Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1940: Alonzo Craig Arctic ExplorerReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: May 27, 1940-June 07, 1940
"Alonzo Craig Arctic Explorer"
Three years ago, Alonzo Craig was exploring the islands north of Elsmereland to prove that a race of giant white natives and their supposedly immortal witch doctor leader exist. Daily Planet reporter Ray Martin and and Professor Peters of the Metropolis Museum went on a search for Craig recently. Perry White has not heard from either Martin nor Peters in over a month. He's ordered Clark Kent to do what he can to find Martin, Peters and Alonzo Craig. Peters and Martin were to contact Perry via shortwave radio at Ormand. A telegraphed message from Fort Ormand says that gossip among the natives says that Professor Peters and Ray Martin are missing.
Paula Craig, Alonzo's twin sister, has entered Perry's office. She tells Clark and Perry that she and her brother both wear matching rings with their parents' initials on them. She had given her ring to Ray Martin to help him find her brother. She's just received a package from her bother's navigator and friend Captain Ike Walters. The package had one of the rings inside it. Captain Walters bought the ring in Ormand. Paula is convinced that the ring belongs to her brother. However, after she leaves Perry's office, Mr. White tells Clark that it's Paula's ring. Perry had put a scratch on her ring after Paula had given it to Ray Martin, and the ring that was delivered to Paula has a scratch in the same place Perry had put it.
Suddenly, Perry gets a telegram from Captain Walters urging that he send somebody in a hurry. When Clark is on the captain's boat. Walters tells him that he believes Alonzo Craig was after some gold and treasure, but the giant natives got to Craig before he could get any riches. Before Walters can tell Clark how he found the ring he sent to Paula Craig, their boat is surrounded by icebergs. Superman tries to clear one iceberg, but not before ice from the other bergs falls down onto the boat. He clears away the ice and clears a path to Elsmereland for Captain Walters' boat with his tremendous strength.
Some time has passed, and Captain Walters and Clark Kent have taken a dog team to follow the trail of Martin and Peters. The dog team is nervous, and Walters is scared. He finally tells Clark that a native brought the ring Paula Craig gave to Ray Martin, but Walters is certain that Martin had the ring with him when he last saw the reporter. Captain Walters also tells Clark that he thinks Alonzo Craig has found the natives' treasure called "The Luck of the North." However, he also believes the seemingly immortal witch doctor that leads the giant natives holds the secrets to the treasure.
Suddenly, one of the dogs begins to howl. Clark and Walters see the form of a native in the shadows of the night, and he's gesturing to the pair to stay away. Clark scouts on ahead in order to change into Superman, but the Man of Steel's superhuman eyes find nothing. When he returns to Walters as Clark Kent, he finds a flickering light in the valley up ahead. Clark eventually convinces the scared Captain Walters to go into the valley to discover the light's source. Meanwhile, a dark form is hiding in the shadows and following Clark and Captain Walters.
Kent and Walters discover that the light was coming from a hut in the valley. They search the hut and find it empty. Clark even calls to Ray Martin and Proefessor Peters, but he gets no response. They attempt to search some things that could possibly belong to Peters and Martin when they hear the dog team barking, Clark and Walters are attacked by natives. In the confusion, Superman takes some of the natives for a flight. In the meantime, Walters is hit over the head with a native's club. Superman then fights the natives until they run away.
Later, in an igloo, Walters has regained consciousness. Clark Kent then shows him a diary he had found under the ice. The diary belongs to Ray Martin. The diary says that Martin and Peters were attacked by the natives, who are called the Kunalakas. When Clark goes to feed the dogs, an eskimo is taking his boat down the river, but he does not see a group of walruses ahead of him. Walters faints because of his head injury. This gives Clark a chance to become Superman.
Superman saves the eskimo only to find that he is not an eskimo. He is Professor Peters, who is unconscious. The professor later tells Clark Kent and Captain Walters that he and Ray Martin were robbed before being captured. He also says that Martin is very sick, and the giant Kunalakas plan to sacrifice him at noon, which leaves them only a half hour to save the reporter. The professor managed to escape the natives before he was to be sacrificed with Martin. Clark then convinces Peters and Walters that he can take the dogs to save Martin. He takes the dogs part of the way before letting Superman do the rest of the work.
The Man of Steel manages to get to the Kunalaka camp just before the sacrifice begins. A group of natives attack Superman, but they are no match for our hero. He unties Ray Martin and brings him back to the igloo. He covers Martin with a bunch of blankets to help keep the sick reporter warm. The ailing reporter then tells Clark Kent of a treasure map in his pocket. Ray then struggles to tell Clark of Alonzo Craig before he dies. Martin's last words are "Get Alonzo Craig... Look out..."
Clark Kent, Captain Walters and Professor Peters follow the map that Ray Martin had given them. Unfortunately, the map is incomplete. Suddenly, the ring Walters had given Paula Craig falls out of Clark Kent's pocket. The fallen ring leads to an important discovery. There's a secret compartment inside the ring, and the rest of the treasure map is inside the compartment. The map has a complete trail to the cliffs that lead to the Temple of Ice and has a message written on it. The message reads as follows:
- "The treasure exists. Look in the sunken temple. The witch doctor guards it constantly. Beware the White Terror. Enter from the Valley of the Cliffs. Take Care.
- Alonzo Craig"
Clark theorizes that the native that sold the ring to Captain Walters was one of the Kunalakas that had robbed Professor Peters and Ray Martin. The Kunalakan most likely didn't know about the secret compartment when he sold it to Walters.
The trio then take the dog sled and follow the trail to the valley on the map. After a long period of time, they believe that the map leads to nothing as they get to the cliffs. Suddenly, the sled dogs begin fighting with each other. The lead dog Chico gets loose, and Captain Walters whistles for him. The sound of the whistle causes chunks of ice to fall from the cliff. The impact from the falling ice opens an entry into the underground Temple of Ice. Clark and the others follow the trail when they hear maniacal laughter. Clark moves on ahead to discover the source of the laughing. He assumes his true identity of Superman to help in his search.
The laughter is coming from the witch doctor, who fights with Superman until the Man of Steel knocks him out. Superman takes something from the unconscious witch doctor, but before he can examine it, Walters and Peters are attacked by the White Terror. The White Terror is actually a giant polar bear. In the darkness, Superman fights the bear and forces him to run away before resuming his guise of Clark Kent.
Clark later shows Peters and Walters what he took from the witch doctor. It is the twin of Paula Craig's ring, and it was on the witch doctor's hand. Clark then reveals that he believes that the witch doctor is none other than Alonzo Craig. The witch doctor then makes his escape.
An hour later after Captain Walters goes back to the surface for food and supplies, Professor Peters and Clark Kent sit around a fire that was built on the altar of the temple. They discuss why Alonzo Craig had become the witch doctor. Suddenly, an ice door leading to a secret passage slides open. The heat from the fire warmed the door causing it to move. The secret passage leads to the Kunalaka treasure, which is in a 17th century Spanish treasure chest. Professor Peters is overjoyed to find the treasure
Suddenly the professor begins to choke and eventually loses consciousness. Clark smells the odor of a gas that is being used by Alonzo Craig as the witch doctor. Hearing the witch doctor's laughter, Clark follows him as Superman. The witch doctor shuts the ice door, but that doesn't stop Superman. The witch doctor throws knives at Superman. However, the Man of Steel knocks him out before the assault can continue. Clark Kent returns to Professor Peters, who has just awakened to see Kent with the unconscious Alonzo Craig. Clark ties Craig up before helping Peters move the treasure.
Worried because Walters has been gone for over an hour, Clark and Peters decide to return to the surface with the treasure and Alonzo Craig to meet the navigator. Suddenly, just as they're about to meet up with Walters, a group of Kunalaka natives suround them. Clark and Peters manage to meet up with Walters and escape with Alonzo Craig and the treasure. They arrive at the igloo, only to find that they are surrounded by a Kunalakan war party.
When night falls, Superman returns to the Temple of Ice. After a heated battle with the Kunalaka natives and their chief, Superman makes a deal with the chief. When he returns to the igloo as Clark Kent, he gives Alonzo Craig a white powder. Peters and Walters believe it's a poison at first, but when Craig comes out of his madness, they learn the truth. The Kunalakans and their chief arrive at the igloo. The natives had refused to give the powder to cure Craig unless they got back the treasure that was taken from them. Clark gives the natives the treasure much to the dismay of Captain Walters and Professor Peters.
Alonzo Craig is back to normal, and he's going back to Metropolis with Clark Kent. Clark tries to give back the ring he took from Craig, but the explorer refuses to take the ring. He wants to give the ring to Clark as a thank you for saving his life. Clark reluctantly accepts Craig's gift. Captain Walters later lets them know that they're are about to reach Metropolis. Alonzo Craig can get back to his normal life, and Clark Kent can write the story for the Daily Planet while he awaits the next mystery in the next story in The Adventures of Superman.
I must admit that I was not impressed with the beginning of the first chapter "Alonzo Craig Arctic Explorer." Upon first listening to chapter one, I was expecting a re-hashing of "The Emerald of the Incas," which, as of this writing, is my least favorite of the serial story arcs I've heard so far. However, I'm happy to say that "Alonzo Craig Arctic Explorer" isn't a recycled version of another serial arc. It only gives you an impression that it will be like that. Once the events in chapter two start, this story really takes off and gives the listener a great adventure story.
I have noticed as I've listened to The Adventures of Superman radio serials, each story arc has a different feel to it. "Donelli's Protection Racket" and "The North Star Mining Company" feel like a mixure of a Seigel and Shuster story and an episode of the TV series with George Reeves, The Yellow Mask stories feel like the Kirk Alyn serials, and "Buffalo Hills" feels like pure Seigel and Shuster. Well, "Alonzo Craig Arctic Explorer" feels a lot like one of the Fleischer animated cartoons. I honestly can't explain why I get different feelings with different stories in these radio shows, but I find it does make them more fun and interesting to hear.
Anyway, as I said, "Alonzo Craig Arctic Explorer" really takes flight (pun intended) in chapter two. I was sucked into the story by the time Superman tried to free Captain Walters' boat from the ice. Now in chapter one's defense, it does work better if one listens to all six chapters of the story together. If one hears the individual episode, it will give the listener memories of "The Emerald of the Incas."
I honestly couldn't find anything wrong with the story of "Alonzo Craig Arctic Explorer." Even the fact that we have no Lois or Jimmy doesn't bother me. In my opinion, the story would not work with those characters. The supporting characters in this story are perfect just the way they are.
The story itself was written well and full of surprises. I really wasn't expecting the witch doctor to be Alonzo Craig himself. I kept thinking Craig had been killed by the witch doctor, but I was proven wrong. When Craig was revealed to be the witch doctor, I did a double take. I hope future stories in The Adventures of Superman have this same effect on me.
I really have no complaints at all about "Alonzo Craig Arctic Explorer." It has the action, adventure and suspense that every great Superman story should have. I sure hope "Horace Morton's Weather Machine" has all of the qualities "Alonzo Craig Artic Explorer" had when I review it next week. Until then, see you next time, and remember to look up in the sky.
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