Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1941: The Black Pearl of OsirisReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: January 15, 1941-February 07, 1941
"The Black Pearl of Osiris"
While Perry White tries to clear up a misunderstanding between the Metropolis police and Tumbleweed Jones, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen are to go to the Hotel Martin to interview the celebrated British explorer Sydney Ryecroft. The assignment was originally given to Lois Lane, who was covering the annual dinner for the Ladies' Historical Society. However, Perry decides to give the Ryecroft story to Clark instead.
When Clark and Jimmy arrive at Ryecroft's hotel room, they find a strange dagger stuck in the center of the door. Clark then takes the knife out of the door and rings the doorbell. Sydney Ryecroft answers, and Clark and Jimmy are surprised to see that she is a woman. Ryecroft then explains the Curse of Osiris. Osiris is an Egyptian god. and the Cult of Osiris ordered Ryecroft to stay away from the deity's tomb. Certain death will come to those that break the tomb's seal. Ryecroft broke the seal and has received warnings like that dagger ever since. Unfortunately, Ryecroft cannot speak more, but if Clark and Jimmy accompany her to the Great Gambini's magic show, she'll grant an interview afterwards.
At the magic show, the Great Gambini calls for a volunteer from the audience and chooses Ms. Ryecroft. He'll place her in a box, seal it and say the magic words for the trick. Once the magic words are said, the box disappears. Gambini does the trick and suddenly concludes his performance without making Sydney Ryecroft reappear. Clark doesn't like this and thinks he and Jimmy should go backstage to talk to Gambini as soon as possible. However, an old man answers the stage door and says the Great Gambini hadn't performed at the theater for quite some time. In fact, nobody has performed in that theater for the past two years. Evidence of dust and cobwebs throughout the theater proves this to Clark and Jimmy.
A short time later, Clark sends Jimmy back to the Daily Planet while he investigates the theater as Superman. The Man of Steel discovers from the theater's balcony that there is a secret panel in the stage floor when he sees the old man going through the hidden door. Superman follows the old man and finds a group of men guarding Sydney Ryecroft. Superman knocks out the men and unties Ms. Ryecroft. Superman belives he should question the men that held her prisoner, but Ryecroft convinces him otherwise. She also tells him that she'll be okay despite Superman wanting to take her back to her hotel. She says she has a gun and will use it if she needs to protect herself. Ryecroft then asks Superman to tell Clark Kent to forget the interview, and Clark is never to contact her again.
At the Daily Planet, Perry White has had a busy day. He was finally able to get Tumbleweed Jones out of jail, and the editor seems to want to fire Clark Kent for some reason. Jimmy has arrived and told Perry what happened at the theater. Clark enters White's office shortly afterwards and finds the chief is angry with him for not following his assignment. Clark is confused as he sees a man standing next to Perry. That man is none other than Mister Sydney Ryecroft. Clark tells about what happened with him and Jimmy seeing the Great Gambini, but Perry says that the magician died ten years ago. As an apology to Ryecroft, White promises to run a series of articles about the explorer's adventures, but Clark Kent will not be writing the pieces for the newspaper.
After leaving Perry's office with Tumbleweed Jones, a baffled Clark tells his cowboy friend that he saw the man claiming to be Sydney Ryecroft earlier tonight. However, the man had used the name the Great Gambini when Clark had seen him. Clark and Tumbleweed then head for Ms. Sydney Ryecroft's hotel.
At the hotel, Clark finds it strange that Ms. Ryecroft will be coming down to the visitor's desk instead of allowing Clark to come up to her room. While waiting, Clark and Tumbleweed see a heavily veiled woman leave the hotel. She is being supported by two men. A half hour then passes, and Ms. Ryecroft still hasn't met with Clark. He and Tumbleweed decide go up to her room and find it in a state of disorder as if a struggle had occurred. Clark now believes the veiled woman was Ms. Ryecroft. He and Tumbleweed ask the doorman where the veiled woman and two men went. After he tells them, Clark asks Tumbleweed to send a telegram in his name to the Explorers Club in London, England asking if Sydney Ryecroft is a man or a woman.
While Tumbleweed goes to send Clark's telegram, Superman flies to 417 Water Street, which is the location the hotel doorman had given Clark Kent. Superman lands on the roof and looks through the skylight when he arrives at the address. He also overhears a conversation with the bound Sydney Ryecroft and her Egyptian captor. He wants the sacred Black Pearl of Osiris that had been stolen from the tomb of the god after the seal was broken. The Egyptian claims that Ryecroft's uncle Sir Chaldress Andrews, who led the expedition to the tomb with Ryecroft, doesn't have the pearl. However, Ryecroft also claims to not have it either. The Egyptian doesn't believe her, but he has a henchman untie her anyway.
Suddenly, Ryecroft pulls a small gun she had hidden. The gun was given to her by Sir Andrews. The Egyptians take away Ryecroft's gun just before Tumbleweed Jones storms in to save Ryecroft. Instead of sending the cabled message as Clark had asked, he felt that he was better suited to save Ryecroft. Suddenly, the Egyptians shoot Tumbleweed in the leg before he can even do anything to help Ms. Ryecroft. Just then, Superman bursts in through the skylight. He fights the Egyptians, locks them in the next room, orders Sydney Ryecroft to go back to her hotel and flies Tumbleweed to the hospital.
While in the hospital, Tumbleweed calls the Daily Planet to tell Clark what happened to him. Clark isn't at his desk, but Tumbleweed tells Jimmy of his injury. After Tumbleweed hangs up, someone enters his hospital room, but he cannot see who it is in the darkness. The person is pointing a gun at him and ordering Tumbleweed to follow him to the fire escape. Tumbleweed does this despite his leg injury.
Meanwhile, Superman, as Clark Kent, has gone to Sydney Ryecroft's hotel. However, according to the desk clerk, there has never been a Sydney Ryecroft registered as a guest. The room 814, where Ryecroft was staying, had always been used as a storage room for cleaning supplies. Clark takes the desk clerk to the room. He doesn't see any sign of where the dagger was placed in the door and finds nobody in the room. There are only brooms, cleaning fluids, etc. where he had originally met Ms. Ryecroft. He apologizes to the desk clerk for his mistake and leaves the hotel.
Afterwards, Clark is at the hospital to see Tumbleweed. The nurse tells Clark that he can't see Tumbleweed right away because the doctor is examining him to see how deep the bullet went into Tumbleweed's leg. It's quite possible the doctor will remove the bullet soon.
Suddenly, the doctor comes running to the nurse's station. He asks if Tumbleweed left his room. The doctor says that Tumbleweed is not there. When he and Clark are in the room, the mild mannered reporter looks out the window and finds two sets of footprints in the snow on the fire escape. Thinking he's found a clue, Clark asks the doctor to call the police while he investigates the disappearance of Tumbleweed.
As Superman, our hero finds tire tracks near the steps that go from the fire escape to the street. The tracks belong to a car that the gunman is forcing the injured Tumbleweed to drive. Tumbleweed, however, lets go of the steering wheel once the car is on a bridge. Instead of being shot, Tumbleweed would rather take the gunman with him if he is to die. The car is about to go into the South River. However, after the car submerges into the water, Superman saves Tumbleweed.
As for the mysterious gunman, he swam to shore just before Superman saved Tumbleweed. He is now hiring a hitman named Sleepy Sam to bring Tumbleweed to him. Sam got his name because he wants to sleep all the time
Meanwhile, in Clark Kent's apartment, Jimmy is taking care of Tumbleweed, who now has a cold, while Clark has gone to the Daily Planet. Tumbleweed's leg still has the bullet in it, and the doctor cannot remove it yet because of Tumbleweed's cold. However, Tumbleweed's not seriously injured.
After Clark has left, Sleepy Sam arrives from the fire escape. He locks Jimmy in the closet and takes Tumbleweed with him to his mysterious employer. Suddenly, Humi, the Egyptian that shot Tumbleweed in the leg appears, and he wants Tumbleweed to come with him too.
In the meantime, Clark Kent is in Perry White's office waiting for the chief to return. Mister Sydney Ryecroft is also waiting for Perry. Clark confronts the man and tells him that he doesn't believe that he really is Sydney Ryecroft. Offended by Clark's accusations, the man leaves Perry's office. Shortly afterwards, Clark receives a reply to the telegram he sent to the London Explorer's Club after seeing that Tumbleweed got to the hospital as Superman. The club's telegram to Clark says that Sydney Ryecroft is a woman.
Back at Clark's apartment, Humi has locked Sleepy Sam in another closet. He is about to leave the apartment with Tumbleweed when someone shoots out the lights. In the darkness, a strange whispering voice orders the Egyptian Humi to drop his gun quickly. The Whisperer, as he calls himself, tells Tumbleweed that he is in danger. Tumbleweed wonders why all these people are after him. The Whisperer says that Tumbleweed would not believe him if he told the cowboy. He only says Tumbleweed must leave Metropolis because his life and the lives of Jimmy and Clark are in danger. The Whisperer then orders Tumbleweed to let Jimmy out of the closet and call the police to take Humi and Sleepy Sam. While Tumbleweed dials the telephone, Humi jumps out the apartment window.
After the police have taken Sleepy Sam away, Clark Kent returns to his apartment. He tells Tumbleweed and Jimmy what was written in the telegram from London. Tumbleweed then tells Clark and Jimmy what the Whisperer said about lives being in danger if he doesn't leave Metropolis. He then decides to take an airplane back to Camanche Joe's ranch.
The next day, as Jimmy Olsen is saying goodbye to Tumbleweed on the plane, Tumbleweed finds a message from the Whisperer warning him not to take this airplane. After taking a taxi to the Daily Planet, Jimmy tells Clark about the Whisperer's message to Tumbleweed. The Whisperer then phones Clark to warn him of the danger to Tumbleweed if he takes the plane. Kent then rushes to the roof to become Superman. Our hero arrives in time and attaches himself to the airplane.
Suddenly, another airplane flies in the path of the one carrying Tumbleweed. It begins to shoot at the plane. A bullet has now hit the pilot in the arm. Superman dives into the attacking airplane's propeller. The plane then crashes and catches on fire. Superman saves the pilot in time to learn that the Egytiian Humi hired him to shoot Tumbleweed's plane.
With his plane now grounded, Tumbleweed must stay in Metropolis a little longer. He is now going with Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent to the theater where the Great Gambini had performed a few nights earlier. Clark knows how he and Jimmy were made to believe the theater hadn't been used in two years. He also knows why so many people want Tumbleweed Jones. However, he doesn't want to reveal what he knows until they get to the theater.
Using a key given to him by the National Theater Alliance, Clark opens the front door of the theater. As he, Jimmy and Tumbleweed enter, Clark begins to explain what he knows. The National Theater Alliance owns this theater, which is on 50th Street, and the theater behind it on 49th Street. Both theaters were rented by a man named Theodore Kelk on the night in which Sydney Ryecroft, Jimmy and Clark had seen the Great Gambini's performance. According to the alliance, Theodore Kelk is the same man who has been posing as the Great Gambini and Sydney Ryecroft.
Now, Clark is showing Jimmy and Tumbleweed the stage door that mild mannered reporter and Jimmy had used. The door was for the 49th Street Theater's stage. The 50th Street door was covered by a billboard, which is removed by Clark and Tumbleweed, and the stage door light was removed to make Clark and Jimmy believe that there was no magic show.
Entering the 49th Street stage door, Clark and the others investigate further when the Whisperer warns them that they are in danger. Clark follows the source of the voice. He, Jimmy and Tumbleweed find dusty footprints in front of a dressing room door. Clark calls out, and the Whisperer reveals himself - or rather herself. The Whisperer is really Sydney Ryecroft. With so many questions bombarding Ryecroft she only reveals that she created the Whisperer identity to help protect Tumbleweed, Clark and Jimmy from danger. She also says she bribed the hotel staff to tell Clark that she never was a guest. She did this to keep the mild mannered reporter out of peril.
In a panic, Ryecroft says that they all must leave the theater. Unfortunately, the door is now locked, and they are confronted by Beti, the henchman of the Egyptian Humi. Beti takes them at gunpoint to the same cellar where Ms. Ryecroft had been taken after the Great Gambini's performance. Ryecroft and the others are met by Humi, who also brings in someone that Sydney Ryecroft knows - her uncle's private secretary Roger Draper.
Draper has been impersonating Sydney Ryecroft and the Great Gambini. He also arranged the theater episode and hired Sleepy Sam to bring Tumbleweed to him. However, he only did these things to try and get Tumbleweed and Ms. Ryecroft to safety.
Sir Chaldress Andrews, who has recently passed away, had stolen the Sacred Black Pearl of Osiris and placed it in a special bullet inside Sydney Ryecroft's gun. This bullet is the same projectile that is inside Tumbleweed's injured leg. Sir Andrews felt that the bullet was the best way to smuggle the pearl. He had planned to come to America to get the gun from Sydney, but he had died before he could do so.
Now, Humi has prepared five cups of poison. He plans to kill Draper, Clark and the others to get the pearl back. Clark is the first to take the poison. Some henchman pick Clark up and take his body outside. Before Tumbleweed can take the poison, Superman storms in and makes short work of Humi and his Egyptian Cult of Osiris.
Later, while saying goodbye to Sydney Ryecroft and Roger Draper, Clark Kent explains that the poison only knocked him out. Once he had gotten to a hospital, the doctors removed the poison. The mystery of Black Pearl of Osiris has been solved, but what awaits Superman and company in the next serial? Tune in next week for "The Dragon's Teeth" and find out when we return for The Adventures of Superman, boys and girls.
While "The Black Pearl of Osiris" is more entertaining than "The Howling Coyote," there are still some problems that need to be addressed. They don't ruin the overall entertainment of the serial, but the story would have been even more enjoyable had these problems been worked out somehow.
First, there's the fact that Perry yanks the Ryecroft assignment away from Lois and gives it to Clark. I honestly don't think Perry would do this, and if he had done this - as he did in "The Black Pearl of Osiris," Lois would have stormed into his office to tell her what he thinks of him, even if he is the chief. I was always under the impression that Lois, much like Superman, defended the values she believed in. She's always telling Clark to stand up for himself in this time period, but she doesn't even do this for herself in "The Black Pearl of Osiris." In fact, she doesn't even appear in this serial beyond a telephone conversation with Perry in chapter one, and you don't even hear her voice in that scene.
Secondly, Tumbleweed Jones was completely unnecessary in this story. He could have easily been replaced by Lois in my opinion. Admittedly, I'm not a fan of the Tumbleweed character at this point in the series. I find his character annoying and out of place in the Superman radio serials. Granted, he's not the pain in neck Poco is. (I still get chills of horror at the mention of that rhyming idiot.) However, Tumbleweed Jones gets under my skin like a Kryptonite rash for some reason.
The story of "The Black Pearl of Osiris" could have easily been redone this way:
Lois is going to interview Sydney Ryecroft and finds someone is in Ryecroft's hotel room going through the explorer's belongings. Seeing Lois, the intruder grabs Ryecroft's gun and shoots Lois in the leg. At this point, Clark must cover the Ryecroft mystery while Lois is in the hospital. Knowing that the bullet in Lois contains the Sacred Black Pearl of Osiris, the Egyptians take her. With Ryecroft's help, both Clark and Superman save Lois and solve the mystery of the pearl.
However, this is only how I would have written "The Black Pearl of Osiris." The writers chose to go in another direction for some reason. Not that this direction is bad, there are just some elements that seem to be missing when it comes to Lois in this serial.
The third problem I have is with the ending. Everything seems to be going at an even pace up until after Superman confronts Humi and the Cult of Osiris in the final chapter. One minute, Superman is beating the cult, and the next, Clark and his friends say goodbye to Sydney Ryecroft and Roger Draper. There is no mention of what happened to the pearl. One makes the assumption that it was removed from Tumbleweed's leg, but there is no mention of it after the pearl is revealed to be in the cowboy's leg.
Now, I understand there are only 15 minutes to tell the story, and the writers had deadlines. This could explain why the last chapter feels rushed. Perhaps "The Black Pearl of Osiris" should have had twelve chapters instead of eleven. However, I'm willing to let my problems with the final chapter pass only on one condition. Something has to be mentioned in the next serial about the fate of the Black Pearl of Osiris. I'm willing to give the writers the benefit of the doubt that this will be the case because some unknown elements from the last chapter of a Superman radio serial are sometimes revealed in the beginning of the next one.
Aside from the things I mentioned before, "The Black Pearl of Osiris" is still essentially an entertaining story full of twists, turns and cliffhangers that make the listener ask continuously, "What the heck is going on?" This made it fun to follow the story and wonder along with Clark Kent how all of the events could be going in the way they were. I honestly enjoyed this serial more than the previous one. I really felt like this was a Superman rather than a story of a different genre with Superman thrown in the middle of it like "The Howling Coyote" seemed to be.
All in all, despite its problems, "The Black Pearl of Osiris" is an exciting serial full of action and mystery. I hope "The Dragon's Teeth" is as good or better. We'll get to that serial next week, Superfans. Until then, remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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