Superman Homepage reviewer Micah Pickering reviews the Fleischer Superman animated shorts for those nostalgic for the 1940s.
Check out his review of the cartoon titled “Destruction Inc.”.
Superman is fighting saboteurs once again in this installment of the Fleischer Superman shorts: Destruction Inc. While this short has a similar plot to others in this series, it has aesthetic changes that have different implications towards the antagonists motivations. Now, on to the review!
Rating – 3 (out of 5): There was a lot to like in this short, but the only thing holding it back from a higher rating was that I think this particular story would have worked better in a slightly longer format. I’d actually like to see someone adapt this short and give more time for exposition to be delivered. Even if it were set at 15 minutes instead of just eight I think it could have reached its full story potential.
That being said this was a fun installment of the series with a few twists to break from the norm.
The story opens with a dead body sinking in the swamp as our villains of the story drive away into the night. The deceased victim was an elderly man who worked at the Metropolis Munitions Plant as the night watchman, and it is widely believed that he was killed by saboteurs who have infiltrated the inner workings of the Munitions Plant.
These saboteurs are depicted like mafia gangsters from this time period. The title Destruction, Inc. is a clear reference to the real life criminal organization, Murder, Inc. The criminal organization is allegedly responsible for hundreds (if not thousands) of contract killings in the United States.
Murder, Inc. began operation in the late twenties and was exposed to the public in 1941 by Thomas Dewey .This cartoon would be released the following year in 1942. So it is obvious that the studio was going for a “ripped from the headlines” approach to storytelling, as audiences would definitely recognize the reference.
Lois and Clark both get the same idea when they hear about the murder of the night watchman. Lois immediately infiltrates the munitions plant by getting a job there. Clark disguises himself as an elderly man named “Bob” to look after Lois, and investigate the murder. “Bob” is the new night watchman at the plant.
It is funny to think that Clark Kent, who disguises himself every day, has to go through yet another disguise to hide his everyday disguise.
While working on the factory floor, Lois overhears the saboteur’s plot to blow up the munitions plant. As usual, Lois is discovered and captured. They place Lois inside a torpedo and load it up with dynamite. When “Bob” tries to rescue, the saboteur’s drop a pile of metal debris right on top of him.
It is revealed that the saboteurs are also plotting to interfere with a public torpedo test. The torpedo is supposed to be empty. Between Lois, and the TNT the saboteurs loaded it up with, the torpedo is the opposite of empty. “Bob” emerges from the pile of metal debris revealing himself as Superman. Luckily, the factory floor was empty so his identity would not be exposed. After all, he wouldn’t want people to think that Superman was an old guy named “Bob.”
With the greatest of ease Superman stops the torpedo, rescues Lois, and disarms the trigger for the explosives embedded within the plant. While Superman is rounding up the saboteur’s thugs and henchmen, a last ditch effort to destroy the factory is attempted. Superman has to stop a runaway truck loaded with TNT that is headed straight for the plant. Superman successfully intercepts the truck and destroys it in a safe location.
There is a humorous moment at the end of this short where Lois reveals that she knew Clark was disguised as Bob the security guard the whole time, but was thankful that Superman showed up to save them both.
This cartoon carried a similar premise to earlier cartoons in the series, but seemed to have a bit more detail to it in some areas. I still contend that if this were adapted today and given a little more time for exposition it could live up to its full potential. Still, it’s a fun snapshot into the past and a good installment from a great series.