Mark Morris’s Mr Invincible

Audio  In Mark Morris’s Mr Invincible, Jack drifts back to Earth seeking the truth of his revelation about Gwen’s assassination from Red Skies and finds himself embroiled in an adventure which might just be related.  A time distortion is spreading across Cardiff causing people to oscillate from mewling and puking to sans everything and back again in a flash.  Meanwhile, Ross Chapman, an unlikely superhero is making like Kick-Ass across Cardiff but with the added bonus of actual powers.  Obviously the three have to be connected, there wouldn’t be a story otherwise, and it’s up to Jack to make that connection.

In other words, Morris’s vision for new Torchwood, is essentially old Torchwood with less bodies on the ground and somehow like old Torchwood, Mr Invincible rubbed me up the wrong way.  Partly it’s the rather obvious double meaning in the title – there are two invincible men walking around South Wales, but also the over-familiarity of the material, Morris even referencing the Roman Centurion from Season One’s End of Days.  Not his fault but AudioGo’s Who range has featured plenty of time anomaly related stories now and for its certainly breeding some contempt, especially when the material isn’t quite up to scratch.

Sadly for Morris, AudioGo have also recently investigated the superhero genre, and better in the Starfall episode of Paul Magrs’s Starfall and I’m not convinced the more adult approach required by Torchwood really benefits it.  Morris attempts to make Chapman a more normal bloke; he’s not especially noble, he’s generally doing it for the publicity (cf, Spiderman early in his origin story) but that also makes him difficult to like.  Certainly Morris seems to enjoy writing the Cardiff residents Chapman encounters more, and the highlights of the audio, as is so often the case with Torchwood, is in “seeing” how they interact with the fantasy elements.

But I suppose the biggest disappointment is in the characterisation.  Jack rarely sounds like Jack and that’s not helped by the fact that Jack does rarely sound like Jack because Tom Price has refused to even attempt a Barrowman impression, reading the whole thing in his own accent making the Captain sound more like Philip Madoc in A Mind To Kill than the Glaswegian-American figure that should stand out against the Welsh audio landscape.  As with Morris’s Darkstar Academy in which coincidentally Alexander Armstrong backed out on attempting Karen Gillan, it means we rarely get a fix on the character that’s supposed to be a protagonist.

Which is a disappointing end to what’s been an otherwise entertaining block of adventures which at their best have been as good as the Radio 4 series and even better than the television original with remarkable images in all and suggestions for what the future format of the series will look like, a return to a spooky-doo of the week seeming the most obvious.  But what of the future?  With the tv show unlikely to return soon, will BBC Books and AudioGo continue to bang out new content to fill the void or is Mr Invincible the final word on this corner of the franchise?  It’d be fairly typical if it was.

Torchwood: Mr Invincible by Mark Morris is out now from AudioGo. Review copy supplied.

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