Superman and Batman remain the classic superhero team-up: the perfect American (albeit from Krypton) with super-human powers beyond compare; combined with the analytical detective, as brawny as he is brainy, but still vulnerable and shrouded with inner-turmoil. Public Enemies is the first in a series of books to bring these two heroes together, and this first adventure sees them ostracised from society by evil US president and Superman arch-villain Lex Luthor.
The plot has its moments but could have focused more on how far out of favour Superman and Batman had fallen. As it was, the middle section of the book made the entire plot appear to be a huge excuse for having the fallen heroes duke it out with the fellow heroes they normally hang out with. There’s even an appearance from a Superman of the future, dressed as he is in Kingdom Come, who has a punch up with modern-day Supes before disappearing through a ‘boom tube’ – something which seems to solve most of the outcomes of fights that might otherwise prove tricky to resolve. Either that or, as is the case with the fight between Batman/Superman and Hawkman/Captain Marvel, it’s just skirted over between chapters in the hope that no-one will notice.
The artwork is undoubtedly the star of this show. There’s no attempt made at realism – the characters portrayed here are pure fantasy heroes, all rippling muscles and square jaws. Colours are kept primary, giving everything a classic, cartoony feel, though the production values lift the vibrancy and depth.
Batman and Superman fighting side by side is always going to be a big draw, both for fans of the characters and fans of superheroes in general. This first story in this ongoing series left us feeling a little cold, though the artwork is significantly more eager to please.
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