AUDIO DRAMA
Batman
Knightfall

Starring: Bob Sessions, Michael Gough, Peter Marinker, Kerry Shale, William Roberts and Lorelei King
BBC Audio
RRP: 15.99
ISBN-13: 978 0563 510994
ISBN-10: 0 56351 099 4
Available 05 March 2007


There's a new player in Gotham City. Bane, who was raised on a super-steroid called Venom, is not only immensely strong, but intelligent. He realises that if he wants to take over as the new crime lord, the only person he needs to defeat is the Batman. He watches as the Dark Knight works himself into a physical and mental stupor cleaning-up the city of criminals, before hatching a plan to attack Arkham Asylum to release all the psychos the Batman has worked for years putting away. A shadow of his former self, the masked vigilante struggles against lower-league thugs, until Bane steps in and defeats him. Reduced to a wheelchair, Bruce Wayne sees the city he has always protected go to hell, and is reluctantly obliged to send out the untested new Robin with Azrael as the new Batman. But mental conditioning is taking over, causing Azrael to become increasingly violent and unstable. Bruce Wayne has to find a way of returning to the mantle of the Bat, and that leads to the investigation of Doctor Kinsolving's kidnapping, and ultimately to his retraining...

I have had the distinct pleasure of keeping in touch with and speaking to Dirk Maggs [this audio drama's writer/adapter/director] on several occasions about his numerous projects over the years. He therefore knows that I consider Batman: Knightfall to be his very best achievement. It's fast-moving, emotional, violent and funny, with superb performances (Bob Sessions, sadly no longer with us, is particularly strong in the title role) and extremely realistic sound effects, used to shocking purpose. I reviewed the original twin-tape version in-depth on my own website, alongside many other Maggs audio dramatisations (or "audio movies", as he likes to call them). So, I know it's good... and now you do too, but how is this release any different from that one?

Well, this is Knightfall's first release on CD, and it hasn't simply been copied over to a new medium from the 1994 tapes, but instead has been completely remastered in the studio, with reedited scenes and added effects sequences that further enhance the best Batman story ever told. Also, there is an excellent outtakes track (with the naughty bits removed), and the pre-restoration opening sequence comparison. All of this is beautifully presented in a 3-CD set, with eye-catching artwork and a booklet incorporating notes on the Batman character, as well as Dirk's own notes on this production.

One minor quibble is that on the original version the Broken Bat sequence came at the end of one side. Intense, shocking drama followed by stunning silence. Here it is followed directly by another scene, thereby diminishing some of its impact. However, this is one single nit-pick from an otherwise monumental release. Forget rattling tea cups, this is one of the best action adventures you'll ever hear.

I didn't think it was possible to improve upon perfection. I'm glad to be proved wrong.

Ty Power

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£15.19 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
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£9.99 (Play.com)
   
£10.99 (HMV.co.uk)
   
£9.99 (BBCshop.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.