Tuesday, 6 October 2009
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
A global economic meltdown sees a rise in third-party politics in the United States. Spearheading the movement is Lex Luthor, whose empty promises and stern gazing see him installed as Commander-in-chief. Rather than address the modern Hoovervilles that have sprung up all over the country, he quickly assembles a task force of reformed nutters and super-stooges before framing Superman as a Krypto-addled danger. Batman to the rescue! Based on the opening strand of a World's Finest rebrand that ditched adversarial Millerisms and recast the duo as best pals, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is a slight brawler that delights in camaraderie.
Carrying over from their respective individual animation efforts, we have Kevin Conroy as Batman, and Tim Daly as Superman. The pair haven't shared airspace since Toshihiko Masuda's Superman: The Animated Series three parter World's Finest - Daly bowed out after his solo series, replaced by George Newbern for the Justice League run. The actors have an easy chemistry that carries the few non-action sequences. They play their super-identities as disarmed and comfortable in each other's company. As well as Jeph Loeb's plotting, this feature also inherits arc artist Ed McGuinness' visual inflections, albeit simplified for animation. His hero drafts are a curious mix of Masters of the Universe hyper-musculature and big eye manga. This aesthetic gives Public Enemies the overall effect of a child's play acting. Merchandised action figures, of which McGuinness' designs have spawned plenty, tossed together in vague scenarios dictated by whatever toy comes to hand. Heroes fight heroes, bare figures get gimmick upgrades, and a spoiled brat saves the day.