Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1940: The Invisible ManReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: November 11, 1940-November 22, 1940
"The Invisible Man"
With the Yellow Mask in prison, Clark Kent and Lois Lane begin their new assignment for the Daily Planet. They are to write articles that will help get District Attorney Parker thrown out of office. According to evidence Ralph Renson - a former assistant for the district attorney - has, Parker has been using his office to set free known criminals and racketeers. Perry White is hoping for backing from Mayor Healey. Healey's goal is to rid Metropolis of corruption and crime. The only major problem is that the general public believes that Parker is a philantropist. However, Renson is willing to do anything to bring down Parker. He agrees to meet with Lois and Clark about their first article at four o'clock.
Meanwhile, District Attorney Parker is worried. He knows that Renson has given proof of his illegal activities to the Daily Planet. Had anyone other than Renson had given this evidence to the newspaper, Parker could have easily bribed that person. However, Renson cannot be bought so easily, and strongarm tactics will only make things worse for the D.A. Just then, someone who is only heard and not seen enters Parker's office. He calls himself the Invisible Man, and for $100,000, he'll make it so the articles written against Parker will never see print.
It's now after four o'clock, and Lois and Clark are putting the finishing touches on their first article against District Attorney Parker. However, before the article is given to Perry, the Invisible Man orders that the story not be published. Clark is not intimidated by this new adversary and gives the article to be printed in the newspaper. The Invisible Man is persistant though. He continues to threaten the Daily Planet staff, but he goes unheeded. The articles are still being written. The Invisible Man now resorts to drastic measures. He has planted a bomb in the presses of the Daily Planet, and Clark Kent has only two minutes to find it. He changes into Superman and finds the bomb. He then removes if from the presses before using his invulnerable body as a shield against the explosion. With the presses and people now safe, the Daily Planet can continue to print the articles against Parker.
At Mayor Healey's office, the mayor offers his support in the crusade against the corrupt District Attorney Parker. He is about to call a grand jury investigation into Parker's criminal activities when the Invisible Man speaks. He tells Mayor Healey to wait for a phonecall. The call is from the mayor's wife. She and the mayor's daughter were in an automobile accident. A truck crashed into their car, and they barely escaped with their lives. The Invisible Man knew every detail of the accident. This forces Mayor Healey to withdraw his support of convicting D.A. Parker. His wife and daughter are too important to him, and he doesn't wish to risk their lives.
After the Invisible Man stops talking, Clark Kent tells the mayor that he believes the Invisible Man is using a dictaphone or some other means to trick everyone into believing he really is unable to be seen. Clark, Perry, Lois and Ralph Renson search the office. The Invisible Man laughs as they all look around frantically. As Clark investigates an office near the mayor's, Lois believes she has found the Invisible Man. She sees the shadow of someone on the ledge of Mayor Healey's office window. Believing it's the Invisible Man, the mayor takes a gun from his desk drawer. He's about to shoot when he learns that Clark Kent was on the ledge. Mayor Healey is suspicious as to how Clark got there. The ledge of the office Kent searched doesn't lead to the mayor's ledge, and it would take a Superman to leap the space between ledges. Clark says he went to the ledge from an area below the office.
Not finding any evidence of trickery on the Invisible Man's part, Mayor Healey, Ralph Renson, Perry, Lois and Clark debate on if a grand jury investigation on District Attorney Parker should occur. The mayor and, very surprisingly, Clark don't want to go on with the investigation, but Renson, Perry and Lois want to bring the crooked lawyer to justice. Perry suggests driving upstate to get the governor's support. Tonight, he and Lois will drive to the governor's mansion, which is 140 miles away. What they don't know is that the Invisible Man has sabotaged their car. Once it reaches the 100 mile mark, the steering wheel will come off and cause their car to lose control.
Meanwhile, in the offices of the Daily Planet, Jimmy Olsen is witnessing Ralph Renson debating with Clark Kent about the reporter's courage, or lack thereof. Renson even punches Clark, but it feels to the former D.A.'s assistant as if he hit a stone wall. Before the confrontation between Kent and Renson can continue, the Invisible Man interrupts them. He tells Clark of Perry and Lois' impending doom. This prompts Clark to make an excuse to leave and change into Superman. The Man of Steel rushes to find Lois and Perry's car and, as the car rolls off its path, flies them to safety. After the car is placed securely on the road, Lois and Perry see Superman flying in the moonlight.
The next day, Ralph Renson is urging Perry to fire Clark. Perry is about to do so until Clark convinces him that he knows who the Invisible Man is and how he makes himself invisible. By leaving the room and throwing his voice, Clark shows that the Invisible Man is really a ventriliquist. The ventriliquist had to be in the same room with Clark and the others. This makes the Invisible Man in reality Ralph Renson. Renson was really using his crusade against District Attorney Parker to extort money from the crooked politician as the Invisible Man. Renson pulls a gun on Clark and the others. Clark pretends to have fainted while Perry grabs Renson and takes him to the police. Lois then looks at Clark and says, "Sometimes I wonder about you, Clark Kent. Yes, I really do."
With the mystery of the Invisible Man solved, Lois and Clark move on to their next assignment. They are to cover the arrival of five million dollars in gold arriving on a train with a special armored freight car. The bizarre thing is the armored car carrying the gold, which was sandwiched between two other train cars, has disappeared. What happened to the armored car and its gold cargo? Tune in next week to "The Five Million Dollar Gold Heist" in The Adventures of Superman and find out, boys and girls.
After being disappointed in the last serial, I was honestly expecting "The Invisible Man" to be as bad or worse. I'm pleased to say that I enjoyed this serial immensely. While I do wish more was written about D.A. Parker's philantropist ruse, the other aspects of this story were a joy for the ears. Sure, I was able to figure out the secret of the Invisible Man by the end of chapter one, but it was fun to see if I was right when all was revealed in the last chapter.
"The Invisible Man" has so much going for it. The writing is superb, and there's a lot of things that I felt were missing in some of the previous serials. This story arc could honestly fit well in the comics, George Reeves series and Kirk Alyn movie serials. It's just that good. Sure invisible men are not new in the Superman universe. Buy the DVDs of Lois & Clark: Season One if you don't believe me. Anyway, as I said, they aren't new to Superman, but if they're written well - as this serial was - they can be an entertaining plot device.
One thing I really enjoyed the most in "The Invisible Man" was the evolution of the Lois and Clark relationship. One can hear them banter back and forth and even have a dinner date in this arc. The feelings Lois has for and about both Clark and Superman are interesting to note. They aren't as obvious as they are in Lois & Clark, but they are there if you listen to the dialogue. You can see Lois is torn between what she suspects (Clark is Superman.) and what she observes (Clark is a coward.) It's funny to listen to what's going on between Lois and Clark in the radio shows and know what happens to them in the current comic books. I found myself saying "Don't worry, Clark. She'll be in on the joke before you know it," after hearing Lois wonder about Clark after Perry took the Invisible Man to the police.
I also liked the fact that Superman is starting to become more than just an urban legend. Sure, there are some people in Metropolis that don't believe he's real, but at least the writers let his existence become more known to the supporting characters. Let's hope this plot thread is handled as well in future serials.
Another aspect that helped "The Invisible Man" was that it was evenly paced. The Yellow Mask serial last week really seemed to crawl at a snail's speed and never seemed to want to end. The opposite is true for "The Invisible Man." It's a briskly moving adventure that even gives us a lead into the next story. For some that lead-in might be annoying, but I find that it makes me impatient for the next serial, especially if it's as well done as "The Invisible Man" was. We'll find that out next week when "The Five Million Dollar Gold Heist" happens in Metropolis. Until then, remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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