is it that so-called “superheroes” who are technically on the same side
will use any lame excuse to knock the bejesus out of each other?!
And this wasn’t a “tradition” that began with Marvel’s
Civil War story arch a couple of years ago. Nope, superheroes have been
beating out the snot out of one another ever since the first couple of
six-year-olds who argued whether Spider-man will manage to beat up
In Batman: Long Halloween author Jeph Loeb’s
Superman / Batman: Public Enemies comic book we don’t however have
Batman pummeling Superman with a pair of kryptonite boxing gloves as Frank
Miller made him do in Dark Knight Returns. Instead Public
Enemies – which has now been made into a direct-to-DVD animated movie
slated for a 29 September 2009 release - realizes that DC comics’ two most
iconic characters would probably team up to fight on the same side despite
their wildly different upbringings and backgrounds.
One is after all a vengeful vigilante with no real
superpowers who has some real hang-ups after a two-bit mugger as a
childhood killed his parents right in front of his eyes. The other is a
near deity: an all-power alien from another world who fights for “truth,
justice and the American way” after a near idyllic childhood on a Kansas
farmstead that seems taken straight out of the paintings of Norman
Loeb’s graphic novel does much to contrast the two’s
different backgrounds and even hints at those Frank Miller slugfests at
one point. (“You know what I got sick of, Bruce?” Superman tells Bruce
Wayne / Batman. “You kicking the crap out of me with your toys when you’re
nothing but a man. A man who got to stay alive only because I let you.”) This is an old-fashioned team-up affair that will appeal to
anyone who isn’t in the mood for any “revisionism.” Of course teaming up
DC’s two biggest cash cows, er sorry, characters is no-brainer and the
upcoming Warner Premiere/DC Universe release isn’t the first such teaming
up. (The film is the sixth in the line of the DC Universe Original
Animated Movies line released by Warner Premiere and Warner Bros.
Animation thus far. The others are
Justice League: The New
Gotham Knight, Wonder Woman
and the upcoming Green Lantern:
First Flight). Superman and Batman had their previous full-length
animated team up in the 1998 Superman Batman movie.
"Maybe superheroes are just in it for the spandex and random
violence . . ."
In that movie Superman and Batman teamed up to battle
Lex Luthor and the Joker. In Public Enemies there is no Joker, but
we do have Lex Luthor as the main villain again. This time Luthor is the
president of the United States (not that unbelievable: the American public
has probably done worse!). An enormous
meteorite the size of Brazil is on a collision course. No problem if you
have an enormously powerful being such as Superman on your side, except
the meteorite seems be a fragment of Superman’s destroyed home planet and consists
entirely of kryptonite, the one substance Superman is vulnerable to!
Defying all logic President Luthor blames Superman for
the approaching meteorite – a lie which the American public swallows whole
scale, forgetting that the meteorite will probably end up killing him as
well as the rest of humanity! Luthor issues an arrest warrant for Superman
as well as a billion dollar bounty, which brings every supervillain and
superhero crawling out of the woodwork to collect the reward. The villains
one can understand, but the so-called “superheroes” jumping to do Luthor’s
bidding is probably stretching it. All-American superhero in red cape and
blue tights or corrupt evil mastermind? Don’t they realize that Luthor is a bad guy? Haven’t they been watching any episodes of
they are just in it for the tight-fitting spandex outfits and acts of
random and senseless violence, who knows?
Public Enemies is an old-fashioned slugfest of
the sort that superhero comics specialise in. No dark, brooding
Watchmen-like heroes here.
But that doesn’t mean that Public Enemies is entirely brain dead.
It is a fun, witty outing with loads of colorful characters thrown into
the mix. Even the wonderfully pneumatic Power Girl makes an appearance!
Some of the plotting especially towards the end gets a bit muddled, but
never mind! Thus far the DC Universe original animated movies have all
been of a uniformly good quality and if there have been any
disappointments thus far it has been more a case of DC animated not living
up to their own high standards.
There is some promising voice talent aboard. Tim Daly
(voice of Superman on Superman: The Animated Series) and Kevin
Conroy (voice of Batman on Batman: The Animated Series, Justice
League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman: Gotham Knight) return to
reprise their familiar roles of Superman and Batman respectively. Also
thrown into the mix are Clancy Brown (best known today as The Kurgan in
the original Highlander movie) as well
as Alison Mack (Chloe in
Smallville) as Power Girl. With regular Bruce Timm on producing duties
and Sam Liu who directed Marvel’s better than usual
Hulk Vs. animated flick, then
there is little that can go wrong with Superman / Batman: Public
Enemies . . .