the direction of Maple Creek. At that moment, a thunderstorm has made a tree hit the roof of the barn in which Superman is located. This knocks the Kryptonite away from him. The Man of Steel's tremendous strength has returned to him, but unfortunately, his memory has not. Only Batman and Robin can help him now. Will they get to Superman in time?

A frantic search on a stormy night is now going on for both Clark Kent and Superman. Perry White and Inspector Henderson are in George Latimer's mansion questioning him while the political boss and Doctor Marsh must find the Man of Steel in order to complete the treatments to completely erase his memory. Batman and Robin had discovered where Marsh was hiding with Latimer's men while the racist was in Metropolis. Little does everyone realize that the person whom they are seeking is wandering the countryside. Superman may never recover from his ordeal.

Lois Lane and Perry White are looking for Clark Kent while George Latimer's private detectives set a trap for the Man of Steel, Superman, who says his name is Bud, was placed in a small village's prison. Al McGuire, a detective who works for Latimer, later calls to say that he will offer five thousand dollars to hand the Man of Steel over and keep the news of this out of the news because McGuire claims our hero is from a rich family. The local constable accepts to give Superman to the sleuth unaware that he has just handed him over for more memory treatments.

George Latimer is pretending to be Superman's father. He is shocked to see that the Man of Steel has escaped from prison by bending the bars. He later finds himself in Gainesville, where he gets a job as a baseball player for the Gainesville Colts after saving the manager from being injured. Some days afterwards, Jimmy Olsen shows Perry White a copy of The Gainesville Bugle. The cub reporter is thoroughly convinced that Bud Smith is none other than Clark Kent himself.

Jimmy and Perry are in Gainesville watching a baseball game. Young Olsen still believes that Bud Smith is Clark Kent. Perry soon is agreement once he and the lad are near the door of the players' dressing room. They greet him. Superman's clouded mind almost remembers, but he seems to have forgotten them. Perry and Jimmy are discouraged despite noticing something about his voice. Meanwhile, Al McGuire, Latimer's detective, has found Superman and contacted his boss. Perry and Jimmy can do nothing to help because they are returning to Metropolis. Big George Latimer may yet succeed in his plot against our hero.

McGuire and George Latimer have just learned that Bud Smith will now be playing for the Metropolis Titans. Frantic, they sneak aboard the train carrying Superman. Latimer later approaches the door of the Man of Tomorrow's compartment. In his hands is an opened lead box containing a jagged green, glowing piece of Kryptonite. The political boss is now one step closer to dealing with his enemy.

Al McGuire is wise to Latimer's plans for Superman and wants a quarter of a million dollars to keep quiet. After much conflict, the political boss reluctantly agrees to the detective's terms provided that McGuire helps him get Bud Smith off the train before it reaches Metropolis. The pair has now entered the Man of Steel's compartment, and Big George Latimer has exposed him to Kryptonite once again. All hope seems lost for Superman.

George Latimer and Al McGuire have been stopped from taking Superman off the train despite saying they were aiding Bud Smith. The conductor throws them off the locomotive for their fighting earlier. Desperate, the political boss charters a plane to get to Metropolis before Superman does. However, the bigot may be too late. The Man of Steel is starting to see shadows of his memory, particularly the green glow of Kryptonite.

As more pieces of the events of the past few days return to him, Superman arrives in Metropolis. Big George Latimer sees him, but he's stopped when he sees Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. The pair of Daily Planet reporters notice similarities to Clark Kent in baseball player Bud Smith, but his voice, while familiar, is different to that of the mild mannered reporter. Lois sees a story on Smith's not knowing about his life before playing for the Gainesville Colts and offers to drive him to the ball park. Latimer, overhearing this, will make sure, Lois, Jimmy and Superman never make it to their destination.

Using his men to act like a road is closed, Latimer intends to trap Lois, Jimmy and Superman. However, one person lets them through. In the meantime, Latimer and McGuire wait for their targets while Bud Smith begins to confide in Lois and Jimmy about his memory loss. Suddenly, as all ways in and out are blocked again, a large truck is about to ram Lois' car into a ditch. Will Big George Latimer succeed in capturing the Man of Steel again?

Bud Smith, not knowing that he is Superman, has pushed the oncoming truck causing it to fall backwards. Latimer is angered by this and must now figure out a new plan to get Superman. Meanwhile, after making sure Jimmy is okay after the incident, Lois goes to see Candy Meyers. He intends to find out if Bud Smith is Clark Kent with Lois and Jimmy's help at tonight's baseball game, where George Latimer, who has made sure Al McGuire was eliminated, will also be to make sure Superman never regains his memory. By midnight tonight, the Man of Steel will no longer a thorn in the racist's side.

Bud Smith is playing his first game for the Metropolis Titans. Candy is telling Lois and Jimmy that he has a set of Clark Kent's fingerprints, and he intends to see if Bud's match those of the mild mannered reporter. Candy, Jimmy and Lois are to meet Smith after the game. Suddenly, the lights in the ball park go out. After they come back on, Candy and the others go to the Titans' clubhouse, where they learn that Bud Smith has disappeared. Big George Latimer has achieved his goal of capturing Superman once again.

Candy is telling Batman of the events that occurred during the baseball game. Both men know that George Latimer was at the ball park and believe that the political boss has taken Clark Kent. Candy, Batman and Robin are searching Latimer's mansion. However, they find nothing and nobody there. Meanwhile in a bungalow nearby, Doctor Marsh and Latimer have placed the Kryptonite near Superman while they prepare another glass of milk with the memory loss solution. They might very well succeed in conquering the Man of Tomorrow.

As Doctor Marsh prepares to give more of his memory loss serum to Superman, a frantic search for Bud Smith goes on throughout Metropolis. Punchy, one of Latimer's men who was sent by Marsh for milk and is a Metropolis Titans fan, is having second thoughts about his working to keep Smith prisoner. He drunkenly laments about this in Charlie Ross' lunch wagon. Charlie later calls Batman after Punchy leaves. Now, the Dark Knight might have a clue to Superman's whereabouts.

Batman and Robin and George Latimer are all searching for Punchy. The Dynamic Duo must go to someone called the Book Keeper to find the thug. While Latimer has the intention of killing Punchy. Batman and Robin are talking with the Book Keeper in his cigar store. Batman says that he knows all about the Keeper's crimes. If the man doesn't talk, the Dark Knight will tell everything to Inspector Henderson. The Book Keeper sends Batman and Robin to 418 West River Street. Will they get there before Latimer's hired killer catches up to Punchy?

Punchy has been stabbed by one of Latimer's men. However, he is able to confess Bud Smith's location to Batman and Robin before his death. The Dynamic Duo and Inspector Henderson arrive at the address, but neither George Latimer nor Bud Smith are anywhere to be found. The bungalow is empty and it looks like Latimer has outsmarted the Dark Knight once again.

As Big George Latimer and Doctor Marsh give Superman another dose of the Kryptonite memory loss solution in their farm hideout, Batman and Robin disobey Inspector Henderson and search Marsh's bungalow. Thy find the scientist's diary and German driver's license to discover that Marsh's real name is Gerhardt Marshack, who was a Nazi surgeon that performed experiments on Jewish concentration camp prisoners. Knowing that they saw Marsh at a farm a month ago when Superman and Clark Kent disappeared, The Dynamic Duo races in the Batmobile to help their ally. The Dark Knight and his partner seem to be one step closer to rescuing the Man of Steel.

Batman and Robin have hidden the Batmobile in the woods and have fought with Latimer's gunmen. They are now in the basement of the farm house where Superman is being held prisoner. The Dark Knight knocks out Doctor Marsh while Robin takes away the Kryptonite. They then attempt to awaken the Man of Steel. The Dynamic Duo succeeds, but Superman is unaware of his identity. Latimer's thugs are closing in on our heroes. Will this be the end of Batman and Robin?

Despite having no memory, Superman helps Batman and Robin. Taking the Dark Knight's advice, the Man of Steel flies through the basement ceiling into the sky. The cold rushes of air revive the Last Son of Krypton's mind. Superman is now fully aware of his identity. He brings Batman and Robin back to Latimer's farm house hideout only to find that the political boss, Doctor Marsh and some of Latimer's men were killed when the building collapsed as Superman flew away. Now, the Metropolis Marvel takes the lead box containing the Kryptonite and launches it into the ocean. George Latimer and the Kryptonite are no longer a threat to Superman, but he must face his colleagues at the Daily Planet as Clark Kent. Fortunately, he pretends to still weak from his month long bout with amnesia to avoid any embarrassing questions that may compromise his secret identity. All is well once again for Superman, but a new mystery arrives in Metropolis. Be here for "The Secret Rocket," gang, the next exciting serial in The Adventures of Superman.

Trivia:

After this serial, The Adventures of Superman took a break for summer vacation. The show returned to the air on September 29, 1947.

With thirty-three chapters, "Superman Versus Kryptonite" is the longest of the existing Superman radio serials.

Kryptonite has been a thorn in Superman's side since it first appeared in the radio serials. However, it would not appear in the comic books until 1949. An unpublished story by Jerry Siegel called "The K-Metal From Krypton" featured a prototype for the meteor before its starting out in The Adventures of Superman.

Once again, the Scarlet Widow is mistakenly referred to as the Black Widow. This time, Superman calls her by that name.

The Daily Star newspaper is mentioned in this serial. That was the name of the periodical for which Lois Lane and Clark Kent worked in the early Superman and Action Comics tales of the Man of Steel by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. It was later named the Daily Planet in the comics after the radio show became popular. Both the Daily Star and its editor George Taylor would eventually return in stories that took place on Earth Two, a parallel world in which Lois and Clark work for the Metropolitan daily of the characters' humble beginnings.

Review:

Superman is put through the ringer, and we get the unexpected return of an old enemy in "Superman Versus Kryptonite." Given that this serial is thirty-three chapters, I expected that the story would jump all over the place of lose sight of its topic. I was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly everything went as each episode progressed. The whole saga was fun from start to finish.

Admittedly, I was rather irritated by the fact that the Scarlet Widow was called the Black Widow on two occasions. The first of which was at the end of last week's serial. Granted, it had been roughly two years since that character appeared, but I still think the writers should have paid more attention to this sort of thing. Such a blatant blunder was bound to be noticed by the listeners who had heard "The Scarlet Widow" back in 1945. This blooper doesn't take anything away from "Superman Versus Kryptonite" at all. It's still am entertaining story. I just felt the issue needed to be addressed.

Some dangling plot threads from 1945 are finally resolved in "Superman Versus Kryptonite." The rushed nature of the ending of "Looking For Kryptonite." left one feeling that the deadly meteor that robbed the Man of Steel of his tremendous powers and abilities would one day return despite the belief that is was destroyed. Kryptonite returned in a big way with this gem from 1947. "Looking For Kryptonite" has redeemed itself in my eyes (or should I say ears?) after hearing this serial. I had felt that more could be said or done with the conclusion of "Looking," but "Superman Versus Kryptonite" finishes what the final chapter of "Looking" started. Loose ends are tied up nicely as Superman hurls the lead box containing the glowing, green rock in the ocean, but will someone find it to use against our hero once again? Only time will tell.

One thing that I was pleasantly surprised about in "Superman Versus Kryptonite" was the evolution of the character of George Latimer. Sure, he's still a conniving bigot, but he seems more focused on revenge against Superman than on his normal hate mongering activities. One might even go as far to say that Superman had become Latimer's white whale. This is one of the many aspects that make this serial one of the best from 1947. I hope more story arcs are as good as this one.

While the cast and crew went on a break for the summer until September 29, 1947, we'll return here in seven days or so for "The Secret Rocket." In the meantime, go to your comic shop and but Justice Society of America and more of the "New Krypton" story. You'll be glad you did. See you next week, Superfans. Until then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.



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