web stats

CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 215

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 an interesting Lex Luthor moment from early in John Byrne’s Superman run…

Okay, so in Superman #2 (written and drawn by John Byrne), Lex Luthor has been doing a mysterious project and it involved computers and information gleamed from Lana Lang, who Luthor knows has SOME connection to Superman (and through Lana, they got information from Ma and Pa Kent, as they figure that Clark Kent must also have connection to Superman).

So we get the reveal of the project…

This was a very nice piece of characterization of Luthor by Byrne (well, a nice piece of characterization for Byrne’s Luthor, at the very least).

37 Comments

ahhhhh fat lex.
only second to red-headed bearded step-child clone luthor in my book.

I like how Byrne recognizes the most crucial reason why people don’t figure out Superman’s secret identity; most people don’t know Superman has a secret identity.

[…] Lex Luthor moment made today’s “A Year of Cool Comic Moments” over at Comics Should be Good!.  It was too […]

Byrne went to great lengths to make his Luthor different – older, fatter, a respected businessman in a nice suit – but still had him hanging out in a traditional secluded evil-villain lair, complete with floaty high-tech throne. A is A and Luthor is Luthor.

John Byrne was on fire in those first issues of Superman. In sixteen panels, he notified readers that the hoary cliche of everyone scrambling to find the secret identity of the Man of Steel was being retired. As a bonus, he did it wrapped inside some nice character work on Lex without underlining the point with exposition.

Yeah – This is top quality Byrne. I’m not really sure how some people can read this and still claim that his Fantastic Four run was better.

man the kingpin should really lighten up

The Crazed Spruce

August 4, 2009 at 1:12 am

I was hoping this moment would make the list.

Byrne’s “Superman” run was one of my favourites, and this was one of my favourite moments from that run. A classic moment if ever there was one.

Man that is some ham-handed use of technology, right there.

Yeah – in the days of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64s, stories in which computers clicked and whirred when they had to think too hard were laughable. Now with us all on PCs (and the occasional Mac) I find that they actually do do that.

That is the silliest thing I have ever read.
This is the first cool comic book moment that has disappointed me : (

Is this the same issue with the mis-colored boob as flesh tone with no nipple?

I like how Byrne recognizes the most crucial reason why people don’t figure out Superman’s secret identity; most people don’t know Superman has a secret identity.

What do you mean Byrne “recognized” the reason? He created that reason! It makes sense, sure, but before he came up with it the crucial reason people didn’t figure out Superman’s identity was really, really big suspension of disbelief.

Great moment from a great run. Byrne’s Superman is still “my” Superman and the first Superman comics that I read with any regularity. Byrne just got everything so damn right, in my opinion, and his Luthor is still the best ever. I really hate how every single thing Byrne meticulously built has been systematically dismantled by DC.

I know that many disagree, but I feel Superman was never better than the period between the Man of Steel mini and Byrne’s departure. It was such an exciting time to be reading Superman comics and I eagerly awaited each issue of Superman and Action Comics (both with Byrne on writing and art) and Adventures of Superman (with first Marv Wolfman, then Byrne writing and Jerry Ordway doing his usual superb artwork). There was such dynamism, intelligence and consistency all across the Superman line that is sorely lacking now.

And, yes, I even thought Byrne’s Superman stories were better than Alan Moore’s Superman stories.

This is one of the best Superman moments ever. I always loved how Lex essentially thrust his own ego on Clark, assuming someone as “powerful” as he was would also be as egotistical. LOVE. IT.

Businessman Luthor was actually developed by Wolfman, not Byrne. IIRC, he wanted to do it pre-Crisis, but was shot down. So, he then came up with the infamous exo-skeleton suit, soon to be on prime display in the animated Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, based on the storyline that effectively ended this version of Luthor.

Regardless, this is a cool moment by Byrne.

loved how lex even when given the data that a mere mortal as lex puts it clark is superman he refuses to belive it and says get rid of the data its false. proving John showed luthor may be smart but can be also blind when it comes to certain information presented to him as plan as the nose on his face that plus loved lex looking like the kingpin

Byrne’s Superman is still “my” Superman and the first Superman comics that I read with any regularity. Byrne just got everything so damn right, in my opinion, and his Luthor is still the best ever. I really hate how every single thing Byrne meticulously built has been systematically dismantled by DC.

I grew up on the Maggin-Swan version of Superman and Byrne was a huge breath of fresh air. It was one of those moments that get you excited about comics again. Sadly, Byrne made three mistakes in his reboot from which I wish subsequent rebooters would learn:

1. Unlike Miller and Mazzucelli’s “Batman: Year One”, “Man of Steel” was not focused on a single story. Miller zeroed in on the relationship between Gordon and Batman. He made sure that Harvey Dent was developed as a key ally. Everything in the story was done in service to those goals. That gave Miller the room to build a world around Bruce Wayne. In contrast, Byrne tried to squeeze everything into “Man of Steel”. The paradox is that it hones the spotlight so closely on the characters being featured that it makes Metropolis seem smaller than Gotham. There was less for later creators to re-visit and expand upon.
2. Byrne threw the baby out with the bath water. The contrast with “What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” was just brutal. Alan Moore did the reverse of Miller. He pushed his main story into the background and distracted the reader with a barrage of clever and often affectionate cameos. The reader does not even notice until the end that the Lois-Clark-Lana triangle was resolved in a touching a powerful way. Byrne swept aside all of that in “Man of Steel” just at the moment at which the public appetite for stories featuring, say, Krypto was at a thirty-year peak. Byrne called the Weisinger elements “barnacles” and dismissed them, rather than thinking about why they were there. Some of the cuts were good and some bad, but there was little distinction made between the two.
3. Byrne was prickly and defensive about the whole exercise. It gave you the feeling that he thought that he had done something wrong. That reinforced the impression in the mind of those so inclined that something like Clark’s career as Superboy was absolutely essential and that the reboot was a horrible travesty.

Points #2 and #3 have combined to take us to where we are now. There is an equally heedless embrace of absolutely everything that Byrne discarded and a foolish dismissal of everything that he created. It is a shame.

Dean, I agree with you on #1. Disagree on #2, Moore did not resolve Lois and Superman in a touching way. Superman is a sniveling coward who lets his friends die on his behalf while he cowers inside, admits he strung along Lana Lang all these years just because he was too chicken to hurt anyone’s feelings, even as Lana is dying on his behalf, and once Lana Lang makes his choice easy by getting herself killed protecting him, Superman now is free to get with Lois because he’s now “off the hook” by virtue of Lana getting killed. Killed protecting Superman. The guy who strung her along out of cowardice. Superman in that story is as brave and courageous as that douchey guy who breaks up with chicks using text messages. Nothing touching to me about how they end up together. Came across self-absorbed and callous.

As far as #3 goes, I remember in the fan press Byrne got a lot of grief over his choices, so I guess I can understand why he was prickly and defensive, but I do think it shouldn’t show in the actual written stories.

I never bought the excuse that Byrne wrote for Luthor not believing the revelation of Superman being Clark.
To me, it always felt like a cop-out.
I remember reading it, back when it came out, and I actually yelled at the comic “Oh, come on!!!”
Even someone as highly egotistical and devious as Byrne’s Lex would be able to appreciate the scientific data enough to at least go forward and test the conclusion.
Nope…it didn’t sit well with me then and it still doesn’t sit well with me now.

I think I preferred it when it was explained, in the Pre-COIE era, that no one had a clue about Supes/Clark because he used a form of unconscious mind control to make everyone see him differently when he was Clark.

Disagree on #2, Moore did not resolve Lois and Superman in a touching way. Superman is a sniveling coward who lets his friends die on his behalf while he cowers inside, admits he strung along Lana Lang all these years just because he was too chicken to hurt anyone’s feelings, even as Lana is dying on his behalf, and once Lana Lang makes his choice easy by getting herself killed protecting him, Superman now is free to get with Lois because he’s now “off the hook” by virtue of Lana getting killed. Killed protecting Superman. The guy who strung her along out of cowardice. Superman in that story is as brave and courageous as that douchey guy who breaks up with chicks using text messages. Nothing touching to me about how they end up together. Came across self-absorbed and callous.

I am not going to try to argue you into enjoying “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” It has a pretty secure place among Superman stories and every story has its detractors.

What I will say is that a perfect, all-knowing and all-powerful Space Jesus is pretty much impossible as a protagonist. It is literally impossible to write stories about a character like that. As a result, Superman has pretty much never been depicted that way in any kind of sustained way. Creators need to decide what flaws and limitations are the most plausible, interesting and easily supported by what earlier creators have written. Moore arrived at the same issue that turns up in all my favorite versions of the story: his love life.

There is something both compelling and relatable about a guy that can change the course of mighty rivers, but struggles with a 125-lb woman. Outside the superhero bubble, “Mad Men” is a great variation on that theme. Don Draper is Superman at Sterling-Cooper, but inevitably turns into Clark Kent with his wife and various girlfriends. Women went wild for Mr. Big on “Sex and the City” that was yet another variation on the theme of hyper-competent, alpha male who does not quite know his own heart. It is a pretty typical predicament on a smaller scale.

That is what makes the version of Lex Luthor did such an interesting antagonist. Lex always knows what he wants. In the scene above, he knows what he wants to such an extreme degree that he completely ignores Superman’s secret identity.

Luthor’s conclusion (“Such power is to be constanly exploited. Such power is to be used!!”) doesn’t even make much sense. Granted, Superman has only been on the scene briefly at this point, but his altruism should already have been fairly obvious to someone as gifted as Lex.

What I will say is that a perfect, all-knowing and all-powerful Space Jesus is pretty much impossible as a protagonist. It is literally impossible to write stories about a character like that. As a result, Superman has pretty much never been depicted that way in any kind of sustained way.

Yes, I agree, but you’re creating a false choice. Just because I don’t want a sniveling, moral coward or wuss who lets his friends die on his behalf as a heroic protaganist doesn’t mean I want Space Jesus either, or that those are the only two available choices.

Yes, I agree, but you’re creating a false choice. Just because I don’t want a sniveling, moral coward or wuss who lets his friends die on his behalf as a heroic protaganist doesn’t mean I want Space Jesus either, or that those are the only two available choices.

Like I said, there is no point in arguing about “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” It worked for me and it didn’t for you. It is like pizza. I can’t defend it, because it is impossible to imagine not liking it.

Yes, I agree, but you’re creating a false choice. Just because I don’t want a sniveling, moral coward or wuss who lets his friends die on his behalf as a heroic protaganist doesn’t mean I want Space Jesus either, or that those are the only two available choices.

The caveat about the work of Alan Moore aside, I accept that there are many choices when it comes to Superman. In my opinion, Space Jesus is the worst version of Superman and mad scientist guy is the worst version of Lex Luthor.

This reminds me…
The fact that Luthor learned Clark’s idenity (again) when he became president…was that ever resolved? Did the “Public Enemies” story just wash it away via its “Aaaaand now Luther’s totally nuts” climax?

Casey,

Superman had been around for years by the time of Superman (vol 2) #2. Much of Man of Steel occurred in the past, but everything from Superman #1 was in the present. For example, in Action Superman teamed with The New Teen Titans. Dick Grayson had already gone from circus kid to Robin to Nightwing by this point.

As for altruism, keep in mind that this was a Lex who gave millions to charity all the time. He did it to keep up appearances and maintain an image. It was all a means to acquire more power. That’s how he saw Superman’s heroism; simply as a means to an end.

Luthor lost the knowledge during the Ending Battle storyline, Jeff.

Manchester Black gave him the info and later took it away from him (it was all part of his plan to push Superman to the point where he’d be so messed up that he’d be willing to kill Black, proving to Black that even Superman could be pushed to the point of snapping).

I was extremely disappointed with that issue.
I was never a big Superman fan, so I was intrigued by the Man of Steel mini and what it could mean–so I checked out some early Superman comics after the mini–and I have to say this issue was a big letdown, it was such a cop out.

It comes across as a bigger cop out than the lame way Superman got out of Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane knowing identity in the 50’s/60’s.

Lex should have taken it seriously and then we could see Superman deal with that–not in the flippant way earlier stories did, where protecting his identity was the most important thing in the world–but in a very real way where Lex could strike at all Clark holds dear, and then has to protect his parents & friends in the midst of some bigger struggle going on. He could face global & personal crises together.

If Byrne had done that & then copped out–I could have respected that, as Supes would have gone through a struggle, and been involved.

This was a throw away story of zero consequence.

I loved this issue and thought Luthor’s reaction hysterical. I also thought it made perfect sense. Let’s face it, if there had never been fictional super-heroes and Superman lived in the real world, people would not be looking at guys in glasses to determine if he’s Superman in disguise. And most people never get a good enough look at Superman to see the similarity when they meet Clark and even those that do would be like “wow, you kinda look like Superman” and Clark would say “thanks, I think.”

The only reason why Clarks disguise shouldn’t work is because he and Superman have the same friends. Silver St. Cloud recognized Bruce beneath the cowl the first time she got a good look at Batman. Maybe no one else would have, but she and Bruce were very close at that time. Lois should have been able to see through the glasses, Jimmy too, for that matter. They simply spent to much quality time with both Clark and Superman to not see it.

As a follow-up, you need to post Byrne’s parody of this issue from “What The?” #2.

Victor Von Doom presents to Lex Luthor irrefutable evidence that Clark Kent is Superman. Luthor laughs and explains that a man with Superman’s abilities could not humble himself by pretending to be a normal person.

“Don’t you see, Von Doon? That would make him nicer than us!”

Businessman Luthor was actually developed by Wolfman, not Byrne. IIRC, he wanted to do it pre-Crisis, but was shot down.

That’s not how Byrne sees it.

I can’t remember the details, but IIRC according to Byrne, Marv Wolfman had a part in the design, but the version we got is very different to Wolfman’s idea.

“Lois should have been able to see through the glasses, Jimmy too, for that matter. They simply spent to much quality time with both Clark and Superman to not see it.”

I don’t think Waid gets sole credit for the idea (although he devoted about six pages to it in Birthright) since I know Stern had a bit about it in his Death and Return novel and Chris Reeve actually pulled it off perfectly in Superman II, but, to Lois and Clarks’ other friends, Superman’s a 6’4″ muscular guy while Clark’s about 6’0″, badly nearsighted, and kinda pudgy, at least from outward appearances. You’d think about it, but then combined with Luthor Blindness Syndrome, you’d dismiss it. Because Superman doesn’t wear a mask in public, why would anyone think he has a real identity to hide?

It only works if Lois encounters Clark and Superman simultaneously, but since that’s what happened with Byrne’s reboot it worked very well.

The big problem is when you get some bullshit like Smallville, where Lois has known Clark for years before he started hiding himself and still can’t fucking figure it out. Same with Lex, for that matter.

Lois should have been able to see through the glasses, Jimmy too, for that matter. They simply spent to much quality time with both Clark and Superman to not see it.

What I wonder about is why it even matters. Even if every single person that knows both Clark Kent and Superman reasonably well instantly sees through the disguise, then you are talking about maybe 5-6 people on the entire planet. I know that all of this depends upon the version, but the following is always true:
– Lois Lane is in love with him.
– Perry White is getting all the best Superman stories.
– Jimmy Olsen has never been the brightest bulb. He also considers himself a friend to both Clark and Superman.
– Lana Lang is also in love with him.

Each one of those people have valid, character-driven reasons to play along with the whole secret identity business. That is true even if they aren’t explicitly in on it. That is more or less the tone of George Reeves TV series in the early going. Inspector Henderson always treated Clark and Superman like they were the same guy. The same was true of the Phyllis Coates version of Lois Lane.

The only character that you have to address is a version of Lex Luthor who knew Clark in Smallville. There is no reason that Luthor wouldn’t see that knowledge as leverage. He could use it as an implied threat by always referring to Superman as “Clark” when it is just the two of them.

Smallville takes place in a paraellel universe…say “Earth-14″ just because that’s the channel my Direct TV has the CW on…so the same rules might not apply. Maybe Luthor will retain the knowledge of Clark’s “secret,” although I suspect Oliver’s assassination attempt last season will leave Lex with permanent amnesia.

[…] A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 215 (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) […]

To me, the “Cool Moment” is seeing the leggy scientist……Byrne had a way with the legs…….

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives