Superman/Batman: Public Enemies Review

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies DVDAwesome. Just awesome. The beauty of these DC animated films is that each one is so unique in what it reveals about the DC Universe. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is a quintessential blockbuster. If Jerry Bruckheimer teamed up with Dan DiDio, this would be the result.

Of course, the pedigree of this film is much loved, as well it should be. The Superman/Batman comic series was launched by writer Jeph Loeb and artist Ed McGuiness in 2003 and is a favourite of mine, and may others. Those first 6 issues showed the great heights to which comics can attain, and highlighted the different centres between the 2 lead characters, thanks to Loeb’s specific inner monologues for both.

This film adaptation may only be just over an hour long, but it’s thankfully very similar to the plot of those 6 issues. After James Bond-like intro credits, it begins with a brief montage showing the current state of the U.S (ie, an economic disaster zone) which leads to Superman baddie Lex Luthor becoming President . This was an all too short plot device in the comics, but it did deliver gold, like in this story. Luthor uses his newfound power to frame Superman for the murder of Metallo and the paranoia from an oncoming kryptonite meteor to offer a $1 billion bounty for Superman and Batman, as enemies of the state.

Solomon GrundyFor those that fondly recall the initial series, you’ll be pleased as punch to know that all the good stuff has been pulled from the page to the screen. The kryptonite bullet, Luthor injecting himself with liquid kryptonite, the clash with Captain Marvel and Hawkman, Hiro the new Japanese Toyman and his giant robot. It’s all here. However, new fans will be lost. With all the supervillain and hero cameos, there are no expository speeches detailing their origins, powers or even names. A nice touch would’ve been a bonus feature with such info, but the curious can always read the TPB collecting the comic series, and go from there. There are also hints at Superman’s death and his romance with Lois, but again, these are for fanboys joy only. However, who can deny the joy of seeing so many cameos minute after minute? Mongul, Black Lightning, Gorilla Grodd, Nightshade, Power Girl (voiced by Smallville’s Alison Mack) and many more make any fanboy heart gleeful.

Public Enemies is a lavish film, filled with Ed McGuiness-styled looks and action packed direction by Sam Liu. Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy and Clancy Brown are back from their respective Superman: The Animated Series and Batman: TAS. It’s great to hear, and see these characters on-screen again, as Supes, Bats and Luthor.

Lex Luthor Power SuitThe 2 disc version comes with some great features that are a delight to any veteran DC reader like me.  Disc 1 has a look at the current dead-risng epic Blackest Night, with interviews with writer Geoff Johns and DC head honcho Dan DiDio. There are also looks at the four previous DC animated films (Batman: Gotham Knight, Wonder Woman, Justice League: The New Frontier and Green Lantern: First Flight) though these are not new. Trailers for Fringe, GL: First Flight and the stand-out Batman: Arkham Asylum game are there too.

Disc 2 has an interesting feature looking at the different mindsets of the two caped heroes, a casual Dinner  With DCU feature, in which casting director Andrea Romano, Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy, producer Bruce Timm and DC Exec. Gregory Noveck drink coffee and discuss their long running animated ventures. Also included is an exciting look at the next DC animated feature, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, which looks to be even better than this one. Two episodes from Superman: TAS, hand-picked by Timm are thrown in for good measure. They are Knight Time and The Demon Reborn and each episode feature the two heroes teaming up, with The Demon also including a Ra’s Al Ghul cameo and the sometimes humorous Knight featuring Clark impersonating Batman, with a little help from Robin and a little trouble from The Penguin, Riddler and Bane.

Really, DC are proving they’re on to something with these films and each one feels like a grateful nod to DC fans. Hopefully they serve to entertain the DC-curious too. If any of Warner Bros. live action attempts comes even close to this, then the man on the street will proudly become more familiar with DC characters rather than Spider-Man and Wolverine.

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