Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1947: The Monkey BurglarReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: February 12, 1947-February 25, 1947
"The Monkey Burglar"
After solving the mystery of the drought in the farming community of Freeville with Lois Lane, Clark Kent has been ordered by Daily Planet editor Perry White to return to Metropolis. A thief that has been dubbed "The Monkey Burglar" has been using acrobatics to enter the windows of the apartments of well-to-do people in the city. Once he has plundered the riches that he desires, the Monkey Burglar leaves in the same way in which he had entered. Police Inspector Bill Henderson has just called Clark for a news story connected to the robberies. Henderson has positive proof of the identity of the Monkey Burglar. He's waiting for the suspect to enter his office. At that moment, Batman and Robin arrive. Henderson then reveals that he believes that the Monkey Burglar is none other than the Boy Wonder himself.
Two people, banker Nelson Spalding and steel mogul Roger Hartley, have positively identified Robin as the Monkey Burglar. The first man even saw him carry a gun, something which Robin has never done. Henderson is, however, not convinced that the Boy Wonder is innocent of the robberies. Robin will need to account for his whereabouts on the nights in which Spalding and Hartley encountered the Monkey Burglar. Unfortunately, the lad refuses to do so. Will the Dark Knight be able to save his partner from prison?
Robin now clarifies things by saying to Clark and Batman that he cannot tell the police where he was on the nights of the Monkey Burglar robberies without revealing his secret identity of Dick Grayson. Batman then later argues with Inspector Henderson about Robin's innocence. Clark convinces the reluctant Henderson to free the Boy Wonder from prison in an effort catch the real Monkey Burglar in forty-eight hours. Robin is ordered to stay at Jimmy Olsen's house while Clark outlines his plan with Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter ego, in the offices of the Daily Planet. Kent had written an article on page one of the latest edition of the newspaper. Oil millionaires Mister and Mrs. Harvey Simms are staying at the Windsor Arms, and they have brought their collection of precious jewels with them. The Windsor Arms is one of the few fashionable apartment buildings that hasn't hired guards against the Monkey Burglar. Should everything go well, Superman and Batman will be able to catch the Monkey Burglar and clear Robin.
In another part of town, a man named Spider has just received a call from Jonesy, who has been following Robin to Jimmy Olsen's house. Spider is about to take his men Slim and Doc with him to eliminate the Dark Knight's young partner. Can Superman and Batman help the Boy Wonder and stop Spider's gang before it's too late?
Superman, carrying Batman, is flying over the Windsor Arms patrolling for the Monkey Burglar. The Man of Steel's keen ears pick up a police radio alert saying that a gun fight has occurred at Jimmy's house, and an officer, who is Jimmy's neighbor, was injured. He then says to our heroes that he saw some men drag away Jimmy and Robin into the darkness. Later, Inspector Henderson is angry with Batman and Clark Kent. The Monkey Burglar had taken the Simms' jewel collection not long after the Boy Wonder was taken from the Olsen home. Now more than ever, Henderson is convinced that Robin is the Monkey Burglar.
Inspector Henderson is extremely angry, and the mayor wants his head. After giving Batman and Clark a piece of his mind. He takes them with him to the Windsor Arms Apartments, where Mister Simms is questioned. Clark finds something on the floor of Simms' home as the jewel collector describes the Monkey Burglar to be Robin The Boy Wonder. Clark shows Henderson and Batman what he has discovered - a medal with a gymnast and the letters S.I.A.A. engraved on it. It seems like a prize given in athletic competitions. Knowing that his partner has never gotten such a trophy, The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel realize that this can possibly be the only clue to finding both Robin and Jimmy Olsen.
It is now the next morning. There has been no luck in finding Jimmy or Robin until the owner of Reeser's General Store in River Falls calls Perry White. Jimmy is there asking Mister Reeser to contact the Daily Planet, and the lad is in bad shape. Once back at the newspaper, Jimmy recounts what he could about two masked thugs grabbing him and Robin. Both boys were knocked out after putting up a fight, but Jimmy was later left on a road that leads to a highway that would take him to Metropolis. The cub reporter had nearly passed out in River Falls and has no idea where Robin is. Jimmy has just told Inspector Henderson of what had happened. Afterwards. Henderson reveals that the medal that Clark had found was given to winners of the State Interscholastic Athletic Association Championships. He, Clark and Batman then go to the S.I.A.A. offices to speak with a Mister Bogart, who gives them a list of ten boys that received the prize in the past decade. Is one of these youths the Monkey Burglar?
Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are checking four of the names on the list of ten boys given to them by Mister Bogart. They hit dead ends with three, but the fourth - a lad named Billy Riggs - is the next whom they must question. However, Superman and Batman may not get to talk to Billy because Spider and Jonesy intend to kill Riggs and the Boy Wonder after the former does one final job for them in a Robin costume. The World's Finest Heroes may not be able to save either of the boys.
Bruce and Clark learn from Billy Riggs' mother that the boy is working in the gymnasium of Spider Gans. Spider had promised that Billy that he would make him a famous circus acrobat if the lad worked for him. With this information, Bruce and Clark go to the gym to find out from a boxer that Billy had been looking for his lucky gymnastics medal and ended up going to Spider's house. Unfortunately, Superman and Batman do not find Spider, Jonesy, Billy or Robin there. Are they too late to stop the Monkey Burglar?
While Jonesy is driving a Sedan carrying the unconscious Robin, Spider is in a Coupe trying to convince Billy Riggs to do the next job, the apartment of the Indian Raja Sarak, a delegate for the United Nations. Billy doesn't want to do it, but Spider threatens him by saying that he'll turn the boy over to the police. Billy reluctantly agrees to commit the crime. Meanwhile. A discouraged Batman is being reassured by Superman as they search Spider's apartment for clues to Robin's whereabouts. At that moment, as Billy is climbing the building to the Raja's home, Spider and Jonesy are planning to kill the Boy Wonder and place him where the police can find him. It may be too late for Batman's partner, or is it? Superman has found a newspaper clipping about Raja Sarak. All that the World's Finest Heroes need to do is learn his address from the Daily Planet's archive.
As Superman and Batman look for Raja Sarak's address, Robin kicks Jonesy in the midsection. Billy Riggs, returning to the street, removes the ropes and gag from Robin's arms and mouth. The Boy Wonder then asks him to start the engine of the Sedan. Can Robin and Billy escape from Spider and Jonesy?
Superman and Batman have found the Raja's address, but they are too late. Now, they must survey the city from the skies. They find that Robin and Billy are about to be shot by Spider and Jonesy. The Man of Steel knocks the criminals out before any bullets can be fired. With both Robin and Billy safe, Batman and the Boy Wonder take Spider and Jonesy to Inspector Henderson. Superman later meets them at police headquarters as Clark Kent. The mystery of the Monkey Burglar has been solved, but, unknown to Superman, the menace of the "Knights of the White Carnation" lurks in the darkest corners of Metropolis. Next week's serial in The Adventures of Superman will bring our hero face to face with this new threat, gang. Don't a miss a minute of the excitement.
During this serial, the magazine Radio Mirror and the National Conference of Christians and Jews salute The Adventures of Superman series for teaching its listeners of equality and tolerance.
It borrows a lot of elements from previous serials, particularly "Doctor Blythe's Confidence Gang" and "Al Vincent's Corrupt Political Machine," but "The Monkey Burglar" was still a good arc even with its problems. The first of which is that there are moments that feel like the writers were forced to drag the plot a little longer than necessary. Perhaps this was so they could finish the next episodic tale.
At first, I had trouble buying the fact that Robin would stay at Jimmy Olsen's house. However, it would serve as the perfect alibi if Jimmy was with the Boy Wonder. I do have some problems with Inspector Henderson still believing Robin was the Monkey Burglar after finding Billy Riggs' medal. Once Batman had said Robin never won that prize, he should have checked all possibilities before being convinced of the lad's guilt. Then again, that does provide a little suspense. Henderson just seemed ready to jump to conclusions in "The Monkey Burglar," and that's really not like him.
Speaking of being out of character, Batman seems downright irritating and whiny toward the end of "The Monkey Burglar." He's ready to throw in the towel and cry in his beer when he and Superman didn't find Robin in Spider Gans' home. This is unlike any version of the Dark Knight. His persistence is what makes him what he is, but the Cowled Crusader seems like another person in this serial. Hopefully, he'll be back to his old self when he appears again.
Spider Gans is barely believable as the person giving the Monkey Burglar his orders. It would have been more plausible if some Metropolis crime lord was calling the shots while Spider served as a "mouth piece" for the gangster. Better yet, an old enemy of Batman and Robin would have worked better. Something makes Spider come across as a petty thug rather than a criminal mastermind. Perhaps it's his voice, but I'm not one hundred percent sure. Whatever it is, the villain in "The Monkey Burglar" needed some retooling before the serial was broadcasted.
I know it sounds like I'm complaining about "The Monkey Burglar," but I did like it despite its flaws. The serial just needed some improvements. It was interesting to see that Robin was a suspect in the crimes, and I found his meeting and teaming up with the real Monkey Burglar to be fun. There is also a sense of real danger to the Boy Wonder when he's captured by Spider Gans. I don't normally use the shield rating system for my radio show reviews, but if I did, I'd give this story arc a 3 out of 5. It's not a perfect serial, but it's still entertaining and has its moments.
Who are the "Knights of the White Carnation"? We will find out in seven days or so what exactly they're doing in Metropolis. Be here next week to find out, Superfans. Until then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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