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Enemies & Allies

Enemies & Allies

Author: Kevin J. Anderson

Published by: William Morrow [HarperCollins] (May 5, 2009)

Reviewed by: Steve Younis

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"Enemies & Allies" is Kevin J. Anderson's much-anticipated follow-up to the best-selling novel "The Last Days of Krypton", and tells the story of Superman and Batman's first meeting.

Having received an advanced reader's edition, I eagerly sat down to read this new novel, and was quite impressed overall. It's an easy read that will have any DC Comics fan feeling right at home amongst the characters and settings portrayed in this novel.

Characters

Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El - All three aspects of Superman's persona are equally covered in this story. He's still fairly new to his powers and place on Earth and we get to journey with him as he explores not only the limits of his powers but also the question of which problems he can and can't solve.

Clark's relationships with his colleagues at the Daily Planet are fleshed out nicely, as is his relationship with Martha Kent in Smallville.

Batman/Bruce Wayne - The Dark Knight probably gets a slightly larger focus in the story overall, but only slightly. Anderson spends quite a bit of time examining Batman's position in Gotham, his inner demons, and his thoughts on crime and justice.

Alfred adds a nicely placed lighter tone to Batman's hard focused edge.

Bruce Wayne's role is a vital and important one to the overall story, especially as a match for the nefarious Lex Luthor.

Lex Luthor - Speaking of Lex, this version of the character is everything you've come to expect of Superman's arch nemesis. Anderson expertly melds the various incarnations seen across comic books, cartoons, television and film, and creates a Lex Luthor who is not only a criminal genius, but a ruthless and scheming business tycoon. Lex's arrogance and self-importance make him more than capable of requiring both Superman and Batman to stop him.

Lois Lane - General Sam Lane's little girl is a go-getter. She's feisty, willful and absolutely lovable. While somewhat reckless, this Lois Lane knows what she wants, why she wants it, and will figure out how to get it... even if it might get her into a lot of trouble. It's not hard to see why the Man of Steel falls for this girl reporter.

Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Martha Kent and other minor characters are all present and play their part in the story. As does a Russian General by the name of Ceridov, who adds an international flavor to the story that fits in nicely with the settings of the 1950s, Cold War tensions, nuclear experimentation, UFO sightings, Area 51 and emerging technology.

Locations

"Enemies & Allies" covers many locations, including Metropolis with LuthorCorp and the Daily Planet, Gotham with Wayne Enterprises, Wayne Manor and the Batcave. Other locations include the Fortress of Solitude, a Russian Gulag and Luthor's own island hideaway.

Time

The story is set in the 1950s and is done so for a reason. Luthor's plan is heavily dependent upon the American people's paranoia surrounding the Communist threat and the ever-present interest in UFOs and alien invasions.

Batman's gadgets seem to be a bit advanced for the 1950s, but it's not something that drags you out of the story too much.

Plot

I made mention earlier of Anderson's focus on Batman. To be fair, on the Gotham side of things the story only really involves Batman/Bruce Wayne and Alfred, while on the Superman side of things there's Superman/Clark Kent, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Martha Kent. So it's understandable that Batman would get a little more "screen time" than Superman, as Lex and Lois are both huge parts of the story as well.

The story itself is both intriguing and exciting. There are plenty of character moments, with lots of action. The story flows at a pretty quick pace, and while there aren't necessarily any major surprises, you'll be entertained the whole way through.

Towards the back end of the book I started getting the feeling that things were closing up too quickly, but to his credit Anderson took the story in a new direction that added a new threat I wasn't quite expecting.

Both superheroes have their moments to shine. Neither is given props over the other. The threat is one that requires them to work together in a way that does not feel forced. Their involvement in the threat is both personal and worldly. Their relationship is intriguing and natural (well as natural as you can get considering you've got an alien with super powers meeting a rich playboy who dresses up like a bat).

Conclusion

All in all "Enemies & Allies" is well worth reading. It's not as heavy in content as "The Last Days of Krypton" but is just as entertaining.

If I had to give it a rating out of 10, I'd say it was a solid 7.


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