MIKE GOLD: The Sound of Crisis
If you’ve been taking careful notes while reading my sundry ComicMix entries, no doubt you’ve noticed I’m quite a fan of audio drama. There are a lot of reasons for this, the least of which is that I prefer driving to all locations within a thousand mile radius instead of subjecting myself to the massively frustrating incompetence and arrogance of our air transportation industry.
Ergo, I have a lot of time to listen to stuff in my car, particularly around convention season (May through April, each year). I’ve got a six-disc mp3 player buried in my little 2005 Ford Focus hatchback, which means I can program enough sound to drive from Connecticut to California without actually changing discs. I (literally) just got back from a round-trip to Chicago, my most frequent location, accompanied by my patient wife Linda and my beautiful daughter Adriane. All three of us are comics fans.
Usually, I program a Nero Wolfe adaptation – brilliant stuff, wonderfully produced – and one of Big Finish Productions’ full-cast original Doctor Who shows. And some other stuff – lots of music, some comedy (Firesign Theater, Jack Benny, or in this case The Marx Brothers), maybe a podcast or six. But this time, I was armed with GraphicAudio’s adaptation of Greg Cox’s novelization of the DC Comics miniseries Infinite Crisis.
All three of us had read the original miniseries, all three of us had read much of the sundry miniseries that lead up to Infinite Crisis, and all three of us figured that by listening to this adaptation we might, this time, actually figure out what happened in the miniseries. Not that it really matters, as we’ve lived through 52 and One Year Later and World War III and now Countdown and we’ll probably sucker down and read Final Crisis after that. After all these years, DC still has problems maintaining a cohesive thought.
The GraphicAudio adaptation is only the first half of Cox’s book, and is clearly labeled as such. The second half will be out soon; it was listed in last month’s Diamond catalog. The adaptation is neither full-cast audio nor a straight-forward spoken word reading. There is a narrator who dramatizes the narrative (hence his title), but when it comes to the actual dialog each character has his or her own voice. With original music and full sound effects, it works quite nicely… although I did have to get over my initial disappointment that it wasn’t a full-cast audio theatrical production.
I hadn’t heard any of GraphicAudio’s other work, although there is a heck of a lot of it. They adapt many paperback action-hero series such as The Destroyer and The Executioner (and others), and if the quality of these productions matches their Infinite Crisis, I might check a few out.
We were particularly impressed by the production itself: the original music and the sound effects were appropriate and gave the two-dimensional world of original audio much needed depth. They summarized all of the various miniseries that led up to Infinite Crisis in the three minutes before the opening credits, which was all that was necessary to provide the backstory.
If I have one complaint, it’s that they didn’t link up the performers to their roles in the credits. Obviously, the adaptation employs a heck of a lot of actors – the original Infinite Crisis miniseries carries a cast that would make Dostoyevsky wince. I’d like to know who played what.
Infinite Crisis was directed by Richard Rohan, who adapted Cox’s book. I was amused to note that GraphicAudio advertises their wares as “being available at truck stops,” and, indeed, they are. I’ve looked and I couldn’t find them at any Borders or Barnes and Nobles; they are available through Amazon.com and through the Diamond catalog at your friendly neighborhood comic book shop. And, of course, they sell through their web site as well.
But did the GraphicAudio adaptation fulfill its purpose? Was our understanding and appreciation of the source material enhanced by our listening experience?
Yep. It was. For all three of us. I wish it had come out a year ago. And I wish Infinite Crisis was still a relevant hunk of continuity.
Mike Gold is editor-in-chief of ComicMix.
Artwork and such copyright and trademark DC Comics, so you better watch out.