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Adventures of Superman
Season 1 Episode 4: Mystery of the Broken Statues

Titlecard for Adventures of Superman: Mystery of the Broken Statues


A couple of men, Paul Martin and his assistant Dorn, are going around trinket shops in Metropolis, smashing cheap little statues and looking through the resulting rubble. They're paying for them, so no laws are being violated. But Lois Lane knows there must be a story here and enlists the help of a reluctant Clark Kent. Naturally, she's right, but unfortunately Dorn and Martin know she's snooping into their plans and kidnap her. Superman will need to find out what's going on and save the day.


Paul Martin and Dorn outside of  Bonelli's Artcraft Shop

Two men, Paul Martin and Dorn, enter a little store called Bonelli's Artcraft Shop. They proceed to throw a bunch of cheap animal statuettes on the ground, smashing them, and then look through the rubble they created. However, they're also paying for them, so the shop owner Mr. Bonelli doesn't object to their actions, though he's certainly confused. Lois Lane happens to enter the store shortly after in order to retrieve a pitcher she had repaired there and as such learns of this strange occurrance. Shortly thereafter, she goes to another store, Edwards' China and Ceramics, to get some egg cups, and learns the same thing that happened at Bonelli's happened there.

Clark looks dumbfoundedly at Lois as he holds the paper she gave him

Lois knows there's a story here, so she starts investigating and recruits Clark Kent (who's far from enthusiastic, as he finds the whole thing rather silly) to help. The reporters split up and buy a bunch of little statues to break them open themselves, and Lois finds a key in one of them. She excitedly calls Clark and the two discuss the situation. In addition to buying statuettes themselves, the reporters have been talking to shop owners and learned that the statue-smashers found various seemingly random objects in the rubble, such as an onion and a toy cow. What they don't know is that the statue-smashers are aware of Lois' investigation and they break into her apartment and kidnap her.

Clark gets into brief fisticuffs with Pete and Charlie

Clark isn't aware yet of Lois being kidnapped, but he does realize how suspicious everything is. When calling one of the shops, he learns that a statue-smashing session is in progress there (being undertaken by another couple of thugs, Pete and Charlie). Thinking the situation urgent, he quickly flies over there as Superman, then changes back to Clark and enters the shop. The goons try to fight Clark, but he brushes off their attempt, grabs them both, and tells the shop owner to call the police.

Clark and Inspector Henderson talking - Henderson points at Clark, annoyed

We cut to the police station, where Inspector Henderson and Clark are talking and both are rather frustrated. Henderson explains there is no evidence either man has actually committed a crime, so the police can't hold them, even though Clark points out that one of the men described by the shopkeepers sounds like the con man Paul Martin. Clark is insistent that they should be kept in custody and throws out ideas of charges to keep them on, but Henderson rebuts his attempts and expresses annoyance with his interference.

Martin attempts to interrogate Lois while dorn stands menacingly in the background

Clark then heads to Lois' apartment, but when Lois doesn't open the door, he uses his x-ray vision to look inside, and sees the apartment has been trashed. He steps inside and calls police headquarters. Meanwhile, we see Martin and Dorn taking Lois to the National Import Company building and attempting to persuade her to talk about what she found, which they've apparently asked her a lot about already, to no success. They still can't get her to talk; instead, she smashes a vase on Martin's head and tries to run away, only for Dorn to grab her and hold a knife up to her. Martin tells Dorn to ease up and steals Lois' purse, and Dorn takes Lois to another room. Martin then makes a phone call, asking one of his associates to get a plane ready for a "persuasion job". Then, Martin looks through Lois' purse and finds the key she found.

Superman stops the airplane from taking off

Clark is back at the police station with Inspector Henderson, where the two learn that no fingerprints were found at Lois' apartment. In the midst of the police station scenes, we see that Martin and Dorn are driving away with a gagged and tied-up Lois. Thankfully, the police have captured Pete, one of the men they previously released, and they bring him in for questioning. The Inspector succeeds at getting him to talk by pointing out he risks life in prison due to his previous crimes. Pete explains that Martin has a place in the mountains that he accesses via an airplane he keeps at Ramsey Airport. This causes Clark to rush off, change into Superman, and stop the plane that's taking Lois away just as it's about to take off.

Clark shows Lois and the Inspector a chalkboard with pictures and names of the items from the statues

We then cut to Henderson, Clark, and Lois all gathered together (presumably Dorn was easily apprehended by Superman and arrested). Clark has a chalkboard on which he's drawn and labeled all the objects found in the statuettes (except the key). Clark explains that the objects form a rebus-like code, and combined with Lois' suggestions, they find the final result of the puzzle is a PO Box number. Based on this, the police are able to go to that post office branch and apprehend Martin as he's about to use the key to get whatever's in the box.

The Inspector lifts a pig figure out of the box

Clark, Lois, and Henderson are gathered around the box, only to find out that its contents is yet another plaster statuette. When shattered, however, it reveals the world's largest ruby that had been stolen from a museum a few years prior. Henderson and Lois comment that thanks to Clark and Superman, a great story has been uncovered, leading the mentioned reporter to reply, "Like I always say, two heads are better than one."


The Mystery of the Broken Statues is a good episode (with one major disappointment that I'll discuss later) that particularly shines in its showcasing of Lois Lane. Phyllis Coates' Lois is one of my favorite renditions of the character, and I think this episode is a good example of everything great about her. She shows her wry sense of humor, her nose for news, and her courage and confidence (smashing the vase on her kidnapper's head is a great moment - I like it when Lois fights physically on occasion).

In particular, I want to draw attention to her relationship with Clark Kent, which I love. In the Golden Age comics, Clark and Lois' relationship started out extremely antagonistic, though this became less and less intense with time. Not too much of this antagonism made it into this show. Lois does criticize Clark and compete with him journalistically, but these don't feel like constant features of their relationship, and when they do appear, they're not that harsh or intense. You get the general impression that she isn't too impressed with Clark, but they're still friends who often work together in their investigations, and Lois respects him enough to appreciate his help. This episode is a prime example of that. Lois brings Clark into her investigation of a lead she discovered rather than trying to hog the byline, even though Clark himself isn't that excited about it!

Speaking of which, I love that too. It's just funny seeing Clark have a reaction like that, and also shows that while Clark is a talented and successful reporter, he isn't perfect and Lois can outclass him - in this case, by having a better imagination or intuition as to what can make a great story. In general, we see in this episode that Lois is more easily excited (I love it when she yells "Eureka!" after finding the key!) and Clark is more reserved.

I also have a lot of fun watching Clark and Inspector Henderson's interactions. Henderson is an ally to the Daily Planet crew, and they mostly get along, but there can be tension and disagreements between them (particularly in the first season), as this episode clearly demonstrates. It's entertaining seeing how animated Clark and Henderson get as they argue about detaining the thugs Pete and Charlie. That's a big part of why I like Henderson - it's natural that the police and the press would step on each others' toes sometimes.

Interestingly, both Clark and Henderson are right. The arrested men are in fact up to no good, but they haven't actually committed a known crime. To me, Clark ends up looking a bit silly, but I understand his perspective. He's a man who knows when he's right and is eager to act on that knowledge. On a similar note, another interesting but odd action by Clark in this episode is when he confronts Pete and Charlie and gets into a brief physical fight with them. Clark doesn't actually throw a punch, but he deflects an attempted attack and then grabs them both. Obviously, Clark usually uses his other identity for this sort of thing, and it feels all the weirder because he changed into his Superman gear just to fly over to the shop at high speeds, only to change back into Clark when he gets there. I kind of get it, though - he usually saves the Superman identity for when things get really serious.

In general, these things show how George Reeves' Clark Kent differs from most other depictions of the identity (until Reeves' portrayal influenced John Byrne's Superman comic reboot of 1986, which would in turn influence many other interpretations). He generally comes across as a strong, confident guy. He may be gentle, but he's not a wimp. Most of the time, he fights crime as a reporter without even needing to change into Superman.

In general, I really enjoy this show's focus on the Clark Kent identity, but there are occasions, especially in this first season, when it feels like the Superman identity is a bit too neglected. That actually ties into my only major complaint about this episode. After Superman stops the plane, the show immediately cuts to Clark, Lois, and Henderson sitting together. We don't get to see Superman actually deal with Dorn or rescue Lois. It's abrupt and unsatisfying.

All in all, it's a good episode that showcases three of the major characters (Clark, Lois, and Henderson) well (though the two other major characters, Perry White and Jim Olsen, don't appear at all). Cutting away from the brief moment Superman was actually in action is annoying, but other than that, it's fun and enjoyable.

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