Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chad Nevett With More on Superman's Villains

Continuing our back-and-forth look at the Morrison/Waid/Millar/Peyer Superman 2000 proposal, Chad Nevett has posted the bits about the three great "Anti-Supermen": Bizarro, Brainiac, and Lex Luthor.

I actually disagree with Chad about the Luthor as businessman idea. I think that was one of the things that destroyed the character in the 1980s and 1990s. I didn't mind it at the time, but in the past two weeks I've read the Elliot S! Maggin Luthor and the Luthor from Stuart Immonen's graphic novel, and Maggin's ultra-genius super-scientist Luthor is such a fascinating character--much more interesting than the bland businessman Immonen is saddled with. In the novels, Luthor has multiple identities so he can create super-weapons, hide them in plain sight as works of contemporary sculpture, and then bid up the prices. Then, when someone outbids him, he makes a ton of money, then when he needs to super-weapons, he knows which museum to find them in--and he just waltzes in and steals them.

Luthor as a business man is too plain. Too desperate. Too simplistic.


Chad Nevett said...

In a way, the plainness of that persona is what makes him compelling to me. He is always there, in plain view, the heroes and we (the readers) knowing the truth about him, but the rest of the world thinking he's just some rich guy who became president. Luthor as president was brilliant--it was him handing Superman the biggest defeat he's even had. The people picked his arch-enemy as president...

Like I said, that version of Luthor is able to operate on an entirely different level from every other villain and attack Superman in ways unheard of--and impossible to defend against.

Of course, I'm the first to admit that most writers can't do anything interesting with that version of Luthor, either. Even President Luthor was a botched fiasco, for the most part.

Unknown said...

I prefer Luthor the "mad scientist" to Luthor the JR Ewing any old day. One of my favorite Luthor scenes is in an issue of Moore's Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing is turning Gotham City into a rain forest. Luthor is taken from his jail cell, and paid something like a million dollars for a minute of his time. He designed a weapon on the back of a scrap of paper, scoffing at the spooks for referring to the Swamp Thing as being invulnerable.

Anonymous said...

The Luthor in Moore's Swamp Thing WAS the LexCorp CEO version of Lex, not the fugitive criminal version. He was not "taken from his jail cell" and he left without any kind of police escort. What gets overlooked in the "businessman vs mad scientist" debate is that businessman Lex is still as much a scientific genius as mad scientist Lex. The difference is that he's just wealthy, well-connected and well-prepared enough to almost always avoid prosecution and jail time. Which is the way it should be. The "world's smartest man" should be smart enough to stay out of prison, which I always saw as the major failing of the perpetual-convict mad scientist version of Lex.