Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1940: The North Star Mining Company MysteryReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: March 04, 1940 - March 15, 1940
"Fire in the Sterling Tower"
When we last left Superman, he had prevented the destruction of The Daily Planet and saved Lois Lane from falling to her death, thereby foiling the plans of the villain called the Yellow Mask. Now, Mike, one of the newspaper's photographers, tells Perry White about a girl being trapped in a fire in the Sterling Tower Building. She's trapped on the twentieth floor, where the offices of North Star Mining Company are located. Despite Lois Lane's sarcasm, Clark Kent asks White to cover the story because he believes he can help the girl. Clark and Mike run to take a cab to the Sterling Tower.
On the way to the fire, Mike asks Clark why Lois doesn't like the reporter. After Clark says that he doesn't understand why Lois treats him badly. Mike says, to Clark's shock, that the only man Lois Lane likes is Superman. When they arrive, the smoke becomes thicker and the blaze has become a four alarm fire. Mike takes some photographs shortly after they arrive. Seeing the girl trying to break a window to escape, Clark unsuccessfully calls to the fire chief to save her. Clark then disappears into the thick smoke to change into Superman.
Superman flies to the twentieth floor and finds the girl in a closet. The Man of Steel saves the girl just before one of the Sterling Tower's walls collapses. The fire chief sees Superman flying through the air with the girl in his arms. Laying the girl down in an alley, Superman resumes his guise of Clark Kent and finds a doctor for the girl. Clark tells the doctor and fire chief that he saw the girl staggering in the alley when he went to phone The Daily Planet, but he didn't know how she came down from the twentieth floor. The fire chief says that he saw a flying man in a red cape get the girl out of the building.
When the girl is being examined by the doctor, she cries, "Stop them! Catch Them!." The doctor dismisses her warnings as hysteric babbling caused by shock. Clark Kent, however, believes there is something to the girl's warnings.
"The Stabbing Of June Anderson"
While Clark Kent is in the hosptal waiting for the girl that Superman saved to awaken, Joseph Denine and Bartley Pemberton drive a black Sedan out of town in a hurry. When they hear on the car radio that the girl has survived the fire, they turn the car around to go back to Metropolis. They plan to pose as the girl's uncle and cousin to get into the city hospital.
At the hospital, a nurse tells Clark that the girl was talking about two men in a black car before losing consciousness again. The nurse felt the girl needed rest more than Clark needed to interview her. Clark says he'll be on the sun porch waiting for her to awaken. The nurse says to come back in about an hour. As Superman, he uses his superhuman eyes to search various cars that are driving down the highway. The only black car that has two men in it ends up being a police car. The car swerves to avoid hitting Superman. The shocked policemen shoot at the flying Man of Steel as he returns to Metropolis.
When Superman returns to the hospital as Clark Kent, the nurse is shocked to know that he spent an hour on the sun porch because it's extremely cold outside. He says that cold doesn't bother him before asking about the girl. The nurse says that two relatives are visiting with her. Clark is suspicious because the girl has been in the hospital for twelve hours. Every newspaper in town has covered the story of her surviving the fire. Why haven't these relatives come sooner? Suddenly, Clark and the nurse hear the girl scream.
After the nurse tells Clark what happened, he calls The Daily Planet to tell of the recent events. The so-called relatives stabbed the girl, and her current condition is unknown. Is she alive or dead?
"The North Star Mining Company"
The girl, whose name is June Anderson, is now awake and nervous. she says that Joseph Denine and Bartley Pemberton were the ones that stabbed her. The two men were the heads of the Norths Star Mining Company. Pemberton was the president, and Denine was the vice president. The pair sold stock in a gold mine out west, but the mine didn't really have any gold inside it. June Anderson has all the proof of Denine and Pemberton's illegal activities. While June doesn't know all of the reasons for two men to want the papers she has to be found, she does tell Clark that she gave them to her brother, who is a steamship captain, in a package covered in oilskin.
The nurse then enters June's room to tell Clark that Pemberton and Denine's car was found. She says that the car's license number is 2406. Superman searches the car, which is in a parking lot across the street. The car is locked, but that doesn't stop Superman. He rips off the door and searches the car for something that can tell him where the two con men are. He only finds some guns and destroys them before some men interrupt him and try to get the Man of Steel away from the car. Superman flies away to write the story of Joseph Denine and Bartley Pemberton as Clark Kent.
Later in the offices of The Daily Planet, Bartley Pemberton pays a visit to Clark Kent. He is disguised as a Doctor Ambrose. He claims to have invested money in the North Star Mining Company. Pemberton's eyebrows meet in the middle, and he tends to bite his bottom lip and tap his index finger on desks or tables while he listens to people talking. There is a scar on the knuckle of the index finger that he taps. Perry White interrupts the meeting. He tells Kent that the district attorney says June Anderson's brother is captain of a steamship called the Madison, and the boat is running south from Metropolis to Charleston. Captain Anderson has the package of papers that his sister gave him, and he plans to give the papers to the police when he arrives in Charleston the day after tomorrow.
Later, Clark returns to the hospital to talk to June. He tells her of Doctor Ambrose's visit and the fact that he bit his lip and tapped his finger. June then reveals that Ambrose was really Pemberton, and he'll stop at nothing to get those papers that she gave her brother. He'll even go as far as to kill Captain Anderson. Clark leaves the hospital and races to get to the Madison as Superman. In the meantime, Pemberton and Denine have rented a boat. They plan to fire some flare rockets to get on board the Madison and get the papers June gave her brother no matter what it takes.
"The Steamship Madison"
Pemberton and Denine have fired the emergency flares and boarded the Madison, a steamship carrying munitions to Charleston. When asked by Captain Anderson why they stopped a government ship, the two men claim that the captain's sister June sent them for the oilskin package she gave the captain. The package is in a safe in the captain's cabin. Anderson asks if June gave them written proof that she sent the men. They say that June didn't have time to write anything, and the captain does not believe them.
Pemberton pulls a gun on Captain Anderson as he and Denine lead him into the cargo hold, which is full of gun powder, bullets and explosives. They tie up the captain and use some TNT to cause an explosion on board the Madison. Pemberton and Denine escape as the crew abandons ship. Suddenly some of the crew realize that Captain Anderson is still aboard the Madison.
Knowing that nobody will see him in the smoke and fog, Superman saves the captain and places him in a lifeboat. The rest of the Madison's crew sees the captain's lifeboat as Superman returns to the flaming ship to find the oilskin package that can incriminate Pemberton and Denine. The Man of Steel finds the package in the captain's safe just before the steamship goes up in flames.
"The Plane To Canyon City"
Captain Anderson, his sister June and Clark Kent are in the office of Perry White. Captain Anderson still doesn't understand how he was saved. Saying a friend in the Coast Guard gave it to him, Clark then produces the oilskin package of papers needed to put Denine and Pemberton in prison for good. June shows the papers inside the package, which include a government report showing that the North Star Mine has no gold in it and a map with the mine's location on it. It also includes letters to the company's western representative named Bailey. June then says that Pemberton and Denine have a house in Green Park on 23 Durant Street. Clark leaves to see if there's something in the house that police might have missed.
When the houseboy refuses to let Clark Kent into the house, Superman pays the houseboy a more persuasive visit. He overhears a phone conversation between the houseboy and Pemberton. Pemberton says that he and Denine are in Canyon City, Idaho, a city that is very near where the North Star Mine is located. Pemberton says to the houseboy that he's staying there under the name John J. Jones. Superman scares the houseboy into keeping his visit a secret.
Clark Kent later theorizes that the pair of con men plan to blow up the mine to destroy proof that there's no gold in the mine. He then convinces Perry White to let him take an airplane to Canyon City with June and her brother. When the plane flies over the Rocky Mountains, ice begins to form on the wings. The pilot can't fly lower to warmer air in order to remove the ice because the mountain peaks are too high. Clark volunteers to go out on the wings to remove the ice, and he leaves the airplane. When June and her brother look out to find Clark, the reporter is nowhere to be found on the plane's wing.
"Left To Be Killed"
June is screaming hysterically that Clark Kent is gone. The plane she and her brother were taking with Kent to Canyon City is about to crash into the mountains near the town where the North Star Mine is located. Superman levels off the plane and land it smoothly. After resuming his guise of Clark Kent, he explains that he was hanging on for dear life onto the wing. Kent then thanks the pilot for making such a smooth landing before going to search for a car that the trio can borrow to find the North Star Mine.
Meanwhile Denine and Pemberton are hiding out in the North Star Mine. Their associate Bailey tells them that Clark Kent and the Andersons are in Canyon City asking about the mine. Pemberton orders Bailey to disguise himself as the local sheriff and take care of Clark while he and Denine deal with the Andersons.
Later, the disguised Bailey finds Clark and the Andersons near the car that they've borrowed. He tells the reporter that there's a phone call from his editor in town. Clark goes with Bailey while June and her brother stay with the car. After Bailey has taken Kent far from the Anderson siblings, Pemberton and Denine knock Captain Anderson unconscious and capture June.
Suspicious of Bailey, Clark wonders why it's taking so long to get into town. Bailey pulls a gun on the reporter and fires as Clark runs away. He reappears as Superman to teach Bailey some manners. He knocks the false sheriff out and smashes his car before flying to learn what happened to June and her brother.
In the North Star Mine, Pemberton and Denine are rigging some explosives that will destroy the mine and kill June. Captain Anderson was left unconscious near the borrowed car. Pemberton and his partner in crime then leave the mine and June to their own fate.
Flying at temendous speeds, Superman hears June scream for help. The Man of Steel pulls her out of the mine just seconds before the mine explodes. Later, June tells Clark that the mysterious Superman in blue costume and red cape saved her. Just then, Captain Anderson arrives. He has captured the two con men Pemberton and Denine. Clark then shows the Andersons a metal that turns out to be real gold. The explosion caused by Denine and Pemberton opened up a newly discovered vein full of the precious metal. Now, the people that the two con men swindled will get all their money back with interest.
Clark Kent leaves the Andersons to find the unconscious Bailey and phone The Daily Planet about the story of Superman. What will the next adventure have in store for both Clark and Superman? Tune in next time, boys and girls, to The Adventures of Supeman to find out.
First of all, I want to say thank you to all that have responded to my last review. I honestly find reviewing these radio programs fun and challenging, and I find myself looking forward to working on the next review. If any of you have further comments about my reviews, just drop me a line by clicking on my name. In addition, I tend to drop by the Superman Homepage as superpupino. I read the comments to various news items throughout the site. Send comments, criticisms or questions. Just don't send me a copy of "For Tomorrow." Now with that out of the way, let's get on with the review.
A minor complaint I have about this story is that there was just a little bit of interaction between Clark Kent and the rest of The Daily Planet staff. I've always found that the interaction with Clark and his co-workers was important to the development of both Clark Kent and Superman as characters. Other incarnations of Superman - from comics and animation to cinema and television, from the George Reeves series and the Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh films to Lois and Clark and the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini animated series - have relied on Superman and Clark's relationships with the various members of the supporting cast. They help both of Kal-El's personae learn about humanity and eventually Superman learns more about himself through them. The people around Clark and Superman help show how both characters are perceived by them and how Clark and Superman perceive people around them. I wish there had been more done with the Planet staff's reactions to Clark or his stories. Besides a couple of scenes with Lois and Perry we don't see much with how they are toward him. What do they think of him? What does he think of them?
As I said, however, this is a minor complaint. Who knows? Maybe there will be more with the Planet staff in the future. I certainly hope so.
Another minor thing is that I feel like Superman being revealed to the public at the end of "Left To Be Killed" was a bit rushed. Maybe the writers should have waited for "The Mystery Of Dyerville" or "The Emerald Of The Incas" to let Superman reveal himself publicly. I found the "Superman is an urban legend" subplot an interesting angle to the radio serials. It would have been interesting to see how Clark handles the rumors about a flying Superman just a little longer. Maybe the writers were afraid that the listeners would get bored if they made the "Superman is just a myth" plot thread a little longer.
Aside from those things, I really liked the story. It was fast paced and full of action. Pemberton and Denine, while not on par with the Wolfe and the Yellow Mask, are good villains. They show that Superman takes care of all kinds of evil. Whether it be be a would-be conqueror bent on world domination or a petty con man bilking sweet little old ladies out of their savings, Superman is there to stop all types of villains. The Superman of the radio serials may not be the Superman most of us are accustomed to, and his methods may possibly be more extreme than many incarnations of the Man of Steel. However, he is STILL Superman. He's there to right the wrongs in the world and give us hope for a better tomorrow. This, in my opinion, is what has helped the character of Superman last for so many years, and this is what I - and I assume many of you reading this - love about the character.
So in the end, "The North Star Mining Company Mystery" is another nail biting adventure that will leave you on the edge of your seat. I only wish it had been adapted into a George Reeves TV episode. Anyway, this story left me impatient for the next story arc. I can't wait to see what happens and prepare for the next review. See you next time.
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