Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Playing Favorites excerpts, pt 33

Every Tuesday I post excerpts from best selling at not selling super blog, Playing Favorites.
So I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention mad scientist Lex versus evil corporate Lex versus Smallville Lex who’s basically the current canon Lex now somehow. I think that it’s an interesting thing; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a definitive Lex Luthor. I’ve seen fun Lex Luthors and I’ve seen Lex Luthors who are good combinations of previous Luthors, but I’ve never seen the one that is the Lex Luthor you’ve been reading about in pieces finally assembled into an elemental representation of pure, uncut, Columbian Lex Luthor. Every interpretation of him I’ve seen has been adulterated just a bit. “Kingdom Come,” “Final Crisis,” nineties hirsute clone Lex…even “Action Comics” Lex comes across as overconfident, human, egotistical, obsessed with Superman, ruthless, and manipulative, but I think one reason there are so many Lexes floating around is because while being ‘the ordinary guy who’s a Superman villain’ is a compelling plot, the character hasn’t yet found its full voice.

Lex also invites similarities to Batman, which makes sense because while it took a while for Lex to distinguish himself from the masses to become the Superman villain, Superman is the elemental hero. While his mental characteristics are purported to be as prodigious as his physical characteristics, for the most part, Superman is generally physically superhuman, and as the basis of superheroes, (and righteous violence, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah) most other heroes are built in that mold. I won’t say Batman subverts the mold of standard superheroes or anything because he’s just a hair younger than Superman, but I will say that as a human who one day found himself in a world where struggling against titans was ordinary, he had to become more than a man in a bat suit. Both Batman and Luthor struggle against creatures who could crush them with a single blow, but Luthor attacks the kindest of their lot while Batman must stop the most ruthless. Both work with a keen intellect, but Batman is a tactical thinker, and almost always improvising. Luthor is a strategic thinker and usually working offense versus one target. The offense versus defense is the easiest difference between them. Luthor hates something and wants to destroy it. Collateral damage happens and he’s not too concerned about it. Some of his plans even involve hurting people who aren’t Superman just to get to Superman. He’s ruthless whereas Batman is relentless. If anyone pays for Batman’s war on crime, it’s Batman. He never asks anyone to pay for his mistakes, he goes out of his way to protect innocents, and when he fails to accomplish either of those things, the bat-despair is palpable.

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