Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics [Blu-ray]
THE JOKER, LEX LUTHOR, CATWOMAN, DOOMSDAY, BANE. What makes them so thrillingly watchable? So terribly wonderful? So extremely vital to our super heroes and their worlds? This new feature-length documentary explores these questions across seven decades of DC Comics' hallowed Rogues' Gallery of infamous evildoers.
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Original Broadcast Dates: November 06, 1946-November 22, 1946
"The Disappearance of Clark Kent"
Beany Martin, head copy boy for the Daily Planet, has given cub reporter Jimmy Olsen an envelope from Clark Kent. The letter inside says that Kent is leaving, and he may never see Beany, Jimmy, editor Perry White and Lois Lane ever again. Frantic, Jimmy shows the paper to Lois and Perry. They learn that Clark went on a dangerous mission from which he might never return. Days pass without word from Kent. Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson and private detective Candy Meyers have had no luck in finding him.
It has been one week since Jimmy and the others read the mysterious letter from Clark. There is no news of his whereabouts until Doctor John Millicent, who had helped Superman in finding a way to detect Kryptonite and the Atom Man, calls Perry. He knows everything about Clark Kent's disappearance. Unfortunately, according to Millicent, Kent may possibly be dead.
Doctor Millicent elaborates on what he means as he speaks with Lois, Perry and Jimmy in the offices of the Daily Planet. He had contacted Clark in order to get in touch with Superman. Astronomer Doctor Bloomfield had discovered a new planet that he had named Apollo. The gases in its atmosphere make the world disappear from view from time to time. Not only that, Apollo is inhabited. Millicent and Bloomfield saw man-made canals on the surface as they watched Apollo through a powerful giant telescope. However, Apollo is doomed to be knocked out of its orbit and consumed by the sun. Should this happen, the Apollonians will perish. Only Superman can help these newly discovered aliens.
Superman had met with Doctors Millicent and Bloomfield at the Mount Arthur Observatory later that evening. They had shown the Man of Steel the location of Apollo. Superman, in an effort to protect his secret identity, then decides that Clark Kent will go with him to the alien world. He will find a way for the mild mannered reporter to survive space travel. Millicent, however, had agreed that if the Man of Tomorrow and Kent survive the voyage to Apollo, they will return within seventy-two hours, and seven days have passed. Have both Clark Kent and Superman been doomed to die on the planet Apollo?
Superman is on the surface of Apollo. A group of shaggy giants give him water to drink. The Man of Steel has lost his strength and is taken by the beings to meet two Apollonians, Kor and a scientist named Thain. A helmet is placed on Superman's head to aid him in understanding the aliens' words through telepathy. He tells them of the danger to the planet. Thain had predicted the demise of Apollo before, but he was ordered to keep his findings to himself. Now, with the Last Son of Krypton's assistance, the Apollonians will know of their home world's fate. Unfortunately, the liquid he consumed is called Stone Water, and it slowly turns people into statues. How can the mighty Superman aid this newly found race of people without his tremendous abilities?
Superman has been carried to Thain's hut and has slowly regained his ability to move. Thain is taking the Man of Steel to the temple of the Apollonian ruler the Raz to warn of the planet's danger, but the Man of Steel is getting weak again. Thain's daughter Lallo helps to get Superman back to the hut. A crescent-shaped lantern burning nearby helps him to gradually get back his power. However, only a select few can get the Sacred Oil within the lamp, but the Man of Tomorrow has a plan to get the liquid. He intends to speak with the Raz and his astrologers about Apollo's peril in exchange for the thing that can help him become strong again in order to rescue the Apollonian population. Suddenly, the hairy giants return. This time, they take Thain, Lallo and Superman to the Raz. Can they convince the Apollonian leader about the alien world's demise?
Superman is warning the Raz of the planet Apollo's demise, but he is being ridiculed as Thain was many times before when he predicted the same thing. The astrologers believe that Kal-El is a spirit of the dead. However, the Man of Steel's telling of Krypton's destruction makes the alien world's leader consider our hero's words. He, Thain and Lallo must wait for the Raz's judgement, which they later regret. Thain is ordered to drink the Stone Water, while Superman is to be imprisoned without the the Sacred Oil to give him any strength. What can the Man of Tomorrow do to prevent Apollo from suffering the same fate as that of his birth world?
Jimmy Olsen and Perry White are at the Mount Arthur Observatory speaking with Doctor John Millicent. They ponder the fate of both Clark Kent and Superman. Meanwhile, the latter in his true identity of the former is getting weaker within his cell on Apollo. Thain explains to him that the Raz uses the drug that creates the Stone Water to make the shaggy giants slaves that fear the ruler. The Apollonian is worried because he must drink the Stone Water at sunrise. The lack of the Sacred Oil then makes Superman lose consciousness, and Thain begins to lose hope until Lallo, with the aid of the large, hairy servant of the princess named Ord, helps them to escape in order to see the princess herself. Can they get to her quarters before anyone realizes that Thain and Superman have escaped?
The giant Ord is carrying the unconscious Superman and leading Lallo and Thain to the princess. Suddenly, the group hears that the gargantuan guards search for the escaped prisoners. Ord takes them to the Sacred Oil Pool, where they are overwhelmed by the Raz's slaves. During the fight, Superman falls to the ground. He then takes the massive, shaggy men by surprise and hurls a lantern into the Sacred Pool. His strength slowly returns, and he battles the Raz's henchmen. However, the Man of Steel falls into the liquid and sinks far below the surface as Lallo and Thain are taken to Apollo's ruler. What has happened to Superman?
Flames caused by the Sacred Oil are slowly consuming the Raz's temple. The Apollonian leader is about to throw Thain and Lallo into the fire when Superman lands near them. He is covered with the liquid that has given him back his strength. He then takes his alien allies to Thain's secret laboratory, where the scientist takes a sample of Apollo's atmosphere. Superman intends to take the sphere containing it back to Earth with him after bringing Thain and Lallo to the former's cousin's village. His flight begins in the nick of time because he feels his power slowly going away. Meanwhile, the Planet Apollo is moving closer to the sun. Can Superman prevent its destruction before it's too late for his friends?
Superman is flying to Earth when he feels his powers and abilities leave him. He is now being drawn toward the sun. Will the Man of Steel survive to save Apollo, or will he be destroyed?
Ten days have passed since Clark Kent and Superman left Earth for the planet Apollo. Jimmy Olsen and Perry White are looking over an article about Kent the latter has written for the next edition of the Daily Planet. Suddenly, the frantic Beany Martin asks them to follow him to Kent's office, where they all find the mild mannered reporter writing the story of Apollo. Superman has survived his trip in space, but he won't have time to discuss it with his friends. He must speak further with Doctor John Millicent.
Doctor Millicent has examined the Apollonian air sample Superman had with him. The scientist theorizes that the Krypton gas in the alien world's atmosphere could have caused Superman to weaken. However, something in the Sacred Oil brought back our hero's strength once it was burned. Millicent is thinking of a way to help Superman have his abilities on Apollo when a call from Doctor Bloomberg arrives. News from Bloomberg shocks both Millicent and Superman. The planet Apollo has left its orbit. Has it been destroyed by the sun before Superman could even save his friends Thain and Lallo?
While Millicent is working on an Anti-Krypton device for Superman, Thain and Lallo are in a cave on Apollo. It has become increasing hot on the alien world as the planet grows closer to the sun. Ord, the giant slave of the princess, tells them of the mountains where his people live crumbling. The trio can only watch as their home world is being destroyed. Meanwhile, Superman has a mask and tank full of oxygen and nitrogen that will help him save the Apollonians. Can he do this before Apollo has been pulled completely into the sun?
Doctor Millicent has done everything to convince Superman not to go back to Apollo, but he is unsuccessful. Despite Millicent's fears for the Man of Tomorrow's life, our hero feels he must save the Apollonians from destruction. However, Superman does give Millicent something. Should the Man of Steel not return by week's end, Millicent is to give an envelope to Perry White at the Daily Planet. The paper inside is extremely important.
As Superman rockets through space in search of the planet Apollo, the Raz is in his summer palace. He believes that the destruction of their world will make the people fear him less. His astrologers blame Thain and Superman for the catastrophe. The Raz's spies have not found either the scientist or the Man of Steel until one reports that the former is in the village of his cousin. The Raz then devises a devious plot that will make Thain believe that only he can save Apollo. The Raz even offers Thain his thrown. However, should he do what the Raz wants, Thain will be killed afterwards. Unfortunately, the scientist may be too late to help his people. An incredible quake is rocking the Raz's palace. Can Superman return to Apollo before it's completely destroyed?
Unknown to Thain and the Apollonians, Superman has found their world. He is using his great strength to dig tunnels into the planet's core and battling the gravitational forces. His efforts have rescued Apollo from certain doom, but celebration may be short-lived. The Raz is claiming credit for saving his people, and he plans to execute Thain and Lallo so they cannot reveal the truth. Will the mighty Superman be able to save his friends?
Superman is wearing the mask and tank created by Doctor Millicent along with the Apollonian telepathy helmet. He has gone to the village where he left Thain, Lallo and the giant Ord. Ord tells the Man of Tomorrow of the Raz's men taking Thain and Lallo to the tyrant's summer palace. Carrying Ord, Superman now flies in search of his friends. Meanwhile, the Raz is about to give Thain and Lallo the Stone Water. Ord and Superman arrive just in time to save them. While the giant Ord takes Lallo and Thain to safety, Superman defeats all of the leader's gargantuan slaves and knocks out the Raz and his astrologers. The Apollonians are free of tyranny and will give the Raz a fair trial for his crimes against his people.
Superman has once again saved the day. However, celebration won't last long for him. He has just remembered the envelope he left for Perry White. The message inside reveals that Superman is Clark Kent, and the editor of the Daily Planet is now opening it while Doctor Millicent is in his office. The contents of "The Secret Letter" will definitely bring us an exciting serial in The Adventures of Superman, gang. Be sure to tune in next week to see what happens.
Chapter Eight marks the end of the advertisements for Superman Crusader Ring from Kellogg's Pep, but a new offer for a third series of comic buttons begins with episode nine.
With a title like "The Disappearance of Clark Kent," one would expect a mystery that has the staff of the Daily Planet going everywhere to search for the mild mannered reporter and discovering the reason for his vanishing. Instead, what we get is a story that isn't as bad and irritating as "The Radar Rocket," but it's almost as ridiculous. This arc had me longing for Kurt Busiek and Joe Casey to return to the comic books.
There are so many directions a story with the title "The Disappearance of Clark Kent" could go. Unfortunately, the writers chose the worst one possible. Someone could have learned Clark's secret identity or kidnapped him because they didn't like his stories about a mob boss. (Kryptonite could be used in the story in case Superman tried to search for Kent.) Instead, we're given some science fiction serial with absurd events and objects. Why was this arc even allowed to see the light of day? This makes the worst sci-fi films look like they could win the Nobel Peace Prize For Physics.
Let me talk about one thing that bothered me the most. Now, I'm not sure when it was first established that Earth's yellow sun gives Superman his powers. My knowledge of the comic books before the 1970s is a bit sketchy on that particular fact, but thing that made Dan Jurgens' Superman/Aliens mini-series work for me was the fact Kal-El was too far from the sun to be strong enough to fight the beasts. In "The Disappearance of Clark Kent," Krypton gas in Apollo's atmosphere makes him weaker. This would make more sense had Millicent said that elements of Kryptonite were in the air.
One thing that always bugged me is when somebody uses Krypton in the place of the word Kryptonite. Years ago, a disc jockey for Yesterday USA, a radio station for which I used review comic books, had stated, "Superman becomes weak near Krypton." Needless to say, I nearly pulled my hair out when he said that. In every case, the whole Krypton gas thing was a bit far-fetched because Krypton is not Kryptonite. In addition to being the name of Superman's home world, Krypton, if I remember my science and periodic table correctly, is a noble (inert) gas. This is just one of the many things that make "The Disappearance of Clark Kent" a poorly written serial.
There is so much wrong with "The Disappearance of Clark Kent" that it would take me more pages than Stephen King's The Stand to list them all. There are two things I did like, however, about this serial. First, there was no trace of that imbecile Poco. Had he been in this story arc, the quality of it would reach subterranean levels. The second thing was Superman trying to protect his secret identity. How safe will it be when Perry White opens "The Secret Letter" that reveals that the Man of Steel is really Clark Kent? Be here in seven days or so, Superfans, to find out. Until next week, don't touch that dial, and remember or keep smiling and look up in the sky.