The economy is at an all-time low, violence has led to martial law, and with the death toll rising the desperate American public turns to the one man who can save them, Lex Luthor. In a world where the bad-guy has control of the White House, what happens to the good-guys?
This Tuesday Warner Brothers Animation released “Superman Batman: Public Enemies” on DVD.
For those not familiar with the graphic novel created by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, this is the story that pits the “world’s finest” against the full force of the United States government.
But animations like Justice League Unlimited have done similar stories, so what’s new?
Most noticeably, the visual feel is different from many other Warner Brothers comic book based cartoons. The animation, based on the art Ed McGuinness drew for the graphic novel, is charged with excitement.
The mainstays of the animation are the same, however. Kevin Conroy’s iconic voice breathes life into the caped crusader as it has from Batman the Animated Series, in 1992, all the way through Batman: Gotham Knight- the 2008 DVD animated companion to the films starring Christian Bale.
Two of the major voices from JLU are also back. Tim Daly reprises as Superman, and Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor.
The story is a bit more politically charged than any previous animated features about the titanic team-up. First of all, Luthor is president. It begs the question; if things got really bad, how far would the American public be willing to go to make things right?
In this world we elect a man with the savvy to do whatever is necessary to keep the citizenry safe. When a country-sized asteroid comes hurtling from space the president’s resolve is tested.
And that asteroid is pure kryptonite.
In a live televised address, President Luthor calls for a meeting with Superman. When the man-of-steel meets the Commander In Chief, a new addition to the Secret Service lends a super-powered hand putting the hurt on the Last Son of Krypton. The confrontation quickly turns south for Superman, and the results lead to a perfect opportunity for a set-up. President Luthor issues a bounty for one billion dollars. Maybe he should put a pinky to his lip? But instead he unleashes all kinds of super-powered heavyweights, to slug it out with the man of tomorrow and the dark knight, who stands by his buddy through thick and thin.
The pair find themselves in deep trouble when Mongul and Solomon Grundy show up in the first wave of stringers looking to cash in on the bounty. Shit hits the fan when the bounty hunters are finished and the President plays his ace card, some top-tier members of The Justice League. These are probably best left a surprise, but suffice it to say there are two heroes whose name begin with “Captain” who slug it out with the big “S.”
The battles can be summed up in one word, for anyone who is into superhero cartoons, nerdgasm.
One key difference from the comic book is noticeable. The climax. In Loeb and McGuinness’s version Batman and Superman confront Lex in the Oval Office. Batman tells Superman that they can “make it look like an accident.” Direct threats on the chief executives life, in the land’s highest office, might not be politically prudent right now. The cartoon opts for a more discreet location and no consideration by the teamed-up superheroes to kill the president, but it does leave room for a question. If a sitting president ever took truth and justice too far, would the world have any way to check the might of the only real super-power?