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The Phantom RingEpilogue
by Tom Nichol

Based on the 1956 episode of the same name from the
Adventures of Superman

[Author’s Note: At the time this episode was filmed, science fiction films were all the rage in Hollywood. A number of episodes of the Adventures of Superman, including the pilot episode, “Superman On Earth,” directly reflect this fact. Also, several episodes directly reflect the use of atomic radiation, and the results of exposure to such radiation, in their plot lines. In this case, I have opted to include not only the use of nuclear radiation as a basis for the invisibility device used by the spectre and his gang, but also a reference to the original Invisible Man film from 1933.

It is only fitting to note that the character of “The Spectre” was played by the late Peter Brocco, a well-known and widely respected stage and motion picture actor, whose career spanned more than 60 years. One of his best-known roles in the science fiction genre was that of “Grog” in the 1950’s serial, Radar Men From The Moon. Since 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of his death, this epilogue is respectfully dedicated to his memory.]

A week had passed since the capture of a criminal scientist known only as “The Spectre,” along with his gang. They were now in jail, awaiting trial on a variety of charges, including the attempted murder of Clark Kent and the kidnapping of his two friends, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen.

The three of them, along with Police Inspector William J. Henderson, were now discussing the case with Perry White, owner/publisher of the Metropolis Daily Planet, as well as Dr. Tom Whitlock from Mercy General Hospital. The latter had recently become a medical consultant to the Metropolis Police Department, and was part of the discussion as a direct result.

“I just got through giving The Spectre and his men a full physical examination,” he explained. “The results of that examination were so chilling that I reported the results directly to Washington at once!”

“What were those results, Tom?” Perry White inquired, his brows knitting in growing concern, as were Henderson’s.

“Well, to put it simply, it seems that The Specter adopted an unusual method of rendering himself and his men invisible. As you may be aware, in the original novel, The Invisible Man, by H. G. Wells, the villain used drugs and chemicals to achieve invisibility. The 1933 film, starring Claude Rains, followed that same premise, and so did at least one or two of its sequels.”

“Yeah,” Jimmy Olsen, himself an amateur scientist, piped up. “I seem to remember that the drug Rains’s character used was called, ‘monocane.’”

“Yes, I remember that, too,” Perry White, also an amateur scientist, added. “What Rains’ character didn’t know at the time was that ‘monocane’ was so poisonous that it was capable of causing madness and eventual death!”

Dr. Whitlock nodded, then went on, “Well, in this case, The Specter, who was both a criminal and a scientist, decided to use small amounts of atomic radiation to achieve the same result. As it turned out, however, he made a huge mistake in doing so—a FATAL mistake, in fact!”

As the others in the office stiffened in apprehension, the physician continued, “Without going into a lot of technical detail, the multiple times that The Specter and his men made use of the device resulted in their accumulating a fatal dosage level! To put it simply,” he concluded, “they’ll all be dead within a year—possibly as little as six months! There is NO cure for what these men so foolishly did to themselves!”

Shocked and appalled, Lois asked, “Will—will they still be tried, then?”

“Oh, yes, Lois, they’ll still be tried,” Henderson shot back firmly, “you can bet on that!”

“Can you do anything for them, Tom?” Clark put in solemnly.

“Not much, Clark,” Dr. Whitlock replied, shaking his head sadly. “We can make them comfortable, but not much more than that -- especially as their radiation sickness reaches its final stages!”

“Do… do they know?” Jimmy Olsen inquired, his face understandably pale.

“Yes, I told them myself,” Tom replied. “I leave you folks to imagine their reaction!”

His companions sighed and shook their heads sadly. Although it was only natural that they would want to see The Spectre and his men punished for their criminal behavior, none of them --
not even Henderson -- would have wanted them to be punished like this.

For a long moment, there was silence. Then, Inspector Henderson began, “Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent--”

“And the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another!’” Kent concluded.

Perry, his own face grim and sad, commented, “There’s another quotation, it seems to me, that would be even more appropriate in a case such as this!”

“What quotation is that, Chief?” Lois asked.

“I’ll bet I know!” Jimmy piped up. “It’s the last line spoken by Claude Rains’s character in the original
Invisible Man film back in 1933 -- ‘I meddled in things that Man must leave alone!’”

“Exactly!” Tom replied, as the others nodded their concurrence.

As it turned out, the trial never took place. The radiation sickness which The Spectre and his gang had unknowingly brought upon themselves progressed significantly
faster than even Dr. Whitlock had predicted. Within four months after their arrest, The Spectre and all of his gang suffered a horrible death. In the wake of these events, by the direct personal order of the President, The Spectre’s invisibility device, and all of the materials, plans, and research notes The Spectre had used to construct it, were summarily destroyed. Thus, what came to be known as ‘the case of the Phantom Ring’ came to an ignominious conclusion.

Posted: October 11, 2022

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