Enemies & Allies
|Author||Kevin J. Anderson|
|Publisher||William Morrow and Company|
|Media type||Print (hardcover, paperback), audiobook|
Enemies & Allies is a 2009 novel by American science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson. The book is set in the 1950s, in the midst of the Cold War, and follows Superman and Batman. Though suspicious of each other, they confront Lex Luthor who stages an international nuclear conflict and spreads fear of an alien invasion so that he can sell advanced weapons to governments. Themes used in the novel, reflective of the 1950s era, include alien invasion films, nuclear threats, and Cold War paranoia.
Anderson has written supporting novels in the past in established franchises, such as Star Wars and Dune. He had previously written about Superman in the 2007 novel The Last Days of Krypton. Enemies & Allies was published in May 2009 and met with mixed reviews which noted flat characterization but that it may be entertaining for comic book fans.
The novel Enemies & Allies uses the DC Comics characters Batman and Superman. It was written by science fiction author Kevin J. Anderson who, at the time of publication, was 47 years old and living in Colorado. He had been writing novels for the past 20 years and had 15 years' experience writing tie-in novels to existing franchises, such as The X-Files and Star Wars. He was best known for his prequel novels in the Dune franchise with co-author Brian Herbert. His latest novels in the Dune series were Paul of Dune, published in September 2008, and The Winds of Dune, which would be released in August 2009, only several months after releasing Enemies & Allies. He gained experience writing in the comic book format by authoring the 2004–05 six issue miniseries, JSA: Strange Adventures featuring the Justice Society of America. He had previously written a novel about the origins of Superman, The Last Days of Krypton published in 2007.
The novel begins in Gotham City where Batman attempts to thwart a crime but he is being pursued by the police force who consider him a villain. In Metropolis Superman is seen as a hero as he rescues a sinking passenger boat. Lex Luthor, head of LuthorCorp, is allying himself with Soviet General Anatoly Ceridov who is mining and experimenting with kryptonite in Siberia. Luthor intends to stoke fears of an alien invasion and sell anti-alien defenses to world governments. What appears to be an alien spacecraft flies over United States airspace and is confronted by the air force and Superman, but is ultimately stopped by LutherCorp airplanes. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne, Batman's alter-ego, discovers that Lex Luthor is blackmailing members of Wayne Enterprises' board of directors to steal technology designs, allowing him to beat Wayne Enterprises on military contracts. As Batman, Wayne infiltrates Luthor's mansion to gather evidence but also steals Luthor's sample of kryptonite which sets off alarms. Superman and Batman confront each other, suspicious of the other's motives, but both flee as security forces respond to the alarms. Wayne turns his board of directors into double agents, having them give faulty technology to Luthor. To demonstrate his defensive capabilities, Luthor has Ceridov launch nuclear missiles from Russia to the US but Luthor's faulty systems fail and Superman stops the missiles.
Eventually, Superman discovers the Soviet kryptonite mine but is defeated by the physiological effects of the material. Batman travels to Siberia to rescue Superman. With both heroes in Siberia Lex Luthor attacks alien ships which had just attacked Metropolis, but are actually his own aircraft staging an alien invasion. Superman and Batman arrive in the middle of the fight and defeat Luther's forces and subdues Luthor who is arrested for treason. While Luthor is sentenced to death, Superman and Batman privately meet again and reflect that the world can use both of them to protect it, revealing their knowledge of each other's secret identities and their promise not to expose the other.
Style and themes
The story is set in the DC Universe but is non-canon, similar to an Elseworlds story. The content is divided into 60 chapters which mostly alternate between the (third person) points-of-view of the two protagonists, Batman/Bruce Wayne and Superman/Clark Kent, though several chapters follow antagonists (Lex Luthor and Soviet General Anatoly Ceridov). While the novel is based on comic book characters, it consists solely of prose. Anderson commented on the difficulty in writing comics as prose stating, "in the comics, several pages of superpowered action can propel the story, but when you read it in a book, it's not quite so interesting. You need more parts to the story..."
Anderson sought to capture the nostalgic feel of the 1950s. In this effort, he used several themes associated with the time period, including alien invasion movies, nuclear threats, Cold War paranoia, and optimism in the future. About the time period, Anderson said "it seemed like this was a time when you could say with a straight face, 'I'm fighting for truth, justice and the American way.'" For the characters Anderson was picturing George Reeves's Superman and Noel Neill's Lois Lane as portrayed in the 1950s television series Adventures of Superman. One reviewer noted that Anderson's portrayal of Lex Luthor is that of the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths amoral businessman and Batman was more reminiscent of a 1930s-style or a "Year One"-style Batman where he is actively pursued by the police.
Publication and reception
Enemies & Allies was published by William Morrow and Company, an imprint of HarperCollins. The novel was released as a hardcover in May 2009 and as a paperback in October 2010. Book reviewers had mixed reactions. The review in Publishers Weekly called it a "hokey, contrived imagining" of the team-up of Superman and Batman, concluding that it was "a schlocky mediocrity for die-hard fans only." Stacey Rottiers in Library Journal found Anderson's portrayal of Metropolis and Gotham City, as well as the "imposing feel of the Soviet presence" to be well done. Both the Publishers Weekly and Library Journal reviews noted flat characterization and recommended the novel to comic fans only. In Booklist, Carl Hays had a more positive review, writing "Anderson keeps us guessing throughout with clever plot twists and some intriguing alternate cold war history." The review in Kirkus Reviews was also positive, saying, "this is a refreshing diversion from the grimness of The Dark Knight or the tedious Superman Returns. Injects a welcome dose of retro exuberance into the capes-and-tights routine."
In May 2013, GraphicAudio released a full cast audiobook adaptation based on the novel, with 5 CDs and features a full cast, music, and sound effects.
- Radford, Bill (May 3, 2009). "Local author creates Batman-Superman back story". The Gazette. Colorado Springs, Colorado.
- O'Shea, Tim (May 4, 2009). "Talking Comics with Tim: Kevin J. Anderson". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved January 25, 2011.
- "Enemies & Allies". Kirkus Reviews. 77 (5): 48. March 1, 2009. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- Price, Matthew (June 5, 2009). "Cold War enemy links Wayne, Kent". The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City.
- Boughner, Bruce (November 15, 2010). "Enemies and Allies". Atlanta Examiner. Examiner.com.
- "Enemies & Allies". Publishers Weekly. 256 (10): 27. March 9, 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
- Rottiers, Stacey (May 2009). "Enemies & Allies". Library Journal. 134 (8): 69.
- Hays, Carl (April 2009). "Enemies & Allies". Booklist. 105 (15): 26.