Audio dramas, sounds like something out of a bygone era.
Well, it’s not far off the mark, especially given radio’s golden age had been during the 1940s. After that entertainment evolved – as it does – and new forms replaced radio. But then audiobooks came along. Originally thought of as books on tape for kids, audio dramas found a new lease on life but it was only for children, and even then it wasn’t like how it had been decades before. But then as things like the iPod and then later the iPhone/iPad came into prominence audiobooks found yet a new lease on life, but this time in a different way, because now technology had evolved to where producers could start to incorporate production values that were the equivalent of Hollywood movies, with not just the narrator guiding audiences through the story, but actors joining in the production as well, thus giving people mini-movies to listen to.
In the recent years Marvel has also caught on to this, and as a result have begun to bring some of their stories into this medium, one of them being “New Avengers: Breakout”.
Based on the story arc written by Brian Michael Bendis with David Finch and Danny Miki, among other artists, The audiobook does make some modifications to certain things – namely Hawkeye being alive, and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow being a newcomer on the scene – but the main story remains intact despite those changes.
To start off, the story begins with Max Dillon/Electro talking with some shady character and clearly making a deal. What it is is unknown, but we find out soon enough.
Meanwhile, back at the Helicarrier we are introduced – or reintroduced if you are a comic book fan – to Clint Barton/Hawkeye and Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman, both of whom are trying to work on some reports, only for Clint’s attention to be drawn to a striking redhead who just stepped into the premises.
While he wasn’t one to be distracted so easily, there was something about the redhead that seemed to catch the archer’s attention, and in his attempts to both talk/subdue her things get a little bit tense, especially once Jessica reveals that the redhead Natasha is the Black Widow, to which Clint becomes all business.
It takes a short while, but eventually Natasha is apprehended and taken to The Raft, where Clint and Jessica meet Luke Cage. For a moment longer things proceed like usual, but then the electrical power goes out, and that’s when not only the chaos begins, but the adventure as a whole.
Meanwhile, Peter Parker is having to to deal with yet another date that wasn’t going anywhere and as such had been looking for any reason to leave early until the power outage occurs. After that Peter dons his trusty Spider-Man suit and web-slings off into the night. Along the way he meets Steve Rogers/Captain America but the webhead heads off into The Raft before Steve can relay his plan to him.
The rest of the scene is just pure chaos all around, with just about all the heroes meeting up with each other, Iron Man among them.
After the battle Tony and Steve get to talking about the prison breakout with Clint and Jessica and it doesn’t take Drew long to realize that Steve is putting something together, namely assembling a new Avengers team. Clint is asked but he initially refuses, believing to not be on the same level as Steve or Tony, but Cap being Cap manages to convince the archer to join.
For the rest of the audiobook the new Avengers team of Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, Luke Cage and Spider-Woman figure out where the mastermind behind the prison breakout is in the Savage Land and head off to track said mastermind down. Naturally given that the team is made up of misfit orphans and loners keeping cohesion is no easy task, but as the story goes by the ice between the group begins to break, namely with Spidey revealing his identity to the others and later with the group meeting Nat again and all the crazy dynamics that occur, especially with Widow and Hawkeye.
Speaking of dynamics-the audiobook handles it very well for the most part. While the book is team-centric, there is a particular emphasis on characters like Hawkeye and Black Widow. In fact, audiences will find that the story seems to revolve around his point of view more than anything, and if you aren’t familiar with Clint’s background this story will fill in those gaps a bit. Not only that but Clint and Natasha’s dynamic has that tension that eventually heats up to a fevered pitch but even that doesn’t distract from the story, rather it actually adds to it. For in this interpretation we find that Nat’s background is more or less the same as what fans of the comics know, and that she had actually left her previous employers in search of something better, though Romanoff still misses her “sister” Yelena Belova. Because of Nat’s background you aren’t completely sure whose side Widow is on until the end when things get resolved.
While the story ends with some lingering questions, you are still left with a sense of completion for the mission, and a sense of new beginnings for the team. And while said team may be made up of loners, when push comes to shove they will assemble, have each other’s backs and save the world.
In all, the cast for the Audiobook was impressive. And while it isn’t the MCU cast, the actors/actresses gave really good performances that stayed true to the essence of who the characters are while making them fresh and contemporary, and that was true all across the board. From story/character, sound design and music, this felt like a true cinematic experience in the form of an Audiobook, and one that deserves more attention. Not only that but having read the original Trade by Bendis and co. I’ve found that the Audiobook version tells the story in a more comprehensive way, while still honoring what Bendis and his team did. As such I highly recommend this audiobook, whether it be on Audible, Apple Books, wherever you can buy it. Plus if you want a Marvel story that has that cinematic feel without being tied to the MCU continuity this story is definitely a must-have.