At the end of our last chapter, a train carrying the Reducer Ray was headed straight for danger as some of the Spider Lady’s goons have rigged some explosives on the tracks. With Clark Kent having accompanied the decoy truck, he’s quite a way away from being able to save the train. Let’s see what happens in Chapter nine of Superman, Irresistible Force.
Of course, it doesn’t take long for Clark Kent to dash away from the truck and change into Superman. He flies to meet the train and stops it dead in its tracks, just before the explosives go off a few feet away. Meanwhile, back at the decoy, two of the goons who ambushed the truck are taken into custody just as Superman returns and changes back into mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Later, in Perry White’s office, we learn that Clark managed to write a blockbuster story on the incident, which enrages Lois. To calm her down, Perry gives Lois the job of getting an interview with Dr. Graham, who is coming to Metropolis to run some experiments on the Reducer Ray.
Meanwhile, at the Spider Lady’s lair, the villainess hatches a plan to get her hands on Dr. Graham. She will pose as Lois Lane and intercept Graham at the airport. Meanwhile, the evil Dr. Hackett will pretend to be Graham and meet up with the real Lois. To delay Lois’ arrival at the airport, a few of the Spider Lady’s henchmen cause a minor fender bender with the intrepid reporter.
The Spider Lady’s plan goes off without a hitch, except for one little detail. Nobody planned on Jimmy Olsen following Lois and snapping a picture as she met up with Graham (actually Hackett). Once they get to the lab at the university, Lois herself starts to get suspicious of the so-called Dr. Graham. When she ducks out to make a call (in the scene that was strangely in the last episode’s end-of-chapter recap) she is nabbed by the baddies. Meanwhile, back at the Spider Lady’s hideout, she informs the real Dr. Graham that he will reveal to her all the secrets of the Reducer Ray. While all this is going on, Clark Kent gets a look at Jimmy’s picture of Lois and Graham at the airport and realizes it’s really Dr. Hackett. Clark then scurries off and changes into Superman before flying out the window of the Daily Planet.
Back at the college, Lois is tied up while Hackett sets the Reducer Ray to self-destruct. Having taken a bunch of pictures, Hackett has all he needs to build his own version of the machine. It seems like certain doom for Lois Lane, but what else is new? Will Superman get there in time? You’ll need to wait until the next chapter to find out.
As has been the trend, this is another episode with not a lot of Superman action. He appears at the beginning for the cliffhanger resolution, and again at the end to set up the next one. That’s it. That having been said, the end of the cliffhanger this time is pretty awesome! Whereas Superman tends to stop moving cars by grabbing the back bumper, that’s not going to work for a train. He jumps right in front of the locomotive, holds out his hands, and brings the beast to a stop. The effect here is done by having Superman stand in front of a projection screen with footage of a train heading right for the camera. Cheesy, yes, but still effective.
I’m sure youngsters who saw this serial in the theater gasped with excitement when Supes brought the train to a halt, but there is another moment in this chapter that got a bigger gasp out of me. When we see the Spider Lady lay out her plan to pose as Lois Lane and kidnap Dr. Graham, she does something completely unexpected. She reaches up to her blonde locks and pulls off a wig, revealing herself to actually be a brunette! I was shocked! We’re nine chapters in and I had no idea she was wearing a wig all this time. Now, is it really necessary that she changes her hair to impersonate Lois Lane, though? I mean would the average government scientist know the hair color of the various reporters at the Daily Planet? I doubt it. Still, it was kind of fun to see the Spider Lady change, not only her hair color, but also her look in general. She goes for a much more straight-laced sort of fashion sense when she does the Lois act.
The episode closes with a pretty good cliffhanger setup. Lois is tied up in a room with the Reducer Ray sparking and sputtering as it gets ready to blow. I do have a bit of a problem with Hackett’s plan to build his own Reducer Ray based on a few snapshots. I mean, what if he gets the photos back from Walgreens and they are underexposed, or he had his thumb in front of the lens? Before we had digital photos these things happened all the time people!
Before the narrator tells viewers to come back next week to see what happens to Lois, we do get a quick shot inserted that implies that Jimmy Olsen has followed Lois once again and may be in danger of being blown to smithereens, as well. Can Superman get there in time, or will there be two job openings at the Daily Planet tomorrow morning? Find out next time as we look at chapter ten, Between Two Fires.