Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1947: Hunger, Inc.Reviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: December 27, 1947-January 13, 1948
With Joe Solitaire defeated, a new mystery pops up for Superman and his friends. A young refugee boy named Tony Amatto had called Lois Lane for help. However, the star reporter had said that she was too busy. Lois was later contacted by the boy's aunt. Young Tony is now believed to be dead, and Lois apparently caused the lad's demise. Superman has searched Canyon Gorge only to find Tony's hat and coat. There is no trace of a body anywhere. As we continue, the Man of Steel is in his guise of Clark Kent. Kent is in Lois' apartment speaking of his findings with her and cub reporter Jimmy Olsen. Lois then explains that Tony had wanted to talk to her about food parcels going to poor children in Europe, including the young man's brother and sister.
Clark and Jimmy are on West Second Street talking with Tony's aunt and uncle. Tony had become worried when some food packages had not arrived in Europe. The owner of Brigham's Wholesale Grocery on River Street, for whom Tony had worked, continues by saying that Tony had said that his brother and sister had not received any boxes from the hunger drive. Mister Brigham had said that deliveries take time. Afterwards, Tony had not come home from work. Clark believes that the boy is still alive, and Jimmy thinks that Mister Brigham is responsible for Tony's disappearance. The cub reporter may be correct. A night watchman, at the risk of his own life, has just revealed that he knows what has happened to Tony Amatto. The security guard is not the only one in danger. Jimmy is walking to meet him later that night, but he may get caught in a trap as two men wait to attack him. Will Superman be able to save his pal?
Copy boy Beany Martin and Clark Kent are worried about Jimmy. Neither Lois nor Jimmy's mother have heard from him since he had left the Daily Planet offices. Superman has begun an intense search for the cub reporter only to find Will Juddson, the night watchman for Brigham's Wholesale Grocery. The old man had been stabbed in a nearby warehouse. His weakened voice gives the Man of Steel part of a name with the word "Monk" in it. The Last Son of Krypton rushes the security guard to the hospital. Unfortunately, our hero was too late. Will Juddson is dead. There may be no way to find Jimmy Olsen and Tony Amatto now.
Neither Clark nor Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson have gotten any further in their investigation of the whereabouts of Jimmy and Tony. Jonas Brigham has told them a bit about the organization that takes the food parcels going to Europe, but he does not know anyone named Monk. Meanwhile, Monk is discussing the death of Will Juddson and the capture of Jimmy Olsen with his boss named Diamonds. Diamonds intends to interrogate the cub reporter and then, kill him. Superman will have to learn more in order to rescue Jimmy.
Hoping to learn more about Monk, Clark asks Lois to get a job doing light packing at Jonas Brigham's warehouse. Meanwhile, Diamonds has just questioned Jimmy in the offices of the Metropolis Trucking Company. Now, he intends to eliminate Jimmy Olsen and Tony Amatto by dumping them in the river when the next boat leaves with the next shipment of food for Europe. At the same time, Lois has told Clark that she is now working in Brigham's facility. She might be in as much danger as Jimmy very soon.
Jimmy is locked in a room with Tony Amatto. The refugee has told the cub reporter that Diamonds and his gang work in the black market selling food intended for the poor in Europe. Tony had received a letter from his brother and sister there stating that they were forced to pay high prices for packages intended to be free. When Tony had learned of Diamonds' involvement, he was taken and forced to write his siblings asking them to thank the people who had given them the parcels that they had received. Meanwhile, Lois has seen Monk arrive in his truck and has told everyone to the warehouse that the monkey-faced man sent her. The shipping foreman Roy Hanson gets suspicious and runs to ask Monk as he drives away. At the same time, Lois calls Clark to tell him to meet her at Inspector Henderson's office, but she may not get there. Monk has grabbed Lois. Now, she is in the same peril as Jimmy and Tony.
Clark and Inspector Henderson are now investigating the disappearance of Lois. Their questioning of the employees of the Brigham's Wholesale Grocery Warehouse gets them nowhere, but Clark's powerful X-ray vision and super hearing eventually witnesses something that could solve the case. He overhears Roy Hanson threaten Gladys Smith, a co-worker of Lois Lane's. Both Clark and Inspector Henderson want to know what's going on, but Gladys won't talk. The investigation reaches a dead end until Superman promises to protect Gladys from Roy and Monk. Gladys reveals all she knows to the Man of Steel, but it may be too late. Diamonds and Monk are on a boat bound for Europe, and they are about to throw Lois, Jimmy and Tony overboard.
Superman has just learned that five different vessels are bound for various European countries. In the meantime, Diamonds is about to hurl Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Tony Amatto into the sea. Can the Man of Steel rescue them in time?
Superman has found Lois, Jimmy and Tony in the water not far from Diamonds' ship. Shortly after saving them, the Man of Steel takes the parcels of food for poor, hungry children in Europe to the proper authorities, and Diamonds, Monk and the black market gang have been handed over to Inspector Henderson. Clark Kent has also apologized to Jonas Brigham for being suspicious of the grocery store owner. The Man of Steel has saved the day yet again.
We now return to the offices of the Daily Planet. Jimmy Olsen is writing his story about Diamonds' operations when a large, heavy package arrives for him. He and Beany Martin are surprised when they open the large box. What is inside, and how will Superman react to it? Tune in next week, gang, for "Dead Man's Secret." Don't miss a moment in The Adventures of Superman.
The first two chapters of this serial are currently unavailable. Fortunately, the narration and dialogue help listeners catch up with the events from the episodes that they had missed.
Like the previous two serials, "Hunger, Inc." is pretty standard material without anything that really sticks out in my mind. We get "Superman aids efforts to stop world hunger while defeating a black market operation." That's pretty basic stuff, but the arc is told in a way that makes the audience feel unimpressed with the overall saga. The writers get an A for effort. The execution, unfortunately, merits a D-.
I can't exactly say why "Hunger, Inc." did nothing for me. Perhaps I've become jaded as I've reviewed each Superman radio serial in the year and a half in which I've been writing them, or maybe it's because I have been relatively disappointed in the relative quality of the two story arcs before this one. I honestly haven't felt the "Wow Factor" in the tales since "Superman Versus Kryptonite" and "The Secret Rocket." Something feels missing in The Adventures of Superman recently, and I hope it returns soon.
There are certain points in "Hunger, Inc." where it is implied that Perry White is still editor of the Daily Planet while being the mayor of Metropolis. How the heck can he juggle his duties as the chief of a great Metropolitan newspaper while running the city? The whole thing seems far fetched and brings up last week's topic of the newspaper's objectivity. Someone else could have easily taken his place in the Planet.
Another thing that hurts the quality of "Hunger, Inc." is the lackluster performance of the cast. Everyone delivers their lines as if they'd rather be somewhere else than in the studio read for Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Clark Kent, Superman and the serial's guest villains. The actors, even Bud Collyer, seem to be bored when some dialogue is spoken. This can really harm the overall story in my opinion.
Diamonds and Monk... No, that's not the rejected title of a song by Prince. They are the villains in "Hunger, Inc." For evil doers in a black market ring, they honestly come off as cheap thugs that don't do anything beyond kidnapping and murder. The descriptions and performances of the actors portraying them are pretty laughable. They honestly feel like parodies of bad guys from previous episodes.
"Hunger, Inc.," overall, feels like both cast and crew were asleep at the wheel, folks. Hopefully, things will be back on track with "Dead Man's Secret" in seven days or so. We'll find out next week, Superfans. Now, stop reading this review and pick up the latest Superman related comics. When you're finished with that, check out the various articles and reviews by all of the staff here at Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did. Until we meet again, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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