DC radio and movie serials and continuity

Other than Kryptonite’s origin on the old Superman radio serial (which is of course huge), did DC ever make any effort, concerted or otherwise, either to bring the radio or movie serials into DC continuity or to make them a continuity unto themselves?

Continuity is overrated, and the province of obsessive fanboys, especially when it comes to peripheral entertainments…

Did you need some toilet paper?

I can’t speak for the present, when they seem to be doing some things that appear exceedingly strange to those of us who grew up with Superman in another time, but the serials were never considered continuity at all.

The radio show is mostly famous for introducing phrases that lasted in the canon, like “up, up and away” and “Look! up in the sky.” It violated canon in a number of ways in the beginning, though. Superman arrived on earth fully grown, for example. And even the “Faster than a speeding bullet…” opening that is so much a part of the lore didn’t appear until the fourth episode, the first three having a variation that wasn’t as dramatic.

The real outside source of canonical lore is the novel commissioned because of the success of the radio series, and with the same name, The *Adventures of Superman * by George Lowther, published in 1942.

He took the world of Krypton, which had only been depicted in the comic strip, gave Jor-El and Lara their proper names (instead of Jor-L and Lora in the comic strip) and had them launch their tiny baby. Then he has him discovered by the Kents (Sara and Eben), given the name Clark because it is her family name, and has his powers develop at puberty (well, at 13), which would influence Stan Lee later when he invented the X-Men. Eventually he goes to Perry White of the Daily Planet. I don’t remember when those names were introduced into the comic, but for at least the first couple of years it was a different editor and newspaper.

Except for the serials, the comic, the comic strip, the radio show, and the novel were all a common stewpot for invention from 1939-42 as the editors tinkered with the character to figure out what worked best. Even the Superboy comic that started in 1949 didn’t add much of anything, except when they decided to add the Superbaby flashbacks out of plot desperation. John Byrne went back to the novel to have Superman’s powers gradually develop in his retcon of 1989, but that was just a minor piece in a rewriting that didn’t last long and has since been retconned too many times for me to know what the heck the story is today.

I wrote a big article for a fanzine when Lois and Clark first appeared, though, and did a ton of research on the early days of Superman for it, looking at their relationship through the various presentations, so I discovered all this cool early stuff that has mostly been forgotten.

Superman first met Batman on the radio show. When they met in the comic book, it was under slightly different circumstances (Superman rescued Robin, who was lost at sea, on the radio show; Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent were roommates on an ocean liner in the comics. Both involve an ocean motif, but little more).

There was a bigger chasm between the print and broadcast adventures of the Shadow. In print, he couldn’t “cloud men’s minds” like he could on the radio, but I think they changed that later on.

Yeah, that’s what brought up the question. I’m listening to the Superman serial via podcast and knew that it didn’t match the comic version. I’m not sure, though, whether what I have is the first meeting on-air between Supes and B&R. Doesn’t sound like it though. B&R know Supes’ secret ID and vice versa and there hasn’t been anything yet about a rescue at sea.

I have way too many serials going. I have this one and Radar Men from the Moon, with the Superman serial from the beginning waiting in the wings, plus Flash Gordon (radio and movie), Undersea Kingdom, Phantom Empire, some damn thing about an American flying ace in China and some others.

While Cafe Society is full of differing views, DrFidelius, your contribution here wasn’t so much disagreement as it was mere thread-shitting. In the future, if a thread doesn’t interest you, please just close it and move on instead of insulting the participants.

You don’t want to know what I read that word ass!

I’m not quite understanding this sentence. Are you saying that all of these things were in the pot except for the movie serials?

What about the Fleischer cartoons? Anything come from those?

No, the cartoons were also non-continuity. I don’t think that the DC editors had control over those, so they just ignored them. The movie serials were late enough that the world had been completely set by then.

Kryptonite was introduced into the radio show in June 1943 and Batman in 1945. Both were devices to give Bud Collyer vacation time.

The DC wiki says:

That seems to add some questions rather than answer them, though.

Basically anything that was in the editors’ control was considered continuity, or since these were the days before continuity, raw material that could be mined for the product. Anything not under the editors’ control, like stuff done in Hollywood, was not.

It’s not quite continuity, but the most lasting artifact of the radio series has been Bud Collier’s vocal characterization of the “mild mannered” Clark Kent’s voice dropping about two octaves when he said “This is a job…FOR SUPERMAN!”

That simple vocal trip did more to establish the difference between Clark and Superman than anything the writers and artists ever came up with.

Additionally, I suspect (but don’t have a handy cite for) the notion that Byrne’s rebooted sterile Krypton was influenced by the Donner movies.

Even that’s been subject to revision, though.

And the year for Byrne’s reboot is 1986, not '89.

Superman meeting Batman as described (i.e. first finding Robin adrift in a rowboat) was adapted to the comics, appearing briefly in World’s Finest #271 (Sep 1981). The entire issue is basically Bats and Supes reminiscing about all their early encounters, including the one that started with Supes finding Robin, Bruce and Clark sharing a liner stateroom, Bruce and Clark meeting as teenagers in Smallville; basically just flashback after flashback with some minor effort at tying them all together into a coherent continuity, sometimes requiring references to hypnotic amnesia and such. My copy of this issue is buried somewhere, else I’d be more specific instead of just running off memory.

No one’s mentioned one of the biggest influences on continuity by the radio show: Jimmy Olsen. He was added to the show so Superman could talk to somone (“You see Jimmy, I realized it was Luthor by his red hair.”) and became part of canon.