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.