Director: Dave Fleischer
Release Date: April 24, 1942
Stars: Superman

The Magnetic Telescope © ParamountIn ‘The Magnetic Telescope’, the sixth entry in the Superman series, yet another evil scientist attracts ‘flaming comets’ with a ridiculously looking magnetic telescope.

As one comet has destroyed part of the city, the police tries to stop the villain from hauling in another one. But their attempts make the professor lose control over the comet, and while destruction is at hand, Lois phones the Daily Planet from the laboratory. When her call ends in a scream, Clark Kent rushes… er… takes a cab to the laboratory. Only when the cab is stopped by one of the comet’s offshoots, he changes into Superman and flies up there…

Superman, of course, saves the day. He first tries to stop the comet itself (which falls remarkably slowly), but surprisingly, this is too much for him, and his antics produce more offshoots, which destroy bridges and such. So, in a bright moment he restores power to the magnetic telescope, telling Lois to put the machine on ‘reverse’… (how Superman came to know how the telescope works, we’ll never know…).

The whole story is amazingly ridiculous, especially because the story is told in the most sincere fashion. It shows the Fleischer studio’s discomfort with realism all too clearly.

The all too powerful comet is a minor surprise within the formulaic Superman series. But ‘The Magnetic Telescope’ has two other deviations from the story formula: in this entry Clark Kent doesn’t say his usual ” this looks like a job for Superman”,’ and Lois manages to kiss Superman, who, unfortunately turns out to be Clark Kent, after all…

Watch ‘The Magnetic Telescope’ yourself and tell me what you think:

This is Superman film No. 6
To the previous Superman film: The Bulleteers
To the next Superman film: Electric Earthquake