Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1947: The Ruler of DarknessReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: October 24, 1947-November 26, 1947
"The Ruler of Darkness"
Lois Lane has just revealed to Perry White and Clark Kent that she knows that the mild mannered reporter is really Superman. Using the events of The Secret Rocket adventure to prove her case, Lois tries to convince Perry that Clark is leading a double life, but she is unsuccessful. The evidence is too circumstantial. Everyone then has a laugh about Lois' accusations while returning to Perry's office. They enter to find Jimmy Olsen sitting at the chief's desk. He is claiming to be the new publisher of the Daily Planet. The wide-eyed trio is surprised by Jimmy's revelations. Suddenly, as he gives Lois, Perry and Clark new assignments, Jimmy passes out. He is hardly breathing, and there is a large lump on the top of the cub reporter's head.
Superman has rushed Jimmy to the hospital, where a Doctor Springer is operating on a skull fracture in the young man's head. Clark Kent tells Lois and Perry that he believes the cub reporter was attacked. Roughly one hour later, Springer is speaking with the trio. The surgery was a success, but Jimmy will need a transfusion of rare ABRH Negative blood. The only person on the Red Cross list with that type is a former Metropolis resident George Chakoby, who now lives in Pasadena California. Superman races to the address given to Kent by a nurse. However, Chakoby's wife doesn't know where her husband is. He had a business appointment with a colleague. Can Superman find Chakoby in the fifteen minutes needed to save Jimmy's life?
With just a few minutes to spare, Superman has brought George Chakoby to Metropolis in time to save Jimmy. While he is not out of danger, Doctor Springer believes that the cub reporter will recover. Dawn is now approaching as Lois and Jimmy's mother rest in the hospital lounge. Clark is in Jimmy's hospital room because the lad keeps calling for him. Kent hears young Olsen repeat this phrase in his sleep:
"You have to stop him, Mister Kent."
Jimmy has pulled through and wants to explain how he had gotten the skull fracture. Joe Martin, brother of Daily Planet copy boy Beany, is trying to run for mayor of Metropolis. However, hecklers who are thugs that work for crooked political boss Mike Hickey call him un-American after Joe made remarks against Hickey. Jimmy defended Joe and got hit with a blackjack. Now, the Daily Planet is backing Joe Martin and writing against Mike Hickey. Hickey himself has just become aware of this and is targeting both Joe Martin and the Daily Planet for elimination. Superman will have his hands full with Hickey.
Hickey's devious plot against the Daily Planet has begun. The crew of the boat carrying paper for the Metropolitan daily from the mill in Canada has been quarantined. This means the periodical may not be published for at least three days. Seeing this as just a minor setback, Clark Kent removes his reporter's disguise to reveal the red and blue costume of Superman. The Man of Steel flies to Canada to get a railroad car full of paper for the Daily Planet. The newspaper can now be printed, but Hickey isn't finished yet. Beany Martin has come into Perry White's office crying. Something has happened to his brother Joe. Mike Hickey seems to have gained the upper hand for now.
Joe Martin is now unable to run for mayor because Mike Hickey has framed Martin's father on charges of being a bookie. As result, Perry and other well known businessmen in the city create a new Reform Party. There is much discussion between the people at the first meeting until it is decided that Perry White himself is to be the next mayoral candidate. Later, as Lois is about to go to sleep for the night, she and Clark hear a shocking radio bulletin. Perry has been arrested for criminal assault. Mike Hickey has possibly succeeded in stopping his enemies.
Police Inspector Bill Henderson has given the details to Lois and Clark. Six reliable witnesses saw Perry's car hit a person. The license plate number and the description of the driver match those belonging to White. Despite all of this, Clark believes the chief has been framed by Mike Hickey to ruin Perry's campaign for mayor. However, White refuses to give up. This could be dangerous for the editor. Hickey has further plans to bring about his opposition's elimination.
Mike Hickey is celebrating the imprisonment of Perry White. Meanwhile, Clark and Lois are in the hospital trying see to Harry Niles, the victim of the hit and run accident. Clark knows, thanks to his X-ray vision, that the bandaged Niles is not severely injured. Kent wants an independent physician to examine the man. He's eventually able to get the governor's personal doctor Colonel Adams. Both Clark and Adams don't see the police guard as they approach Niles' room. Not only that, Niles himself is missing. Even Superman's tremendous eyes cannot find him. What has happened to Harry Niles?
Adams and Kent are questioning hospital superintendent Janson about the missing Harry Niles. Both men are suspicious of Janson, Niles and Doctor Tobin, the physician caring for Niles who also happened to witness the hit and run. However, with no proof against the men, Kent and Adams can do nothing. Clark later goes to Inspector Henderson. He learns the addresses of Tobin and Niles. This helps Clark and private detective Candy Meyers a chance to search for them. Meanwhile, Tobin has ordered Niles to leave Metropolis. Niles does so and doesn't intend to return until after the election. This could make Candy and Clark's investigation more difficult.
Both Clark and Candy have big leads on Niles and Tobin. Meyers is taking Lois with him to Niles' location, and Clark waits for Tobin to arrive at a garage to fill his car with gasoline. Lois and Candy are now at a farm outside of Metropolis that night. A tall man with a rifle and large mastiff dog hears their footsteps. Candy and Lois are walking into danger, and Superman is unaware of his friends' coming plight.
Mister Nelson, owner of the farm and Harry Niles' uncle has caught Lois and Candy. Despite their claims that Mike Hickey sent them to take Niles to another hideout, neither Nelson nor Niles believes them. Niles calls Hickey to confirm whether or not Lois and Candy are telling the truth. Candy and Lois know what Hickey will say, and this could mean the end for our hero's friends. Can Superman save Candy and Lois before it's too late for them?
Niles and his uncle know all about Candy and Lois. The pair of criminals tie up the reporter and detective and prepare to take them to a secluded quarry as Superman, flying with Doctor Tobin in hand, looks for his friends. The Man of Steel found Tobin in a garage as Clark Kent and confronted the dishonest physician in the red and blue costume of Superman. However, as our hero continues his search, Nelson and Niles have guns pointed at Lois and Candy. It looks like this could be the end for them.
Like a meteor from space, Superman plummets to the ground where Harry Niles and his uncle are about to shoot Lois and Candy. He grabs the bullets and bundles up the two men along with the corrupt Doctor Tobin for Inspector Henderson. Unfortunately, their incarceration doesn't last. Mike Hickey's lawyer Jerry Gans, the district attorney, the judge and a bondsman make it possible for the three men to go free before Henderson can book them. Niles, Nelson and Doctor Tobin now will most likely leave the country. Mike Hickey has gained the upper hand against Perry White's crusade against him for now.
Despite, Hickey's men leaving in a private airplane, Perry White and the Reform Party have gotten the necessary votes for nominations on election day. Mike Hickey himself is worried, particularly about the investigative prowess of Clark Kent. Hickey is currently meeting with Metropolis Mayor Andrew High and City Treasurer Peter McAllister. He has come up with a plan to rid himself of the Daily Planet. He has condemned the building that houses the largest newspaper in Metropolis. Hickey is now one step closer to victory against the Reform Party.
Perry and Clark are meeting with John Grayson, publisher of the Daily Planet. There doesn't seem to be a way to publish future editions of the newspaper until Clark suggests printing at The Willow Falls Star, another periodical owned by Grayson. Superman has carried The Planet's printing presses and paper to Willow Falls. Hickey is clearly angry to see that the newspaper is continuing its editorials against the political boss. Hickey has just given a mysterious hitman called the Pistol a name on a piece of paper, and he wants the person eliminated tonight. Who is Mike Hickey's target?
Mike Hickey refuses to tell his people whom the Pistol was hired to kill. In the meantime, Clark and Perry are preparing for the chief's first speech for the mayoral campaign. Clark feels uneasy, and he is right to be this way. The Pistol is hidden in the auditorium, and his bullet is targeting Perry White. Superman will need all of his acute senses in order to save the editor.
While he wasn't able to stop the bullet from hitting Perry, Clark did prevent the wound from being fatal thanks to his tremendous speed. Inspector Henderson's men were unable to capture the Pistol, who has learned of White's survival from a radio news bulletin. Now, the assassin must make another attempt on the editor's life at the newspaper club. The hitman has just made his way across the ledge to the fourteenth floor window where Perry White is located, and Clark Kent has just left his chief unprotected.
Two of Henderson's men have shot the Pistol before he can kill Perry. The inspector calls Clark to tell him that the gunman is dead, and a hotel phone message saying that Hickey called the Pistol is so close to hanging the political boss. Now, Mike Hickey must rid himself of Inspector Henderson. The next morning, a racketeer named Casino has place money on Henderson's table. Mayor High and a police task then arrest Henderson. Hickey has succeeded in framing yet another one of his enemies.
The staff of the Daily Planet is stopping at nothing to clear Inspector Henderson of the bribery charge created by Mike Hickey and the mayor. Feeling that Perry is still in danger, Clark asks Candy Meyers to have a bodyguard assigned to the editor. Meanwhile, Hickey is planning to resort to scare tactics to get citizens to vote for his people. His thugs begin using them at a rally where Lois Lane is speaking in support of Perry White. People are beaten and the sound truck is overturned as things begin to go black for the star reporter. Hickey's desperate actions have yet again hurt one of Superman's friends. How will he respond?
Lois and others injured at the rally have just been taken to the hospital. Clark's reaction is to send a message via radio to Mike Hickey and the voters of Metropolis as Superman. The Man of Steel tells people not to be afraid to vote as they wish. He will make certain that Hickey's goons do not harm anyone. Hickey himself does not believe that the voice heard on the speakers is really the Man of Tomorrow. However, the fat political boss learns otherwise when Superman deals with every one of the bruisers that Hickey has in audiences at assemblies supporting Perry White and the Reform Party. Hickey is not worried though. He has a new plan that can stop even Superman.
The election in Metropolis is only a couple of days away. Perry and the others are celebrating the Reform Party's lead in the polls, but Clark Kent feels that Mike Hickey will still attempt something to stop the chief from becoming mayor. Hickey himself is confident that his people will win because he has an ace in the hole. The next morning, Jimmy Olsen's mother telephones the temporary newspaper offices in Willow Falls. The cub reporter had not come home last night. A frantic search begins for young Olsen until Perry receives a call. It is Jimmy urging the editor not give in to any demands. Mike Hickey's men have captured the boy, and they'll kill him unless Perry withdraws from the mayoral race.
As Perry considers dropping out of the election, Superman is doing everything he can to find Mike Hickey and Jimmy Olsen. He even warns Mayor High and new Police Inspector Joe Hatton to get Hickey and Olsen to him before 11:00 PM, the same hour that is Perry's deadline for quitting. Meanwhile, in an abandoned riding stable, Jimmy has seen Mike Hickey's face. The cub reporter must be eliminated now, and Superman does not know where he is.
Hickey has ordered that Jimmy be killed after he leaves the old stable. His henchman Pete has sent one final warning to Perry one hour before the 11:00 deadline. As Perry and Lois go to the radio station to make their announcement, twin boys, Donald and Buddy Davis, see from their window a flashlight blinking in the abandoned barn across the street. The signals are in Morse code, and the boys are trying to decipher it. There may be hope for Jimmy Olsen yet.
Buddy Davis has called Clark Kent thanks to the message that he and his brother had decoded. Superman now knows where to find Jimmy Olsen. He bursts into the stable just before Pete can fire a bullet at Jimmy. The Man of Steel deals with the henchman just before Perry is about give his announcement that he'll drop out of the election. Taking both Jimmy and Hickey in his arms, Superman flies to the radio station in time to prevent White from quitting. He also tells listeners of Mike Hickey's attempt to murder Jimmy Olsen. As a result, Perry White and the Reform Party win the election by a landslide the next day.
Perry White is now the new mayor of Metropolis, and he plans to clear Inspector Henderson of all the bribery charges for which he was framed. However, there isn't much time to celebrate. Clark has just received a call from Pop Kline, a man who runs a candy store ion Mulberry Street. Kline needs help, but he cannot continue talking. The conversation was cut off. Jimmy and Clark run there while a big thug is trying to get Pop Kline to put gambling punch boards in his shop. Pop refuses, and the savage racketeer is now beating him. Can Clark and Jimmy save the old man in time? Tune in for "Pennies For Plunder" next time, gang, to find out in another serial in The Adventures of Superman.
Be patient, Ms. Lane. You may not prove that Clark Kent is Superman in 1947, but you eventually learn the truth in 1991's Action Comics #661.
"The Ruler of Darkness" isn't really a bad story. However, it uses many elements that recycled from previous serials. This brings down the quality of it because I kept feeling like everything had been done to death in tales like "George Latimer, Crooked Political Boss." Perhaps if the saga was about something besides dishonest politicians, I probably would have enjoyed it more.
I wish more had been done in "The Ruler of Darkness" about Lois' suspicions of Clark's double life. It feels like the writers toyed with the idea for a few minutes instead of making it the central point of the serial. Lois' investigation would have made the story more intriguing than the one we were given this time around. The audience is led to believe in the final chapter of "The Secret Rocket" that this saga would be about something completely different. However, by the time we get to Perry's office in chapter one, we are disappointed to see the plot take a turn that eventually beats us senseless with themes and plot devices that we have encountered at least three other times in the 1947 episode arcs.
"The Ruler of Darkness" also, in my opinion, suffers from a misleading title. We, as the audience, are led to believe that yet there is another dishonest political boss that poses only a typical threat for Superman and his friends is a Ruler of Darkness. With a name like that for a serial I expect something that truly challenges the Man of Steel.
"The Ruler of Darkness" sparks a debate about Superman as a character. Should the Man of Steel lend a hand in politics? Many versions of Superman have flat out refused to get involved with political figures because he did not want to influence other people's decisions with his opinions. Yet, in this serial, he helps Perry White's Reform Party. Now, I'm not saying that he should not have dealt with Mike Hickey's criminal organization. However, this story arc is written in a way that makes one believe that Superman is a supporter of the Reform Party. There are ways to write the same tale and make Superman more impartial.
Perry White has become the new mayor of Metropolis in the end of "The Ruler of Darkness." Will the city be a better place? Will this make the Daily Planet a less objective newspaper? Only time will tell, boys and girls.
Let's move on Mike Hickey. Normally, I write a little about the serial's villain in each review, and Hickey's no exception. With a title like "The Ruler of Darkness," one expects a nemesis that is hidden in the shadows that can pose a genuine threat to even Superman. Instead, we are given a rehashing of enemies we have seen many times in previous serials. Hickey also comes off as laughable on many occasions. He often seems to be a parody of Al Vincent and George Latimer, and this makes it difficult to take him seriously.
In the end, "The Ruler of Darkness," despite being a decent serial, lacked many things and really could have used a lot of improvements. Let's hope "Pennies For Plunder" is better when we get to that tale. See you next time Superfans, and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
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