The Mad Scientist threatens to use his Electrothanasia-Ray to cause "total destruction" to the fools who had laughed at him. Lois Lane pilots an airplane to his mountaintop laboratory, but The Scientist has her bound and gagged before she knows it. He forces her to watch on a television screen as his ray destroys a famous bridge. Next, he uses the ray to topple over the Daily Planet, but Clark Kent changes to Superman in time to save the building and put his indestructible body in front of the ray. The Mad Scientist is thrilled at the opportunity to pit his deadly machine against the Man of Steel. Written by
Up in the sky, look: It's a bird. It's a plane. It's Superman!
In the endless reaches of the universe, there once existed a planet known as Krypton, a planet that burned like a green star in the distant heavens. There, civilization was far advanced and it brought forth a race of "supermen," whose mental and physical powers were developed to the absolute peak of human perfection. But there came a day when giant quakes threatened to destroy Krypton forever. One of ...
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The Finest Ingredients of Artwork, Animation, Original Musical Score & Ideal Voice Actors don't guarantee fine Recipe, unless you have Master Chefs Max and Dave Fleischer!
That Arguably All-American Genre of the Super Hero was still a new and still growing staple in the Comic Books publishing field in 1941. Coincidental to the looming and rapidly gathering clouds of War. The numbers of super hero features their proliferation continued as sort of psychological protective response to the Axis threat.
Admittedly, their roots go much deeper into literary figures and the Great Depression gave them the first propagating stimulus; but it was still World War II that stimulated the colorful Magazines or Periodicals (Comic "Book" being an obvious malapropism.).
As an example, typical comics' covers of 1941-45 would feature war related illustrations that weren't related to any of the internal stories' content, except in the broadest, most general sense. Heavily symbolic illustrations on Action Comics with Superman saving a Tank crew, Detective Comics with Batman & Robin presenting a G.I. with a new rifle, USA Comics with Captain America kicking Hitler in the nuts, Whiz Comics with Captain Marvel airlifting Refugee Kids to Freedom and Marvel Mystery featuring Sub-Mariner sinking a U Boat while The Human Torch burns the wing off of a Messerschmitt.
There is little wonder that the Super-Hero would soon move off of the comics page to the daily newspaper strip, Radio Programs, Movie Serials and the Animated Cartoon Short. (Television was still off in the not too distant future.) And leading the parade was that Strange Visitor from another Planet, the Man of Steel (Himself), Superman! The first roll on the Monopoly Board landed Superman on Mutual Radio's Network in 1940. This gave the World The Adventures of Superman 15 minute daily serialized program. The cast featured Bud Collyer's multi-ranged vocals voicing both the mild mannered, high pitched Clark Kent as well as the richer, deeper and powerful Superman. Miss Joan Alexander did Lois Lane with Announcer (" .The Adventures of Syue-Puhr-Man!") Jackson Beck did Perry White. (As for Cub Reporter, Jimmy Olsen, he didn't appear until later in the decade, originating on the Radio, not in the comics, as Jimmy, the Office Boy.)
When the deal was struck between Superman's copyright owner, DC Comics/National Comics Publications and the Fleischer Brothers Animation Studios, tendering the rights to produce the first Superman animated series, the decision was made to retain the services of Mr. Collyer, Miss Alexander and Mr. Beck to reprise their voice characterizations.
So the first cartoon was on the drawing board. Not surprisingly, it would contain the obligatory origin sequence. But in dealing with this in a rapid, sort of re-cap style; Max & Dave and company avoided using-up a whole cartoon; thus allowing the story of 'The Mad Scientist' (alternate & possibly working title). As for this story it is sort of typical, but gained in status by being the first with Superman (or any other Super Hero, for that matter).
OUR STORY (at last) ..The Editorial Offices of THE METROPOLIS DAILY PLANET are inundated with reports of wanton destruction of bridges, buildings and urban infrastructure of the City. The Editor (called oddly enough, "Chief" wants Clark Kent to investigate, but spunky Lois Lane, Girl Reporter, is determined to scoop Kent, only to be taken hostage by the Evil, Mad Scientist. (Is there any other kind?) Superman shows up, saves Lois from being consumed in molten metal and apprehends the villainous (Is there any other kind?) renegade genius. Lois gets scoop and by line. Clark establishes a series long custom of winking at the audience as ironic conversation about the adventure fills the Planet's Editorial Office.
WE feel obligated to two neat, little touches that made for a much better first episode. First is the use of the Mad Doctor's pet anthropomorphic cuddly vulture. Secondly we salute the eerie, hauntingly bizarre voice of the MAD SCIENTIST; which we just discovered was provided by Mr. Jack Mercer, famous for Popeye's gravely voice.
The series hasn't a real klunker in the whole bunch; though naturally, some individual cartoons will be found to be better than others. We noticed that the shorts produced at the Fleischer Studios auspices seem superior to those made after that notorious coup-de-tat that transformed the animation house into Paramount's Famous Studios.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Warning! Achtung! Cuidado! When you get your Tape or Whole DVD Set, do not attempt to view multiple shorts, one after another. Doing your watching in this manner tends to render them seemingly repetitive, monotonous and boring even; kinda like attempting a 3 Stooges marathon of shorts featuring Joe Besser. Try instead to do your viewings interspersed with other features.
After all, this is truly " ..Truth, Justice and the American Way!"
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