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Friday, March 18, 2016

SUPERMAN on TRIAL (audiobook) by Dirk Maggs

Too Short. A Lost Opportunity to Create Something Truly Amazing.

Published in 2010 by BBC Audio
Multicast Performance
Duration: 1 hour

Superman is captured and on trial. Lex Luthor is the prosecutor, Lois Lane is Superman's sole defender. A Guardian of the Universe is the judge and if Superman is found guilty, he is to be sentenced to the Phantom Zone.  The charge? Superman is not the defender of humanity - he is actually committing crimes against humanity.

Luthor's arguments go along this line - Superman is an alien and he is interfering with life on Earth. As Lois Lane makes her arguments that Superman is actually helping, Luthor blunts them with his own arguments. For example, Luthor calls Batman to the stand to testify that Batman feels the need to monitor Superman to make sure that he does not abuse his powers to enslave humanity.

The audiobook ventures into some fairly unique territory. Not only are Superman's peers questioned but the assumption is that a real-life Superman literally inspired the creators of Superman's comic books (Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster) to create his comic book. There is a discussion of comic book censorship controversies in the 1950s and Luthor asserts that comic books are bad for the morality of the America's youth. 

My favorite part of the book is the surreal moment when Adam West appears as himself and testifies as to the influence of TV and movies on young people. Meanwhile, the real Batman the he portrayed on TV is also waiting to testify. 

As you could probably guess, Superman is not found guilty. The credits are read in a unique manner - Luthor is screaming as he reads the names off the closing credits and tells how he is going to sue them all.

The audiobook is performed like an old-fashioned radio play with different actors playing different characters and the real-world people playing themselves. 

My problem with the audiobook is it's abrupt start (how was Superman captured? Who set up this court? Why did the judge agree to be the judge?) and its abrupt ending. In reality, the one hour length is just too short. I really enjoyed the surreal mixing of our reality and Superman's Metropolis. A world where Adam West and Batman can exchange a few words with one another and D.C. Comics writers and artists. I would have loved to have had it explored further. The possibilities are so intriguing and this short format just left me feeling intrigued and disappointed. For example, imagine Adam West and Batman going out together to look for clues to help Superman and Batman bristling every time Adam West calls him "old chum".

Truly, a lost opportunity.

I rate this audiobook 3 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: Superman On Trial (Special Extended Edition) (BBC Audio)

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