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Friday, September 2, 2016

THE FLASH: STOP MOTION (Justice League of America) by Mark Schulz

Published November 1, 2008 by GraphicAudio.
From an original novel first published in 2004.

Graphic Audio has a long tradition of creating excellent audiobooks by going back and telling stories the way that they used to tell them in the old days on the radio - with actors and sound effects. Rather than reading the story to the listener as the author wrote it, they act it out like an old-fashioned radio play.

In The Flash: Stop Motion the story focuses on Wally West, the young protege of the previous Flash, Barry Allen. Barry Allen is gone now and Wally is taking the responsibilities associated with wearing the red tights seriously. But, he is so much younger than most of the rest of the Justice League and he feels a little outclassed by the others. How can he hope to contribute as much as Superman who can practically do anything? Or the Martian Manhunter who can almost keep up with Superman and has telepathic powers? The Green Lantern is young but everyone knows that his ring gives him almost unlimited power. And Wonder Woman? She is grace, power and wisdom personified. Compared to her, The Flash is just a goofy kid. And who can hope to compare himself to the likes of Batman, even if Batman isn't a "super" like the others?

In the midst of this self-doubt, the Earth comes under attack in a series of asteroids. But, these asteroids are odd in that no one can scan them properly and what readings they can make don't make sense - they seem to be from another universe. The Flash can get some sense from them due to his ability to vibrate at different oscillations, but he keeps getting pulled away to deal with a series of bizarre murders in Keystone City in which the victims heads are literally blown up while they are sitting peacefully. And, once Wally West starts to realize what is really going on he knows that this is not something that the other members of the Justice League can deal with - it is up to The Flash to step up and save everyone and everything he has ever loved...

Normally, I am a big fan of Graphic Audio's productions, as I mentioned in the first paragraph. In this case, however, there were times when the music and action was so loud that I could not hear the voices of the characters or the narrator. This was not the case consistently, but there were times when the audio mix was just a mess. Even worse, I found it extremely hard to understand the voice of Flash's opponent. Most of the time I just guessed what he said based on the reactions of the other characters or further elaboration by the narrator.

But, if those were the only problems in this story I would have been pleased. This audiobook suffers from a near fatal case of TOO MUCH TALKING. Like in a bad play, most of the characters get their chance to step up and deliver a soliloquy. Superman gives a small one, Wally West gives a few, the Martian Manhunter gives several small ones but the worst is an incredibly long speech by a pivotal character towards the end of the book. I am not going to create spoilers but the long build up to the meeting of this character was tedious to listen to and this character's droning speech and contrary logic (that leaves a massive plot hole) just goes on and on and on. Ironically, the character just impressed on The Flash that time was of the essence because his opponent was destroying entire universes every second (or worlds, the character uses both terms interchangeably) and billions of lives were being lost every second and then the character just stands there and talks and talks and talks and tells Wally its entire history. Why? Because you should tell stories why people are annihilated, I guess.

So, way too much backstory told in long speeches, bad work on the mixing board from time to time and not enough action compared to the talking.

I rate this audiobook 2 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: The Flash: Stop Motion

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