Tuesday, December 28, 2010
A super team-up
While not as ambitious and sure-footed as his novel about Superman's home planet, The Last Days of Krypton, Kevin Anderson's Enemies & Allies is a fun little read about Superman and Batman taking on Lex Luthor in the 1950's. And "fun" is the key word here: encompassing the arms race, the flying saucer craze, a giant Kryptonite meteor, evil Soviet generals, mutant monsters, a megalomanical plan for world domination, and a host of other real-world and fantastical elements, the book's aim is to emulate classic comic-book story telling at its best. And it largely succeeds.
While Enemies & Allies might have been a bit more fun if Superman and Batman had established their famous alliance much earlier in the book, I recognize that this is basically Kevin Anderson's take on the origin of that fabled team. So he needed to show all the steps: how these very different personalities initially distrusted one another; then reluctantly worked together on an occasion or two; and, finally, established mutual trust and cameraderie. So, even though I was five steps ahead of these characters and knew that they'd eventually become friends and allies, it was still fun to see the individual steps occur.
Pop culture fans will also enjoy Mr. Anderson's little nods to previous Batman and Superman stories in other media. For instance, Superman's crystal-shard Fortress of Solitude is right out of the 1978 Richard Donner movie, and Batman actually uses the famous preparing-the-Batmobile spiel from the character's 1960's TV series: "Turbines to power! Atomic batteries to speed!" It's also kind of neat that Bruce Wayne enjoys Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, and uses many of Fleming's ideas in the gadgets he constructs.
While maybe not the be-all-and-end-all Superman/Batman team-up novel, I can't imagine fans of these two characters' various TV, film, and comic book incarnations not having at least a pretty good time with this story. The relentlessly upbeat Superman and the eternally cynical Batman always make a fascinating team, and that's no exception here.
Enemies & Allies is available on Kindle for $7.99.