Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1940: The Mystery of DyervilleReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: March 18, 1940-March 29, 1940
"The Prison Riot"
When we last saw Superman, he was about to call The Daily Planet to give the story of the North Star Mine as Clark Kent. Kent has now given the story and is congratulated by Editor Perry White. Kent has also just been assigned to rent a car and go to San Miguel Penetentiary to pick up Lois Lane, who is doing a story about the prison. San Miguel Penetentiary is also the same prison to which the Yellow Mask's henchemen the Wolfe and Keno were taken.
Speaking of Keno and the Wolfe, they're currently discussing the Yellow Mask's plans of a jailbreak while Lois is touring the prison with the warden. Keno is eager to follow the Mask's orders, but the Wolfe is merely using the Mask's jailbreak plan to get revenge on the villain for letting him go to prison in the first place. The Yellow Mask's plan calls for some prisoners to cause a riot in the dining hall after the dinner bell while Keno and the Wolfe will rush to the nearby steam plant with a few other men. Meanwhile, Lois has just entered the San Miguel Penetentiary's dining hall just as the dinner bell rings. The riot has just begun, and some of the convicts have taken a twenty foot timber. They plan to use the wood as a battering ram to bring down the prison gates.
Meanwhile, Clark is driving to San Miguel Penetentiary when he sees that the police are blocking the road to the prison. When Clark says he's a reporter, the police wonder how he knew about the prison riot. Clark says that he must get to the penetentiary, but the police won't let him take his car through the road block. Clark gets out of the car and outruns some motorcycle police before changing into Superman.
At the same time, the warden has called the state militia. While two companies of soldiers will arrive, they won't get there soon enough. Despite heavy winds and suggestions to use bullets on the prisoners trying to escape, the warden orders that tear gas be used on the rioting convicts.
Suddenly, Superman arrives. He takes the large timber away from the prisoners and swings it like a baseball bat to keep the rioting convicts at bay. Superman forces the prisoners back into the cell block. The penetentiary guards lock them back into their cells, but Keno, the Wolfe and a few other men are unaccounted for. There is also no sign of Lois Lane, who was in the dining hall during the riot. Where is she? What has happened to her?
"The Steam Plant"
Keno tells the Wolfe that the Superman in a blue costume and red cape that prevented the sabotage on the Silver Clipper has stopped some of the prisoners from escaping. He also says that Clark Kent is visiting San Miguel Penetentiary. The Wolfe says that he has plans for Clark Kent while he and Keno repair a phoneline. They want to call the warden to make their demands. They are barricaded in the dining hall with some desperate convicts, and Lois Lane is their hostage. The Wolfe and Keno plan to escape in the cover of the tear gas by running across the prison yard to get to the steamplant.
Calling the warden, the Wolfe says that he's barricaded in the dining hall with Lois as his hostage. Knowing Clark is with the warden, the Wolfe asks him to remember the Silver Clipper. Clark then runs to the dining hall to find Lois as Superman. The Man of Steel then rushes the convicts and drives them away from the dining hall. They later surrender to the prison guards. While the prisoners are taken back to their cells, Superman searches the dining hall's cellar with no luck. Keno and the Wolfe have escaped using the cellar's side door that leads to the gas-filled prison yard. They are now heading for the steam plant with their hostage. Superman resumes his guise of Clark Kent and returns to the warden.
When Clark learns how Keno and the Wolfe plan to escape, he changes back to Superman to save Lois. Steam from the factory makes things a bit too hot for the penetentiary guards, but that doesn't stop the Man of Steel. Keno and the Wolfe escape down a nearby tunnel. Lois says this while regaining consciousness. Superman advises the guards that arrive after he resumes his guise of Clark Kent. Lois then is angry with Clark for staying with her and not going down the tunnel after the two men.
The prison guards search the tunnel Lois had indicated with no success. The rest of the rioting prisoners have been captured, but the Wolfe and Keno are nowhere to be seen. Where have they gone, and will Superman or Clark Kent be able to find them?
"The Wolfe Versus The Yellow Mask" A.K.A. "The Mystery of Dyerville Part 1"
While Lois Lane and Clark Kent are returning to Metropolis to give The Daily Planet the story of the prison riot, the Wolfe and Keno also return to the city through secret tunnels to the Yellow Mask's hideout. The Wolfe, believing that the Mask could have prevented him from going to prison with Keno, wants to overthrow the Yellow Mask and control his criminal organization. The Wolfe tells the Mask what he really thinks of him. This proves fatal for the Wolfe as the Mask electrocutes him for his defiance. The Yelow Mask then reminds Keno to remember who his true master really is. Scared that he will meet the same fate as his master the Wolfe, Keno agrees to remember the Mask's warnings. The Yellow Mask then tells Keno that he has plans that concern millions of dollars and thousands of lives.
Meanwhile at The Daily Planet, Perry White gives Lois and Clark their next assignment. They are to go to Dyerville, a small town that has gotten the nickname "The Jinx Town" after a series of unexplained accidents such as earthquakes, power outages and floods without rain have occurred in the past two weeks. Perry tells Clark and Lois to rent a car because he has a bad feeling about taking the trains for some reason. As the the pair of reporters leave The Daily Planet building, a spy for the Yellow Mask tells him that Lane and Kent have left.
On the car trip to Dyerville, Clark tries unsuccessfully to be friends with Lois. Suddenly, a mysterious black car tries to hit their car. Lois then says that she believes that the same black car had been following them. Clark doesn't believe her and turns on the radio. The car tries to hit them again before they reach the toll bridge to Dyerville. Clark tries to follow the car when a voice on the radio calls Clark by his name and tells him to go back. Believing that the car they are following has a radio transmitter inside it, Clark drives faster to pursue it.
After Clark drives so fast that he smashes the toll gate, a policeman stops him for wreckless driving and not paying the toll. The policeman doesn't believe Clark when he says that he was following a car because Clark's car was the only car that the policeman saw. Clark offers to pay for any damages he caused, but before he can pay, the bridge suddenly begins to shake. As the bridge and the car with Lois inside begin to fall, Clark Kent changes into to Superman in the darkness of the night. Can the Man of Steel save the bridge of steel and Lois?
"The Yellow Mask Escapes" A.K.A. "The Mystery of Dyerville Part 2"
Superman holds up the toll bridge and discovers that the foundation was possibly hit by a torpedo. Using his superhuman speed, Superman puts the bridge back together before it and the car with Lois inside can fall into the river below. Superman resumes his guise of Clark Kent and returns to Lois. Clark then gets into the car with Lois and tries to convince her that the bridge is safe. Lois isn't really convinced until they've finished crossing the bridge.
The next morning, Lois and Clark have an appointment to interview the Dyerville City Commissioner. Ordinarily, the commissioner would not grant an interview about the recent mysterious disasters in Dyerville, but since Perry White said that Clark had the ability to find out what is behind everything, the commissioner decided to grant an interview in case Mister Kent can learn what's causing the accidents in the city. He tells the reporters in detail about the bridge incident the night before and believes only a Superman could have put the steel girders of the bridge back together. Lois seems fascinated by the commissioner's mentioning Superman. The commissioner then tells of other strange incidents in Dyerville. He also doesn't understand why the accidents in Dyerville are happening or if they are really accidents at all. Suddenly, frantic phonecall interrupts the interview.
A railroad barge filled with fifteen tanker cars of gasoline just broke away from its tugboat, and it's going down the falls. Clark leaves Lois and the commissioner to see what's going on with the barge. After changing into Superman, he pulls the barge to safety. While someone tells the commisioner that the barge is safe, Clark Kent returns to the office. He tells Lois that there's more to this story because the cable connecting the barge to the tugboat was deliberately cut. A panicked man suddenly runs into the commissioner's office. He asks the commissioner to turn on his radio.
There is a message from the Yellow Mask on the radio. He and his Secret Empire are demanding one million dollars from the city of Dyerville. If the Mask doesn't get the money in thirty-six hours, the city of Dyerville will cease to exist. Will Superman be able to stop the Yellow Mask before the villain carries out his threat?
"The Mystery of Dyerville Part 3"
The next day, the City Commissioner of Dyerville is still in a panic. The Yellow Mask plans to wipe the city off the face of the Earth if he doesn't get one million dollars by midnight tonight. The Mask phones saying that he'll drown the citizens of Dyerville like rats if his demands are not met. The commissioner and Clark Kent deduce that a flood from the hills could do this if the Harley Dam were to be blown up. Clark and Lois Lane take their car and head for the dam to try and stop the Mask's plan.
In the Yellow Mask's hideout, the villain shows Keno a special box. The box can stop a motor with just the press of a button. The Mask demonstrates this on a dynamo. He orders Keno to put the box in an abandoned cabin that's near a sudden right angle turn that leads to Harley Dam. The Mask intends to use the device on Clark Kent's car and capture Kent and Lois Lane before they reach Harley Dam. The Mask's plan succeeds. Keno attacks Lois and Clark while Clark checks the car. Clark pretends to be weak from the attack in an attempt to learn of the Yellow Mask's plans.
Clark is later tied up in a room where Keno is wiring a bomb. Lois is in the next room screaming for help. Kent tries to convince Keno not to kill him and Lois, but the reporter isn't successful. After the Yellow Mask's henchman leaves the cabin, Clark changes to Superman. He snaps the remaining ropes that tied up Clark Kent, takes Keno's bomb apart and breaks down the locked door to save Lois. The Man of Steel flies Lois to safety before resuming his guise of Clark Kent. He then carries her to Harley Dam.
Lois regains consciousness after the Dyerville City Commissioner arrives at the dam. Clark tells the commissioner that he and Lois were in an accident, but it was nothing serious. The commissiner later asks Lois and Clark to follow him out of earshot of the workers that are searching the dam for explosives. The commissioner has received a message, but before he can share the message with the two Daily Planet reporters, Harley Dam begins to shake and rumble. What is causing the movement, and can Superman stop it before the city of Dyerville is wiped out completely?
"The Mystery of Dyerville Part 4"
Harley Dam is trembling and rumbling. The Dyerville City Commissioner, Lois Lane and Clark Kent run to the dam's lakeshore to avoid being hurt by the quakes. Kent and the commissioner theorize that the quakes that shook the dam were caused by an explosion of some type. The commissioner then reads the latest message from the Yellow Mask. His Secret Empire is impatient and unhappy with the way Dyerville is handling his demands for one million dollars. The Mask has ordered that the city officials make haste with their decision. Otherwise, the Mask may change his mind and destroy the city sooner. The commissioner then says that the city council will have a meeting to vote on whether or not to give in to the Yellow Mask's demands.
Promising to return to Dyerville in time for the meeting, Clark says that he wants to investigate things at the dam while the commissioner and Lois return to the town. He then changes to Superman. Using his superhuman senses underwater, the Man of Steel discovers a piece of polished metal in a crack in the dam. He brings the metal with him to the surface and discovers that it's a piece of a torpedo's shell. He tells the commissioner of his discovery when he returns to the Dyerville Council Hall in his guise of Clark Kent. Kent believes the torpedo attack was meant to scare the citizens of Dyerville and show them the extent of the Yellow Mask's abilities.
Clark then asks what the flood's route would be if Harley Dam broke. The flood waters would go into Jefferson Gorge and down into a nearby valley before destroying Dyerville. If the gorge is blocked, the floodwaters would change direction and go into an old river bed. Unfortunately there's no time to get the military to use explosives in the rocks to block the gorge.
The Dyerville City Council now begins its emergency meeting. They have voted against giving the Yellow Mask one million dollars. The angered villain is speaking through a radio in the council chambers. He says that the city of Dyerville has sealed its own fate. The Yellow Mask will blow up the dam and flood the city now. He will not wait for the midnight deadline. Lois Lane then announces that Harley Dam has exploded. The flood is on the way. The citizens and council members inside the town hall are in a state of panic.
In the panicked confusion, Clark Kent resumes his identity of Superman and flies at great speeds to Jefferson Gorge. Upon arriving at the gorge, Superman repeatedly tears some rock from the gorge to block the water's path. At the last possible second, the Last Son of Krypton sees that he's succeeded. The flood waters are blocked by a rocky wall and thunderously flow into the old river bed as they go down into the Jefferson River. The city of Dyerville is saved thanks to Superman.
Two hours after the town has been saved, Lois Lane telegraphs the Dyerville story to Perry White. She is happy that the city of Dyerville is safe and that she scooped Clark Kent on the story. Clark too is happy that the city wasn't destroyed, but he also thinks of the Yellow Mask. What has happened to the Mask? Where and when will he strike next? Tune into The Adventures of Superman, and find out.
It seems that I was a bit premature about what I said in my last review about the "Superman is just a legend" plot thread. While nobody really confirms or denies the existence of Superman in this story, nobody really discusses whether or not the Man of Steel is real. In fact, only Keno and the city commissioner briefly mention Superman in a couple of scenes. After that, nobody discusses if Superman is real, even if Lois is curious about the commissioner's talking about Superman. Maybe this subplot will be carried on just a little longer.
That being said, I can say I honestly found this story absolutely amazing. The actors and writers seemed to have started to become comfortable with the characters and stories. Many writers and actors for a series - whether they work in radio, television or film - often have to take time to develop the characters in a way that is comfortable for them. Star Trek: The Original Series and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman are perfect examples of this. The beginning episodes are good. However, you can see that the actors are trying to be familiar with the characters, and the writers are trying to develop the characters to fit the actors/actresses that are portraying said characters. Given that, I tend to give a new series about three to five episodes to decide if I like it or not. It helps me to give a series the benefit of the doubt. The same is true with The Adventures of Superman radio serials. If you are new to these shows, I highly recommend that you use this method to listen to them. However, instead of three to five episodes, I suggest you give it three to five story arcs to get started. In my opinion, the radio serials begin to take flight (pun intended) with this story arc.
We have the return of the Wolfe, Keno and the Yellow Mask. It's great to see them back again, even though I wish that the conflict between the Mask and the Wolfe would have lasted a little longer. Maybe that might make one lose sight of the danger to Dyerville. Either way, it's great to see them be a thorn in Superman's side and vice versa.
Another thing we see is more of is the Lois and Clark relationship. The writers seemed to have put that on the back burner in the previous storyline, but I'm glad to see it back again. Just what is it that makes Clark's relationship with Lois work so well for the Superman mythos? There are different answers to that question for different people. For me, it's because for both Clark and Superman, Lois is the most human of any of those around them if you exclude the Kents, who don't exist in these serials for some reason. Anyway, the relationship between Lois Lane and Clark Kent has been around for years, and we all know how it ends up. It's something that still works as well now that they are married as it did then when Lois saw Clark as a rival news reporter.
Another thing about Lois that works well in this story is her reaction to Superman. Keep in mind, she does not know Clark is Superman. She often suspected this before Action Comics #662, but this story was done over five decades before that comic book was published. Anyway, what Lois feels about Superman has only been touched on lightly in the radio serials so far, but it's in the stories. In "The Origin of Superman," she believes in his existence no matter what her co-workers say, Mike the photographer says that Superman is the only man Lois likes in "The North Star Mining Company Mystery," and in this story, Lois shows an extreme curiosity after the city commissioner says Superman repaired the bridge. I can't wait to see how the Lois/Clark and Lois/Superman relationships turn out in the next episodes in the radio serial.
The city of Dyverville's peril was well written also. I found myself feeling like I was a citizen there during several scenes that take place in the small town. The writers seemed to work hard on making the listener care about what happens to Dyerville and its inhabitants much like they did for the planet Krypton in the beginning of the radio series. In general, the writers' strength seems to be making the listener care about the characters and the situations in which they find themselves. Whether it be Superman or just a minor character that just says one line, you're pulled into the story with them no matter what happens. At least, that's what happens to me.
The action in the story is amazing and moves like a runaway train. From beginning to end, we have a white-knuckled fast paced adventure that takes you on yet another thrill ride. You've paid the ticket just before the announcer says, "Presenting... Superman!". As the announcer briefly explains the events of the previous episode, you've gotten into the roller coaster. The car you're in starts to move as the present episode begins its story, and you're taken through various loops, twists and turns. When the episode ends, the ride is over, and you ask yourself, "Is it over already?" This is what makes this story - and the radio serials so far - so entertaining for me. It just makes me want more.
I hope this makes you want to go on the roller coaster again. We'll take another ride next time with "The Emerald Of The Incas." Hopefully I'll stop milking roller coaster metaphors to death by then.
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