Batman: Inferno is an audio dramatization of the novel by Alex Irvine. It is not a reading of the book although it does contain narrative passages and appears to conform largely to the plot of the book. The story appears to fit in with the Batman Begins/Dark Knight films in that Jim Gordon is not yet the Commissioner and Dr Crane is in charge of Arkham Asylum.
Positives: There is a terrific story and solid voice-acting throughout this audio dramatization, which builds to a powerful and exciting climax.
Negatives: Minor sound effects annoyances but nothing significant.
Story: The story concerns a riveting three-way battle between Batman, the Joker and Enfer, a firebug with ambition. The plot develops well and the climax is very satisfying. I give the storyline a perfect 10.
Voice-acting: Almost note-perfect. The Joker, a difficult character to portray, is particularly well-done. 9.5 points out of 10.
Sound effects: I'll ding the CD a bit on this score. There's one scene between Captain Gordon and Dr Crane where the birds chirping in the background get quite annoying; it should be enough to hint at this in the beginning of the conversation and then taper it off. This is followed by a sequence of Gordon at the office where the background music gets overbearing. But aside from those two scenes the sound effects were generally pleasing and I particularly liked the background music for the last several scenes as the story builds to its climax. 8 out of 10.
Batman characterization: Very good job on this; the only thing that bothered me was Batman's occasional musing about whether to kill the Joker. This seems out of character. However, given the mayhem that the Clown Prince of Crime commits, perhaps it is not unrealistic. 9 out of 10.
Villain characterization: Excellent, with only a few quibbles. Enfer, the arsonist, is well-realized, with a solid back-story. The Joker is the Joker. My only real problem is the scene with the Joker saving a young woman from an apparent gang-rape. This appears to be intended to confuse the public as to whether he's really a villain. But then a few scenes later he nearly kills a 7-year-old boy by quite publicly throwing him off a building (Batman saves the lad); so what was the point of helping the girl? 9 out of 10.
Overall rating: 9.5 out of 10. I thoroughly enjoyed the dramatization; it provides excellent entertainment and is well-produced. I have no hesitation in recommending it highly for Bat-fans.
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