Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Big Audio Wednesday - Superman vs. Atom Man, wk. 6

Five years after this serial aired on radio, Columbia produced its second movie serial starring Kirk Alyn as Superman, titled "Atom Man vs. Superman."

However, the storyline had nothing to do with the radio storyline. The plot involved Lex Luthor inventing a synthetic form of Kryptonite and using it to menace Superman. The serial, with its ultra-low budget and limited special effects, couldn't have mimicked the plotline of the radio serial. The massive destruction the Atom Man causes, to the house in Germany and to the beach cabin, as well as later events in the storyline, could not be recreated on a 50's movie serial budget.

Oh, and another thing: when I posted the Superman/Batman team-up back in December, I mentioned that I found Batman's vulnerability refreshing. The same thing is in evidence here. Superman in 1945 was not the impossibly noble icon he would become in the 50's and beyond. Instead, he is by turns devious, stupid, and in his encounters with Kryptonite and Atom Man, fearful. Fearful in a way and to a degree you would never imagine the modern-day iteration of the character acting. The helpless desperation in Bud Collyer's voice when Atom Man has him cornered is something completely unfamiliar, but not entirely unpleasant. Superman on radio is a real guy.

The story so far:

Nazi scientist Der Teufel injected chemist's son Henry Miller with a solution of dissolved Kryptonite to create an Atom Man who, with the help of a converter box and metallic gloves, can project rays of atomic destruction from his hands. In their first encounter, Atom Man blasted a helpless Superman into a coma, then attempted to destroy Metropolis for the glory of the Fatherland. He failed, having exhausted the energy of the Kryptonite in his blood in his battle with Superman.

With the help of a mysterious criminal mastermind named Sidney, Miller obtained more Kryptonite and renewed his powers. Meanwhile, Superman had a device built to warn of Kryptonite radiation nearby; the device was built into a belt that Clark Kent now wears.

Miller, having learned Superman's secret identity while posing as a reporter for the Daily Planet, helps Sidney set a trap for Superman. Sidney lures Kent to his house on the pretense of exposing Superman's secret identity, while the Atom Man hides in a closet with leaded mirror doors and thick lead paint that is opaque to Superman's X-ray vision.

What will happen next? Click the widget to listen (files will auotplay in order).

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