By Leroy Douresseaux
April 30, 2009 - 06:47
|Enemies & Allies cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.
In his two-plus decades of writing, author Kevin J. Anderson has written tie-in novels set in the universe of the X-Files television series and has written numerous novels for the Star Wars Expanded Universe, including the Jedi Academy Trilogy. The Nebula Award nominee has also co-authored several Dune novels with Dune creator, Frank Herbert’s son, Brian Herbert – with another due this year in late summer. Anderson has written several original novels, including seven for his Saga of Seven Sun series.
Anderson, a comic book fan, wrote several of Dark Horse Comics’ Tales of the Jedi miniseries and also the six-issue JSA: Strange Adventures (1994) for DC Comics. Anderson also writes novels based on DC Comics characters and concepts. In 2007, HarperEntertainment released his The Last Days of Krypton, and next week sees the publication of Enemies & Allies. Set in the 1950s, this hardcover novel depicts Superman and Batman working as partners for the first time. Anderson answered some questions about Enemies & Allies for this Bin Q&A:
CBB: What is the basic plot of Enemies & Allies?
KJA: This novel tells of the first meeting between Superman and Batman, set in the 1950s during the height of the Cold War and the flying saucer craze. These are the early years of the two heroes, and both are curious about each other, even suspicious. Lex Luthor has been working on international tensions, secretly profiting greatly from the arms buildup, while Superman and Batman are trying to define themselves.
CBB: What’s your take on Superman, meaning how do you present him in the book? Is he different from the way you portrayed him in The Last Son of Krypton, and, if so, how?
KJA: Well, in THE LAST DAYS OF KRYPTON Kal-El is just a baby and is born at the very end of the novel, so there's a big difference in that he's an adult now! ENEMIES & ALLIES is very separate from the KRYPTON novel (which was really more of a science fiction epic than a superhero novel). Clark Kent is trying to come to terms with the responsibilities and expectations of being Superman, and the world doesn't quite know what to expect from him, and Clark has to face his struggles to be human, while being an alien inside.
CBB: I am a fan of the 1950s era Batman, the genial fellow who was like an uncle. I’m assuming that in Enemies & Allies, he’s the Dark Knight? How are you presenting him?
KJA: My Batman is dark and edgy, though not quite as dark as Frank Miller has often portrayed him. My main inspiration was from Miller's Batman: Year One and [Jeph] Loeb & [Tim] Sale's The Long Halloween. He's definitely not the jovial "Super Friends" Batman.
CBB: Viewing this as a writer rather than as a reader, what interests you about having Superman and Batman work as team? In the comic books of the 1950s, they were smiling pals, but I imagine that in your 1950s, they aren’t best buddies.
KJA: They are both heroes, and the reader knows that you want both Batman and Superman on your team...but they have polar opposite approaches to Law and Justice. Superman clings to the letter of the law and he trusts the system, while Batman knows that the system is often corrupt and that the letter of the law can be twisted to let the bad guys get off on a technicality. He's willing to bend the rules. They don't see eye to eye on tactics, even though they confront the same problem.
|Author's photo of Kevin J. Anderson
As individuals, too, they have fundamental differences. I think in his heart, Superman is really more comfortable being Clark Kent, while Bruce Wayne's *real* identity is Batman.
CBB: What is Lex Luthor like in this book, and what role does he play? Is he a super-villain or a super-wealthy and powerful man who is a villain?
KJA: To paraphrase an old Don Henley song ["Gimme What You Got" from The End of the Innocence, ed.], you can steal more money with the stroke of a pen than with a gun. In my novel, Luthor is the ultimate power broker, the man running things, completely in control, with the wealth and the genius to do it . . . And he wants to be viewed as the hero, the savior of humanity -- even though Superman always upstages him. He is cold, hard, sexist (it is the 1950s, after all), and ruthless.
CBB: You’re something of a superman yourself being a prolific author. So are you interested in writing more superhero novels either with existing characters or those of your own creation why or why not?
KJA: I am very much a fan of the comics and superheroes and have read them for years. LAST DAYS OF KRYPTON gave me a great opportunity to explore familiar and yet untapped areas of Superman lore. ENEMIES & ALLIES allowed me to turn two of our greatest icons into flesh and blood and breathe life into them.
I am prolific and I always have several stories in the works, just because my imagination keeps coming up with them. DC and I have already been talking about some ideas for the next novel, though we haven't firmly decided on anything yet. Even my backburner is rather crowded at the moment.
CBB: Is there any other upcoming work to which you want to alert readers?
KJA: In June, the first book of my "Terra Incognita" fantasy trilogy will be released, THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, all about sailing ships, Sea Monsters, and the Crusades. It's my best work, I think, very epic and engaging. As a unique aspect, we're also producing a crossover rock CD with lyrics written by myself and my wife, music by Erik Norlander, with performances by James LaBrie (Dream Theater), John Payne (Asia), Michael Sadler (Saga), as well as David Ragsdale (the violinist from Kansas), Gary Wehrkamp (the guitarist from Shadow Gallery), and others. You can read more about the book and listen to sample tracks at www.myspace.com/kjaterraincognita or on my own website, www.wordfire.com.
Enemies & Allies (William Morrow, 9780061662553, $26.99) goes on sale, Tues., May 5th.
Read the first few chapters here.