Review of The Adventures of Superman: Doomsday and Beyond

BBC Radio Drama - Superman: Doomsday and BeyondThe Adventures of Superman: Doomsday and Beyond
Written and Directed by Dirk Maggs; Starring a Full Cast
2 Cassettes – 2.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
ISBN: 0563401974
Publisher: BBC
Published: 1993
Themes: / Fantasy / Superhero / Comics /

A review by Jake Black

In my previous review I talked about my experience with Superman, and that it was the reason that I’m doing these Superman-related reviews for SFFAudio. This week’s covers the 1993 audio play Superman: Doomsday and Beyond which dramatically retells the story of Superman’s death and return. I have to admit that I know this story inside out. It was what got me really reading comics, and especially familiar with the Superman comics. Since then, I have heavily followed them.

The story covers over 1000 comic book pages. I was skeptical as to whether or not the audio play could handle such a lengthy story in two cassettes. The play gives it a noble try, and succeeds – mostly. The “death” portion (the epic battle with the demonic Doomsday) is given very little attention. It doesn’t seem as intense as the comics did. It almost cheapens the death of the Man of Steel. Similarly the funeral portion is dramatically edited from the comic book version.

However, the “return” stuff is very loyal to the source material. It covers all of tape two, and approximately a quarter of tape 1. Some of the comic book elements, like the superhero mourning, and Lois’ encounter by the “sympathetic” Jed, were cut from the tapes for time reason, and while they aren’t necessarily missed on the tapes, though they do add a lot to the comics. One very importance difference is the absence of Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Jordan’s involvement in the story set his character’s evolution in motion such that we are just now seeing the end of it in the white-hot Green Lantern Rebirth story, currently published by DC. But, the story is handled well. And it does include some cool moments from the comics prior to this story like Lois’ and Clark’s engagement, and how “they saved Luthor’s brain” to clone him (which is also still an important story in the comics.)

The overall sound is great. Like the previous Superman audio play, these tapes sound great on all of the different players on which I played them. Loaded with sound effects, which mostly sound great, there are a couple of irritations: Superman’s heat vision is an annoying buzz like those cheap ray guns that you’d get from the grocery store for $1.49; and the alien ruler Mongul’s ship is full of travel alarm-clock buzzing.

The voice actors are fantastic, as well. Superman’s voice is a bit too tenor-ish, but I’m getting pretty used to it. The rest of the characters sound great – especially the Australian Lex Luthor II, the new “Man of Steel” John Henry Irons, and the nefarious Cyborg. The only huge complaint I have of the voices is Superboy’s – the teenage clone of Superman. It is clearly an adult trying his best to sound 16 – but it becomes a really bad, really irritating impression of Bill and Ted. It’s really awful!

With the mix of music, sound effects, and a talented cast of voice actors, these are a lot of fun. I enjoyed them more than the other “Adventures of Superman” audio play I listened to previously. I think that the storytelling method may be a bit confusing to people who aren’t familiar with Doomsday, the four false-Supermen, etc. but the overall story is fantastic. If nothing else, it is a great trip down memory lane for a Superman fan who loves this story!

This review is copyright 2005 by Jake Black. You can find out more about Jake at his website, http://www.jakeblack.com.

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