Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1947: The Phantom of the SeaReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: April 28, 1947-May 13, 1947
"The Phantom of the Sea"
Horatio F. Horn and Lois Lane are in the northern banks of Canada investigating why a rare fish has not been shipped to Horn's Ohio hometown. Lois had sent a telegram to Perry White saying something big was happening. If the star reporter is not heard from within twenty-four hours, all efforts are to be made to contact Superman. The editor of the Daily Planet believes that Lois and Horatio are on a wild goose chase. Clark Kent, on the other hand, thinks something is going on in Canada, but Perry forbids him to aid Lois. In the meantime, Horatio and Lois are in the fishing village of Saint Selmo in a tavern called the Blue Anchor waiting for someone called Mister Ike Barnaby to take them on an ocean trip to discover the strange events that are stopping the fish deliveries. Barnaby, unfortunately, backs out because he is clearly afraid of something. All seems lost until Captain Jonathan Marble offers to take them on his boat for two hundred dollars. However, Lois and Horatio may not return from the voyage alive.
While Horatio and Lois are aboard Captain Marble's boat The Nancy Ruth, Clark and Perry are going over Lois' story of the eerie events that tell of "something in the sea" that is frightening those in the village of Saint Selmo. Despite his chief's objections, Clark still feels that he should be in Canada assisting Lois and Horatio. At the same time, the fog on the Canadian banks is beginning to lift as Captain Marble points out a pair of glowing, red eyes. Something then suddenly attempts to ram The Nancy Ruth. Marble is making a U turn to avoid it. Unfortunately, nothing seems to stop the creature from coming at them. The ship capsizes, leaving Captain Marble, Lois and Horatio in the dark, cold waters of the Northern Atlantic, and Superman is in Metropolis as Clark Kent.
It's been nearly three hours since The Nancy Ruth overturned. A worried Clark Kent has left Metropolis to Canada to search for Lois, Horatio and Captain Marble. The trio in question is struggling to remain afloat in the Atlantic Ocean as the hull of their ship has suffered some serious damage. Meanwhile, The Man of Steel has donned his reporter's guise in order to question the people of Saint Selmo. He eventually learns the location of the sea monster that everyone in the fishing village fears. Clark wants to look into this further. However, Superman may be too late. The Nancy Ruth has sunk, and, despite their weakened state, Captain Marble, Lois Lane and Horatio F. Horn must swim for their lives. Otherwise, they could wind up in a watery grave.
Superman has rescued Captain Marble, Lois Lane and Horatio F. Horn. The trio has been examined by a doctor. Marble suffered a blow to the head, but Horatio and Lois only need to rest. Clark Kent is speaking with them about how he and Perry were concerned after not being able to communicate with Lois and Horatio. Superman had been contacted as Lois' telegram had suggested. Kent then tells Lois and Horatio that he believes that sea monster that attacked them on the ocean is not a supernatural creature. He just needs to investigate it further, which he attempts to do offshore as Superman. Later that night, Horatio and Lois see the red eyes of the beast from the window of the latter's bedroom. They run to the edge of the beach and see the thing sink underwater and find something shocking - the five ton wreckage of The Nancy Ruth, which had capsized in the middle of the ocean. Did a being of an unusual nature put it there?
Knowing that the tide went out instead of coming into he shore, Horatio F. Horn believes a monster lifted The Nancy Ruth onto the beach. Clark Kent does not believe this and wants to take Ike Barnaby's boat out where the creature has been sighted. He intended to go alone, but Lois and Horatio stowed away on board only to find themselves in danger. The red-eyed beast is breathing flames. The seacraft is now on fire. Now, Clark cannot save his friends without revealing that he is Superman.
Clark and his friends are forced to abandon ship as the flames inch closer to the boat's gas tank. In the shadowy darkness, he changes into Superman and pulls Horatio and Lois out of the ocean yet again. As Clark Kent, he shows Lois and Horatio a bottle of seawater in which he will take to Metropolis, where chemist Ben Jacobs will analyze it. Jacobs later finds something in the sample Kent had given him. and it may solve the mystery of the sea monster that is frightening the Canadian fishing community of Saint Selmo.
Jacobs has found traces of diesel oil in the water sample. Clark leaves a memo telling Perry White of the events surrounding the sea monster in Saint Selmo. Meanwhile, Horatio and Lois are investigating Ike Barnaby's fishing shack. The night before, he was surprised to see Lois, Horatio and Clark alive after their encounter with the fire-breathing beast. The pair looks over Barnaby's home and finds a walkie-talkie radio. However, before Lois and Horatio can learn more, Barnaby himself catches them. Now, Barnaby plans to get rid of Lois and Horatio because they know too much. Superman is unaware of their peril. Can Lois and Horn escape the doom that awaits them?
Ike Barnaby has been ordered by someone named Andrews via walkie-talkie to take Lois and Horatio to a place dubbed "The Secret Cove" after Horn reveals everything he and Lois know. Meanwhile, Superman has returned to Saint Selmo. Despite the receptionist at the Fisherman Inn telling Clark Kent that they left an hour ago, our hero has a feeling that Lois Lane and Horatio F. Horn are in trouble. He is right to have this sensation. Lois and Horatio are about to meet Andrews, who, according to Barnaby, will feed them to the sea monster. The Man of Steel may be too late to rescue his friends.
Clark Kent is questioning a neighbor of Ike Barnaby who had seen him leave an hour ago with Lois and Horatio. As Superman, he searches the waters for clues to his friends' whereabouts. Meanwhile, Lois and Horatio, their hands bound behind their back, are looking for a means of escaping while Barnaby is speaking with the mysterious Andrews. Whatever Andrews was seeking has just been found. Now, Barnaby has been ordered to tie up all loose ends. He is to make sure the two reporters are fed to the sea monster, and Barnaby is to be certain that the creature is to never return to the surface of the Northern Atlantic.
Superman, in his frantic search for Horatio F. Horn and Lois Lane, has found what appears to be a fishing troller. His powerful eyes see that the boat is not what it seems. Diving equipment and steel chests are inside the vessel. Meanwhile, Horatio has found a flare gun and rockets. He has hidden them so he can signal Superman. At that moment, Barnaby leads Horn and Lois to the sea monster, which is really a submarine with red automobile headlights and luminous paint. As he and Lois approach the hatch of the underwater craft, Horatio fires the flare gun. Their captors are angered by this, but they believe Horn's efforts were useless. Certain death still lurks in the shadows for Superman's friends.
Superman has just seen something that appears to be a shooting star. He then spots a shack with three men inside it - Ike Barnaby, Joe and Charlie. Barnaby smashes the radio controlling the submarine carrying Lois and Horatio as the Man of Steel deals with Joe and Charlie. In order to learn where Lois and Horatio are. Our hero then takes Barnaby out to sea and makes him fear that he will be dropped into the waters. Leaving Andrews' henchman floating in the ocean, Superman brings the seacraft to the surface. The vessel sank after Horatio F. Horn had opened the wrong hatch causing water to enter. The ship is now out of danger, but Lois and Horatio are unconscious. Has Superman arrived too late?
Lois and Horatio are safe and sound in a doctor's care. Clark Kent is telling them that Andrews and his gang were looking for a sunken Nazi ship that had gold in it. It had been bound for the Arctic and had been disguised as an Allied vessel. An Axis naval fleet had mistakenly attacked the boat. Andrews learned of its location while he was in a German concentration camp. Now, Andrews and Barnaby and the rest of the criminals involved are in prison. Lois Lane, Horatio F. Horn and Clark can return to Metropolis to give the story of The Phantom of the Sea to Perry White for the Daily Planet.
We now go to the state prison's hospital ward. There we find Superman's old foe the Laugher on his deathbed. The orderly attending to him is former political boss Big George Latimer. The Laugher tells Latimer of a means of stopping Superman. However, Latimer must go to a nightclub called the Golden Slipper in order to get it from a man named Eddie. The hate monger does so after he is paroled one week later. Latimer is currently in the office of Clark Kent saying the following words:
"Just mention one word to Superman - Kryptonite."
Big George Latimer now has the one substance that can destroy the Man of Steel, and our hero must fight for his very life. Be here next week, gang, when "Superman Versus Kryptonite" in The Adventures of Superman.
In the last chapter, the Laugher said that the Black Widow had stolen the Kryptonite from the Metropolis Museum. It was, in fact, the Scarlet Widow who had taken the deadly meteor.
"The Phantom of the Sea" is rather predictable in spots, especially if one sees the similarities to "The Haunted Lighthouse." However, it is still an entertaining serial that has the atmosphere of an episode of The Shadow, Suspense and Escape mixed in with the film noir feeling of the first couple of years of the George Reeves show. I must admit that I did like this tale more than I had originally expected.
While "The Phantom of the Sea" is the kind of story that is a contrast to the character's previous outing, Horatio F. Horn's appearance seems to work well in this serial. Last time he appeared, Horn was a bumbling, eccentric that provided laughter to keep the topic of a nuclear war from being to heavy for the listener. There is still a chuckle here and there in this story, but it feels like Horatio "F for French" Horn seems to have evolved. Perhaps his previous experience in Metropolis changed him for the better. Whatever happened to him, I honestly hope we see more of Horatio F. Horn.
The mastermind of the whole scheme behind "The Phantom of the Sea" is a man named Andrews. I can believe this. However, I do wish more had been said and done about the character. We only see him in a couple episodes toward the end of the serial. His appearance feels more like a cameo similar to Mary Jane Watson's in The Amazing Spider-Man #25. This kind of leaves the audience feeling cheated because the main villain in this story is barely around. One can only hope that Andrews will return to make up for this mistake.
One thing I don't recall discussing much is Jackson Beck's introductions about the episode just before Dan McCullough's first Kellogg's Pep commercial. Beck normally says something like "Today, Superman does such and such." I do have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, they get the audience excited for what will happen in that day's adventure, but on the other side of the coin, they can be a bit too much of a spoiler for those that wish to be surprised and put on the edge of their seat. "The Phantom of the Sea" contains a healthy helping of both cases, However, this does not change the fact that Jackson Beck is still the best narrator for The Adventures of Superman.
The concluding chapter "The Phantom of the Sea" has, perhaps, one of the best cliffhangers that leads into the next serial that I'd heard in quite some time. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I had been so anxious to get to the next story arc in The Adventures of Superman. If I were to wager a guess, I'd say it would probably have been during the end of chapter two of "The Meteor of Kryptonite" when we were introduced to the Scarlet Widow. Let's hope that "Superman Versus Kryptonite" is a story worthy of that villainess' first appearance. We'll find out in seven days or so, Superfans. Until then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky. Don't forget the lead next week. I have a feeling Superman is going to need it.
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