Batman and Superman have been around for decades. Two of the main reasons people still read comics today, these two icons have appeared in -- literally -- thousands of stories ... facing threats to themselves ... challenging threats to world peace ... and making the world safe for the rest of us at the risk to their own personal safety.
However, PUBLIC ENEMIES -- under the guidance of Jeph Loeb -- takes the old and makes it new, bringing a remarkable freshness to characters who have seen some great days and, undoubtedly, have greater ones to come.
A huge meteor is hurtling across space, taunting the destruction of the planet Earth. No big deal, you say? Just send Superman into space to knock the rock off its trajectory? While it sounds like a good idea, you have to remember that the author of this work is Jeph Loeb, arguably one of the best minds working in comics today (and, for those of you in the know, he's also a consultant for the WB's hit SMALLVILLE): this meteor is a hunk from the planet Krypton ... making it Kryptonite ... and meaning that Superman is absolutely powerless against it! Its radiation threatens the survival of the entire planet, and only these two superminds and supertalents combined can find a way to save the day and put right all that has been thrown into chaos since Lex Luther was elected President of the United States.
What? Lex Luthor? President?
Clearly, PUBLIC ENEMIES is not necessarily a great 'jumping on' point for new readers. There may be some resulting confusion due to storylines hinted at that occured before this tome (Lex Luthor's election as President of the United States, Luthor's attempt to wrest control of Gotham City from billionaire Bruce Wayne, Commissioner James Gordon's retirement from the police force, etc.), but these hints serve moreso as nods to other great Batman and Superman stories for the newcomer to go and explore. Also, ENEMIES is replete -- one may argue too much so -- with guest appearances (Captain Atom, Major Force, Solomon Grundy, **drool** the lovely Power Girl, etc.) from the whole pantheon of DC villains and superheroes ... so many that that the final showdown between Luthor and Superman does feel a bit rushed to get this entire story told in what was originally six issues of the new Batman/Superman comic book, but that's a minor critique easily dismissed thanks to the strength of Loeb's work. The real magic of PUBLIC ENEMIES is that it should be considered on its own and of its own merits ... of which there are (thankfully) plenty.
Also, Ed McGuinness deserves a nod for delivering some stunning artwork to back up Loeb's epic storyline. The drawings are crisp and fluid, the coloring is dynamite and eye-popping, and the layout is exceptional.
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