Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1948: The Secret of Meteor IslandReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: June 14, 1948-July 06, 1948
"The Secret of Meteor Island"
The Daily Planet has received a mysterious radiogram from someone with the initials "E.W." The Eastern Queen will be docked at Pier Eight at noon today, and a big story will break then. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are among the reporters awaiting the big news from the boat. Unfortunately, Lois learns that movie queen Estelle Winson wants publicity for her comeback. The tip was a dud. Meanwhile, Jimmy was given a package by a stranger who went to make a telephone call. When the odd man had not returned, Lois and Jimmy looked inside the oilskin wrapped parcel only to find a bunch of dirty stones and broken glass inside it. The pair take a taxi back to the newspaper offices when some gunmen capture Jimmy because someone called the Count had given him the strange pebbles. Superman will soon be involved in one unusual mystery.
Lois is telling Clark Kent of Jimmy's capture. The mild mannered reporter has her give her account of the events to Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson and Bruce Wayne. Kent, in the meantime, is searching for the blue sedan carrying young Olsen. As Superman scours the city for the cub reporter, the dapperly dressed Count is laughing. He had given the oilskin package to Jimmy in an effort to avoid the henchmen of gangster Nick Greaser. The Count had given the stones and glass in the place of some diamonds. Now, Greaser intends to use Jimmy to find the Count. Otherwise, the cub reporter will be eliminated.
As Greaser tries to unsuccessfully learn the Count's location from Jimmy, Batman has told Clark that he has found a clue to the cub reporter's whereabouts. Kent must meet the Dark Knight at the Bluefront Cafe in order to find out more. However, Batman is nowhere to be seen in the underworld hangout. A waiter is about to give Clark a message from the Caped Crusader, but he is shot before Kent even receives anything. Someone clearly doesn't want young Olsen to be located.
A police ambulance has just picked up Eddie, the Bluefront Cafe's waiter. Lois Lane has followed Clark to learn more about what Batman knew. Both reporters are now waiting for Eddie to recover in the hospital. Meanwhile, Batman and Robin are battling Nick Greaser's gang in an effort to save Jimmy Olsen. They're about to take the cub reporter with them when more of Greaser's armed mobsters surround them. The steel basement door is locked, and there are no windows. The Dynamic Duo and Jimmy Olsen seem to be trapped with no way out.
Eddie is not seriously hurt and has told Lois and Clark Jimmy's location. Kent becomes Superman and aids Batman, Robin and Jimmy in battling Greaser's men. The Dark Knight and the Man of Steel then learn from Inspector Henderson of the Count, and something is going on in the room in which the criminal occupies. As Robin and Jimmy go to police headquarters, Superman and Batman go to the Count's hotel to find Detective Captain Donovan unconscious with a round, orange mark about the size of a quarter on his forehead. This mystery has suddenly taken a strange new turn for the World's Finest heroes.
Captain Donovan has awakened to tell Inspector Henderson, Clark Kent and Batman that he had confronted jewel fence Baldy Kritchell, a henchman of the Count. He had also found the diamonds stolen by the thief. Donovan then suddenly felt weak, but he was able to call Henderson for help. After revealing what he knows, Donovan feels strange again. The orange circle has now grown to the size of a half dollar. Not only that, Henderson has learned that three more people have fainted. They also have the odd orange spots on them. Are the Count's smuggled diamonds responsible for the unusual occurrence?
Charles Patton, millionaire banker, his wife and Doctor Hale are now speaking with Clark and Inspector Henderson. A Mister Mitchell has brought an unusual diamond weighing several hundred carats. The stone was the size of a hen's egg. There was an ore-like substance on it. Mitchell wanted to sell the jewel for only one hundred thousand dollars, but Patton was suspicious. After Mitchell left, Patton noticed that his wife had a spot like the one found on Captain Donovan. Mrs. Patton saw the same thing on her husband. Both of them then had felt weak and lost consciousness. Clark wants to prove that the blotches are caused by the Count's smuggled diamonds and does so when they find on the dormant form of Mitchell. However, before more can be done, Inspector Henderson begins to feel strange, and an orange circle has formed on his forehead. Superman has his hands full with this mystery.
Baldy Kritchell, or Mitchell, is with Doctor Hale and Clark has gotten Inspector Henderson away from the diamond before the orange circle could completely form. Kent is still convinced that the precious stones are responsible for the odd malady in Metropolis. To prove this, the mild mannered reporter and Henderson go to Doctor John Millicent, who had helped Superman find the Atom Man. Millicent has discovered that the jewels are radioactive. There is real danger in Metropolis, and Jimmy Olsen and Beany Martin are about to learn this as the Count staggers toward them with a package of the deadly rocks. This really looks like a job for Superman.
Beany has taken the Count to a hospital and contacted Mayor Perry White and Clark Kent while Jimmy pursues a man who had taken the radioactive diamonds from the Count. In the meantime, Clark has advised Perry to warn the city of Metropolis about the dangerous stones. The Count had been shot and killed in addition to the radiation poisoning. Superman has learned of the shooting from Beany. While the Man of Steel searches for the thin, redheaded man that fired the bullet, Jimmy is pursing the gangster, who has just been grabbed the cub reporter. Superman may not save the lad in time.
Jimmy has been saved by Superman, but the Cockney that attacked him has gotten away with the diamonds and placed them in a lead box. It seems that he is aware of their radioactivity. Now, Clark Kent and Inspector Henderson are questioning Baldy Kritchell. The Count worked for someone in the Far East who had coated the expensive rocks with lead, which eventually had cracked, and the Count wanted Kritchell to sell them. Kritchell said no, but he learned more of the perilous precious jewels were going to arrive in America. With the more stones on the way and the Cockney missing, Superman, Batman and Robin will be very busy with this dangerous adventure.
Clark has found a piece of paper in the dead Count's hotel room. It was behind a tailor's label in a suit. "K.I.L. Shanghai" is written on it. Batman and Robin have been flown to Shanghai by Superman. Now, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson have placed an ad in Shanghai newspapers. K.I.L. has later contacted them. Bruce and Dick are to take a rickshaw with a yellow rose inside it to K.I.L. Will they meet the mysterious employer of count, or have Batman and Robin walked into a trap?
As two suspicious characters that possibly work for K.I.L. follow Bruce and Dick, the rickshaw driver leads the pair to his boss Roger Kilfern, the man whom they are looking for. Bruce tells Kilfern of the Count's death and how he and Dick want to replace the smuggler. Kilfern makes the Dynamic Duo believe he will use them until he springs his trap. An agent for Kilfern has told him the truth about Bruce and Dick being friends of the Metropolis police. However, as revolvers are pointed at Batman and Robin, Kilfern reveals that he will use them for some task before he kills them. The Caped Crusaders are in serious peril now.
There has been no word from Batman and Robin, and the red haired Cockney is still missing. Superman is searching every inch of Metropolis. Meanwhile, in Roger Kilfern's houseboat, the smuggler wants Bruce and Dick to write to the Metropolis police saying that the Shanghai clue found was a bum steer. Kilfern also reveals that Shanghai is not the source of the radioactive diamonds. Bruce makes the criminal believe that he will write the note. In reality, Bruce and Dick battle their way through Kilfern's gang in the darkness. Unfortunately, Kilfern himself is swimming away. Putting on their costumes, Batman and Robin pursue the only person that knows where the deadly precious stones come from. This adventure has gotten more tense for our heroes.
Kilfern is now escaping in a rickshaw. Batman and Robin continue to follow the portly smuggler until they find his that his foot trail leads to an airfield. The Dynamic Duo has just grabbed onto the seaplane carrying Kilfern. The craft's destination is an island. Batman and Robin jump from the ship just before it lands. The Dark Knight and Boy Wonder move cautiously through the beach until they realize that they are not wearing protective gear like their foes are. They have been exposed to dangerous radiation, and Superman knows nothing of their plight.
Kilfern has revealed to his partner Charlie Fox of the dangers to their operation. Fox was sent to prison by Batman and Robin, and he wants revenge. Certain that he's getting it now, Fox reveals the more lethal radiation is in a diamond vault where a meteor is also located. Meanwhile, Superman, unaware of his friends' predicament, has found the Cockney agent and the radioactive diamonds. Does Kilfern's man hold the key to the mysterious island's location?
The Cockney named Limehouse has revealed all he knows to Superman. Now, Clark Kent is speaking to Shanghai Police Commissioner Lee. He tells Kent that Singh, Kilfern's giant henchman had spoken of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson's attaching themselves to Kilfern's plane. Clark also learns that an American treasury agent named Wilson knows that the diamonds come from a stone meteor, but he is unsure of the location of Meteor Island. Despite all odds being against him, Superman is looking for the radioactive land mass. There may yet be hope for Batman and Robin's survival.
Batman and Robin are weakening more as time continues to pass. Suddenly, the earth begins to shake. A red and blue streak has taken the Dynamic Duo out of the diamond vault. Once his friends are safe and scientists prepare to study Meteor Island, Superman deals with Fox and Kilfern's gang. Another crime has been thwarted by the Man of Steel, the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder.
A few days have passed since the incident on Meteor Island had been resolved. Bruce Wayne has called Clark Kent's apartment shortly after midnight. Kent enters the Batmobile fifteen minutes later. As the great vehicle roars through the streets, Batman is silent until he reveals that there is a great danger ahead that is sure to shock even the mighty Superman. "The Voice of Doom" will reveal what risks are ahead for our heroes, gang. Be sure not to miss a minute of The Adventures of Superman.
Mason "The Atom Man" Adams plays Charlie Fox.
The actor who had played Sydney in "The Atom Man in Metropolis" also plays Roger Kilfern, thereby making it the second time he and Mason Adams worked together as villains in The Adventures of Superman.
"The Secret of Meteor Island" was another exciting story. At first, it felt like it was a little too long, and one or two chapters could have been cut. However, as I listened the second time around, I felt that the episodes fit perfectly into the story. After the flaws in last week's arc, this one was a pleasant surprise.
Radiation is used as a plot device in "The Secret of Meteor Island." In the post-war world, it was the order of the day to see it used in horror, science fiction and even comic books. One needs to only look at such classics as Godzilla and Marvel's The Incredible Hulk to see that it was as common as genetic manipulation is in various forms of media in this day and age. This serial uses the radioactive poisoning in a way that does not make it seem to campy or silly, and this really helps the believability of the story.
Batman and Robin make another appearance in The Adventures of Superman. Hearing them in "The Secret of Meteor Island" makes one wonder why they never got their own radio show until the only episode of The Batman Mystery Club in existence is heard. That was full of plot holes involving Bruce Wayne's secret identity. Still, in the right hands, the Dynamic Duo could have had as much potential on radio as the Man of Steel, and this serial proves this. The Dark Knight and his partner really shine in this gem.
While the Atom Man and Sydney used Kryptonite to destroy Superman, Roger Kilfern and Charlie Fox had a radioactive meteorite to aid them in ridding the criminal underworld of Batman and Robin. Perhaps this was done in effort to give the Caped Crusaders a human equivalent of Superman's Achilles' heel. One cannot help but see the parallels of the space rock to the deadly fragments of the Man of Steel's home world. Whatever the writers' intentions, this element added a touch of movie serial adventure and fun to "The Secret of Meteor Island."
I really liked the fact that Kilfern was not working alone in his attempts to smuggle the radioactive diamonds, and while I wish there had been slightly more backstory for Charlie Fox, it's good to see that he has dealt with Batman and Robin in the past. Much like Big George Latimer in "Superman Versus Kryptonite," Fox wanted revenge on the costumed heroes that had put him in prison. This is just one of the many elements that made "The Secret of Meteor Island" a better serial than I had originally expected.
All in all, despite initial misgivings about the length of this serial, "The Secret of Meteor Island" was perfect the second time around. In seven days or so, "The Voice of Doom" will give Superman and Batman a reason to panic. We'll find out what that is 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 incredible articles and reviews on the Superman Homepage. You'll be glad you did.
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