Become immersed in the spectral sounds of Gotham in Batman Unburied
Batman Unburied is a scripted serial podcast by Warner Brothers and DC. David S. Goyer wrote the script and is serving as executive producer. It is playing on Spotify now and has taken the world by storm, knocking ”The Joe Rogan Experience” from the Number 1 spot. In this gripping psychological thriller, we are thrust into the world of Gotham complete with soundscapes and characters familiar and new. In this review, I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum but be aware some may pop up.
In the beginning, we are thrown into a story that seems like an alternate reality: Bruce Wayne is a forensic pathologist and his parents, Thomas and Martha, are still very much alive. As the podcast progresses, we find out more and more about the situation at large. Bruce (voiced by Winston Duke) has been tasked with examining the victims of a gruesome serial-killer known as The Harvester. As the killings increase, we become privy to their nature: The Harvester murders and then eats an organ, leaving the remainder of the cadaver perfectly clean.
As mentioned previously, the story we are privy to is not always clear. From time to time, we are unaware of what is real and what is make-believe. This enables a character like the Dark Knight to showcase his brilliant repertoire of detective skills, and also interact with the characters of the Gotham and Batman world.
There are moments in the story where we see Batman as a street-level crime fighter rather than a supernatural world saver and the tale is all the stronger for it. The mystery behind the story is who the villain actually is and you can listen to half of it without knowing, you’re along for the ride with the detectives (Batman and Barbara). This element was a huge drawcard for me.
Some of the best Batman stories—The Long Halloween, Hush, Under the Red Hood—incorporate the world of Gotham as a whole, and Batman Unburied is very similar. Not only do we hear from Thomas and Martha Wayne, Bruce Wayne, and Alfred but we also get a large portion told from Barbara Gordon’s perspective and then a whole host of Batman’s rogues gallery cameo too. Of course, Gotham wouldn’t be without a few corrupt cops along the way!
The stellar audio work strengthens the whole production. The voice actors give their all to evoke emotion and tone without a visual medium to fall back on. Personally, the absolute standouts are Gina Rodriguez as Barbara Gordon, Emmy Raver-Lampman (Allison from Umbrella Academy) as Kell, and Hasan Minhaj as The Riddler. These three actors, especially Minhaj, completely capitulate themselves to the role, leaving us, as listeners, praying for more.
Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malloy from the Harry Potter series) also has a small cameo as Alfred Pennyworth. Along with the characters, the audio drama comes with sounds and background noises to envelop the listener in the world. A squeaky door, a Batarang or an absolute beat down are so perfectly conveyed it feels like you are right there, not to mention the rainy Gotham nights adding to the tone.
Mentioning tone brings me to the one thing that really drew me into this podcast series and that was the explicit nature of the content. This is a story about the Dark Knight we very rarely see, only hinted at in some more experimental comics. Language, gore, and other strong themes like drug use or trauma, which are sometimes glossed over in modern comic adaptations, are front and center in Batman Unburied. This tale is not for the squeamish ones among us but, honestly, don’t let that put you off listening.
Overall, this podcast serial is a brilliant addition to the Batman verse. Give it a listen if you are up for a tense, psychological thriller with a strong mystery backbone and brilliant acting.
All ten episodes are available on Spotify now. And with a quick 25-minute average runtime, this is the perfect listen for your work commute.
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