Review of Superman Returns by Marv Wolfman

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Science fiction audiobook - Superman Returns by Marv Wolfman, read by Scott BrickSuperman Returns
By Marv Wolfman; Read by Scott Brick
8 CDs – 9.5 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: 2006
ISBN: 0786145455 (Cassette), 0786171332 (CD), 0786175729 (MP3-CD)
Click here for audio sample.

A review by Jake Black

I loved Superman Returns. I saw the film several times in theaters in both the 3-D and regular versions. It was a tremendous film, and as a die-hard Superman fan (and one who has worked with Smallville and even a Superman Returns book in the UK) I admit a bias. I wanted the movie to succeed. And to me, it did. It was with a similar view that I listened to the Superman Returns audiobook. I wanted it to succeed, and I think it does. It is a very different experience listening to the book than I was anticipating, but that is not necessarily bad.

The audio book is a dramatic reading of the film’s novelization by Marv Wolfman. The reading by Scott Brick is well done. Brick’s voice is pleasing, adding the right mix of excitement and simple narration, providing a colorful read. I was surprised that there were no sound effects or music to augment the reading, but that doesn’t detract from the quality of the audio book. (This is how much of a geek I am, though, I used a second CD player to play segments of the films soundtrack while I listened to each scene…okay, I didn’t really, but I *did* consider it!)

The great strength of the book is Wolfman’s passion for the character. A writer on several DC Comics books over the years, Wolfman has a vast knowledge of the Man of Steel. Utilizing this knowledge, the book ties in to many tellings of the Superman mythos. He does a fine job filling in gaps that better tied the film into the first two Christopher Reeve movies. (This was an unofficial sequel to those films, and Wolfman makes that much more clear.)

Make no mistake, though, a reader looking to relive the movie will find many things different in the novel than the film itself. Based on the script and story by Bryan Singer, Michael Dougherty, and Dan Harris, the book includes several scenes cut from the film, like Kal-El’s trip to Krypton told only through a bump in the movie. A lot of time is told telling that part of the story in the book, and it helps listeners understand better his motivation upon his return to Earth. Also explained more in-depth is the relationship between Martha and Ben Hubbard. It is a wonderful dynamic that I think could have added a lot to the film.

Missing from the book is the story about Jason and his super-parentage. Since it was based on the script, and those portions were not distributed with the script itself, it is understandable why this element would not be included. This is especially the case when one considers the books (including this audio version) were released prior to the film. Even the official merchandise tries to avoid spoilers!

Again, I admit a bias here. I wanted this to succeed. I think all in all it did. I would’ve liked some music on the book, but that is such a minor point, it’s almost not worth mentioning. So let’s pretend I didn’t. If you want to remember the film, and learn a lot more about the characters, this audiobook is a perfect addition your collection. (8 Compact Discs, nearly 10 hours of material.)

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