Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Superman: Hero. Leader. Wanted man?

In this Jeph Loeb-written story, that’s exactly what Superman is.  President Lex Luthor has been informed that a large meteor of Kryptonite is headed straight for earth.  Trying to destroy it and failing, Luthor decides instead to blame the whole thing on Superman, since it’s a fragment of his home planet.

Because you know, if the whole world is going to end, defeating your sworn enemy one last time is top priority.

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Luthor offers a one billion dollar reward to anyone who captures and brings in the man of steel.  As is expected, Superman refuses to turn himself in to Lex, and Batman winds up helping him.

The baseline of the story centers around Batman and Superman evading capture, as various super-villains and heroes alike try to capture them.The story itself is action-filled enough to remain entertaining, but the real draw here is Loeb’s form of storytelling: we’re greeted with both Superman and Batman’s perspective on each scene. Reading these dual narratives, highlighting the similarities and differences in each hero’s way of thinking, was what really drew me into the story.  Each has a profound respect for the other, while they also have moments where they don’t fully understand the others’ motivation/way of thinking.

The two heroes find a solution to the impending meteor strike in the form of a giant robot.  There’s a whole side plot involving Superman from the future traveling back in time to warn the duo that their original plan won’t work and will result in the deaths of everyone they care about, but truthfully I didn’t care too much for that.  The ultimate solution is to have Captain Atom pilot the robot, so that he may absorb the radiation that the exploding meteor will release.  The plan is successful, and a crisis is averted.

Most enjoyable, however, was the final confrontation between Batman and Luthor.

Batman calls out Lex on his shady dealings with Darkseid, indicating that he will be thrown in prison for his actions.

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Of course, Batman doesn’t stop there.

Still holding a grudge after learning that Luthor plotted to have Bruce Wayne’s life ruined (as detailed in Batman: Bruce Wayne – Fugitive),  Batman is all too happy to return the favor, informing Luthor that he has been bankrupted.

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It was sweet, sweet justice, and the ultimate defeat that Luthor deserves.  Of course, the building collapses around them and Luthor is not found, but obviously he wouldn’t just be disappearing. He emerges from the rubble, vengeance in his eyes, as he promises a “crisis” will be coming.

Ooooooof course.

The interactions between Superman and Batman were easily the most enjoyable part of this trade.  It’s clear that Luthor is changing, losing his power and status and evolving into a full-fledged villain.  I’m curious to see how that all plays out, and if he finally loses the public’s approval.  The details of the comic were spotty, with some aspects feeling a bit forced or unnecessary.  Still, overall it was a fun comic to read.  It’s always interesting seeing Batman and Superman interact, and seeing how each brings their own skills and knowledge to the table.  It wasn’t my favorite story of all time, but it set up future stories quite nicely, and provided a little more insight into how these two superhero greats work together.

-Jess

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