Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1948: The Mystery of the Sleeping BeautyReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: May 19, 1948-June 11, 1948
"The Mystery of the Sleeping Beauty"
Metropolis Mayor Perry White has invited the staff of the Daily Planet to join him on his boat The Marauder for a fishing vacation off the coast of Florida. Clark Kent's superhuman eyes have just picked up something. He and the others discover an elaborately decorated barge. Inside, there is a seemingly unconscious woman in a white dress. Lois Lane accompanies Clark to investigate further after a mysterious glow-in-the-dark bird flies near them. The lady in the barge has been placed on a satin couch. Unsure if she is alive, Clark decides that it would be best to tow the ship alongside The Marauder. Aboard Perry's fishing cruiser, Kent reveals that he saw a plate that reads, "The Good Ship Ilyria Built in the Year of Our Lord 1202."
A Coast Guard doctor named Avery has just examined the unconscious woman found by Clark and the others. Her eyes strangely expand instead of contracting when they come in contact with light. Not only that, the lady will most likely die if she isn't awakened in a few hours. As if to echo the tension of the situation, the glowing bird whistles an eerie tune. Superman and his friends are now heavily involved in this strange mystery.
Coast Guard doctors have been running tests on the blood sample taken from the Sleeping Beauty. The red, glowing bird found on the barge refuses to leave the woman's side. Lois and Clark are in a hotel room controlling her condition. They discover that she is becoming severely dehydrated. The medicine needed to help the girl is in a hospital laboratory sixty miles from Lois and Clark's location. This has truly become a job for Superman. However, even the Man of Steel may be too late. When Clark Kent returned with the pills, Lois shocked him with the news that the Sleeping Beauty is dead. For the first time in his career, Superman may have failed.
The Sleeping Beauty's pulse has gotten slightly stronger once the glowing red bird whistles its tune. Via telephone, Clark whistles the song to Stefan Kogal, a man who helped break a musical code for Clark in the past. He says that his friend Horace Pender, an expert in twelfth and thirteenth century music, might be able to help Kent. Pender lives in an area not far from Tucson, Arizona, and he's more than willing to aid Superman in awakening the comatose girl. Can the melody bring life to the Sleeping Beauty?
After being questioned by the Coast Guard, Jimmy Olsen has joined Superman, who is in the reporter's garb of Clark Kent, and Lois Lane. The trio is witnessing Horace Pender playing a flute in an effort to awaken the Sleeping Beauty. His playing of the same melody whistled by the glowing bird succeeds in helping the woman regain consciousness. The mysterious young lady then says something that deepens the strange mystery. Is it connected to her unusual sleep?
The recently awakened young woman has revealed that her name is Revpaten, and her red, glowing bird is called Nicoma. She is from a land called Ilyria. Her speech seems to be that of someone from the thirteenth century. Mister Pender, Lois, Jimmy and Clark introduce themselves to Revpaten and later recount to Doctor Avery of the awakening of the girl. Avery then says that Revpaten be give he a quarter of a glass of lukewarm water every four hours. However, when Lois and Clark go to do as the physician had ordered, they find both Revpaten and Nicoma are missing. This odd mystery has just deepened for Superman and his friends.
Revpaten, believing Clark and the others were angry with her, had run off. Once all misunderstandings are cleared up, she tells of the land of Ilyria. There were no forms of injustice such as crime and slavery. Still, some Ilyrians felt unsafe. Walls were built to keep outsiders from entering the country. However, once a year, an Ilyrian can leave to explore the rest of the world if he or she wishes. Franz, a cruel, cold man who had become Ilyria's Grand Master after Revpaten's father had died, had been charged with communicating with the outsiders, thereby breaking the highest law of Ilyria. However, Franz had accused Princess Revpaten of treason. His punishment for her was death!
The Ilyrian High Council has spoken. Revpaten had been sentenced to death. Hercamin, a friend of Revpaten, had defied the law by aiding her. He had trained Nicoma to whistle a tune that he had played on his flute. The song would place Revpaten into a death-like state of suspended animation. This fooled Franz, and Nicoma was to awaken Revpaten once the burial barge was far from Ilyria before a raging storm had become worse. While in her slumber, Revpaten was aware of things around her despite losing track of time. Nicoma never left her side as he attempted to awaken his mistress with music even when Perry's boat had approached the burial barge, where the note incriminating Franz was hidden by the bird. Now, Nicoma is going to find the paper. Later, Clark is shocked about what he finds in the letter's contents. The Man of Steel cannot believe his superhuman eyes.
Clark has discovered that the note to Franz was written in German, a language Lois can translate somewhat. Apparently, Franz, a possible former Nazi, had planned to have someone arrive in Ilyria in forty-two days. Jimmy has gone to get some maps for Clark to study in order to learn Ilyria's location, but the hall lights have suddenly been shut off. Someone is also lurking in the darkness. Can they be a danger to Revpaten and the others?
Perry White was the man in the darkness. He has just returned from being questioned by the Coast Guard. Clark brings the mayor up to speed on the recent events, and everyone tries to figure out the location of Ilyria. Revpaten seems to remember something about Columbia. However, before more can be said, two shots are fired. Someone clearly doesn't want Superman and his friends to find Revpaten's mysterious land.
The gunman that had shot at Clark and the others has strangely disappeared. With things more calm, Clark theorizes, thanks to an emerald ring Revpaten had received as a gift from her childhood nurse, that Ilyria is somewhere near Columbia in South America. Preparations are then made for Jimmy and Clark to go with Revpaten on an airplane in search of her homeland. Unfortunately, Clark notices that the craft is going off course during the voyage. Yet, he can do nothing even as Superman. If he tries, the pilot will shoot and kill Revpaten.
Jimmy has stopped the pilot from shooting Revpaten, but he has been knocked out in the process. Now, the airplane is about to crash. With Revpaten having fainted, Clark becomes Superman in order to land the plane on Gihannah Island. He resumes his reporter's guise just before Revpaten and Jimmy awaken. They are currently surveying the land for clues to Ilyria's whereabouts. Suddenly, there is a rumbling. Jimmy's foot then gets stuck in a crack in the earth. Disaster surrounds our trio as Clark carries both Revpaten and Jimmy. At that moment, the ship which carried Kent and his friends falls into another fissure in the ground. There might be no way for them to leave without Clark revealing that he is Superman.
The land has now calmed, and Nicoma is helping Revpaten and the others find their way. Once they near some fresh water, Clark makes a tent from his trench coat and some trees. The mild mannered reporter then orders Jimmy and Revpaten to rest. This gives him a chance to seek help as Superman. Or does it? A jaguar is about to attack. The timely arrival of Clark Kent saves both Jimmy and Revpaten. The animal is dead, but that isn't the last of our heroes' troubles. A native has spotted them. He is from a tribe of headhunters, and he's brought others with him that are surrounding Clark, Jimmy and Revpaten. This danger may be too much even for Superman.
The headhunters have calmed since they recognize Revpaten as a friend to their tribe. They agree to escort Clark and Jimmy to Ilyria while Revpaten remains in the natives' village to rest. The two reporters manage to sneak into the city through a hole in the outer wall made by Clark. They must give Hercamin a message from Revpaten. Unfortunately, the elderly ally of the princess will be put to death within an hour. Superman may have arrived in Ilyria too late.
Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen have just secretly entered the Ilyrian Palace. They eavesdrop on a conversation between Hercamin and the dictator Franz. The former is defying the tyrant and refuses to speak of Princess Revpaten's whereabouts. Later, in the Ilyrian Square, Clark plans to use the powers of Superman to save Revpaten's old friend. However, he may be too late. A guard has stopped him, and Kent has suddenly ordered Jimmy to leave the hidden city. Can the Man of Steel rescue Hercamin?
With Jimmy out of the way, Clark can resume his true identity of the Man of Steel. Superman saves Hercamin, takes him outside the city limits where Jimmy meets them, and he later confronts the Nazi Franz. Superman discovers a shortwave radio set when he fights with Franz. It looks like the German is trying to resurrect Hitler's sick dreams in Ilyria.
Chaos has erupted in Ilyria. German troops are storming the gates as Franz desperately sets fire to the land that he once ruled. Jimmy and Hercamin are about to go back to Ilyria, and Princess Revpaten has returned to free her people with the aid of the headhunters. Everyone is in awe witnessing Superman's feats of strength used against The Nazi troops that had escaped when the war had ended. Jimmy, however, is intent on saving Clark Kent when flames spread from building to building in Ilyria. Jimmy may have placed himself in grave danger.
Superman has just saved Jimmy before a burning roof can fall on him. The Man of Steel has convinced his young friend that Clark Kent is safe. Now, the people of Ilyria want to give Franz the end that he was about to give Hercamin and Princess Revpaten. However, Superman convinces them that The dictator must be given a fair trial. The Ilyrians are now working to rebuild their city while bringing Franz to justice. Meanwhile, Superman and Jimmy Olsen are heading back to Metropolis, where a new adventure awaits the Last Son of Krypton. Be here next week for "The Secret of Meteor Island," gang. Don't miss a moment of The Adventures of Superman.
This is a rebroadcast of a twenty chapter serial that aired from January 15, 1945-February 09, 1945.
"The Mystery of the Sleeping Beauty" is not a bad story. However, it does suffer from the fact that it does need some editing. A good example of this is the length of Revpaten's explanation of Ilyria. It goes on for three episodes. The writers should have cut it to one or, at the most, one and a half chapters. It would have held the audience's interest more and left some room for of the conflict between Franz and Revpaten if it was really necessary to make this an eighteen part story.
Some things are also very unclear about "The Mystery of the Sleeping Beauty." Granted, the ship carrying Revpaten was built in 1202. But, just how old is the land of Ilyria? How can the people still speak like folks did in the thirteenth century if they open Ilyria's gates once a year? Surely, the more modern speech patterns of people like the Columbian nurse that cared for Revpaten as a child would have caught on somehow. It is evident that the Ilyrian princess was banished from her land recently. The number is never mentioned, but let's say that Revpaten is in her middle twenties in this serial. Given that, if we subtract fifteen to twenty years to get her age when the woman gave her the emerald ring mentioned, the nurse was most likely in Ilyria sometime between 1928 and 1933. Columbians of that time most likely spoke differently from Ilyrians. This is a huge plot hole in the serial.
For a maniacal tyrant Nazi trying to escape the post-war outside world in order to rebuild the psychotic dreams of Hitler, Franz does very little in "The Mystery of the Sleeping Beauty." He basically banishes someone, nearly executes another person and starts a fire. Granted, those things would lead one to believe that Franz is evil, but instead of giving us long explanations of the origins Ilyria, time could have been spent developing the character to make him more of a force to be reckoned with. As he is currently, Franz is merely a minor footnote in the rogues' gallery of The Adventures of Superman radio series.
Have you ever noticed that something always goes wrong when a character in a series is on vacation? It happens a lot in Star Trek. A Superman example of this can be in season three of Lois And Clark when the happy couple wanted to have a romantic weekend on an island only to have it interrupted by a madman who wanted his head placed on Superman's body. My point is that our heroes never get a chance to relax. Then again, if they did, there wouldn't be much of a story would there? If Clark and the others had just went on with their fishing trip, I probably would have reviewed something other than "The Mystery of the Sleeping Beauty."
I know it seems like I'm complaining about "The Mystery of the Sleeping Beauty," but I really do like it in spite of its flaws. I merely wanted to point out where the serial needed some improvements. I did honestly enjoy the sense of family that could be felt between Lois, Jimmy, Perry and Clark. This in my humble opinion, is one of the many aspects that makes every version of the Superman universe more enjoyable for audiences of any age.
Overall, "The Mystery of the Sleeping Beauty" could have used some improvements, but it's still a rather entertaining serial. In seven days or so, Batman and Robin will help the Man of Steel discover "The Secret of Meteor Island." We will see what happens next week, Superfans. Until then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky. Now, go read all the other great articles and reviews on the Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did.
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