Superman: UP, UP, And Away!
Starring Bud Collyer as Superman
2 CD’s – 2 hours – [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Radio Spirits
Themes: / Superheroes / Superman / Old Time Radio /
A Review by Jake Black
Long before anyone named Reeves, Routh, or Welling portrayed America’s greatest hero, there was Bud Collyer. Collyer played Clark Kent and Superman on the Radio for close to a decade. During that time, he also voiced Superman and Clark Kent in the beautiful Fleisher cartoons.
I recently heard Superman: UP, UP, and Away, a two-CD set that covers the first 12 episodes of the epic radio series. The series itself is notable for its many contributions to the Superman mythos, including kryptonite, Jimmy Olsen, and the famous catchphrases “Look, up in the sky,” and “Up, Up, and Away,” used because the visual of flying couldn’t be accomplished, because it was, after all, radio.
This CD set is enjoyable for its historical significance. The radio show really was that important to the mythos. Bud Collyer’s first performance as Superman is notable as he drops his voice when Superman, and speaks higher as Clark. A clever way to distinguish between the two.
There are two stories featured in the set. The first begins with the explosion of Krypton, and a very unusual origin of Superman. It is as though the adult Clark had been secluded for 30 years, wandering the Earth without talking to anyone. His earthly parents are conspicuous by their absence in the story, and Superman seems to be created by two regular Joes that Clark runs into. In fact, these strangers give him the name Clark Kent!
As one who has studied the evolution of Superman, this new origin took me out of the set, but I did enjoy the rest of the story – partially because it deals with a train and Salt Lake City (where I live). It was fun for me to hear that my hometown was featured in the first non-comic presentation of Superman!
The second story deals with a crazed scientist, and an attack with an “Atomic Beam” on the Daily Planet building, among other stereotyped Superman situations. The second story is focused on Lois, and is her debut “off the pages.”
Throughout both stories, Superman seems to hide in the shadows, more like Batman of today. No one really ever *sees* Superman. Kind of funny when compared to today’s version.
The sound quality is very clear. I am certain that it has been digitally remastered as it doesn’t sound like it is inside a tin can, as other radio plays on CD have. I really appreciate that.
The actors are wonderfully committed to their characters. Even though the occasional mad scientist laugh occasionally takes me out of the moment, there is a high level of commitment. The flying sound effects are well done. They remind me of the wind-blowing sound that was utilized successfully in the George Reeves television series. (They also remind me of the flying Superman toy that was found in Burger King Kid’s Meals this summer.)
One of the strengths on the CD is that each episode (6 episodes per story/disc) is it’s own chapter. Plus each features a short recap of where we are in the story as it begins. This is helpful, though if you sit for an hour to listen to each story straight through, it gets a bit redundant, as does the “Superman is a copyrighted character” spiel that closes each episode. But this is such a minor issue, that it hardly detracts from the whole presentation.
The biggest weakness of the set is the lack of music. Some scenes seem to move much more slowly because there is no music in the entire set. No opening credit music, no background music. It is noticeably absent, and hurts the set overall.
Hardcore Superman fans will really enjoy this CD set, if only for its historical value. The performances are wonderful, there are only a couple of minor complaints about it (the music, primarily) but over all it a fantastic addition to a Superman CD collection.