Yesterday I had a pretty long drive ahead of me at a rather ungodly hour so I was looking for something to help me pass the time on the road and I stumbled across something I've had for many years in my collection, a two-CD set of the earliest Superman radio adventures. As it turned out they were ideal for the circumstance and I enjoyed them mightily.
|Clayton "Bud" Collier - the man who voiced Superman|
In his first adventure Superman faces off against "The Wolf", a criminal who is sabotaging trains for profit. Then we meet the mastermind behind The Wolf, a cackling villain called "The Yellow Mask" who steals an atomic gun. After that Superman faces off against some more basic swindlers and such. Solid crime-oriented adventures in which we meet Perry White and Lois Lane. What's really different to me was the personality of Superman. Given life by Clayton Collier, he really comes across as arrogant, ordering around police chiefs and fire chiefs and such. He seems to get a kick out of using his powers to mystify folks. Without the fundamental humility I've come to assume about the character, he's a very different kind of person and hero.
I was reminded of what Jules Feiffer wrote about the character, about how he must be gloating in secret knowing how much superior he was to the mere humans around him. Here's what Feiffer says: "The truth may be that Kent existed not for the purposes of the story but for the reader. He is Superman’s opinion of the rest of us, a pointed caricature of what we, the noncriminal element, were really like. His fake identity was our real one. That’s why we loved him so. For if that wasn’t really us, if there were no Clark Kents, only lots of glasses and cheap suits which, when removed, revealed all of us in our true identities —what a hell of an improved world it would have been!" I definitely get it from these radio shows. Superman is a bit of a smarmy dick in these early adventures.
These were a great deal of fun. Glad I found them.