Title: Enemies and Allies
Author: Kevin J. Anderson
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: May 5, 2009
The narrative, which switches back and forth between Batman/Bruce Wayne and Superman/Clark Kent, will reward fans with familiar scenes and new fans will be introduced to the two heroes in Kevin J. Anderson’s Enemies and Allies. Some familiar scenes are redone, like Superman’s first interview with Lois Lane, and conventions are the same (for example, Bruce is clearly the millionaire playboy). For new fans this is a good introduction to who the characters are, giving little snapshots into their history without completely telling the story of either man. Long-term die-hard fans should be advised: it may be a bit tedious since they know Bruce is a millionaire playboy (emulating James Bond in some respects) and that Superman is at heart a country boy (or alien) dazzled by a big city. However, the story itself, once you get past all the “getting to know you” business, is quite enjoyable.
Lex Luthor, who is up to his old tricks again, is setting up the Cold War to escalate and eventually come to a head. Manipulating a USSR KGB General, the two plan an attack on the United States that Lex will, just in time, prevent with technology he stole from Wayne Enterprises. His eventual goal — you guessed it (and we wouldn’t expect any less) — is total world domination. When his plans are thwarted, by both Batman and Superman (each in their own way), Lex is of course not content to sit back and come up with plan B — he must figure out how to stop Superman.
I fall somewhere in the “casual fan” area of comic book knowledge, so I felt right at home in both Gotham and Metropolis and had a familiar grasp of the characters, which was good and bad. Anderson continually stresses a few key points about the two main heroes which seem a bit like a broken record. For Superman he reminds the reader continuously that he is in fact alien (which does come into play in the plot) and, even though he was raised by humans and should have been fully indoctrinated by living his whole life with human interaction, somehow has absolutely no grasp on human psychology. Bruce, on the other hand, is of course emulating James Bond, even being a fan of his work, and references how James Bond would be envious of what Alfred coined the “Batmobile”. Oh yeah, he’s a rich playboy who everyone underestimates.
That aside, Batman’s story arc is very strong, and definitely has the darker feel one would expect from him. This contrasts with the much brighter feel of Superman’s subplots (one dealing with corporate espionage and the other, how to write the Lorna for the Lovelorn column). I also would like to give a nod to the portrayal of Lois Lane. She’s exactly what you want: no-nonsense and strong. Lex is perfect as well; clever and conniving, he’s the perfect villain for Superman.
I also really enjoyed the setting of this retelling. Sure, if you’re going to retell the meeting of DC’s two biggest heroes, you could go the Iron Man route and update it to the 21st century, but I really feel that that wouldn’t do the story justice. Their stories are two of the longest running stories in comic books and it is absolutely fitting that it begins in the 50s. This will be an entertaining beach read for fans of the heroes, but don’t look too deeply for something new. Enjoyable, yes; surprising, probably not. Overall, I would rate this a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.