So Superman had his 75th birthday this year and what better way to celebrate it than to review one of his best stories? Well, one his greatest villains best stories. Lex Luthor was always the human with a genius level intellect that dared to stand up to the god like Kryptonian Kal-El with a variety of gadgets, robots, and other elaborate plans. He has often been portrayed as a selfish madman who would destroy whole continents to create expensive real estate, and an egotistical master criminal who believes that he is superior and deserves all forty cakes. That’s as many as four tens, and that’s terrible. This story looks at a different side of Luthor and attempts to explain his unconditional hate for Superman. Lex Luthor: Man of Steel is a 2005 miniseries, collected as a hardcover named LUTHOR, written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo showcasing Luthor’s own struggles against the man of steel.
The story starts off as a day in the life of Lex Luthor, as he deals with Lexcorp’s problems as well as a few of his own. Lexcorp is busy producing a new building, called the Science Spire, while also creating a superhuman like android named Hope. These things later tie into a plot for Luthor to attempt to take down the "Man of Steel’s" public image. When something goes wrong with his plans he usually calls upon his henchman Orr to deal with it. Luthor voices his views of the "Man of Steel" quite often in this comic. You can’t really argue with him, he has some great points, and it all seems justified. He also gets Bruce Wayne on his side after meeting with him in Gotham City about how the Wayne foundation could help with Lexcorp’s project Hope. I always enjoy the Lexcorp/ Wayne Enterprises meetings. It makes me think that Batman keeps his eye on Luthor while Luthor keeps his eye on Batman. He explains to Bruce that he could turn on us at any time and it has happened quite a few times in different continuities, the most recent being Injustice: Gods Among Us.
When Hope is finished production, she starts doing heroic acts and winning the People of Metropolis’ hearts while also having a romantic relationship with Luthor. Nobody can resist that shiny bald head of his, not even robots. The relationship does feel a tad bit strange considering what happens later on, but it somehow works. I guess when you are extremely proud of your achievement; you just have to have sex with it. This relationship makes Luthor’s assistant Mona jealous, causing a bit of drama between them, which wasn’t needed but Luthor’s backlash is what makes it fun to read. With Hope being shown to the public, the topic of “selling a hero” comes up but doesn’t get fully explored. The Toyman is also a part of this story, as much as Orr and Mona, which is pretty neat seeing as how he is a bit underused nowadays. He is used to further Luthor’s plot by blowing something up. Everyone likes explosions.
So with Luthor putting his so called plan into action it ties together all of the events leading up to it. The end of this comic really shows how far Luthor will go and how much he is willing to give up trying to take down Superman. What really gets to me about it are a few things that Luthor says directly to Superman.
Lex Luthor, the main character of this comic, is the owner of Lexcorp and an egotistical genius. He often does things that look good on the surface, but have an ulterior motive for personal gain. He only really cares about getting things done, but does seem to genuinely care about Hope even though she is just another of his creations. Hope is a bit like Pinocchio, she thinks she is a real human, but is artificial. She doesn’t have the nose that grows with lies or a best friend cricket though. Her happiness comes from Luthor’s kindness and support for her, and she loves him for that. If only he would feel the same for Mona. You can’t help but sympathize with Mona. She spends all day looking pretty for Luthor as his assistant, but he doesn’t even care and treats her like an obedient dog. She truly cares for Luthor, but hates that he pushes her away to the point where she becomes fed up with it.
Even though Orr is just a henchman, he feels like a great addition to the story. He goes around doing all the dirty work for Luthor, who pays him quite a bit for it. He is pretty sarcastic and just doesn’t really give a shit about much more than getting paid and himself. So I guess he is sort of a dick. His ridiculing of Toyman throughout their meet ups really shows it. Toyman, also known as Winslow Schott, is a criminal who uses his knowledge of mechanics to create deadly toys to carry out villainous plots. He is antisocial and loves children, maybe a bit too much. In this comic he is in the process of being rehabilitated when Luthor hires him to carry out part of his plan.
If you’re wondering about Superman in this story, he only speaks a few lines, but makes them count. He serves as Luthor’s motivation to do what he planned to do. He also goes around serving Truth, Justice, and The American Way to some criminals. His encounter with Batman is pretty interesting, as it shows him putting Batman in his place. Superman flies to Gotham to confiscate a gift that Luthor gave to Bruce. I bet you can all guess what that gift is. So Bruce Wayne, Batman, is in this, and apparently has not met Superman yet. He is the young eccentric billionaire Bruce Wayne by day, justice bringing Batman by night. His first encounter with Superman in this comic makes him untrustworthy of the "Man of Steel" and ends up agreeing with Luthor’s views of him, so much for World’s Finest.
This comic collected as a hardcover is 144 pages of bald shenanigans. The story spans across five issues and the hardcover throws in an additional ten pages of story. The art is beautifully done by Lee Bermejo; it does a great job of showing emotion through facial expressions and has a great style to it. The color also does a great job of setting the mood for the panels, whose layout is nicely done as well with no confusion on which panel to jump to next or which speech bubble to read first. The writing and story is great and takes you for a pretty interesting ride that hardly ever has a dull moment. The pacing of the story can be a tad bit slow at times, mostly when Luthor is thinking to himself, but this is done to go more in depth with Luthor’s life. It usually speeds up whenever another part of the plan is put into action or whenever Superman decides to come in. The comic gives readers a good bit of content and has something in it to please almost everyone. There are a couple different references to other characters in the DC universe. Poison Ivy is seen at the restaurant where Bruce and Luthor meet, and Joker can be seen in a Gotham newspaper. This gives the readers a feeling that the story is much larger in scale and not just Batman/Superman dealing with Lex while everyone else in the DC universe is either locked up or hiding in their secret lair. I always thought that was kind of lame when stories get that linear and only involve hero and villain, so that was a nice not to have that.
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel is a great comic that any fan of Superman or Lex Luthor should check out. It even has some things for Batman fans as well, especially fans of the comic Joker, which was written and illustrated by the same people who worked on this one. The writing by Brian Azzarello is great; it really gives readers a better insight on the man Lex Luthor. The art by Lee Bermejo is beautiful; it displays the story very well and is also very nice to look at. Together these things make a great comic.