by Alex Irvine
Produced by Graphic Audio
Approx 7 hours.
Let me start this review off by saying, I think I may have just listened to the best Batman story ever. Not only was the story itself captivating and entertaining but the production has gone beyond my expectations from Graphic Audio audio books. This audio book is a simple Batman book with only two villains a new one named Enfer and the best Batman villain ever, The Joker.
When It comes to continuity, I'm not sure where in the comic book realm of Batman this book comes in but this book would make for a great sequel to the 2008 movie blockbuster, "The Dark Knight." This book takes place just as Bruce Wayne/Batman is building his Bat-Cave and has only been protecting Gotham City for a couple of years. The Joker has only recently been sent to Arkham Asylum, in this book Arkham is run by Dr. Jonathan Crane.
One thing I've noticed about DC comics is that the stories really don't rely on a running continuity, as long as the stories stick to the main theme of Batman. The Dark Knight run of Batman comics, books and movies do have a darker side and more sinister of villainy of crime for Batman to contend with and this audio book definitely has a Dark Knight feel to it. In fact the audio book contains the warning, "Due to subject matter, 'Batman: Inferno' contins realistically harsh language that may be offensive to some." So, you have been warned.
Before I get to the summary of this book I have to talk about the production of the audio book. I have reviewed several Graphic Audio productions before, and I am always impressed with the acting, sound effects and incidental music, so I was prepared for what Graphic Audio promises of "A Movie in Your Mind." This time around that was an extreme understatement. This production blew me away. The main premise of this book is fire and, let me tell you, the production conveyed that in a very explosive audio book. I was extremely impressed by the voice-work/acting of the actor that played The Joker in this production, Richard Rohan, who also does the narrating and the voice of Batman, he did a smash up job. And never once in the production can you tell or even have the hint that the same person narrating is either Batman or The Joker. The Joker has been portrayed by several great actors through television and the movies, Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. In the movies the Heath Ledger Joker gained infamy from being so dark. This Joker story is another dark story and Rohan, from this audio book borrows a bit from Heath Ledger, but at the same time you can hear some of Jack Nicholson's Joker and some of Cesar Romero, so Rohan makes the character his own, while still paying homage to the classics.
Let's talk about the story. Gotham City is burning and the police still don't know where to stand when it comes to the Caped Crusader, Batman. Batman doesn't worry too much about public opinion, his goal is to keep Gotham City safe. As for the burning, Batman is doing everything he can to find out who is starting all the fires and what he can do to stop this firebug. Batman discovers that the up and coming villian goes by the moniker of "Enfer" (the french word for hell.) Enfer draws his influence from a French poet and, is seeking to cleanse the fire stations in Gotham City by fire. Enfer also seeks to show The Joker that they could become allies, but the problem is that The Joker is locked up in Arkham Asylum. Enfer blows up the Asylum allowing all the super-powered villians to escape, including The Joker, and Gotham City police now have their hands full. To show his desire Enfer sets certain parts of Gotham City ablaze and when viewed from the sky the fires spell out "HA HA."
In the meantime The Joker is making his escape and trying to avoid the GCPD by escaping through the sewers and tunnels underground. A series of tunnels brings The Joker to a cave full of bats, the bats then lead him to what is a construction site that is obviously becoming the underground lair of Batman, the Bat-Cave. Instead of finding out who is behind the cowl thus destroying his raison d'etre, The Joker kidnaps Alfred, the trusty butler, and steals a costume and the Bat-Mobile, yes THE BAT-MOBILE. He then terrorizes Gotham City posing as Batman.
So with trying to stop an Arsonist, capturing escaped criminals, rescuing Alfred, Batman also has to fight for his reputation, in "Batman: Inferno." Treat yourself to a great audio book and pick up this one.