Superman/Batman Vol. 1: Public Enemies - New Edition (DC) | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Superman/Batman Vol. 1: Public Enemies - New Edition

DC

Written by Jeph Loeb; Art by Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines and Tim Sale

Oct 01, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Scribe Jeph Loeb (Batman: The Long Halloween, Superman: For All Seasons) and artist Ed McGuinness’ (Deadpool, Vampirella) debut six-issue storyline for Superman/Batman stands above the rest of the monthly series, even four years later. This “New Edition” doesn’t change much besides the cover, a sketch book addendum and a tacked-on prologue. Ostensibly it’s DC trying to cash-in on their latest WHV direct-to-DVD animated movie, featuring the same logo and storyline.

The movie loses some of the internal through-lines of the comic. Comparing and contrasting the two very different protagonists is the prime entertainment here. And of course the pulse-quickening, global threat from President Lex Luthor and the cold justice served up by The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight is nostalgic fun too.

Public Enemies could have been a mushy, heartwarming tale of loyalty and odd couple friendship but Loeb balances the story’s dark with the light poles alongside letterer Richard Starkings (Comicraft Studio) and Eisner-award winning colorist Dave Stewart (Hellboy: The Third Wish, Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman: Trinity). Batman and Superman try to disprove Luthor’s accusations that Supes set a huge chunk of his home planet, Krypton, on a crash course with Earth, thus resulting in an endless stream of enemies for the uncommon superhero team to fend off across the globe.

This setup could easily devolve into a mindless grudge match against C-list villains, but Loeb and McGuinness injects the series’ many tumults with (gasp!) character development. They depict the thoughts of the heroes as they battle, contrasting Batman’s shadowy vengeance and contempt with Blue Boy Scout’s unending fount of hopefulness. Ultimately, Public Enemies is a typical action-superhero comic that often transcends its narrow structure. Loeb also crams in enough DC Universe cameos and old school ass whoppin’ into its six issues to keep veteran comic fans salivating.

This is probably the only comic in recent memory where you can see “The World’s Finest” beat up on Metallo, Silver Banshee, Mr. Freeze/Captain Cold/Icicle/Killer Frost, Mongul, Solomon Grundy, Gorilla Grodd, Bane, Deadshot, Giganta, King Shark, Lady Shiva, Nightshade and others.

Oh, and the duo also face-off against a Captain Atom-led JSA, Hawkman and Captain Marvel. Even the Hiro Okamura version of Toyman appears in a hillarious and unlikely alliance to destroy the kryptonite asteroid. Somehow, all that doesn’t make the second act too bloated.

On the art side, McGuinness has a nice slightly manga style that doesn’t feel too cartoony and Stewart’s colors are bold and primary throughout, especially when showcasing the two leads’ different thoughts. Their bifurcated drama is also highlighted in a two-page story by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, entitled When Clark and Bruce Met: A Tale From the Days of Smallville. In the short narrative a young Bruce goes on a trip across America with Alfred to get away from the lingering thoughts of his parent’s deaths.

While Alfred fixes a flat tire Clark Kent contemplates asking Bruce to play ball but hesitates. The last two thought bubbles say all you need to know about the future of the two men on the cover and the engaging story that lies for you inside. Clark: “I still wonder if we should’ve asked him to play. If it would’ve made a difference.” Bruce: “Sometimes, I wish they had asked me to play. But, by then my life had changed. I had no time for games.” (www.dccomics.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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