Infinite Crisis: The Graphic Audio

August 31st, 2008 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Can you believe Infinite Crisis only ended a little over two years ago? It feels so much longer. At the time, it was an exciting time to read DC. A lot was going down, 52 was on the horizon, One Year Later was starting up, among other things. The miniseries did come off as a letdown, but considering how hyped it was, how could it be anything but? By the time the seventh issue landed, with its rushed art to meet the deadline, I couldn’t be happier to be done with this whole storyline.

Sometime after, author Greg Cox wrote a novelization of Infinite Crisis. Such an odd concept, isn’t it? A novelization of a comic book? It’s like the literary version of hearing a country singer covering a rock group’s hit song. I guess I shouldn’t talk, since years back, before I was even into comics in the first place, I read the novelization of Knightfall. Plus there’s the whole movie novelization thing I do for the sake of getting site hits.

I didn’t read Cox’s take on Infinite Crisis, but through chance, I discovered an interesting piece relating to it. A company called Graphic Audio had done a book on CD version of his take. That’s right, an audio book based on a book based on a graphic novel. What an insane concept. Too curious, I ordered the two sets and spent a couple weeks listening through them. Yes, weeks. The entire story is told with twelve discs over the course of thirteen hours. Thirteen hours to tell the story of seven issues.

Well, that’s not fair. It’s more than just the seven issues. Cox chose to cherry-pick tie-in issues to help pad out the story to differing success. This includes the end of Crisis of Conscience where Superboy Prime attacks Martian Manhunter, the Spectre vs. Shazam fight from the end of Day of Vengeance, the part of Gotham Central where Crispus Allen got killed, an issue of Aquaman and parts of the Rann/Thanagar War Special.

Strangely, very little of the lead-in specials are used. I suppose a lot of that stuff isn’t really important to the overall story, especially the Villains United Special. On the other hand, the absence of the Day of Vengeance Special and the climactic fight between Dr. Fate and Spectre, bringing forth the new age of magic, probably could have helped. Without it, we have Spectre crush Atlantis, talk to Shazam’s ghost for a bit, then without any story segue, he’s sucked into Crispus Allen’s chest and it continues from there with no explanation. When you look at it, the whole Spectre subplot was the event’s biggest weak link. Other than give him a new host and status quo, the Spectre was just there. Even his role in Alexander Luthor’s plan is easily forgettable.

There is something very cool about the Spectre, though. For most of the story, he’s depicted with a raspy, wicked voice as he goes around killing anyone magic-related. Upon joining with Crispus, his voice becomes noticeably deeper and authoritative. There’s a lisp in there too, but other than that, it’s aces.

That’s the selling point of this whole experiment. It isn’t just the narrator (Richard Rohan) talking us through the story. There is voice acting, much like an old radio show. Lots of voice acting. Remember, this is Infinite Crisis. Think back to that comic and try to recall how many speaking roles there were. Nearly everyone in the active DC Universe gets at least a line here or there. There has to be two hundred of them, at least. Part of the fun is waiting to hear how one of your favorites is going to come across.

And they’re good! For the most part, the voices are really great. It isn’t like they just had four people trying to pull a Trey Parker job, having guys like Superman and Blue Devil sound almost exactly the same. No, they go all out. I’m talking about thirty-six voice actors!

Some of it takes a little getting used to just because of how the animated worlds have already embedded ideas of what guys like Superman and Batman should sound like. Superman’s voice is older than what we’re used to. It has a leader quality that the cartoons lacked, but it does sound a little like Orson Wells. Batman lacks the bass of Kevin Conroy, but has a whisper carried so that you feel like you trust his judgment. It’s a bit like what Christian Bale was going for, only not as deep and done right this time. Wonder Woman sounds about right, though without the glibness of her animated counterpart. Joker, small as his role is, comes across as a really decent Mark Hamill impression. Doomsday doesn’t get any actual lines other than growls, but retains what seems like the exact same laugh as he had in the SNES Death and Return of Superman game.

That’s not important, though. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are old news. We’ve heard them talk many times before. This audio story is about hearing those who don’t regularly get a chance to speak outside of the word bubbles. Some characters who will never appear on an animated series. Guys like Shift, Conner Kent, Zoom, Prometheus and Enchantress.

Alexander Luthor has the smarter-than-thou voice that convinces you when he tells Lex Luthor that he’s mentally inferior. Earth 2 Superman has a kind, but grizzled voice that sounds enough like his younger counterpart, but you can still easily tell who is who during a conversation. Psycho Pirate is more theatrical and over-the-top, adding a lot of emotion to his lines. Then there is Superboy Prime.

Oh my God. If ever there was a selling point, it’s Superboy Prime. He’s so perfect here. So perfect. The moment you hear him talk, you can’t wait for him to show his true colors and go on a whiny killing spree. He sounds an awful lot like Fry from Futurama and it works so well. In fact, go find an issue of Infinite Crisis right now. Stop reading this for a moment and look at any given scene with Prime in it. Now imagine his delivery with Fry’s voice. Does that not put a smile on your face?

This thing made me realize just how much I love Superboy Prime. He’s overused at the moment, but whenever he shows up, good times are guaranteed. Even in Countdown he at least turned the comic from bad to awesomely bad for a few issues. I don’t get why people have such venom for the character, unless they really think that his pre-Crisis self was the bee’s knees for some reason.

Regular Superboy? Not so good here. It seems like one voice actor is playing both Superboys (they don’t actually tell you who voices who), but he tries altering his delivery to separate the two. So while Superboy Prime is excitable and enthusiastic, Conner is near emotionless and apathetic with a slight southern accent. The guy had a good selection of quotes in the story, but they all fall flat because he’s trying to sound too cool for school. The only instances of him showing a pulse are when he’s confronted with Superboy Prime, making their scenes extra confusing, as they suddenly sound exactly alike.

When I told hermanos my plans to listen to this thing, he had qualms due to a preview he heard of the 52 set, which I’ll be reviewing later. The preview features Black Adam and his attempt at an Egyptian accent sounds a little more Romanian to the point that I can’t help but imagine him selling chocolate cereal with ghost-shaped marshmallows.

The only other voice that grinded my gears was Barry Allen, during that important Speed Force scene with Kid Flash. I expected something less mundane and Ben Steinian from a guy whose bread and butter is being really fast and active. I imagine him as sounding more like George Lowe, now that I think about it.

The music is pretty sweet. It’s used sparingly for scenes that need it and is effective in pushing the action. A lot of time there will be an orchestra playing, like in the Amazons vs. OMACs fight. When Earth 2 Superman starts punching his way to Earth 1, we hear a sound-alike of the John Williams Superman score. Immediately after that, we’re treated to a sitcom-style background theme as Animal Man banters with his wife. When the multiple Earths are flying around space and we see into them, the Legion of Superheroes world gets a cool techno theme.

Hey, there’s a complaint right there. They give us stretched out scenes based on those panels of the Legion world, the Tangent world and the Fawcett world, but nothing with the cowboy world and the Bizarro Earth with all the inhabitants happily strangling each other in the chaos. I feel gypped. Even worse is that they removed my favorite moment from the story. After Superman tells his Earth 2 counterpart that a perfect world wouldn’t need a Superman, he doesn’t have that saddened moment of reflection where he says, “It… The perfect Earth… It’s… My God… It’s not mine. It never was…” That was such a golden moment, but instead he just realizes that, oh, hey, that wasn’t the world Alexander was looking for and flies off.

Of the few things they dropped, there were some good choices. Like that piece of the conclusion where the Tangent Green Lantern’s lantern washes up ashore and, more importantly, that laughable part where Breach explodes and becomes Captain Atom. Plus, being that this is mainly only the core series, there’s absolutely zero mention of the Superboy Prime continuity punches. Thank God for that.

I’m guessing the novel was written while DC was in the midst of fixing up Infinite Crisis for the hardcover trade, as several of the dialogue changes are factored in. This include’s Bane’s monologue about breaking people that he says while killing Apollo Creed Judo Master.

Listening to the story and absorbing it again after all the hype and initial reviews have ended, you get a better feel for what worked and what went wrong. First, there was the exposition. This miniseries involved lead-ins from five other miniseries and a handful of other comics while being a sequel to a complicated-to-explain limited series from 20 years ago. The opening of the first CD, where Martian Manhunter thinks back to all the crazy shit going on all over the universe, takes about 20 minutes just to explain the OMACs, the united villains, the war in space, the Spectre’s anti-magic rampage, Wonder Woman murdering Max Lord and Blue Beetle’s death. To give you an idea of how much time that ate, that one disc only had that stuff and the first seven pages of the first issue, ending with the death of Ratcatcher.

In other words, it took some getting used to. The first couple discs are a little boring and just exposition after exposition. It picks up around the time when Aquaman tries to defend Sub-Diego from the Secret Society. It’s the length of all of this that pinpoints the second big problem with the miniseries as a whole: it was so damn compressed. Geoff Johns was trying to tell twelve issues worth of story in only seven. Everything appears so rushed and packed in. It’s filled with lots of cool stuff going on for only a panel and doesn’t give you any time to actually enjoy it.

That’s why I really enjoyed the Graphic Audio version of the story. While long, it’s told at a reasonable pace. It showed me that getting past the editorial mandates, Infinite Crisis really isn’t a bad story. It’s a little goofy at points, but it does a good job at putting the entire DC Universe to good use to give us an epic. If you liked the series to begin with, I’d recommend this easily. If you’re a fan of radio plays and love comics, go for it. Otherwise, I’d say try it out only if you’re in for the novelty of hearing what Detective Chimp sounds like. The acting and depictions have far more quality than I would have ever guessed.

Enjoy some choice snippets from the story, some of them reader requests.

First, here’s how awesome the OMACs sound.

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Kyle Rayner having a conversation with Vril Dox.

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The Spectre without a host arguing with Captain Marvel.

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Zoom will make you into a better hero!

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The Human Bomb taking on Dr. Polaris and then Bizarro.

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The infamous “Batburn“.

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Superboy Prime visits Superboy and tries to tell him off.

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Superboy ALMOST says “motherfucker”!

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Everybody’s favorite: Kid Flash vs. Superboy Prime.

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I was asked to include the most laughable piece of dialogue. I’d say that would be Earth 2 Superman hamming it like crazy after Lois dies. Though the ending is pretty cool.

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Haha! I never really cared about Tawky Tawny, but I have no doubt that this is the perfect voice for him.

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The new Blue Beetle deals with his talking Scarab.

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The Spectre has a host now and his first act of business is dealing with Star Sapphire. Or should I say, the Thpectre!

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Black Adam gets his revenge on the Psycho Pirate.

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Bane breaks Judo Master and Prometheus kills off Peacemaker.

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To give hermanos some closure, here is Major Disaster’s barely-on-panel death.

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Guy Gardner vs. Superboy Prime. AWWWWW CRY ME A RIVER!

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Hal Jordan speaks with Mogo. To my surprise, Mogo does not have a penis.

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That’s it for now. Next up is 52. Can’t wait for Ambush Bug’s cameo. Then in December, the Graphic Audio retelling of Countdown to Final Crisis is due for release. God help me.

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7 comments to “Infinite Crisis: The Graphic Audio”

  1. I really liked the G.L’s voices. Black Adam gave me a George Takei vibe, which I’m fine with. The eyejab/faceruin sound was awesome aswell.

    Reckon Mogo was given a lady’s voice to make the entire thing less of a boy’s club?

  2. Mogo being female makes tons of sense.

  3. If anyone has trouble playing any of these past the Kid Flash vs Superboy Prime one for some reason, I found that installing the Flash 10 beta fixes it. Seems Flash 9 has problems loading all of them. Probably also explains the memory leak it has, too.


  4. Wow. I’d always imagined Billy West’s voice when reading Prime’s lines, no lie. I guess it just seems like a natural fit.

  5. Can you post the audio of the Legion’s techno theme and the Legion world panel?

  6. A figure in a familiar red costume leaned out of the radiant energy, and grabbed on to Superboy Prime from behind. Confident blue eyes gazed into Bart’s.
    “You’re not alone, either.”
    The teenager’s jaw dropped. He recognized the face beneath the mask.

  7. […] couple months back, I reviewed Infinite Crisis in “Graphic Audio” form. Graphic Audio is a company that takes books and turns them into jacked up radio plays. I didn’t […]