Book Review: Enemies and Allies
I’ve had very mixed results when purchasing books on a whim. I’ll see a flashy cover or read an exciting description and decide to buy a book even though I have never heard of it. Sometimes the book is a true gem and sometimes it’s a disappointment that sits on my shelf to collect dust. I picked up Enemies and Allies because I’ve always been a fan of Superman and I had rarely read a book with him, or Batman, as the main character. The end result, I’m happy to say, is that this book is indeed a gem.
The story is set in a 1950s America where two heroes have just recently come into the public eye. One of them, a silent shadow, labeled as a vigilante in Gotham city, and the other a mysterious man in blue flying around Metropolis. Most people will be familiar with Superman and Batman’s back story, and while this novel doesn’t go too deeply into their origins, it does chronicle the beginning of each superhero’s career and how they were establishing their place in the saving-the-world business. Among all of this there is the looming threat of the cold war and the battle between LutherCorp and Wayne Enterprises for contracts with the U. S. Military. And if that wasn’t enough, the fear of a potential alien invasion is leaking into the minds of Americans.
This book does a great job of re-creating not only the super heroes in their heyday, but an era where certain mindsets and technologies were the norm. The bat plane may not seem as advanced to us today, but back in the fifties it was well beyond the public scope of what could be done.
I found it interesting that I began reading the book because of my interest in Superman, but ended up really enjoying the book because of Batman. While I did enjoy Superman’s chapters, there was a level of keen intelligence and intricate planning on Bruce Wayne’s part that made his character a joy to read. Even after he meets the Man of Steel he isn’t about to rely on those mysterious powers to help him out of a jam. He’s a resourceful character and it shows in everything he does and helps reinforce why he is a hero that can stand toe to toe with Superman.
The book isn’t as detailed as some on the market. You won’t find page after page of description or exposition. Instead the book jumps right into the action and rarely slows down. In essence, this matches the feel of a comic book. It isn’t trying to be a deep literary analysis of Superman and Batman, it’s supposed to be a fun story that reminds us why we need superheroes and in that regard this book excels. Kevin J. Anderson is faithful to the lore of both heroes, arguably combining elements from all incarnations of each man, and creates an engaging story that is a lot of fun. I certainly recommend this book to comic book fans as well as fans of super heroes.
Score: 4 out of 5