If you recall, the last time we visited Metropolis, Jimmy Olsen had decided to hide in a crate that the Spider-lady’s goons believe contains a precious substance known as mono-chromite. The goons are on to Jimmy, though, so we were left with a scene of them shooting the crate, with Jimmy inside, full of holes. Let’s see if Jimmy is actually bulletproof in chapter 12 of Superman, Blast from the Depths.
As this episode begins, we see a considerable amount of footage that was conveniently left out last time. It involves Superman swooping in and landing in the truck. He then has Jimmy duck in the front of the truck while he takes Jimmy’s place inside the crate. So, when the crooks open fire on the crate, it has no effect on the mighty Superman. The blue boy then grabs the two baddies and questions them. However, they are just a pair of hired goons and have no knowledge of the Spider-lady’s plan. Superman then zooms back to the prison (remember, Clark Kent was locked up) and then changes back into his reporter clothes. Clark’s legal release then conveniently happens a few seconds later.
Back at the Spider-lady’s lair, she is fuming because she has no mon-chromite. Luckily, the evil Dr. Hackett realizes he has a “contact” who can get him some of the ore mono-chromite comes from. So, another set of goons is sent off to visit Fred Collier – mining engineer (as proclaimed by the sign on his office door) to get some mono-chromite. So, basically, it’s the last chapter all over again. Collier refuses to sell any to bad guys, after all, it’s on the restricted list. A fight then breaks out, complete with Collier brandishing a gun he has tucked in his desk drawer. When news of the incident gets out, Perry White dispatches Lois to investigate.
Lois just lets herself in and starts snooping around Collier’s office. Of course, the two goons return while she’s there. She stupidly goes out the window and hides on the ledge while crooks start snooping around. When they notice a Daily Planet matchbook lying on the floor, they get suspicious and quickly find Lois on the ledge. They then find the piece of paper Lois snagged from Collier’s desk, which says something about a mine. They then roll Lois up in a rug and smuggle her out to their car.
When Lois fails to check in, Perry White sends Clark and Jimmy to Collier’s office. While there, they see the signs of a struggle. Clark also notices something that Lois scratched onto the window with her ring while the crooks weren’t looking…a question mark and a cross. Clark quickly locates a Mining Engineer’s Guide which mentions a mine at Question Crossing. Assuming that’s where the crooks are headed, Clark and Jimmy go into hot pursuit mode.
At the mine, our heroes spot the villains loading their woody up with mono-chromite, but there is no sign of Lois. So, Clark and Jimmy split up to find her. Sadly, the bad guys get the jump on Clark, knocking him unconscious. Really now? To make matters worse, they rig some explosives to blow the mine, since they’ve got all the mono-chromite they need. The crooks also knock out Jimmy on the way out. We then see a massive explosion and are told we have to wait until next week to see who survives.
This chapter is a bit odd since it pretty much repeats the premise of the last one. The crooks need mono-chromite, they go to visit someone who has it, he refuses cuz it’s restricted, etc, etc. I mean, these serials often repeat certain concepts as they go on, but you usually don’t see it happen in consecutive chapters! Also, it’s a bit strange that Metropolis seems to have quite a few people that have easy access to this supposedly restricted substance. I’m beginning to think that mono-chromite might as well be available in every corner drugstore in Metropolis.
The big thing about this chapter, though, is that it continues the theme we are seeing in this serial that the staff of the Daily Planet are not that interested in actually writing stories and printing a newspaper. They are all a bunch of wannabe cops and detectives. Let’s break this down. There is a shooting incident at the office of Fred Collier – Mining Engineer. Is the building locked down? Nope. Lois Lane just lets herself in and starts poking around. In fact, there is no police presence at the building at all! When a shooting happens do the Metropolis police just sit back and say, “Eh, let the folks at the Daily Planet deal with it?” Then, when Lois goes missing, does Perry White call the cops at this point? Of course not! He sends more reporters to look for her. Then when they realize she’s been kidnapped, they don’t call the cops either. They try to go after the crooks themselves. Now, I get it, one of these reporters is actually Superman, but it’s not like Perry White knows this. Plus, the fact that Clark is really a powerful superhuman from another planet doesn’t seem to matter that much. After all, three hired goons manage to get the drop on him and knock him out later in the mine.
All this to say, this chapter is a big eye-roller. Even the opening resolution to the cliffhanger is nutty, with a large amount of footage showing Superman taking Jimmy’s place in the crate re-inserted after being left on the cutting room floor last time. Is there more we aren’t seeing this time? It’s very likely, since it sure seems like all three of our heroes got blown to smithereens. We’ll see if they make it out alive next time, and who else in Metropolis has mono-chromite for sale, in chapter 13 – Hurled to Destruction.