Billionaire industrialist Lex Luthor is one of the smartest,
richest and most powerful men in the world. He wields vast
wealth and almost unchallenged power... but never total control.
Luthor seeks to rid the world of what he perceives to be a
dangerous alien threat to all humankind: Superman...
graphic novel turns the spotlight upon Superman's arch nemesis.
The story is told from Luthor's point of view, in what is
quite possibly the most in-depth analysis of the character's
psyche to date.
I'd be lying to you if I said that Lex comes across as an
entirely sympathetic chap. Though we see him pulling strings
for the sake of his janitor's son and facilitating the rescue
of a kidnapped scientist, he achieves these aims by ruthless
means, which respectively involve jeopardising another child's
education and hiring a professional killer. However, we can
at least understand Luthor's viewpoint - something that Superman
evidently never will. Writer Brian Azzarello makes it abundantly
clear that these two diametrically opposed characters will
never see eye to eye.
dare say that this characterisation has been aided by the
groundwork laid down by Michael Rosenbaum's portrayal of the
young Lex in the TV series Smallville. And just as
we can see hints of Rosenbaum's likeness and performance in
Azzarello's writing and Lee Bermejo's artwork, so their interpretation
of Bruce Wayne/Batman, who makes a guest appearance at the
mid-point of the book, seems to be informed by Christian Bale
in the movie Batman Begins. Both the look of the character
and his assumed role of obnoxious playboy are clearly inspired
One thing that is less evident to me, though, is how this
story fits in with the rest of the Superman mythology.
This graphic novel isn't billed as an Elseworlds parallel
universe narrative, and yet the relationship between Superman
and Batman seems at odds with that presented in the regular
monthly comic books. Here we see Bruce/Batman obtaining a
chunk of kryptonite from Luthor, and Superman battling with
him as a result. Didn't Superman once entrust Batman with
the two heroes heading towards a Frank Miller/Dark
Knight Returns kind of rivalry? Bermejo's visualisation
of the Man of Steel certainly echoes the creepy, shadowy,
red-eyed figure depicted by Miller in his seminal work.
Heavy on atmospheric artwork and light on dialogue, Lex
Luthor: Man of Steel makes for a fairly quick read, but,
no matter how you regard this tale in relation to the rest
of the Superman canon, I guarantee that it will leave
you with something to think about.
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