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The Defeat of SupermanEpilogue
by Tom Nichol

Based on the episode of the same name from the
Adventures of Superman

[Author’s Note: The role of Dr. Meldini, the criminal scientist who discovers that Kryptonite is the only known substance on Earth that could harm Superman, was portrayed by the late Maurice Cass, best known for his role as Professor Newton in the classic TV series, “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger.” Like many actors in a regular TV series, Mr. Cass occasionally performed as a “guest star” on other programs, when he was not performing his regular role, in order to supplement his income. Sadly, just over a year later, while his regular series was in active production of its second season, Mr Cass died of a sudden heart attack. He was 69 years old. This epilogue is respectfully dedicated to his memory.]

Just over a week had passed since Superman had nearly died as a result of being exposed to the radiation of a substance which had become known as Kryptonite—the result of a vicious plot by gangster Happy King, his assistant (known only as “Ruffles”), and a criminal scientist known as Dr. Meldini.

Thankfully, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson had succeeded in placing the block of Kryptonite (which King had dropped down a chute into the room in which he had locked the trio) into a lead drain pipe, the ends of which Jimmy had managed to seal by stomping on them. His efforts had been rewarded when Superman had recovered his strength and other super-powers a few moments later.

Once he had sufficiently recovered, the Man of Steel had thrown the pipe containing the Kryptonite into Metropolis Bay. Ruffles, who had been driving Happy King’s car toward Metropolis, had been so distracted by the sight of the pipe (made red-hot by atmospheric friction as a result of the terrific speed at which it was traveling) that, in spite of his boss’s efforts, he had driven the car off the road and down a steep embankment. In direct consequence, King, Meldini, and Ruffles had all been killed in the explosion and fire which had been caused by the crash. The story had made front-page headlines in the Metropolis Daily Planet.

Perry White, the owner and editor of the Daily Planet, was now conducting a follow-up conversation with Lois, Jimmy, and the Man of Steel (in his disguise as Clark Kent). A respected amateur scientist in his own right, Perry was naturally curious as to the nature of the substance which had come so close to killing the Man of Steel.

Does Superman have any ideas about what this ‘Kryptonite’ is or where it comes from, Kent?” he inquired.

Not really, Perry,” Clark replied. “From what the authorities found in Dr. Meldini’s notes, it actually wasn’t what most people would call ‘real Kryptonite’ at all. It was actually a ‘synthetic Kryptonite’ which Meldini somehow managed to formulate from a tiny fragment of genuine Kryptonite which he extracted from a meteorite he found. Another fragment was used to make the bullet that was fired into Superman’s left shoulder in order to verify that Kryptonite was in fact harmful to Superman. Incidentally, that fragment has been successfully removed from Superman’s costume and destroyed!”

Thank God for that!” Lois exclaimed fervently, and her colleagues agreed. “But do we know why Kryptonite is so harmful to Superman in the first place?”

[NOTE: This episode was filmed prior to the events depicted in the episode, “Superman In Exile.” My epilogue to that episode explains the nature of Kryptonite in greater detail.]

Well, apparently Kryptonite is a fragment of Krypton, the planet where Superman was born. We don’t have much to go on in that regard, but something in the explosion that destroyed Krypton caused most if not all of the fragments to become radioactive. Since he was born on Krypton, it only stands to reason that he would be intensely sensitive to that radiation. The fact that many, if not most, of his super-powers result from his body being energized by the rays of Earth’s sun may also be a factor.”

By the way, Mr. White,,” Jimmy spoke up, “how much do we know about this guy Meldini?”

Very little, I’m afraid, Olsen,” his employer replied. “He was apparently born in Italy, and worked for a time under Mussolini. When Mussolini was assassinated, he made his way to the United States using a falsified passport. That was when Happy King became aware of him, and took him under his wing, as it were. The FBI has since taken custody of all of Dr. Meldini’s research notes and papers. Eccentric as Meldini was, his scientific abilities were considerable—so much so, in fact, that the President himself personally ordered that all of those notes and papers be destroyed without delay and without exception!”

As his three employees murmured in surprise, Perry also reported that Inspector Henderson and the FBI had mopped up the remaining members of Happy King’s gang, all of whom were expected to receive stiff prison sentences. With that, the meeting broke up, its participants little dreaming that, before long, they would have several more encounters with what would come to be considered the single greatest hazard to the Last Son of Krypton.

Posted: January 17, 2022

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