Review of 52, Parts 1 and 2 by Greg Cox

SFFaudio Review

52: Part 1 and 52: Part 2
By Greg Cox; Performed by a full cast
12 CDs or 2 MP3-CDs – Approx. 12 hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Graphic Audio
Published: February 2008
ISBN: 9781599503684 (part 1), 9781599503691 (part 2)
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Supervillains / Robots / Time Travel / Crime / Advertising /

The premise of this comic book series translated to graphic novel and then ultimately to audiobook is relatively simple. After a showdown between the Justice League and an assorted gang of supervillains, all the superheroes disappear. Superman, gone. Batman, likewise. Wonder Woman, ditto.

That leaves things wide open for the B-grade villains to wreak havoc and the B-grade heroes to step up and stop them. “52” refers to the weekly events of the year that follows and that are presented in a “real-time” format. We are taken into the story lines of various heroes and sidekicks which are occasionally interwoven.

Supernova and his trusted robot companion Skeets come from the future to capitalize on the lack of heroes by selling advertising rights while fighting crime. Hardboiled former cop Renee Montoya encounters The Question who leads her into an investigation of Intergang activities in Gotham. Black Adam intrigues and frightens the world by attempting to stop crime with such methods as ripping a villain in half on national television. However, his powers can be turned to good when he encounters Isis who immediately points out the error of his methods. And so on.

The adventures unroll and pick up steam in Part I. Naturally, we are left with many cliffhangers and even the stories that seem ended have more to reveal in Part II. Unfortunately Part II is much more muddled than Part I, especially with new villains and heroes suddenly randomly appearing – even sometimes seemingly from out of nowhere. This probably is because the actual comic book featured many more characters and stories than could be contained in this audio offering. In an attempt to keep things on track it may have been necessary to suddenly thrust a new character into the mix. Sadly this merely serves to muddle the stories and leave the listener wondering who all these people are. Also, some of the originally intriguing story lines either seemed to peter-out or take a turn for the worse leaving us not caring. Such was the case in Black Adam’s story. After his family’s story has developed, Isis suddenly acts completely uncharacteristically, sending Black Adam on a destructive spree. Perhaps it was the tendency of the narrative to describe every blow of a fight which made this part of the story suddenly seem to drag. In audio, unlike comic books, we don’t need to hear every “BIFF” or “BAM” to know what is going on. It seems likely again that problem stems from editing the story line to fit onto two CDs instead of mirroring the four graphic novels that were necessary to contain the original comic books.

52 is a full cast recording with sound effects. The recording is really wonderful and the voice talent is spot on in conveying all the emotions and action that we don’t get to see in the original comic book form. Although the 25 actors can be difficult to link to characters at first, the patient listener will soon find identification easy. The cover calls this recording a “movie in your mind” and that is accurate. Everything the listener needs for a full, rich experience is contained inside … except for the clear story line of Part I being continued successfully in Part II.

If you already are a fan of this series then this audiobook is probably worth your money. Otherwise, you will need to be a dedicated fan of superheroes in general to care enough to get to the end of Part II.

Posted by Julie D.

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Scott D.

Reviews Editor, SFFaudio

2 thoughts to “Review of 52, Parts 1 and 2 by Greg Cox”

  1. A few points to nitpick:

    -You mentioned Supernova and Skeets. Unless you meant to spoil something important, I think you meant Booster Gold and Skeets.

    -Although the MP3 releases of 52 are on two discs total, it is 12 Audio CDs worth of actual playing time. Spreading the story out over another 12 CDs would have made the story drag even further in places.

    -It’s been a while since I listened to 52, so the uncharacteristic behavior of Isis you mentioned is not ringing any bells. This may be due to my poor memory, but I would like to know more details in order to jog my memory.

    -I never once encountered a situation in which I did not have a fairly clear understanding of who a particular character was, or why he or she was doing or saying something. I was never hit by a “Who is that, and where did they come from?” moment, except where such was intended by the plot (the original appearance of Supernova, for instance). I have only a passing familiarity with DC Comics in general, having not actually read any of the comics since my adolescence. Graphic Audio actually seems to go out of their way to give background on comic book characters when they first appear – to such an extent that it sometimes impairs the pacing of the story.

    Personally, I think you are incorrect in your final judgment, as I found the entire story to be fairly cohesive, despite some needlessly slow parts. Nonetheless, I would heartily recommend 52 to anyone with a passing familiarity with and interest in the DC Comics universe. The story is interesting and engaging, and the production value is absolutely top notch.

  2. Hi Paul … honestly I had forgotten about the Booster Gold name … sorry about that. On the uncharacteristic behavior of Isis, I was referring to her deathbed directive to Black Adam which was so opposite to anything she had ever said. Especially when one considers her condition when we first meet her with her family having been killed, her brother missing and presumed sold into slavery, herself being saved as a tasty tidbit for Black Adam … then that last order seems to be simply given as a device to allow BA to go on a killing spree. I found it most jarring.

    My confusion on who some of the characters were was in the big “fight” scenes between the Justice League and the villains. As someone with no knowledge at all of DC comics to suddenly have a stray character pop up here and there on either side and take on a “front line” role was kind of disorienting.

    I agree that it was interesting and engaging until that last half or so of the second CD and then, for me, it fell apart. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as we know! :-)

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