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A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 205

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at probably the most memorable Lex Luthor moment from John Byrne’s run on the title…

Here’s the story – this was a back-up story in Superman #9, written and drawn by John Byrne. Now, twenty odd years later, this backup might not be as well known, but let me tell you, in the late 80s and early 90s, this was an extremely well known moment.

Anyhow, here it is…

“The” moment, of course, is when we get the twist that Luthor is just doing this to screw with her for kicks.

Great moment of pure villainy by Luthor.

33 Comments

What’s Kitty Pryde doing in Metropolis?

Indecent Proposal wouldn’t even come out for a handful of years but Luthor was already doing some mind games along the same line. And they say that John Byrne just plain doesn’t have respect for women…

That “I own 90 percent of the state” is a lot less impressive now that we know that the state in question is Delaware.

Back when this came out, the late Don Thompson compared Byrne’s Luthor to the post Born Again Kingpin over in Daredevil. If Wilson Fisk wanted to sound tough, he’d order that someone break a child’s legs. Whereas Luthor would mess with your mind and leave you feeling like crap about yourself. Thompson thought Byrne had the clearer approach.

Eventually though, most of the pre-Crisis mad scientist Lex returned, and nowadays he looks more like Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville than Byrne’s chunkier version.

The Crazed Spruce

July 25, 2009 at 4:27 am

Lex Luthor is a bastard. A magnificent bastard, mind you, but a bastard nonetheless.

Y’know, I could probably come up with at least a dozen great moments from Byrne’s Superman run. (Three of ‘em from Superman #2 alone, although now that I think about it, one might be from #3. Haven’t actually read those books in years.) Can’t wait to see which one you pull out next.

That “I own 90 percent of the state” is a lot less impressive now that we know that the state in question is Delaware.

I’d take it.

Great scene. If this scene were to occur under Didio’s DC, Byrne would have been required to work in the senseless gratuitously violent death of a C-lister somewhere in the sequence.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 25, 2009 at 6:23 am

If Lex Luthor is a “magnificent bastard” (The Crazed Spruce’s words), then Lionel Luthor (John Glover of Smallville) was a “glorious bastard” — his words, not mine.

In a sense, we’re all “inglourious basterds”, either in spirit or in heart. ;-)

Mike Loughlin

July 25, 2009 at 6:53 am

I think it’s funny that Jenny’s co-worker’s name is “Assie.”

(Yes, I know what it really says. I just read it as “Assie” first. Maybe her last name is “Flicker.”)

Ethan Shuster

July 25, 2009 at 7:19 am

I really wish the we had a full reboot of a Superman movie with Lex as the evil businessman. May the comics and even cartoon felt it ran its course, but I still think the decision to change Luthor’s character that way was one of the greatest ideas of the Post-Crisis reboot.

This is pretty much the highlight of Byrne’s excellent run on SUPERMAN and maybe his career as a writer-artist.

It is great on every level. Notice how big the panels are on the first page. There are four big images, including two close-ups. That gives Jenny the Waitress room to push back against the table. Then, Byrne tightens to nine panels for the “let me tell you the story of your life” sequence. Then, at the top of the fourth page, we get a long panel to convey Luthor’s dramatic exit.

Just a brilliant way to “pace” the proposition.

The long exit panel is repeated at the end with Jenny the Waitress looking out at the eponymous sign and Luthor laughing in the back of his limo. The germ of great work Michael Rosenbaum would do as the young Luthor is here as well. With the relaxed open body language Luthor shows in his first few moments with Jenny the Waitress. What hard could someone so nice possibly do?

@ Ross

What’s Kitty Pryde doing in Metropolis?

That may be deliberate. Notice the X-Men logo in panel 5 of page 2? The no-smoking sign turns into the X-logo at the exact moment Luthor offers “Kitty Pryde” a million dollars.

@ Dean / Ross
This is one of Byrne’s problems: he always draws the same faces. One might have fun searching for more lookalikes. Steve Rogers/Johnny Storm is just the first example that comes to mind.

Even so, he’s great.

Easily one of my favorite Luthor moments, and it shows you don’t need meaningless death or cussing to show a good amount of villiany.

What’s Sarah Palin doing in Metropolis?

This is one of Byrne’s problems: he always draws the same faces. One might have fun searching for more lookalikes. Steve Rogers/Johnny Storm is just the first example that comes to mind.

Even so, he’s great.

To be fair, 95% of pencillers are guilty of this. It just stands out more with Byrne because his one face is so distinctive.

that moment showed how good Byrne was on superman and showed how much of a twisted nasty bastard Lex really is to tempt the woman with an indecent proposal then when she is getting closer to giving i he splits proving why luthor is one of the best villians dc has

that moment showed how good Byrne was on superman and showed how much of a twisted nasty bastard Lex really is to tempt the woman with an indecent proposal then when she is getting closer to giving i he splits proving why luthor is one of the best villians dc has

The thing about Byrne’s Lex is that he shows why Marvel’s KINGPIN is such a great villain, since that is basically what Byrne was writing. To me, the real Lex Luthor will always be a mad scientist. But I agree the Kingpin pseudo-Luthor is more fun to read.

The thing about Byrne’s Lex is that he shows why Marvel’s KINGPIN is such a great villain, since that is basically what Byrne was writing. To me, the real Lex Luthor will always be a mad scientist. But I agree the Kingpin pseudo-Luthor is more fun to read.

Both the Kingpin and Lex Luthor became bald power brokers in ret-cons over twenty years ago. Miller brought that angle to the Kingpin in 1981 and Byrne brought it Luthor in 1986. However, Marv Wolfman had been pitching his “Citizen Lex” take on Luthor for years and Frank Miller had originally wanted to use his mob boss pulling the strings take on the Kingpin for the Penguin.

Anyway, I think that it is fair to say that neither idea was the original version of the character, both were pretty clearly inspired by “The Godfather” and that they have some superficial similarities. However, arguing that this scene has anything to do with Kingpin is a bit like saying a scene from the Benids-Maleev DAREDEVIL shows what an awesome character Batman is. After all, both are non-powered characters who trained in martial arts and Batman was published first …

For one thing, Wilson Fisk was intensely devoted to his wife. The strength of their connection was a key aspect of more than one Daredevil story. It is hard to imagine that guy hitting on a random waitress. For another, Fisk is deeply (albeit perversely) honorable. Matt Murdoch and Fisk are constantly striking deals that are premised on the idea that they may hate each other, but neither would break a deal. That is exactly what Luthor does here.

If anything, Byrne wrote this story to show how his Luthor was unlike the Kingpin. To me, he did a great job in exactly that.

I think Luthor works best as kind of a hybrid of businessman and mad scientist, as when it’s implied that he doesn’t personally get his hands dirty on every project, but understands perfectly everything his scientists tell him, and that his scientific brilliance helped make the company what it is. This is a balance that’s only occasionally been struck properly (personally I think Byrne often took it too far in the strict businessman direction).
Byrne’s best change was in fact leaving Ma and Pa alive into Clark’s adulthood (and the reality of “Clark” as a person).

All of Byrne’s females look slightly deranged.

(Also, this bit made me appreciate Dini/Timm’s Luthor vastly more by comparison.)

This is the story that made Lex a “real” bad guy. In the Silver-Age it had always seemed that the only bad things Lex ever did involved an attempt on Superman’s life. It had even been suggested more than a few times that if Superman died Lex would become a hero because he would no longer have a reason to be a villian. In this story we see Lex be an evil bastich in a situation that has absolutely nothing to do with Superman. About time, I say!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

July 26, 2009 at 10:06 pm

So ‘tomorrow’ only costs a buck, eh?

dam all that money and lex still bought his suits at sears….

The thing is that it’s so needlessly petty and cruel. He had no motivation other than it gave him pleasure to bring pain to someone else. It didn’t profit him a red cent or add anything to his power. It was amusing. Nothing More. Nothing Less. It shows that he can’t have a cup of coffee without making someone else feel small, and therefore make himself feel bigger.

Its also right after another humiliation at the hands of Superman in the story that preceeded it, yes? So its even better as it works as an epilogue, showing Lex needing the self-affirmation of losing to a god by reminding himself that he is, in his fashion, one, at liberty to play with life.

One of the best Luthor moments. Too bad they’re reverting to his boring pre-Crisis version more and more each day (“Superboy is jealous of me and made me go bald! Waaaah! I’ll try to take over the world as revenge!”)

That “I own 90 percent of the state” is a lot less impressive now that we know that the state in question is Delaware.

There’s nowhere in Delaware that could be 900 miles from Metropolis. Indeed, 900 miles from Wilmington would be in Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, or somewhere in Canada.

[…] y que en esta ocasión tengo el gusto de hacerlo con todos ustedes, la pueden encontrar aquí: “Metropolis – 900 Miles” . En síntesis, la historia ubica a Lex Luthor en un “diner” de gasolinera sobre la […]

[…] tale is the embodiment of Lex Luthor: biggest dick in the universe. The story (click here): Lex goes to a small town dinner and offers the waitress a million dollars to spend one month with […]

I just read through this with Clancy Brown’s Lex Luthor voice in my head. It is fabulous. Bruce Timm and Co. need to give this the “For the Man Who Has Everything” treatment. Does anyone know if they have?

Chris P. Bacon

April 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm

This story in a live-action movie would get critics’ attention and would have the potential to be a landmark scene in American cinema. Christopher Nolan ought to be aware of this story.

The only thing that bugs me is that almost nowhere is there a road sign for a place so far away. Certainly other major cities that are closer would be on the sign instead.

[…] the strength and energy that he brings to good Mr. Luthor. Page two, in particular, reminds me of a classic Luthor moment that I recently rediscovered and, as such, channels something of the same awe-inspiring superiority […]

This should be how Luthor is introduced in Man of Steel 2/World’s Finest. It would be a killer introduction.

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