Tag Archives: Lex Luthor

Superman 302 – a big, dumb Superman

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Lex Luthor has big plans for Superman in issue 302 (Aug. 76).  As the cover implies, Superman wakes to find himself growing larger and larger in this tale by Maggin, Garcia-Lopez and Oskner.

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Superman turns to Ray Palmer for help, but though the Atom can warn him of the consequences of his uncontrolled growth – that the neural passages will grow too large, making Superman stupid – he is unable to do anything to counter it.

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Morgan Edge demands that Clark Kent get the story on Superman’s growth spurt, but Superman creates a giant set, and by moving at super-speed, gives the impression of both Superman and Clark being of normal height.

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As for Luthor, he simply bides his time until Superman is large enough, and then moves in for the kill, with a dangerous looking propeller strapped to his back.

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The Atom helps out in the end, as Superman brings Lex to the set built earlier, and cons him into thinking he is growing as well. Lex has the cure, which Superman takes away from him.

Nothing really special here, but a decent enough tale.

Superman 299 – so many villains

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Superman 299 (May 1976) concludes the four part Mr. Xavier story, by Bates, Maggin, Swan and Oskner, and was also the third issue of Superman that I bought.  The big grouping of villains on the cover appealed to me, and even though I had not read the previous three issues, I found the story completely fulfilling on its own, and would start collecting Superman regularly from this point on.

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Xviar has teleported all the villains eitherout of jail, or to Earth, scattering them around the globe to send Superman running (or flying, I guess) hither and yon, too busy to figure out that the alien’s plan to destroy the Earth is reaching its culmination.  The villains seem to have no issues with being shuttled around either, and are more than happy to work together, which leads me to think that Xviar is mind-controlling them to a degree.  Superman first has to deal with Terra-Man, the now Toyman, and the Prankster in Egypt.  Aside from a cameo in an issue of World’s Finest in the 60s, this is the first time the Prankster has appeared in twenty years.  Not that he gets to do much.

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With the Inter-Gang boss about to go free, Superman decides to become Clark Kent one last time, to testify at his trial.  He grabs a spare suit from his offices at WGBS, and heads to the courtroom, only to find that he has not lost his powers when dressed as Clark.

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Before he can follow upon that, he has to race off again, this time to deal with Lex Luthor, the Parasite and Mr. Mxyzptlk.  Luthor shows none of the animosity towards the Parasite that he had the last time, even though the Parasite once more messes up his plans, which is what leads me to think that Xviar is controlling them.

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After disposing of them, Superman has time to think, and, analyzing his Clark Kent clothes, sees that they have been infected with some alien tech that serves to nullify his powers.  Only someone who had access to his apartment could have done this, but who?  Meanwhile, we see that the energy Superman is expending in fighting his foes is being harnessed by Xviar, and Superman himself is the weapon with which he plans to destroy the Earth.

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Brainiac and Amalak, who are fairly similar anyway, are the next villains that Superman has to deal with, as the story nears its conclusion.

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Xviar, ready to be taken back to his home planet, seems to be in a trance as Superman checks the various suites in his building, and finds the alien tech.  He figures out that Mr.Xavier is behind his power loss, but does not seem to have put together the entire plan.  The story builds the suspense quite well as Superman faces off against the Kryptonite Man, the adult version of the Kryptonite Kid that he had faced as Superboy.  But when Superman hits Kryptonite Man with a punch that ought to destroy the world, nothing happens.  Beneath his costume, Superman was wearing the power-nullifying Clark Kent clothes, and took down Kryptonite Man with nothing more than normal human strength, which dissipated the built up energies.

Mr. Xavier gets sent to a galactic prison, and is never seen again.

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The story has a bit of a downer ending.  Superman is Clark Kent again, but this means that he is back to being meek, giving in to Steve Lombard and Morgan Edge, and losing the admiration of Lois.  But that’s the price of being a hero.

I would say this is by far the best Superman storyline to date, and I am amazed that these tales have never been reprinted.

Superman 292 – Luthor’s origin retold

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The origin of Lex Luthor, recently reprinted in an oversize Secret Origins of Super-Villains special, also gets a run-through in the Maggin, Swan and Oskner story from Superman 292 (Oct. 75).

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Perry White and Roy Raymond cameo at the top of the story, and Luthor does have an evil scheme going in the present day, but this gets dealt with quickly and easily, as the bulk of the tale is a flashback, re-telling the events from his origin story. Lex and Clark becoming friends, and then Superboy and Lex.  The failed protoplasm experiment that costs Lex his hair.

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While a number of scenes reprise the earlier story directly, there is also the addition of Lex’s family kicking him out – the basis for the story of Lena Thorul, the sister who is unaware of who her brother is.

Nothing special, but not bad.

Superman 286 – The Parasite uses Luthor

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There may be two villains for the hero to deal with in Superman 286 (April 1975), but in no way could the Maggin, Swan and Oskner story be considered a team-up.

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Luthor joins a tour of the Superman museum, and is resentful to see himself included among other villains, instead of being presented as superior to them.  There are statues of Brainiac and Mr. Mxyzptlk as well, and one of Terra-Man, the most recent addition to Superman’s rogues gallery. The Parasite is an odd addition, as he had only faced Superman twice, the last time in 1968, but of course this is the story that brings him back for the 70s.

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The Parasite drains Luthor of some energy, but mostly draws from his mind, without Lex even noticing.  But then the Parasite begins using Lex’s evil weaponry against Superman.  And Lex is furious because he is not using it correctly.

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Still, the Parasite’s plan is a bit more devious.  All he wants to do is convince Superman that he is really Luthor, so that Superman will make physical contact with him, and the Parasite can drain him.  This works, quite well as it turns out, and Luthor has to come to Superman’s rescue.  No way he will allow anyone else to triumph over him.  So Luthor winds up helping Superman defeat the Parasite and drain his energy.

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The Parasite is credited with a bit more intelligence and cunning than usual in this story, but one can assume he drew that out of Luthor as well.

This begins a few years in which the Parasite becomes one of Superman’s more frequent foes.

Superman 282 – Lex Luthor gets a costume, and the story of Nam-Ek

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After over thirty years without any sort of costume, Lex Luthor finally adopts an outfit, which allows him to fly, in Superman 282 (Dec. 74).

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Maggin, Swan and Schaffenberger open the story in a curious way, as Clark Kent bursts into Perry White’s office, demanding a job on the Daily Planet.  Perry notices that Clark looks much younger than normal, and assumes that being on television has somehow warped his mind (and made him look younger?)

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When he goes into action as Superman, his behaviour is rash and even dangerous, all to Luthor’s delight.  He has caused Superman to become younger, operating on the idea that an adult Luthor will be able to defeat a young and inexperienced Superman.

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Luthor also adopts a costume in this issue, the earliest incarnation of his “super-suit.”  This one is realtively basic compared to later versions.  He has jets on his boots, allowing him to fly, an a variety of canisters containing whatever evil inventions he wants to put in them, essentially his version of Batman’s utility belt.

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The plan works perfectly – until it doesn’t.  Lex increases Superman’s mass, sending him straight down into the centre of the Earth, but Superman drags Luthor along with him.  In order to save himself, Luthor has to undo his “youthening” of Superman.  An adult Superman can figure his way out of the trap, but also is more than capable of taking Luthor down.

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The Fabulous World of Krypton story in this issue has Superman telling Supergirl a Kryptonian legend about a scientist named Nam-Ek, and the legendary rondor, in a tale by Marty Pasko and Ernie Chan.

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The rondor was a repulsive and smelly creature on Krypton, but its horn was capable of curing all illness.  The creatures were protected by law, but Nam-Ek kills one anyway, and extracts an immortality serum from its horn.  Unfortunately, the serum turns him into a sort of human rondor.

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Because of the immortality, Nam-Ek winds up surviving the destruction of Krypton, only to be stuck floating eternally in space.  Or so the story would have it.

Although likely not intended at the time the story was written, Nam-Ek will return in a couple of years to face Superman.

 

Superman 248 – the Galactic Golem debuts

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Lex Luthor makes his first appearance in a couple of years in these pages, as he brings forth a new villain for Superman, the Galactic Golem, in issue 248 (Feb. 72).

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Although Luthor had not been in this book for a while, he had appeared in Action Comics only a couple of months before.  This story, by Len Wein, Swan and Anderson, is largely told in a flashback from Luthor’s bunker, as he worries that his latest plan to kill Superman worked too well, killing everyone on Earth. Luthor harnessed cosmic energies from deep in the universe to form a creature he calls the Galactic Golem, sending it out to kill Superman.

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As Luthor intended, Superman eventually becomes aware that the swirl on the creature’s forehead is his weak spot, and hits it, causing a massive destructive explosion.  But when the smoke clears, there is no sign of anyone on Earth.

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But that’s just because Superman figured out Luthor’s scheme, recognizing his voice as coming from the Golem, and shunted everyone into another dimension until he could dispose of the Golem, sending him out into space.

The Golem does return in a few months anyway.

Superman 213 – Superman’s vault

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An ominous cover for the story by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Jack Abel in Superman 213 (Jan. 69).

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It’s been quite a while since Lex Luthor appeared in these pages, but he returns in this story, obsessed with a mysterious vault that Superman has created, which can only be opened after his death.  Luthor drills from underground to reach the vault, and uses a shrink ray he stole from Brainiac to remove it completely and bring it back to his headquarters.

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But even as all this is going on, the story lets the reader in to the fact that it is some sort of hoax on Superman’s part, though the nature of it is unclear.

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Luthor then captures and kills Superman, exposing him to kryptonite.  But Jimmy Olsen and Supergirl are on hand to quickly revive the hero.

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Even with Superman dead, Luthor has great trouble opening the vault.  He finally succeeds, only to find Superman inside!

Superman had been trapped in the vault the whole time, sealed there magically by Mordru, an enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes.  The kryptonite poisoned Superman was really Brainiac 5, and the entire scheme a plan to have Luthor save Superman, without any idea what he was really doing.

Pretty clever.