Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1946: Horatio F. Horn: DetectiveReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: July 02 1946-July 19, 1946
"Horatio F. Horn: Detective"
A few days ago, a wire arrived at Greenrun, Ohio because of line trouble. The message, which was intended for Perry White, was intercepted by Horatio F. Horn, telegraph operator, detective and Greenrun correspondent for the Daily Planet. Believing White's name has been used for nefarious purposes because it was meant for a different address other than the Planet, Horn explains to the editor that the code in the telegram mentions the words "airship," "atom" and "big fish." Horn thinks that Professor Alonzo Sturgeon, expert on atomic fission, is in danger. The angry Perry wants nothing to do with Horn's scoop, but Lois Lane and Clark Kent, sensing that there may be something to Horn's story, go to Sturgeon's country home. They find the professor's study in a shambles as if a big fight had occurred. Worse yet, Sturgeon himself is nowhere to be found.
Lois, Clark and Horn have just found Professor Sturgeon's butler Breckenridge tied up in a closet. He tells them that a Doctor Leon Carlos had captured Sturgeon after a great fight. Having no other clues, Horatio F. Horn gives Clark the address on the telegram that he had intercepted: Maple Lodge in the area of Blue Mountain. Kent goes there as Superman and resumes his reporter's guise. The seedy caretaker of the resort says nothing to Clark about the "big fish" or Doctor Carlos, but he gives him the location of 96 Walnut Street in Metropolis. However, our hero is surprised to learn that it is a vacant lot. The trail of Doctors Carlos and Sturgeon seems to have reached a dead end.
Lois and Horn have taken Clark's car to Maple Lodge. At the same time, Clark is speaking about his findings with Metropolis Police Inspector Bill Henderson in the home of Professor Sturgeon. Lois and Horn run into a blinding rainstorm. The automobile skids off the road, crashes through a bridge railing and lands into the raging river waters below. Superman, flying back to Maple Lodge, finds the submerged vehicle, but Lois and Horn are nowhere to be seen. The detective and star reporter are floating on an old log that is being moved by the current. They are tired, but they call for help. However, Superman is now miles away from them.
Horatio F. Horn and Lois Lane are about to go over the falls when Superman grabs them and flies them to a nearby farmhouse. They get a change of clothes and borrow an old car to go to Maple Lodge, where they find Clark Kent. Nothing incriminating is found at the now deserted resort, but Clark receives a call from Inspector Henderson. The mild mannered reporter is to return to Metropolis. Henderson's men have found something that could be a clue.
Clark is now in the office of Inspector Henderson. The latter is talking about a metal found on the grounds of Professor Sturgeon's home. The butler Breckenridge later remembered that the three men that captured the atomic expert claimed to be from the International Scientific Society. The award was given to Sturgeon by the I.S.S. Unfortunately, Henderson and Kent learn that no such organization exists in Metropolis or anywhere else in the world. Without any leads, there might not be a way for Professor Alonzo Sturgeon to be found.
Clark and Henderson have gone to find the owner of the Maple Lodge, a man named Richard C. Garrett. Unfortunately, according to his partner Mister Bailey, Garrett is in Shanghai, China in the Occidental Hotel. Superman must now travel many miles to find out who has rented Maple Lodge from Garrett.
Horatio F. Horn and Lois Lane are examining the empty lot on 96 Walnut Street later that night. Their search leads them to some tire tracks that go into the wall of the warehouse next door. Horn discovers a hidden panel in the structure's bricks, and he and Lois continue to follow the trail. Suddenly, the fluid in Horn's cigarette lighter runs out. Without it, he and Lois have no light to guide them in the dark tunnel. A voice offers assistance to Horn, but it belongs to one of three men pointing their guns at Horn and Lois. The reporter and detective are in big trouble, and Superman is far away in China.
Doctor Leon Carlos is questioning Lois and Horn. Despite Lois' objections, Horn tells Carlos everything about decoding the telegram in Ohio and of investigating the disappearance of Professor Sturgeon. Shortly afterwards, a message from the telegraph office comes for Carlos by phone. He and his men must be ready to leave for New Orleans in ten minutes, but first an accident must be arranged in order to get rid of Horatio F. Horn and Lois Lane.
Clark Kent has learned next to nothing about the reasons for Carlos renting Maple Lodge from Richard C. Garrett. The only other way to learn more is to trace Carlos through his airplane tickets. Superman must return to Metropolis to do this. At the same time, Lois and Horn are trapped in Carlos' warehouse. The nefarious doctor and his men have set it on fire, and even Superman's tremendous speed may not save them in time.
Clark is telling what he knows of Carlos to Inspector Henderson. Before Henderson can call the airlines for information about the Latin American, Sergeant Heally tells him of the fire at 94 Walnut Street. Kent resumes his true identity of Superman and gets Lois and Horn to the hospital in the nick of time. Later, Lois tells Clark that Carlos' men were going to New Orleans with Professor Sturgeon so they can use his knowledge of the atomic bomb to take over the world. Clark's further investigation tells him that a private plane with the number 43-743 was heading to Brownville, Texas. However, the aircraft never landed there or anywhere else. It looks like another lead has turned out to be a dead end for the Man of Steel.
As Superman continues his quest for the missing charter plane, the pilots fly their passengers Doctor Marone and Doctor Blaumburg and their "cargo," the unconscious Professor Sturgeon over the Pacific Ocean to Bolimar. The two mad scientists intend to make certain that the men navigating the ship do not contact America about their location. Blaumburg will make sure they never make it back to the States alive.
Clark Kent has returned to Brownville, Texas and learns that the private plane is about to crash into the Gulf of Mexico. As Superman, he finds the craft submerged in the waters. He grabs both pilots and races them to a hospital in New Orleans. It's touch and go for one, but the other will survive. All Clark has to do is wait until the doctors say that it's okay to question the flyer.
Lois Lane and Horatio F. Horn are taking a plane to New Orleans. They see Leon Carlos in disguise and follow him. Horn confronts Carlos, and the Latin American forces him and Lois into his car at gunpoint. Once again, the detective and star reporter are in Carlos' hands, and Superman knows nothing of their peril.
Carlos and his henchman Paolo have taken Lois and Horn to a sugarcane field late at night. In the guise of wanting a blindfold, Horn uses martial arts to help him and Lois escape and hide from Carlos in the woods. Suddenly, the sound of dogs frighten Carlos and Paolo. Thinking the canines belong to the police, the two villains run away. The animals are actually assisting a group of raccoon hunters, who help Lois and Horn get to the hospital where Clark Kent is waiting for the airplane pilots to awaken. Horn, Lois and Clark exchange information when the detective suddenly remembers that Carlos called Paolo a "Zaluto." Horatio F. Horn may be able to find out where Professor Alonzo Sturgeon has been taken if the word's origins can be traced.
While Lois, Clark and Horn try to find out what language the word "Zaluto" is from, General Marone is speaking with Rex, the dictator of Bolimar. Professor Sturgeon has refused to give the secrets of the atomic bomb to his captors. There is no choice but to use an experimental truth serum on the scientist. However, using it could be risky to Sturgeon's life. Rex decides to use the drug in order to have a new weapon for his country before American forces can find Sturgeon. Meanwhile, Superman is in New Orleans. He may never learn the fate of the fission expert.
Professor Sturgeon has just given Rex all the information needed to create an atomic bomb. German and Bolimarian scientists are working together day and night to make the horrible weapon. By next week, Rex and his country should be able to make their first attack on the United States. Can even Superman stop this new enemy before it's too late?
After consulting experts, Clark Kent has been unable to find any information about the meaning of "Zaluto." His only other solution is to run a competition in the Daily Planet featuring words from various languages including the one Kent needs. Perry White approves the contest and places it on page one. Now, all Clark needs to do is hope someone can help with the only clue that can give him a lead to the whereabouts of Professor Alonzo Sturgeon.
The Partez family is about to sit down for dinner. Mister Partez sees the contest about the six words meanings and origins. Being originally from Bolimar, his family knows that "Zaluto" means "big fool." They write to the Daily Planet. However, the letter has not arrived in the newspaper offices as the son Edwardo Partez had forgotten to mail it. Mrs. Partez pleads with her husband to go to the Daily Planet in the morning with Edwardo and the envelope meant for the competition, but Mister Partez stubbornly refuses. Meanwhile, as the only clue that can help Superman find Professor Sturgeon rests in the hands of Mister Partez, Rex is making final preparations. At noon tomorrow, Bolimar will launch an atomic attack on the USA.
It is 9:00 AM the next morning in the offices of the Daily Planet. Lois Lane and Horatio F. Horn have just returned from New Orleans. Mister Partez and his son Edwardo tell of the origin of "Zaluto." Now, with the information needed in his possession, Clark removes his reporter's garb to fly to Bolimar to find Professor Sturgeon. He arrives just before the Rex's military air force leaves to give America some fiery fury. The Man of Steel takes care of the aircraft carrying the weapons of mass destruction. Rex's plane is hit by wreckage, and it crashes into Bolimar's underground atomic bomb factory, obliterating it. Superman, after defeating and destroying Rex's fighter planes, brings Professor Sturgeon back to the United States. The Man of Steel has once again prevented another worldwide disaster.
Horatio F. Horn has just taken a train back to Ohio now that Professor Sturgeon and his knowledge of atomic power are safe. Clark Kent and his friends are returning the Daily Planet to put out a special edition about Superman saving the scientist and defeating Rex. Kent, upon entering his office, finds a mysterious Englishman waiting for him. He asks for the square-set man's name, but before he gives it to the mild mannered reporter, he says the following:
"I'm glad to make your acquaintance, Superman. I've come long way to meet you."
Who is the person claiming to know the most carefully guarded secret in the world, Superman's double identity? Stay tuned for "The Super Sleuth" in the next serial in The Adventures of Superman to find out, boys and girls.
While some episode logs for The Adventures of Superman radio series gives "Horatio F. Horn: Detective" twenty-two chapters, Jackson Beck's narration and the events at the end of part fourteen clearly show that a new story will start with the next broadcasted show. The last eight episodes are often known to some as "The Super Sleuth."
"Horatio F. Horn: Detective" as a story isn't bad, but it kind of comes across to the audience like one of those "Duck and Cover" propaganda short films designed to put fear of the atomic bomb into the people of the time period. While nuclear war is still a threat, it's difficult in this day and age to take this serial seriously in spots. Unlike some of the previous story arcs, this one seems a bit dated.
"Horatio F. Horn: Detective" as a character is likable and irritating at the same time. He's not as annoying as Poco. But who besides Jar Jar Binks is? However, Horn can get under the skin at certain times throughout the serial. Despite this, Horn is still a spunky, lovable character that the listener can't help but feel sympathy for. There is also a thread of curiosity that makes one wonder about the hapless sleuth's return to Metropolis.
I'm kind of on the fence about Rex. On one hand, for 1946, he seems an overblown caricature of any comic book evil-doer. On the other, we have seen real life villains in recent years act the same way when plotting to destroy a country. I find this fact rather chilling, especially after the events of September 11, 2001. Still, the character needed to be developed more in order to be taken seriously.
Superman versus the atomic bomb. There's a problem with this. The subject of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace dealt with a similar topic and had the same issues. When you pit one with Superman's powers and abilities against such a foe, there is very little, if any, conflict. The final battle between the Man of Steel and Bolimar's military lasts about a total of a couple of minutes. This leaves the listener thinking, "That's all we're getting?" It feels rushed into the story. As lame as Nuclear Man was, at least he gave the Man of Tomorrow a fight that lasted longer than the length of a commercial break.
Next time, "The Super Sleuth" tries to learn if Clark Kent is Superman. We'll find out if he succeeds then. Until we meet again, Superfans, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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