Team-ups are nothing new in comics. We've seen Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Spider-Man/Wolverine, Avengers/JLA, and the most recognized team-up has to be Batman/Superman. Their teaming up stretches back to the 1940s when the series World’s Finest debuted. The series lasted until 1986 with 323 issues and had Batman, Superman, and members of their “family” teaming up in the pages of that series. In 2003 the series was re-launched as Superman/Batman and has had the duo teaming up to fight alternate versions of themselves, reintroduced Supergirl, and dealt with the heroes switching powers and more over its current 60+ issue run.
The series kicked off with a six-issue storyline entitled “Public Enemies” which saw President Lex Luthor (yup, Superman’s arch-nemesis was voted President in the DC universe prior to the series launch) cleaning up the economy and getting the heroes to work for him. However there are two who don’t believe that Luthor has reformed — Superman and Batman. To get the “World’s Finest” in line, Luthor has Metallo killed, frames Superman for it, and then places a billion dollar bounty on The Man of Steel’s head.
Batman starts to investigate who is actually responsible for Metallo’s death and he and Superman have to face off against what seems like half of the super-powered characters of the DC universe including Shazam, Hawkman, Power Girl, Mongul, Solomon Grundy, Silver Banshee, and many, many more. Highlights of the comic and movie are the brawl of Superman versus dozens of characters and Batman outsmarting some characters who are much stronger than he is.
The film adapts the storyline very faithfully, down to writer Jeph Loeb’s dialogue and artist Ed McGuiness’s style. Jeph Loeb has said in the past that he saw each storyline as a big blockbuster epic, which is why this story was chosen to adapt. Understandably scenes and characters had to be cut for time, but it was great seeing all the A, B, and C-list characters making appearances to collect Luthor’s bounty. This also sees the return of Tim Daly to voice Superman, Clancy Brown reprising his role as Luthor, and Kevin Conroy as the quintessential Batman. Fans have been asking when Daly and Conroy would reprise their roles and the timing was right for them to return.
There are two versions of the standard DVD. The first is a single disc which has the film, a featurette about the current DC mini-series “Blackest Night” where the dead come back to life with black lanterns and Green Lantern Corps, plus the entire DC universe must deal with friends and enemies back from the dead.
There are also four featurettes on previously released direct-to-DVD films which include Wonder Woman, Justice League: New Frontier, and Green Lantern: First Flight. All five featurettes have been on previous DVDs so these aren’t unfamiliar to owners of the previous films.
Fans of the film should pick up the two-disc special edition, which in addition to the film and the five featurettes previously mentioned has new extras on the second disc.
“A Test of Minds” has various people from DC Comics analyzing The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight. They discuss what makes them tick, what the differences are between the two heroes as well as the similarities and how their upbringing shaped their identities.
“Dinner with DC Universe and Special Guest Kevin Conroy” if you’ve ever seen IFC’s Dinner for Five which features actor/director Jon Favreau and four actors, writers, etc sitting around a table having dinner and talking about whatever they’d like. This featurette seems to be based on that, with Kevin Conroy (voice of Batman), voice/casting director Andrea Romano, producer Bruce Timm, and Senior Vice-President of Creative Affairs Gregory Noveck talking about Batman. This is the best extra of the bunch, with Conroy talking about his time as Batman, what happened when some kids he was working with found out he was Batman and insisted he appear as Batman for their Halloween party and everyone talking about working in animation before Batman: The Animated Series debuted and the series they’ve worked on since then.
“First Look at Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” as the title indicates it’s a sneak peek at the next DC Universe film where the Justice League discover a parallel universe and must battle their counterparts who are supervillains called the Syndicate.
Wrapping things up are two Superman: The Animated Series episodes picked by Bruce Timm. He chose The Demon Reborn” and “Knight Time” which, continuing the theme of the movie, are two episodes where Batman and Superman team up.
DC continues its success of direct to DVD films which include adaptations and new stories of their beloved characters. Public Enemies doesn’t disappoint and Crisis on Two Earths looks great too. Hopefully we can look forward to years of new DVDs. I just wish they would come out a bit more frequently, but I’d rather have quality over quantity if this is the end result.