Audiobook Review: Marvel Superheroes: Secret Wars by Jim Shooter et al, adapted by Alex Irvine

audiobookHello once again to my readers! Before I discuss the audio release under the figurative microscope today I should probably address the elephant in the room. You will be aware that I have been somewhat missing in action as of late. I will give you two potential answers as to why. You can choose which of the two you prefer.

Reason 1: I have recently moved back into my own home after being elsewhere for quite some time due to lockdown related reasons and I’ve experienced some difficulties when it comes to being able to write articles and reviews to a suitable standard due to my mindset.

Reason 2: I fell through a space warp into the Star Trek mirror universe and had to escape the Terran Empire.

Now it is time to focus on the review subject for today. Previously I’ve mentioned on a few occasions various audio adaptations of Marvel storylines be they book original storylines or ones originally from the comics. However so far none of the stories I have reviewed have been adaptations of so called ‘event comics.’ Event comics is the name given to comic book storylines which are either storylines focused around a single series or character which are intended to have a large long term impact in universe such as Planet Hulk or X-Men: Days Of Future Past or large crossover events involving multiple sets of heroes and villains dealing with a threat which is substantially larger than usual.

The subject today – Secret Wars from 1984 – is actually somewhat famous for being one of the contenders for the title of first ever event comic. The specific limitations of that name are somewhat larger than I can get into here. The storyline is as follows: The majority of The Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four as well as Spider-Man and a large motley crew of villains and…unknowns…both famous and obscure are all summoned to a strange dimension known as Battleworld. This was done by an immensely powerful being known as The Beyonder. The Beyonder has issued a challenge:“I am from beyond! Slay your enemies and all you desire shall be yours!” Numerous alliances and deals are made and several great threats become apparent. But just what are everyone’s wishes? Who shall win the Beyonder’s game?

The 2015 prose novel adaptation by Alex Irvine which was later adapted for audio by GraphicAudio who I have mentioned previously is not a bad adaptation. All the major characters are in character for their mid 1980s personalities – which in some cases such as Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine are very similar to their current personalities in the modern cinematic era and in other cases are drastically different – and some of the sequences where you see into the minds of certain characters are excellently done. You can also tell that Irvine who has a long history of both writing novelisations and adaptations as well as their own original work is really trying their best to make the prose novel genuinely feel like Secret Wars given its overall importance to comics as a medium and the overall history of Marvel as a company. However the prose version has some issues.

Firstly the sheer number of characters can make things seem overly cluttered or more complex than the story actually is. The storyline itself is rather simple but when the story has at least 25 main or supporting characters (to be completely honest with you I tried to count everyone and lost count) and a decent handful of characters who only come into the plot at about the one-third or halfway marks it can make it hard to remember who is on what side at any given time when you take teams and alliances into account. A second issue for the prose version is that characters often reference or refer to either things which occurred in the comics prior to Secret Wars in the late 1970s or early 1980s or some character’s powersets as though the reader is aware of all this information. For a Marvel super fan from the 1980s or even a dedicated fan nowadays that’s no issue but when even someone like me who has read the original comic version of Secret Wars is having difficulty remembering all the comic minutiae that gets referenced…that’s probably a bad sign!

The audio version by GraphicAudio (currently being sold by the modern licence holder Dreamscape Media) is in my opinion rather enjoyable. It inherits the same issues as the prose version but they are simply less noticeable. The large cast are in my opinion honestly giving it their all and trying to sweep the listener along for the ride. Certain characters such as Captain America (James Keegan), Storm (Dawn Ursula), Doctor Doom (Chris Davenport) and Molecule Man (Tim Carlin) among others are performed particularly well. Doom in particular was note perfect. I also must acknowledge the excellent sound effects and music throughout which definitely heightened the comic book feel.

In conclusion to be honest if I was doing this review solely on the audio my overall opinion would be much higher. However the flaws of the prose adaptation mean that as much as I enjoyed the GraphicAudio Secret Wars there were enough small irritations and minor annoyances that when added together I would simply regard this adaptation as one for either the comic book super fan or someone interested in the previous history or previous events of Marvel Comics. It is definitely not an adaptation I would consider beginner friendly.

NephriteFor beginner friendly Marvel audio I would recommend Spider-Man: The Gathering Of The Sinister Six which I previously reviewed.

Sayonara! Hopefully you will hear from me again soon!


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