Hidden Gems of Comics: Brian Azzarello's LEX LUTHOR: MAN OF STEEL

I never really knew Lex Luthor's motivation for hating Superman. I just always accepted it. It was one of those things that was always there...

I never really knew Lex Luthor's motivation for hating Superman. I just always accepted it. It was one of those things that was always there. Bruce Wayne has lots of money. The Flash runs really fast. Lex Luthor hates Superman. Done. Sure, one existed (something about a lab explosion) but that was lost to the Crisis. Anyway, I never thought about it. Then I picked up Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. Written by Brian Azzarello with art by Lee Bermejo, this 5 issue mini series (later collected as graphic novel simply titled 'Luthor') presents Luthor as a hero to the people. This Lex is liked and, strangely, is willing to help the little guy we have seen him so often crush under foot. He's a shrewd businessman, not a cackling, evil mastermind (he threatens the family of a construction working opposing his plans for unpaid overtime, but it's nothing compared to giving people super powers then taking them away mid-flight......... Yes. That happened). He's charismatic, convincing Bruce Wayne of the dangers of Superman (Yes, I'm aware that saying you got Batman to mistrust someone is like saying you taught a fish to swim), and conjuring a common enemy for the people of Metropolis to unite against. He also has a very unique argument for his vendetta against the Man of Steel: the human race no longer have any need to better themselves because they can never be better than Superman. The scary thing is, reading the book, I began to see his point. Superman doesn't have much of a role in this story, sidelined to fleeting glimpses, his face always in shadow, his red piercing the veil, making him feel more alien that we are used to. This helps hammer home Lex's point of view. Some jealousy also makes itself known: why is it that this visitor from a dead world is hailed as a hero, when Lex has created jobs for the city, is loved by his city, only has humanity's best interests at heart. But of course, this being Lex Luthor he has a plan. Not one to destroy the men of steel out right but the first step in a long game to make people come to his way of thinking. As he puts it, €œI can't change the color of grass, but can I change the way it's perceived? I believe I can€. The extent of this plan and what Lex sacrifices to see it done, show strongly believes that Superman's existence is a threat to humanity. It also makes for very compelling reading. The book was released to much critical and public praise, and the creative team went onto to release a very similar project, 'Joker', where they worked the same magic on the Clown Prince of Crime. Do they have any more plans to do the same to other DC villains? Judging by this fantastic book, I hope so.
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Guest Writer has contributed 339 posts since joining in June 2007.