Retro Review – Fleischer Superman – “Secret Agent”

Fleischer Superman

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 “Secret Agent”.

The final installment of the Fleischer Superman cartoon series does not disappoint. “Secret Agent” hits all the right spots on what makes a quality entry in this series.

Now on to the review!

4Rating – 4 (out of 5): I was initially tempted to give this short a three out of five stars, but the way the story flows and builds to its eventual climax puts it over the top. Strong visual storytelling, and well paced dialogue leave you wanting more when the short ends.

Lois Lane is notably absent from this short but filling her role as the strong female lead is the unnamed blonde secret agent. The blonde hair is more than necessary because she resembles Lois Lane in demeanor and appearance. Both characters are voiced by the same actress, which is not unheard of with this tight voice cast.

The story begins with Clark Kent surprisingly using a phone booth to make a call, instead of changing into Superman. Clark argues with Perry White with the latter demanding Clark stick to his assignment instead of chasing something more exciting. Almost instantly a story falls right into Clark’s lap when a car chase results in a crash and a shootout right in front of him.

Still in his Clark Kent clothes, the intrepid reporter grabs onto the back of one of the cars following the shooters back to their lair. Their target eluded them and is revealed to be a secret agent who infiltrated a group of Nazi saboteurs operating in America. She is traveling to Washington D.C. to deliver the names of the Nazis and their plans for future operations. She is offered a police escort.

The leader of the Nazi group is drawn to look like Hitler wearing a monocle. I know today that might seem a little on the nose, but in shorts like these strong visuals are required to tell the story without tons of dialogue. One look at this guy and there’s no doubt he’s the ring leader.

Clark has allowed himself to be captured and locked in a storage closet as the Nazis plot to capture the secret agent before she makes it to D.C.

The Nazis manage to put the secret agent’s mission in jeopardy by hijacking the controls on a nearby bridge causing the agent and her police escort to crash. The Nazis try to gun down the agent on the bridge, but she ends up falling onto the bridge’s turning mechanism.

The Nazi leader receives a report that his henchmen have failed to capture the secret agent, and prepares to go to the bridge. Clark changes into Superman trapping the Nazis in the elevator of their headquarters by pulling the cable up to the very top and tying it, disabling the elevator completely.

Superman flies off to the bridge quickly saving the secret agent from being crushed by the turning mechanism. He then flies her to Washington D.C. and drops her off safely.

The short ends with Superman flying into the air and giving a big salute to the American flag.

This short was a nice end to an iconic series. One thing I’ve discovered by reviewing this series is just how well these shorts hold up. The quality of animation still provides quality visual storytelling that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The runtime works perfectly for the YouTube generation, and older fans can be captivated by the nostalgia.

Whether you’re a fan of Superman, an old school animation junkie, or just looking for something fun to watch, the Fleischer Superman cartoons have something to be enjoyed for even the most cynical of viewers. Now that they’re in the public domain, I often think about how cool it is that these shorts will be enjoyed by future generations for years to come.