Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1949: The Mystery of the Flying MonsterReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Date: March 07, 1949
"The Mystery of the Flying Monster"
Joshua Field, a scientist, has placed an advertisement in the Daily Planet for an assistant in his latest experiment, which promises great adventure. Cub reporter Jimmy Olsen sees a story in this and has decided to apply for the job. He has told Lois Lane that he will be back in the office before the next deadline. Lois has told everything she knows to Metropolis mayor and Planet editor Perry White. The chief is fit to be tied. He wants to fire Jimmy as usual.
We now go to Highland Road address of Professor Joshua Field. The middle-aged, slender man is testing his new machine. His former assistant Maxie wants the money he is owed, but he no longer wants to work for Field anymore because the experiment is too dangerous. Field does not want to pay Maxie because he did not stay for the tests of the device. Maxie feels that Field could kill someone with his invention. Just then, Jimmy arrives to take the job Maxie had once done. Jimmy enters the apparatus with Professor Field before it's turned on. Suddenly, an enormous explosion rocks Highland Road. The lab of Joshua Field has been destroyed.
The staff of the Daily Planet is stricken with grief over what has happened to Jimmy as Maxie enters the offices to tell his story to Perry White and Clark Kent. The explosion that had killed Jimmy was not the first. Some smaller ones have occurred, and this was Maxie's reason for quitting as Field's assistant. He had tried to warn Jimmy, but the lad didn't listen. Seeing a jeweled piece of the machine in Maxie's pocket with his X-ray vision, Kent reveals that it is a gravity activator. Maxie had stolen it, which could possibly mean Jimmy and Professor Field's deaths. The small device controls a rocket ship carrying the scientist and cub reporter. Jimmy and Field are still alive for now.
Clark and Perry are chasing Maxie. The latter continues his pursuit as the mild mannered reporter feigns a head injury in order to assume his true identity of Superman. The Man of Steel goes to the remains of the laboratory, adjusts the proper instruments and flies into space to save the ship carrying Professor Field and Jimmy. The rocket strikes Superman, sending him hurtling through the stars as Jimmy and Professor Field go on a chaotic path that leads to death and destruction.
Superman has recovered from being hit by the rocket. He is now guiding it to Metropolis in the tower of Professor Field's laboratory. Jimmy and Field are saved, and the cub reporter has a story for the Daily Planet. The staff is celebrating Jimmy's return. Clark Kent, in the meantime, is trying to explain his disappearing to Perry White and Lois Lane. All is well once again for Superman and friends, but there is more excitement to come with the next episode in The Adventures of Superman.
Last week's episode felt like the cast and crew was trying to settle into the new format of the series. However, everyone seems more comfortable in "The Mystery of the Flying Monster." Even Bud Collyer seems to be in better vocal form beginning with this thirty minute story.
The overall story of "The Mystery of the Flying Monster" was very entertaining and fun. It borrows elements from "The Radar Rocket," but improves on them considerably. What could have turned out to be a bad pseudo science fiction piece along the lines of Plan Nine From Outer Space turned out to be a very excellent way to spend a half hour.
All the characters in "The Mystery of the Flying Monster" seem to get an equal chance to be a part of the episode. Even Jimmy, who was noticeably absent from last week's story, has a moment in the spotlight. This helps every element flow evenly, and the audience has more fun listening. Let's hope the thirty minute shows continue to please as much as this one did.
Maxie, the supposed villain, isn't really a bad guy. He is, however, a bit overzealous. His theft of the gravity activator was merely intended to stop Professor Field from endangering any lives. He didn't realize that stealing the device would lead to trouble. His actions are not to be condoned, but one cannot help but understand and have sympathy for his motivations.
I had mentioned earlier that Bud Collyer seemed more in character in "The Mystery of the Flying Monster." He seems to really shine in both the roles of Clark Kent and Superman. In fact, he seems to do more as those characters than he did in last week's episode. This could be because of the format and network transition mentioned in the previous review. In every case, Collyer's performance really helps make the story a perfect addition to The Adventures of Superman. Let's hope that more shows have brilliant acting like this in future.
"The Mystery of the Flying Monster," like "The Mystery of the Ten Thousand Dollar Ghost," has blended elements of the Kirk Alyn movie serials with the George Reeves television show. I could honestly see both actors playing the part of the Man of Steel for their respective forms of media if this tale ever made it outside of radio. This just proves my theory that every great Superman story is truly timeless.
Like the cast and crew, I've finally settled into the thirty minute format of The Adventures of Superman. "The Mystery of the Flying Monster" helped bring that about with its fun, action and superb acting. I'm suddenly curious for what "The Case of the Double Trouble" will have in store for us. We'll find out in seven days or so, Superfans. Until next week, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky. Now go read some of the other superb articles and reviews on the Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did.
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