blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Atom Man vs. Superman (1950, Spencer Gordon Bennet), Chapter 4: Superman Meets Atom Man!

Superman Meets Atom Man! has what ought to be a big scene–Lyle Talbot’s Lex Luthor (in his Atom Man disguise) vanquishing Kirk Alyn to oblivion. Only it’s not a big scene, not even in the moment. Obviously Superman’s not going to be vanquished in the fourth chapter, but still. They could have at least tried for some drama. Not even damsel in distress Noel Neill seems worried about Alyn’s “death” and Talbot doesn’t allow himself any celebration.

It might be because of the sparkly planter Talbot uses for his Atom Man helmet, but whatever. It should be a much bigger deal. The serial could at least pretend we’re suspending enough disbelief.

Overall, it’s a good chapter. There’s some fine character moments for Neill, who has an office birthday party–which boss Pierre Watkin is a jerk about–leading to her teleportation kidnapping by Talbot. Then she gets to face off against Atom Man. It’s nice for Neill to get some material other than beaming at Alyn.

Speaking of Alyn, he comes up with a complicated plan to track Neill down. He fakes a meteor from Krypton to convince Talbot there’s Kryptonite to be had. Then Alyn lets himself be trapped. Not a planner, not nimble when it comes to plans falling through.

The cliffhanger’s decent as well, though I feel like they used it in the first Superman serial.

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