When I was a slightly more angsty youth Wolverine was my favorite superhero. Even though Spider-Man has since taken my top spot when it comes to these marvelously muscled heroes, Wolvie didn’t drop far–taking my third favorite spot for superheroes right behind Deadpool. This is probably my favorite version of Wolverine yet, and it just so happens to be a podcast.
Wolverine: The Long Night was originally a Stitcher Premium product, so only people subscribed to the premium version of the popular podcatcher software could access it. Somewhere between then and there the fine folks at Stitcher have decided to allow it to go free to listen, distributing an episode at a time across the last ten weeks. I just finished the last episode last night, and I have to say, I’m absolutely blown away by how much I loved this series.
I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, I assumed that this would be Marvel taking a Hollywood swing at podcasts, and probably getting it all wrong. After all, how were superheroes going to work as a podcast medium? I shouldn’t have doubted them I suppose—podcasts like Hunt The Truth (Halo’s fantastic narrative podcast) had already done wonderful work with an IP you would typically not associate with an audio only product.
The way that The Long Night approaches telling a story about Wolvie isn’t traditional and the team here has created something truly special because of it. For the vast majority of the podcast we follow Agents Marshall and Pierce as they investigate a grisly murder on what appears to be a simple fishing boat. As their investigation unfolds they interview individuals, always getting a slightly off eyewitness testimony. We are never sure who is telling the truth and it makes for a fascinating story as they agents seek to solve a mystery, while raising plenty of questions for the listener on their role in all of this in the process.
Meanwhile Logan weaves in and out of the background of the story, seldom being heard from and never being encountered in earnest until the last couple of episodes. You would think this would make a podcast about the superhero boring, but instead it gives him an air of mystery and puts the “things Logan does best” firmly in the shadows where they belong. It distances it from the character, makes him more dangerous, and ultimately makes him a thousand times more interesting when he finally comes out of the shadows.
I can’t really discuss a good deal more of the plot without ruining large portions, but rest assured there are dramatic reveals and twists within the story itself, while also providing jaw dropping context for the Marvel world of X-Men presented in this medium.
The voice acting is superb, and Richard Armitage plays a wonderfully gravel-voiced Wolverine that is more haunted than versions we’ve seen of him elsewhere. When recording The Long Night it was done in the way you might traditionally record actors in a room–with characters reacting to each other live as they act out their motions–and you can hear the real difference it makes in the way the story feels so real. Even though you are simply listening to the story taking place, the way the podcast is presented makes it instantly able to transport you to the world in which it takes place—it is a very well done effect.
Each episode gripped my attention more than the last, and the very last episode left me grinning from ear to ear while considering the possibilities to come in this perspective new facet of the Marvel Universe.
If you like superheroes you will certainly get more out of it—especially if you are a fan of Wolverine—but even if you aren’t the story is intriguing enough on its own to make it worthwhile, even if you’ve never cracked a comic book.