It would be easy to consider Lex Luthor a pure villain. After all, he is always trying to destroy the world’s greatest superhero. But he is a much more complex character than pure evil. He is not without some noble intentions.
The Lex Luthor: Man of Steel comic series attempts to show Lex’s point of view in his never-ending battle with the Kryptonian. writer Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo do any excellent job of showcasing Luthor’s intentions. Bermejo’s art shows how scary Superman could look to someone who doesn’t know him.
While fans and the audience know that Superman is a great hero, people in that universe wouldn’t know how to handle him. If a potentially dangerous alien threat showed up on this planet, it would be foolish to not prepare for what would happen if they went rogue.
That is a primary motivator for Luthor in this series, but there is more. Will humans quit evolving and begin to rely on aliens do all of their primary work for them. Lex Luthor believes in trusting only himself to ensure that the human race continues to evolve and push its limits.
Comic Books Collected: Lex Luthor: Man of Steel Issues #1-5
Written by: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Where to buy: Trade Paperback
Where to buy: Digital Comic (Kindle/Comixology)
Key Characters and Organizations:
The official synopsis, from DC Comics:
Superman has been called many things, from the defender of truth, justice and the American way to the Big Blue Boy Scout. In LEX LUTHOR: MAN OF STEEL, he is called something he has never been called before: a threat to all humanity. Brian Azzarello and artist Lee Bermejo—the acclaimed team who brought you the best-selling JOKER—deliver a bold story in which readers get a glimpse into the mind of Superman’s longtime foe. MAN OF STEEL reveals why Luthor chooses to be the proverbial thorn in the Man of Steel’s side: to save humanity from an untrustworthy alien being.
Lex Luthor has always wanted to destroy Superman. We just haven’t always been able to understand why. We get to see why Luthor has such a hatred for Superman. He is a super powered alien that the public knows little about. Yet that public is willing to embrace him in favor of Luthor, who has publicly been doing humanitarian deeds for years.
With humanity looking up to the skies for Superman to solve all of their problems, will they be able to solve any of their own? Will technological and medical improvements stop because we are looking for a savior to make it all go away?
Azzarello’s writing didn’t make me side with Luthor over Superman, but it did make me reconsider his motivations. It’s not obvious to him that Superman is there to do good and help the world. He really could have intentions to rule or destroy the world. If Superman did decide to do this, who would be able to stop him? That is the scary part.
The subplots with Lex’s co-workers are interesting and show his business side. We also get to see how much of a schemer Lex is. He is usually several steps ahead of the smartest of heroes and able to manipulate nearly anyone. He is somehow able to plan the most devious of plots and yet have it be completely untraced back to him.
This is a tight 5 issue comic book series without many wasted characters included. Lex Luthor is the clear star here. If you came looking for a Superman action comic, this isn’t for you. Superman’s role is essentially that of an extended cameo. That doesn’t mean he is useless. After all, the whole story does revolve around Superman and his actions.
All of the classic Lex Luthor elements are in play here. You get to see the ruthless and manipulative businessman early. Behind closed doors, it is easy to see why he is financially successful. Out in the public eye, though, he is a much different character. He clearly likes to play up his humanitarian side to the press and his charm usually wins most reporters over.
The appearance of Bruce Wayne/Batman was a welcome surprise, but it ultimately was a little wasted. It seemed like his role was building towards something, but that story line quickly went away. Wayne’s role does at least allow us to see what Luthor is like when having meetings with other business men. It also shows he is able to manipulate even the smartest of adversaries. We also get a look at Luthor’s internal thoughts about Wayne.
Lee Bermejo is an incrediblywell-respected artist, and for good reason. His art is incredibly detailed and allows us to get a sense of realism when reading the story. He also does an excellent job of showing Luthor’s character through his appearance. In private meetings, he has a menacing look to him. In public, though, he is able to put on the charm and win people over. You can literally see the two sides of Luthor in this.
There isn’t a lot of action in this run, but the action that is done is handled well. The action that is done feels like it is used to convey emotion. Superman, normally stoic and somewhat cheery, is shown more angry and scary. It’s easy to see how his actions could be considered terrifying to someone with a little different perspective.
This collected edition won’t make you a fan of Lex Luthor. It will, however, make you understand his intentions. After reading this, Luthor becomes a much more complex character with somewhat justified motivations. The Lex Luthor: Man of Steel comic series is absolutely worth checking out for Luthor fans or Superman fans who want to understand why he would want to take down the Last Son of Krypton.