The Killing Joke Review (Yes, again)

The Killing Joke Graphic Novel Cover


To Batman fans, “The Killing Joke” is one of the most quintessential comics in recent years. Comic book readers tend to agree: The Killing Joke is Joker’s true origin story. Last time you heard Zane’s thoughts on one particular Killing Joke adaptation found on YouTube. This week’s review is the same story, but with a different cast and crew  behind it. Whether it be adaptations or reviewing the same exact audio stories, I’d like to do more of this in the future. Call it a spin on the saying: “Different Strokes for Different Folks.” With that said, let’s get down to the review.

“The Killing Joke” Review

The only way to mess up an audio adaptation is with over-the-top acting and bad sound effects. When you’re adaptating a story from a comic book, people tend to gloss over sound effects and go straight for the acting itself. In this particular adaptation, every line of dialogue comes straight from the comic. Like the last “The Killing Joke” review (written by Zane Sexton), this one is also on YouTube. As the title of this one will say, it’s a motion comic and audio dramatization. While the visuals aren’t required, it might’ve helped with the performances.

Not to say they were bad, but they were no Mark Hamill or Kevin Conroy, which they seemed to be trying to emulate in their performances. The actors playing Joker and Batman/Bruce Wayne were over the top is some instances and melodramatic in others. It was hit or miss, more often than not, and a struggle to get through the entire story. The first 10-15 minutes were the most awkward, as if the actors were finding their way into character.

That said, it’s hard to live up to the graphic novel’s acclaim. Even the animated movie failed to capture the story, according to most critics. The general consensus was the off-putting scene in the “prologue” with Batgirl that wasn’t in the original story. Unlike the animated movie, this audio adaptation is faithful to the source material and it’s perhaps its greatest flaw.

If you’ve never read The Killing Joke or know nothing about it, you might enjoy this. Aside from those two reasons, you’re better off listening to the one Zane Sexton reviewed on the site or reading the graphic novel.

It’s as simple as this: if you know what’s going to happen in a story, then the only thing that can make it engaging comes through with the production itself. As far as this adaptation goes, it barely scrapes by.

3.5/5 Stars

The Killing Joke Review

A new twist on one of Batman’s most famous tales, The Killing Joke is an audio drama made by WMSC 90.3 FM. It’s well-crafted, with strong characters, and production quality making it a must-hear experience.

The story mainly focuses on The Joker and how he became a super villain, sometimes interjecting Batman’s investigation into Joker’s crimes. The radio drama switches from past to present and back again, which might make it a little confusing at certain times, but it’s a minor nitpick. The supporting characters, such as Alfred, provides interesting commentary into the Batman mythos, but overall has little impact on the plot. Despite the minor problems, the story is very dark and extremely well constructed.

The voice acting is superb. The voice actor for The Joker engulfs himself in the character, creating a man who’s been driven insane by death, misfortune, and rational, yet poor decisions. Joker absolutely loves being in his inner-asylum.

The production quality is very good, with no technical problems. The background noises for the various settings complete the mood and atmosphere, whether you’re at a deranged carnival to a basement filled with horrors.

But the best aspect of this radio drama is the dialogue. The voice actors steal the show with their believability and the conversations between Batman and the Joker are both interesting and disturbing. It can make one believe that good and evil are really not so different after all, that our own perception on ourselves is the only barrier between heinous acts and good deeds.

This version of the classic Batman vs. Joker story is one that should be experienced by any fan of the dark-winged hero.

5/5 Stars

Listen Here


Kevin O’Leary as Batman
Brendan Maly as The Joker
Rob Dickerson as James Gordon
Morgan Vasquez as Jack’s Wife
Jeremy Doyle as Pseudo Joker/ Hood 1
Michael Sangregorio as Det. Bullock/ Hood 2/ Cop
Antoinette Fasino as Barbara Gordon
Mike Bufis as Carnival Freak

Site Updates

New interview posted on Audio Drama Digest. A YouTube-based company/troupe.

Next Review will be another version of The Killing Joke. This time another adaptation of the classic Joker origin story.

Interview: Fault Line Players, Youtube and OTR Serial Homages

With the vast majority of audio dramas being on iTunes and other Podcasting applications, why YouTube? Are there any plans to publish on other platforms?

Ted Falagan – YouTube was simply the most accessible and, most importantly for a troupe that produces everything out of their own pockets, it didn’t cost anything.  We’re also on SoundCloud (where folks can download free MP3’s of our latest works.).  We’ve tried ITunes, Pod-O-Matic, Podbean, and even our own website, but found that YouTube simply reaches the most people and requires the least amount of effort on our part in terms of marketing.  Don’t get me wrong, we do as much social media marketing as humanly possible, it’s just that YT is easy to format and has a bigger reach. Our website is down for the time being, but we plan on re-launching it soon.  But it’s a lot of work to maintain.  Currently, FLP has a staff of two – myself and my wife, Debbie – and we do all of the writing, editing, the majority of the voice acting, and all of the marketing, so we have to try and keep things simple.  Or we collapse!

Talking about the Silver Fox, what made you want to tackle such a classic archetype of radio drama, which some would say has been overdone. Were you going for an homage or something different?

T.F. – I’ve always been a comic book fan and wanted to try a super hero tale.  It seems that the mysterious, lone vigilante hero – armed with only his fists and guns (ala The Green Hornet, Shadow, etc.) is the easiest to translate into an audio format.  ‘The Silver Fox’ is definitely an homage to that form of storytelling.  I suppose it is overdone to a certain extent.  I simply wanted to create a world where this character could exist in and then co-exist and interact with other heroes (many of which will be introduced in future ‘S.F.’ episodes.)  I loved comics specifically for the connectivity of the stories, the characters all existed in the same universe.  Now that Marvel has finally taken the step into translating that to a film universe, I wanted to try and do it with an audio one.  A lot of future threads in my ‘S.F.’ stories will connect in small ways to some of my other audio stories.  And, for those brave souls who follow our works, perhaps they’ll notice and be excited by it. Or not.

Do you record the actors at the same time in the same room, or is this an online endeavor? If you had the chance to do it the other way, would you?

Deborah Fabiano-Falagan – We record everything in a little office / studio in our apartment.  When using outside actors, we have them come in one at a time (there isn’t room for multiple actors) and then they record their lines in one session.  We’ve had actors record lines on their own, using various recording methods, and actually from spots all over the world, but it began to get problematic getting the different recordings from varied sources to sound right, so we discarded that approach.  We have moved recently and now have a bigger space, so we hope to get a troupe together and record some works live in the future.

What are some of your personal favorite productions you’ve done so far. Are there any in upcoming projects you’d like to share?

D.F.F. – My favorite episodes to write are the ‘Asylum of The Mind’ episodes.  That’s our horror anthology series.  Since it’s an anthology, I get to really stretch my imagination and go very dark.  As far as the future goes, we are currently auditioning for new troupe member so we can get more voices into the mix and, hopefully, to get some more writers.  Ted & I can write and act in many shorts, that’s fine, but having more voices both behind and in front of the mic would be the ideal situation.  And that’s what we hope to do.  Right now, we premiere a new short once a month, but we’d love to get enough new talent added so that we can, perhaps, move to a weekly – or at least bi-weekly – schedule as far as content output goes.  That would be ideal.  We always have ideas and new scripts, and will keep creating works of all genres.  We have a 1950’s era, sci-fi series coming called ‘The Aquarians,’ and a continuation of our popular vampire web-series ‘brood,’ called ‘The House of Kaine.’


Michael: Thanks to Deborah and Ted for taking the time to answer these questions. A review of The Silver Fox will premiere over at Audio Drama Reviews on December 4th, 2016.

Kakos Industries Episodes 1-5 Review

A fictional broadcast for a made-up corporation, Kakos Industries is the evil love child of The Bright Sessions and King Falls AM and that’s not because it’s structure and style match those two titans of newer audio dramas.

Kakos Industries easy-to-follow format is one of its hallmarks. On average, there is only one character. That of Corin Deeth III, voiced by creator, Conrad Miszuk. The show’s format is focused on corporate announcements about Kakos Industries and its operations in the world. There’s a lot of dry wit humor and dark comedy sprinkled throughout, adding a Pratchett-esque feel to the episodes as a whole.

Continuity between episodes is easily forgotten if you’re not listening back to back and is quite subtle. Most of them take the form of running gags like Kakos Industries shareholders being the only ones who are able to listen to the announcements. Anyone else should end their lives in a black comedy kind of way. Obviously, this is not for the faint of heart and contains explicit language such as the occasional f-bomb and humor that makes you “that’s just wrong” throughout. Personally, I love it. If I ever get more free time, this goes on my list.

Each episode is more or less standalone and releases each month along with the full text on their website.

5/5 Stars

Press Release: Radio Drama Creator Tom Lopez Launches New Audio Drama Streaming Website

Influential radio dramatist Tom Lopez has launched a new website for lovers of audio drama.  The website allows subscribers to stream a total of 238 hours of radio drama for a small monthly or annual fee.  

Lopez has been producing radio/audio stories for 46 years – comic and cosmic adventures, science fiction, mystical mysteries, some with spiritual wisdoms, and some that are just down right fun, family entertainment.  His intention has always been to raise consciousness by using the media, radio and audio.

The dramas include performances by a stable of talented actors from the worlds of Broadway, television and avant-garde theater; original music by composer Tim Clark; and real-world ambient sound Lopez has recorded around the globe.

Lopez’s non-profit foundation ZBS produced original stories for Public Radio, Internet Radio, CDs, and MP3 downloads. When radio drama peaked in the 1980’s many of his series aired on the BBC, CBC Canada, ABC Australia, National Public Radio & Armed Forces Radio, including over 500 stations in the US.  As radio drama began to disappear from the airwaves, Lopez sought out alternative avenues of distribution that were consistent with his adventurous nature including podcasting.

Over the years Lopez has kept ZBS alive with government grants and commissions for audio books. Fans have played a critical role by donating money and buying his finished radio dramas online.

“People actually give us money to continue to produce,” Lopez says. “These are all public radio listeners. They understand that you have to support not-for-profit arts organizations.”

Fans of radio drama can check out Lopez’s catalogue and find out more information at


Jazz Beitler

Caalo Xan Season One

Caalo Xan is as science fiction as one can get, having a hound as the leading character, a team of swashbucklers travelling through the Galaxy, and meeting a weird and alien cast of friends and foes along the way.

Multiple things about the audio drama can hook the audience. It has an excellent original song playing at the beginning and end of every episode, which can draw anyone into the atmosphere and tone, very much like how an audio drama should. Another excellent thing are the sound designs. Actions scenes are given a boost on life due to the laser sound effects, the soft, creeping footsteps of enemies, and the speed of the spaceships. The characterization is extremely well done, as the dialogue flows naturally and their topics of discussion really humanize them into something more than a ragteam of misfits.

However, there are some technical problems with the audio drama that might make it hard for people to listen to. First, some of the voice acting could’ve been better, as they are often monotone or just feel like an actor reading off a script. There is little believability when it happens.  Another problem I noticed was the inconsistent volume levels, ranging from extremely low to intolerably high. As such, immersion is almost immediately broken when this occurs.

It’s shocking to learn that over forty people have given their voices for this project, so it’s obviously a collaborated effort to mimic the 1940’s radio drama style, which succeeds splendidly. While science fiction isn’t my favorite genre, the compelling stories and memorable cast of characters overshadows the technical problems the show has.

3.5/5 Stars

School of Deaths

The first book in The Scythe Wielder’s Secret series, School of Deaths is the spiritual successor of young adult fantasy books like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. At the same time, the book is also its own thing, subverting the tropes you’ve come to expect in YA fiction and fantasy as a whole.

School of Deaths starts off strong in the normal world. Far better than most fantasies which begin in everyday normal life. There’s an instant connection with Susan Sarnio that doesn’t involve making us feel sorry for her. While the similarities to Harry Potter are immense, the reader isn’t bombarded with how bad the main character’s life is right off the bat. One of the ways this tries to separate itself from tropes is by giving Suzie Sarnio a relatively good life. Once we enter the magical world of the deaths, things start to slow down a bit too much. Honestly these chapters blended together.

It’s after the reader learns about Lovethar that the comparisons to Harry Potter continue full force. That being said, this is not a carbon copy of Rowling’s famous boy wizard. Unlike Harry Potter, Susan is hated in the magical world of the deaths. She is by no means the girl who lived or anyone famous. In fact, most people would call her infamous due to gender constraints.

The apparent and sometimes over-the-top sexism from the characters makes Susan that much more compelling as she has to literally start from the bottom because of the deaths’ biases against woman. That being said, the thing which doesn’t make sense is why almost all the students at the college hate Susan. Professors are understandable as they have the knowledge of the world, but most of these children are from the world of the living. Did they suddenly become more sexist because they were taken to the land of the deaths? It’s one of those things that doesn’t bother you in the moment, but upon closer inspection, yanks you out of the story.

All in all, School of Deaths is a great start to a YA fantasy. While some parts in the middle sagged a bit and Harry Potter comparisons were aplenty, the fact that this story stands on its own ground and subverts many of the tropes found in YA fantasy novels is a plus in its favor.

4.5/5 Stars

Gallowtree Season One

Gallowtree Radio details strange events from a town somewhere in England. These events range from literal identity theft to “homeless zombie scum” taking over the world… so predictable, huh? This is very much a story-driven podcast.

Listener’s should be aware that Gallowtree’s concept is noticeably similar to Night Vale, so if you like that podcast, odds are you will like this one. Basically, it’s as if Night Vale was set in a British horrorshow that’s being run by a mentally disturbed anarchist. Although the setting might turn some listeners off, Gallowtree has high production value and good voice acting.

Despire the limited voice cast, I felt that the narrator had a vivid personality and a very loud, creepy voice that suited the tone wonderfully – in particular, the tone and atmosphere. It does wonder for the tone and atmosphere. The writing is a little fast-paced if one is not paying attention. They could easily miss some really good social commentary and important details into a 1984-esque world.

The show has good pacing and good writing, often making references to problems in contemporary society, such as religion, police brutality, politics, and numerous other topics. The 22-minute format reminds me more of a science fiction TV show on the SyFy network than a podcast.

The background noises are so detailed and precise that it only makes you more involved in the insane world it presents. Small things like the echoing background noises sound more like a disgusting sewer than anything else, with rats scuttling across the floor and vault doors slamming  shut so politicians and zombies can’t get in.

This is obviously a labor of love, as it was made by only a few dedicated people who so obviously love the impact Night Vale had on podcasting and audio storytelling. Anyone who is a fan of creative, creepy stories and excellent social commentary should take a ponder at the British craziness that is Gallowtree.

4/5 Stars

200th Review Results and a New Reviewer?

The results of who would win the spot for 200th review on the site have been determined. Actually they have been for a while. There was a great turnout, a lot more people than I expected showed their support for these great audio productions. I guess that’s the power of social media for you.

I bought the production on audible almost two years ago, after finishing the show’s second season. It’s now time to reopen pandora’s box and resume the zombie apocalypse.

That’s right, We’re Alive – Season 3 is the winner of the 200th review determination poll The review will go live on January 29, 2017.

The next announcement to share is that Audio Drama Reviews has a new critic. In addition to myself, Michael Bergonzi, Zane Sexton has signed on to be a critic both of and for audio dramas. Like me, he started off as a fan. In some ways he’s harsher than I am, but I’ll let you judge that for yourself when his first review on the site goes live this Sunday (July 31, 2016).

Take care everyone.

RED SUN: Hajima

At first glance, this sounds like a cool idea and upon closer inspection it had the potential to be a kick ass modern-day take on Samurai. Most of the problems lie within the short length of each episode and the odd, almost forced characterization of the main character.

Miles Moto is supposed to be an Asian American Bruce Wayne. He certainly has the skills, but they border on the unbelievable. For example, there’s no real sense of how hard he trained. This is an origin story and its hard to suspend disbelief on a guy who suffers from a haunted past in the military. The way the fight scenes were handled certainly didn’t help, but again the setup wasn’t there to make you believe he could do all those things and do them so well. On top of that, his desire to become part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic is a bit forced on the page, but comes across as not all that important until the end. The opening narration for each episode, explaining who Miles Moto is and what his passions are, go a bit too in-depth with his character. It adds some depth, sure, but what’s the point aside from making him forcibly more complex.

The length of the episodes is almost too short for what it’s trying to accomplish in this five-part origin story arc and the fact you have to purchase them individually is also a pain. The shortest episode is around ten minute long, including the credits. Considering the money you put in, the investment is barely worth it–Quality not withstanding. An extra five minutes for each episode or ten minutes across all the episodes would have given a lot more context on the characters. As it stands now, I really didn’t care about any of them.

There were a number of awesome story hooks that never got utilized to their full potential. On top of that, it just wasn’t that memorable. Nothing got you excited about going out and purchasing the next episode, let alone listening to it.

The acting is without a doubt the best part and the production value is at least on par with many audio drama podcasts, if not better.

4/5 Stars