Saturday, December 19, 2009

Enemies and Allies by Kevin J. Anderson

I've heard Kevin J. Anderson get a lot of flack on the interwebs... To hear some people tell it, he's the most horrible writer in the entire world and is singlehandedly responsible for ruining a gazillion franchises. Dune? Star Wars? LibraryThing only seems to show that he wrote one Dune novel, but a lot of Star Wars. Well, I won't speak for those, because I haven't read them, but I liked this Superman/Batman story.

This is a novel about the first meeting of Superman and Batman in the 1950s. The classic story is that Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne were on the same cruise ship and hijinx ensued; this is different, the two of them conducting parallel investigations into Lex Luthor and his business.

The writing isn't mindblowing, but it doesn't get in the way when you're reading and it's not hard to pay attention to, so it's a fast read. There were a few annoying things, like Luthor gets called "the bald industrialist" WAY too many times in narrative, and Lois Lane got sidelined into hero-bait as usual. There some to be a lot of story elements lifted from other things, James Bond stories and Watchmen and a few other things I recognized, but those seem to be homages rather than theft. They aren't major story things, just elements.

There isn't any wildly new material here as Superman and Batman go, but prose always touches on ideas that graphic novels don't. The psychology of the three main characters was what really fascinated me. Batman is done well... He seems a little bit out of focus for some reason, but he's the Batman of the Christian Bale movies and that's my favorite attitude for him. Clark has this arrogance and almost simple-mindedness about him that's a very interesting and legitimate interpretation, and his intrinsic sweetness kept me invested in him as a hero. Luthor, though, was perfect. Frightening and fascinating, supremely arrogant but with the intelligence to back it up, a real predator.

So, not brilliant, but satisfying to me as a fan. It works as an action story, but underneath that there's an engaging discussion of two of America's most well-known superheroes. The book doesn't take itself too seriously, but it takes a campy subject and writes a legitimate story.

So far my absolute favorite novel based on "real" superheroes is Batman: Rise of Sin Tzuby Devin Grayson and Flint Dille, which I reviewed here, and my favorite new superhero novel is Heroby Perry Moore, reviewed here.

In other news, I went to see Avatar on Friday and there's a review forthcoming this week. Woo!

Buy Enemies & Allies

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