Adapted by Stan Berkowitz, based on The World’s Finest.
In every superhero team, there comes a point where that team becomes hunted by the government and/or other superheroes. So it’s important for that team to use their version of it to show why they’re the best superhero team. And with superheroes, suspension of disbelief is the most important thing. If we can’t believe that what’s happening is really happening, we don’t care for the characters or their attempt to escape from official imprisonment.
In Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Lex Luthor somehow becomes President, and uses the opportunity to register all metahumans as either working for him or… public enemies. And throughout the story, Superman and Batman are the only heroes not to start working for him. Which means, in their fugitive state, they encounter just about every secondary DC character there is, to the point that you begin to wonder what the odds are of only Superman and Batman not trusting Luthor. That is to say, do these people even know the significance of Superman? He was the first superhero to begin operating publically, he allowed the public to have the confidence of trusting the others. So his nemesis becomes President, and they accept that? Are these heroes really so dense as to not see the problem with that? And apart from anything, it’s the battles that are the most confusing. With these kind of characters, their powers are what create the odds of victory in battle. It’s like manga, where each character has their own, respectable level of abilities that influence the outcome of a match. For example, Superman’s weakness is Kryptonite. Okay. So… what’s the limit with that? Because it seems that Superman can survive any amount of Kryptonite. Is it really fatal to him, or just an inconvenience? He fights varying levels of it through the narrative and reacts in the same way every time. There’s no consistency, and that’s essential in a story that’s basically a series of set piece fighting matches.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies may have an interesting idea behind it, but it doesn’t really go anywhere with that idea, instead using it as an opportunity for, like all DC Animated Original Movies, tonnes of fights. The previews and special features constantly show us writers talking about the emotional side of characters, and they function psychologically, but none of that comes across in this series. Which I’ve now finished, so I’ll be moving on to other things in no particular way. Which is the best method, really, because it’s good to have variety.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies – wasted potential as meaningless fights. 5/10