Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Mysterious Doctor Satan!

According to what I've read the Republic serial Mysterious Doctor Satan began its existence as a Superman story, but when negotiations with DC fell through a different hero was substituted and much of the story was changed. To be honest I don't see much if any Superman left in this thing, and I imagine folks who do are projecting a bit. But I've been wrong before.

Now we do have a chick named Lois (Ella Neal), but she's not a reporter and to my eye doesn't have the same style of spunk as Superman's Lois Lane. Not to say she's a wallflower, she's not by any means. In fact the women in this story hold their own pretty well thanks going to Dorothy Herbert as a pretty blonde spitfire of a secretary Alice who trick rides and swings from ropes kicking the dope out of thugs all over the place. Apparently she was a famous horsewoman with Ringling Brothers and others. She sure adds a new dimension to this serial, a strong reliable and capable woman, not remotely a damsel in distress.

The story is a weird combo of western and superhero yarn with the hero named Copperhead, a second generation taking on the mantle of a western anti-hero and bringing that two-fisted justice to the big city. Bob Wayne (Robert Wilcox) has the most marginal superhero costume of all time, a simple copper hood which he digs out of his suit and slips over his head and instantly he's become the Copperhead. Later he takes off his coat and tie, but little beyond that to distinguish him from his former self. Not much is made of a secret identity and I cannot imagine most of the folks around him were fooled really. Especially his sidekick, a reporter named Speed Martin played by William Newell.

But the hero is not the star of this vehicle, the villain is. Dr.Satan as played by Edward Cianelli is a grim mad scientist who has a scheme to rule the world by dint of his deadly robots. We get to see one of those robots in action quite a bit in the serial, and the chase after his counterpart Dr. West's (C. Montague Shaw) remote control technology gives the show a real continuity many serials actually lack. And it rather makes sense. He has the robot but the remote control devices allow him to use them at distance.

All in all, it's a tasty serial, with some really ultra-violent fights in the classic Republic style. When they fight in this one, no table goes unturned and not set of shelves goes unripped off the wall. The fights are real mayhem and fun to watch. This one is recommended, even if there ain't no Supermen in it.

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