The audio drama was born for quarantine. You have a lot of time at home to yourself. Sure you could binge Netflix or Hulu (see next review) but nah. You need to use your eyes to work. This is the moment to enjoy audio only.
Fortunately I’m reviewing a free one. Wolverine: The Long Night is an ad supported “scripted podcast” (ridiculous term that!) so it’s out there to be experienced for free. It’s a big, long, 5 hour listen. It’ll fill time. But is it worth your while among a mountain of options?
The drama takes an interesting approach. Two agents are sent to Alaska to explore a series of murders seemingly connected to a mysterious drifter in town named Logan. Is he responsible? Well, we know Wolverine isn’t a killer of innocents. But they don’t. And why is he in town? Is it because of Weapon X? And how does everything connect to a strange cult? There’s a lot of mystery to unpack here.
Here’s the nicest thing I can say about this drama. After I listened to it, I read the comic adaptation and the images matched the ones I had in my head. Like the best audio dramas, this is a case of pure telepathic visuals. You feel like you are there in the cold and dark. You’re fully there and it’s effortless. Sound effects and acting sell it.
The drama is elevated by the kind of acting you hope to see here. This is mostly a stage cast with Celia Keenan-Bolger, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bob Balaban, and Andrew Keenan-Bolger filling main roles. They’re all anonymous and that’s effective. We simply go with the flow and accept them. As Wolverine, Richard Armitage is better known if barely thanks to prolific work. He smartly never imitates a more familiar version. His Logan is appropriately grizzled but he’s not Steve Blum or Hugh Jackman.
OK so I’ve clearly been building to a big but here. At roughly 5 hours long, this really overstays its welcome. It’s plenty engaging but it’s far longer than it needed to be, a prime example of streaming bloat. This should be a quick listen and it’s not. This is something Graphic Audio ran into but those were hybrids of audio dramas and books on tape.
And it’s particularly grating when we know Wolverine will be cleared. We’re ahead of the characters (or so we think) and by the end, we’re ready to catch up. It’s not helped that the mystery is kinda satisfying but not really. It’s not exactly Broadchurch in its impact.
Ultimately, I’m kinda meh on this one. It’s got a lot of good and it’ll do the trick audio dramas should. But it’s not in the upper tier. Even fan works have done this one better sad to say. OK, but not great.