Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1948: The Crossword Puzzle MysteryReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: April 15, 1948-May 03, 1948
"The Crossword Puzzle Mystery"
Lois Lane has gone with Horatio F. Horn somewhere on a story. She has told cub reporter Jimmy Olsen to look in the Daily Planet from the day before yesterday for the crossword puzzle in search of clues in case she hasn't been heard from within twenty-four hours. Worried, young Olsen tells Clark Kent. However, he believes that Lois is only playing a prank. Meanwhile, Lois is on an airplane trying to solve a crossword in order to learn where she must go. She finds, thanks to the clues, that she must be in a town called Moundville. After arriving in Chicago, she buys a ticket to Desert City, the nearest town to Moundville. Unfortunately, the taxi driver in Desert City is reluctant to take her there. Despite his warnings, Lois intends to find out what is going on in Moundville. Lois may get more than she has bargained for.
Lois has arrived in Moundville, where she is to meet Ohio Daily Planet correspondent and amateur detective Horatio F. Horn. He has a big scoop for the star reporter, but before he can tell her more, Horatio has disappeared before he can even finish speaking. Something truly mysterious is going on in the mining town of Moundville.
Lois has had no luck finding Horatio and has called Jimmy, who is taking messages for Clark while he is away on secret business with Mayor Perry White. The cub reporter does not believe Lois when she tells of the danger in Moundville. She even screams like she has been captured. Unfortunately, Jimmy still thinks that she is playing a joke. Jimmy may have well sealed Lois' doom as she has been visited by a mysterious tall man with gold teeth. What dies he want with Lois Lane?
The tall, white-haired man in Lois' room claims to be the owner of hotel named Frosty Ketchle. He is trying to make Lois think that Horatio F. Horn had left town, but the star reporter is intent on finding her comrade. Meanwhile, Jimmy receives a a telephone call from Horatio's sister, who hasn't heard from the detective in a couple of days. Jimmy is now convinced that Lois is in danger and is planning to go to Moundville. He arrives shortly after midnight. Frosty Ketchle, however, tells Jimmy that Lois never even stayed in his hotel. The cub reporter now feels like he has become the victim of another practical joke. If he only knew the truth.
Lois has just called to Jimmy from a closed storefront. She tells him of Horatio's disappearance. Jimmy then tries to get a room in Ketchle's hotel, but the gold-toothed man says that there is no vacancy. Lois knows that Ketchle is lying, and she and Jimmy are searching for Horatio by sneaking into a window of Ketchle's establishment. They look for clues to where and how Horn had vanished. Suddenly, Lois is no longer with Jimmy. The lad then screams. Shortly afterwards, Ketchle and his porter Weary Willy enter to find nobody there. Lois and Jimmy may have met the same fate as Horatio F. Horn
Clark Kent has returned to the Daily Planet. Mister Burrows, the city editor, asks for Jimmy's whereabouts. Clark asks a forgetful Beany Martin. He eventually learns from Horatio F. Horn's sister about her brother being with Lois. Not long afterwards, Clark does the crossword puzzle in which Lois had done. Mayor Perry White, who has left Kent in charge of the newspaper, thinks that the mild mannered reporter has gone mad. Clark proves him wrong and finds that he must go to Moundville as Superman. However, the Man of Steel has just scratched the surface of this strange mystery.
Clark Kent is now in Moundville. He is having no luck in finding Lois, Jimmy and Horatio. Weary Willy and taxi driver Leif Hawkins have given cryptic warnings about the desert mining town. Changing into the red and blue costume of Superman, our hero continues his search for his friends. At the same time, six horsemen are taking a bound and gagged Jimmy Olsen with them. A rattlesnake has frightened the horse carrying the cub reporter. The animal is running toward a canyon with a large waterfall. Young Olsen is in grave danger. Can Superman save him in time?
Superman is flying overhead when he sees the runaway horse carrying an unconscious Jimmy Olsen. The Man of Steel saves the cub reporter in time to hear of the strange events in Moundville. Jimmy then meets Clark Kent in Frosty Ketchle's hotel where Lois Lane and Horatio F. Horn had disappeared. Kent then discovers a trap door leading to a small cellar. He begins digging in search of clues to his friends' whereabouts when Weary Willy lights a match to help him see. Suddenly, there is a flash of light and a huge explosion that rocks the building and possibly injures Jimmy and Willy. Superman will need all the powers at his disposal to save them.
The hotel is now engulfed in flames. Clark has shielded Jimmy and Willy with his invulnerable body. Kent then must pretend to be knocked out when the townspeople arrive. The trio are taken to a doctor, and are interrogated by the local sheriff, who reveals possible reasons for Horatio and Lois covering a story in Moundville. When the gold mines were first discovered in the desert town, two prospectors struck it rich and disappeared shortly afterwards. Frosty Ketchle, around the same time, had suddenly come into enough money to buy the local hotel in which he was an employee. It is the sheriff's theory that Lois and Horatio had stumbled upon the fact that Ketchle had done away with the miners.
There is no sign of Frosty Ketchle anywhere. The only clues to finding Lois and Horatio are three burned crossword puzzles that Clark had found not long before the hotel fire. He must go to Metropolis as Superman in order to use the police department's crime lab to learn the dates of the newspapers that contained the enigmas. Unfortunately, the Man of Tomorrow may be unable to save Lois and Horatio. Ketchle intends to kill them very soon.
Thanks to the Metropolis Police Department and his superhuman eyes, Clark Kent discovers what date the newspapers had been printed. He also learns that the syndicate that sends the periodicals the crossword puzzles gives them to the Daily Planet. Clark and Mayor Perry White are currently working on the word games in hopes of saving Lois and Horatio. However, they may be too late. Frosty Ketchle and a man named Mister Hurley have guns pointed at Superman's friends. If Lois and Horatio don't tell the villains what they know, they will most certainly perish.
Before Hurley and Ketchle can kill Horatio and Lois,.they are warned of an approaching posse led by the sheriff. Hurley orders that the two reporters be placed into a nearby cave. Horatio eventually manages to free Lois and himself from the ropes that had bound them. Horn then uses a lasso to deal with Frosty Ketchle. Unfortunately, both Horatio and Lois now find themselves surrounded by Hurley and his henchman Pete. Superman is still solving the puzzles in Metropolis and doesn't know of his friends' danger. Can anything save Lois and Horatio?
Horatio has discovered that he has Frosty Ketchle's rifle. Unfortunately, he cannot shoot it very well. Lois takes it from him and fires the last bullet. She and Horn are surely trapped. Meanwhile, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are in Moundville. They learn from the sheriff that a gold shipment from the Star Plaza Mine will be leaving tonight. Kent theorizes that Lois and Horatio learned of a plot to hijack the riches. Superman's suspicions are correct, but he will need all of his incredible abilities to stop the thieves and save his friends.
As Sheriff Withers, Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent await the gold hijackers, Kent's keen ears hear gunfire. As Superman, he rockets to the source of the sound. The Man of Steel cracks the shooter's heads together and takes Lois and Horatio to the Star Plaza Mine, where he and Sheriff Withers deal with the rest of the thieves. Withers later learns that the head of syndicate in Metropolis that distributes crossword puzzles to newspapers like the Daily Planet is also the mastermind behind the gold heists. Sheriff Withers is expecting a call from Metropolis at any moment. However, when he receives it, he falls to the floor unconscious. Jimmy, Horatio, Lois and even Superman soon follow. Something strange has clearly happened in the sheriff's office.
Using what remains of his strength, Clark manages to get Jimmy and the rest of the group out of the sheriff's office and to a doctor. Hurley and his gang had used knockout gas to cover their escape. They even took Sheriff Withers' car. Superman, however, stops them before they can continue with their plot to steal gold. Now, they are back in prison, and the Metropolis mastermind behind the thefts has been taken into custody by Police Inspector Bill Henderson's men. Another crime has been stopped by Superman and Horatio F. Horn.
We now turn our attention to the central traffic office of the Metropolis Subway System. There is a break between trains, and, while his partner is getting some coffee, Joe Miller sees something that shocks him. The ghost of the pirate Captain Kidd haunts the tunnels under the city. "The Ghost Brigade" is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat next week, boys and girls. Stay tuned to The Adventures of Superman to see what happens to our hero and his friends.
After the previous serial had such a heavy topic like racism, it's good to have a story like "The Crossword Puzzle Mystery" that helps the audience escape reality and forget their troubles for a little while. Last week's tale was good and well done, but there are times when one needs something that is pure adventure. This arc provides that with every chapter. My only complaint about "The Crossword Puzzle Mystery" is that the public service announcements that replaced Kellogg's Pep as a sponsor interrupt the flow of the action. For some reason I cannot fathom, they feel like they are poorly placed into the episodes. Beyond that, it's an amazing story arc.
The atmosphere of "The Crossword Puzzle Mystery" is a brilliant mixture of the Kirk Alyn movie serials and the George Reeves series. In fact, as The Adventures of Superman edges closer to the golden age of television, its stories get to be more like its video counterpart. This makes this arc in particular more fun and a joy for the ears. I hope more of the radio shows are like this.
It's good to see Lois Lane as an active part of this serial. She showed up in "The Mystery of the Stolen Costume," but she really did nothing beyond have a few talks with Clark, Perry in that tale. Let's hope she plays an important part in other radio shows. In my opinion, she's an extremely essential part of the Superman universe.
Horatio "F for French" Horn makes his third appearance in The Adventures of Superman. He doesn't show up much in this serial, yet Lois could not have gotten the story of the gold mine hijackings without him. He's still the lovable, but irritating and eccentric character that I've enjoyed in past stories. However, the writers have fun with him despite his only appearing in a few episodes. Horatio really ramped up the fun in this arc for me.
One question has been on my mind since Perry White became Mayor of Metropolis. Who is the chief now at the Daily Planet? Some serials have suggested that Perry's still editor while being a political head of the city. I personally found this hard to swallow. "The Crossword Puzzle Mystery" states that Clark is in charge while Perry is in City Hall. This should prove interesting to his secret identity if the writers played with this plot thread more. We'll just have to wait and see what happens
While I do wish that the name of the mastermind in Metropolis was revealed, the hijackers in "The Crossword Puzzle Mystery" help make the serial such an action-filled thrill ride. If the adversaries don't work like say, for example, Dominus in the comic books didn't, the story falls flat and becomes a tedious mess. Fortunately, that's not the case with this tale.
The ghost of Captain Kidd has been seen in the subway tunnels of Metropolis. Will Superman solve this strange mystery, or will the pirate end up playing cards with Elvis? 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 great reviews and articles on the Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did.
Back to the "Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews" Contents page.