Doomsday and Beyond

Starring: Stuart Milligan, William Hootkins and Lorelei King
BBC Audiobooks
RRP: 12.99
ISBN 1 846 07072 4
Available 01 May 2006

As Clark Kent and Lois Lane reveal their engagement plans to colleagues, Lex Luthor fakes his own death. A creature of rock is freed from deep beneath the ground, and begins to beat a path of destruction between cities. After revealing the truth about himself to Lois, Clark flies away to intercept the beast as Superman. He finds the Justice League of superheroes already fighting the creature the media has dubbed Doomsday. They have sustained heavy casualties and one of them is dead. Soon a spectacular one-on-one battle is underway. Doomsday is finally stopped, but the unthinkable happens and Superman is pronounced dead, dying in the arms of Lois. After a city-wide funeral cortege, the body is laid to rest in a secure tomb deep beneath the streets of Metropolis, funded by LexCorp. When Superman's body is stolen foster father Jonathan Kent suffers a heart attack. However, the shape-changing Supergirl, under the current guidance of Lex Luthor, locates and returns it - only for it to go missing once more. Jonathan recovers, revealing to wife Martha that he has brought Clark back with him. Suddenly Metropolis has four quite different Supermen: The Man of Steel, The Last Son of Krypton, the Cyborg Superman, and Superboy. But which one, if any, is the real Superman...?

Doomsday And Beyond was one of three Superman radio serials created by script writer/director Dirk Maggs, and to my mind the best. Doomsday attempts something different with the established situations, and reveals a vulnerability which doesn't rely on the all too convenient presence of Kryptonite (although it does make a minor appearance at the end).

Maggs's script adaptation was from stories by Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson and Roger Stern, which were still running in the comics at the time of the first broadcast on BBC Radio 5 in 1993. Quite a coup. The entire production was mixed in digital Dolby surround sound, the first time this had been achieved for a radio dramatisation, and dragging the BBC reluctantly into a world of new technology - a far cry from a box of gravel and clinking tea cups.

All of the voice performances are good, with the mainplayers reprising their roles from the aforementioned previous Supes serials. Stuart Milligan is Superman, William Hootkins Lex Luthor, and the ever-reliable and often-utilised Lorelei King as Lois Lane. Burt Kwouk (from the Peter Sellers Pink Panther films) even has a guest role as Doctor Teng.

Superman: Doomsday And Beyond was first released on twin cassette in 1993, and in America under the title Superman Lives! The story was last heard on the BBC when Radio 1 repeated the serial in 1994 to a much larger listening public. Now for the first time, and well overdue, we have Doomsday on a 3-CD set, and finally get to hear the quality layered sound as it was originally intended (warts and all, as Maggs is fond of saying - doing himself an injustice, I think). As I only received copy discs for review purposes I can't comment on the packaging, but I would hope for some nice liner notes, giving first time listeners a little background information. That aside, this audio movie is well worth a listen, even if you don't like Superman (which I don't particularly).

Doomsday has no doubt been released to coincide with this summer's Hollywood Superman movie, but Dirk Maggs won't mind that and neither should you. Enjoy, and wait enthusiastically for Dirk's even better Batman: Knightfall, also released on CD for the first time next year.

Ty Power

For a more detailed review of Superman: Doomsday And Beyond and other Dirk Maggs releases visit Ty Power's website.

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