Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 32: The More I Wrote, the More I Loved Lex Luthor

 Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.

Luthor, Luthor from “All-Star Superman” that is, really does things just to spite Superman. That Superman would have Lex use his intellect for good is enough for Lex to take that off of the table. Now while Lex does gain (and revel in having) kryptonian powers, I’ve never been a fan of the school that he wants to be Superman. It’s an interesting thought, though it reduces Lex’s defiance to pettiness. I like the interpretation that’s just below the surface in “All-Star Superman” that Lex is science and secular thought and Superman is religion and faith. Lex deals with the facts, and people forget just how reasonable selfishness and crime and murder are and why heroes aren’t those things and villains are (Not that heroes aren’t sometimes. There’s a time and place for selfish, murdering, criminal heroes. That time was the nineties).

You see, Superman is great because he loves the people, and he trusts us to love him back. By and large, it works that way. Luthor, on the other hand doesn’t buy that. He doesn’t think people can be trusted and he either sees trust extended to him as a trap or a weakness. To him, seeing what Superman does is a thermodynamic impossibility. It’s frustrating seeing this alien from a different world who can break every physical law, which is fine, but when he breaks social laws and makes people act like they just shouldn’t, then he’s gone too far. Making the world a better place and encouraging people to be more than they are is to Lex—and I’m just extrapolating one-hundred percent at this point—an insidious alien superpower that no one realizes Superman has. Lex alone is unaffected, and like Doctor Doom making sure everyone knows how great Doom is, Lex wants Superman to know that The Mighty Lex Luthor is not falling for his promises of Sugarcandy Mountain and Gumdrop Island.  (In this interpretation, if Lex wants to be Superman, it’s because he wants to have that magic where he can relax and trust people and be trusted and loved in return, which is not, psychologically, something Lex can do.)

I’d like to have a line here where I mention that even Lex’s methods are to leverage the strength of cynicism and hate against openness and love to finally destroy Superman, not just destroy him, but destroy him in the eye of the public he loves so much. Sadly, I haven’t actually read that many comics about Lex versus Superman so I can’t say. It’s the greatest rivalry in comics (Yeah, I went there.) and I find that I really don’t know much about Luthor in the comics except that if you’re the antagonist in a massive crossover story, you better be Lex Luthor, because whether you recruit him (“Final Crisis”) or not (“Infinite Crisis”) he will fuck you.

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