Retro Review: The Flash: Stop Motion (Graphic Audio)

I’m not big on audiobooks, but I picked up a DC Comics-related Humble Bundle a few weeks ago and I “read” The Flash: Stop Motion by Mark Schultz. It’s kind of odd listening to a “Graphic Audio” adaptation of a prose novel based on a character who usually appears in visual media, but the full cast, sound effects, and music help to make up for the lack of actual visuals that I’ve found tends to hamper prose stories about superheroes.

I read the book when it came out in 2004, and I’d forgotten enough for it to be more-or-less “new.” It’s set during the Wally West/Keystone City era when the Flash’s identity was still public knowledge and he worked with Detectives Chyre and Morillo. A super-speed killer has been attacking people in the Keystone/Central area. Not only is it faster than the Flash, but every time it strikes, bits of other universes bleed into our own. Wally has to discover the nature of this “superluminoid,” its surprising connection to the West/Allen family, and unlock a potential beyond the speed force in order to stop it.

The familiar characters are handled well, and the concepts behind the superluminoid, quantum warriors and the Seventh Singularity are intriguing. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis as they take on super-speed, the metagene, the speed force and quantum physics. The ideas still hold up, and I think it would be fascinating to explore them further, though in the long run they would unbalance the Flash’s already over-powered abilities.

There are a few continuity issues that bugged me at the time I first read it. A lot of the story hinges on Iris and Wally being blood relatives, for instance, which they weren’t pre-Flashpoint. Those don’t bother me anymore, partly because continuity has been remixed so many times and partly because I’ve mellowed on that sort of thing. Though I still have trouble with the opening scene where the Flash is treading air to “fly” with the JLA. (And then there are oddities like the fact that the entire Justice League is in several scenes, but only Wonder Woman gets a detailed description. Hmmm…)

The audio adaptation works well. It’s got a full voice cast and sound effects in addition to the narration. Some of the voices work better than others, and some just don’t fit my head-voice for the characters. (Chyre, for instance, sounds more gravelly and world-weary in my mind than this version.) They really make use of effects and music in the battle sequences, though some of them might work better with headphones than listening in a car. I found it hard to pick out the words in the action scenes because there was so much going on. And some of the conversations that work in print go on way too long in audio.

The novel is worth reading, and the audio is worth listening to. Now I’m curious to hear how Graphic Audio adapted Infinite Crisis, 52 and Final Crisis.

I think I’ll skip Countdown, though.


7 thoughts on “Retro Review: The Flash: Stop Motion (Graphic Audio)

  1. Jesse

    Iris and Wally were blood relatives pre-Flashpoint, correct? Wally’s father was Iris’s brother. Or do you mean something related to the whole 30th-century thing?

    1. Kelson Post author

      Iris was adopted pre-Flashpoint. She’d been born to the Russells in the 30th century, sent back in time as an infant, and found by the Wests, who adopted her.

      It’s a goofy complication that’s probably best erased now that they have the opportunity. It certainly hasn’t been mentioned in current continuity (that I can recall).

        1. Kelson Post author

          Correct: Iris’ futuristic origin was established during the Bronze Age, and the Russells appeared occasionally pre-Crisis. Then they appeared again with Bart’s backstory.

  2. Lia

    I’ve not listened to this one, although I’ve been meaning to for years. I enjoyed the one I listened to which had Weather Wizard in it, which was a Superman-based book called “The Never-Ending Battle”. So I should get around to this one sooner rather than later.

    1. Kelson Post author

      Hmm, I didn’t notice Weather Wizard was in that one. I’ll have to check that one out too

      I’ve actually started Final Crisis, which is based on the novelization, so it’s two layers of adaptation. It also describes who people are and what they’re doing more than I remember the comic doing, which I remember was a point of frustration with a lot of comic readers dealing with the obscure characters and sparse storytelling.

  3. Zachary Adams

    I got the same bundle, and am working on this book now. The little continuity hiccups bug me more than they should, but that’s my problem and not the writer’s. I remember being really excited about these DCU novels when they were announced, especially this book and Priest’s Green Lantern trilogy, but the only one I ever ended up getting was the disappointing Question: Helltown.


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