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Author Topic: Is it possible...Lex Luthor is RIGHT?  (Read 11460 times)
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JulianPerez
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« on: November 28, 2006, 06:03:39 PM »

I always thought it was so cool that in L. Sprague de Camp's "Viagens" books set around the low-tech swashbuckling planet Krishna, the Earthmen refused to build rocket or mining bases on Krishna's moons - because they felt that the first being to set foot on these moons should be a Krishnan.

Okay...here is Lex Luthor, a guy that is da Vinci and Einstein and Edison rolled into one, who dislikes Superman because with Superman's limitless power that makes everything easy, and his alien super-brain, he makes a mockery of real human accomplishments.

Is Lex Luthor right?

At first the instinct is to say no because Lex Luthor is filled with rage and irrationality, the sort of person you alternate between hating and feeling sorry for. He can't be counted on to be rational and see things as they are, because he's so emotional. Also, Superman's such an awesome cat that this is hard to believe.

But I was just reading "The Seven Secrets of Superman," a story from WORLD'S FINEST #62 (1953), which was reprinted in SUPERMAN #278 (1974). The story features Lex Luthor capturing Lois Lane inside a tube and threatening to kill her unless Superman can recover several capsules teleported away by a scientist, which contain the secret of his teleporting Fourth-Dimensional Projector. The capsules are placed in the deepest part of the ocean, the highest mountain, and so on.

Now, here's the thing: they mention in this 1953 story that Mount Everest has never been scaled (presumably this must have been a few months before Sir Edmund Hillary made history and climbed the mountain). But there we have Superman go up the summit to find the capsule.

So technically, on Earth-2 (or wherever this one is set) they'd have to list in the record books that SUPERMAN is the first man to conquer Everest!

(On an unrelated note, this story gave me a far greater respect for Lois Lane. In this story, Lois Lane, when captured in the glass case, said "It was the fault of my own recklessness I got into this!" Which shows a surprising maturity, penitence and awareness of one's own behavior that Lois Lane doesn't usually have. Very often Lois Lane is the Superman version of Daisy Duck, an easily angered complainer that is pleased with nothing.)

There was also a Lola Burnett gossip column in that very same issue that seemed to reinforce this idea. Usually they show some gimmicky feat in a panel, like Superman doing his part during the energy crisis by pulling fifty cars at a time, or cooling Metropolis down during an energy crisis by bringing an iceberg from the south pole to make a skating rink. This by the way, is something I miss about Superman: him doing great feats casually when he doesn't have anything better to do.

The Lola Burnett column had several astronauts land on Mars. Only to find when they get there that on the sides of the crater in hundred foot tall letters they say SUPERMAN WAS HERE."

At the time, because it was just a single panel, I thought it was the sort of jaw-dropping feat of Superman's that takes your breath away. But if I was an astronaut on that mission, I would have thought, "Superman, you DICK! I didn't go to astronaut school for eight months to bring back some rocks. How could you rub our faces with hundred foot letters in the fact that our mission was in second place here?"
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2006, 08:59:44 PM »

Well, this sort of thing isn't limited to Superman, is it?  Over at Marvel, Reed Richards and crew were in space in 1961 and on the moon not too long afterward, meaning those poor schlubs who trained for years in the Apollo program had their thunder stolen by a college professor, his (seemingly untrained at anything) girlfriend and her teenage brother, flying in what appeared to be a privately owned rocket.

Comic book heroes were forever scaling heights, exploring depths and breaking records to put the average joe to shame, and you have to wonder whether that wouldn't crush the adventuring spirit of mankind. 

But back to your question.  I don't think Luthor objected to Superman on any high-minded moral grounds.  All he cared about was that Superman was stealing the limelight from HIM personally.  I think it's possible to feel sympathy for Luthor...everything he does, however remarkable, is eclipsed by an off-worlder.  But really the stuff Luthor comes up with is no less fantastic than what Superman does, and seems to come to him with as little effort, so in his own way he's just as superhuman as Big Blue, and not, for me, a representative of mankind.  Luthor is, like Superman, a titan, just a mental one more than a physical one.  Their battles are like contests of the gods, not mortal versus god. 
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NotSuper
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« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2006, 10:58:50 AM »

I think Nightwing has a point. Even though Luthor's intelligence is natural, it could be considered a super-power. After all, no regular person is as smart as he is.
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Many people want others to accept their opinions as fact. If enough people accept them as fact then it gives the initial person or persons a feeling of power. This is why people will constantly talk about something they hate—they want others to feel the same way. It matters to them that others perceive things the same way that they do.
JulianPerez
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2006, 04:46:10 PM »

Quote from: nightwing
Well, this sort of thing isn't limited to Superman, is it?  Over at Marvel, Reed Richards and crew were in space in 1961 and on the moon not too long afterward, meaning those poor schlubs who trained for years in the Apollo program had their thunder stolen by a college professor, his (seemingly untrained at anything) girlfriend and her teenage brother, flying in what appeared to be a privately owned rocket.

Comic book heroes were forever scaling heights, exploring depths and breaking records to put the average joe to shame, and you have to wonder whether that wouldn't crush the adventuring spirit of mankind. 

I bet anything that on Earth-1, just about half of the Guiness Book of World's Records belong to one of of the four Challengers of the Unknown. Whether it is the world's deepest sea dive, the land speed record, etc.

But I suppose it's different when it involves Superman because Superman's an ALIEN, with such overwhelming powers and intelligence that for him, nothing is an effort. Master Jailer's rage against Superman for building his prison suddenly becomes clearer. Superman, with access to alien technology and limitless power and a superbrain, beat Jailer by creating a prison that was 10,000 feet up. Getting outscooped like that must, to the Jailer, almost be like cheating!

Quote from: nightwing
Luthor is, like Superman, a titan, just a mental one more than a physical one.  Their battles are like contests of the gods, not mortal versus god. 

People say that about Batman too, but I suppose the argument makes more sense when applied to Lex Luthor than Batman. Batman's physical feats are incredible but still possible to the absolute upper limit of human athletic potential (there are people out there in this world that can catch paintballs in mid-flight and kick ten times in a second). Batman's personal devices are usually stuff like a tricked out sportscar, or a suitcase with a secret compartment. Batman could exist in the real world...which as Dick Giordano has pointed out, is part of his appeal to readers.

Lex Luthor with some of his more STAR WARS-esque inventions, like hoverboots and so forth, goes WAAAAAY beyond just Batman's smoke bombs or UV fingerprint dust.

To be honest, this is why I liked the Gene Hackman Lex Luthor more than a lot of other people, despite the fact he wasn't truly grandiose or terrible. He was able to (temporarily) beat Superman using his cunning, and by having a plan.
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2006, 06:34:20 PM »

JulianPerez writes:

Quote
But I suppose it's different when it involves Superman because Superman's an ALIEN, with such overwhelming powers and intelligence that for him, nothing is an effort.

This lets him off the hook, IMHO.  So what if Superman goes to the top of Everest, or the bottom of the Ocean, or Mars, before humans do?  The humans who eventually do those things will still have their place in the record books because they are still the first MEN to do them. 

I think it's worse that Reed Richards, Namor and Hank Pym make chumps out of Neil Armstrong, Jacques Cousteau and Bill Gates, respectively.  In a world where Attuma leads an Atlantean army into Manhattan, who would care that Robert Ballard found the Titanic or the Bismark?  And so on. 

This always bugged me about the Marvel universe.  Here you have the biggest collection of geniuses of all time, and they spend their every hour on selfish pursuits like fighting each other and chasing girls.  What advances might have been made if they'd stopped punching things and turned their minds to advancing mankind?

There's that memorable moment in Starlin's "Death of Captain Marvel" where super-scientist Richards, genius inventor Tony Stark, chemistry whiz Peter Parker and wonder surgeon Stephen Strange all stand there looking blank and saying, in essence, "Oh, yeah...Cancer.  Oops."  When they try to come up with a cure in the couple of days they have left, of course they come up short.  Great pathos and all that, except it never seems to occur to any of them to continue the search for a cure as a tribute to their fallen comrade.  Soon enough they're back to their usual hi-jinks.

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Aldous
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2006, 06:21:05 AM »

Nightwing wrote:
Quote
So what if Superman goes to the top of Everest, or the bottom of the Ocean, or Mars, before humans do?  The humans who eventually do those things will still have their place in the record books because they are still the first MEN to do them.

So now Superman isn't a man?

Really, Nightwing.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2006, 07:03:25 AM »

The first time your son is able to stay balanced on a moving bicycle and ride it without falling off, that is an incredible and beautiful accomplishment.

The fact that you have already done it a long time ago does not in any way belittle what he has done.
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"The bottom line involves choices.  Neither gods nor humans have ever stood calmly in a minefield forever.  Good or evil, they are bound to choose.  And when they do, you will see the truth of all that motivates us.  As a thinking being, you have the obligation to choose.  If the fate of all mankind were in your hands, what would your decision be?  As a writer and an artist, I've drawn my answer."   - Jack Kirby
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2006, 12:57:01 PM »


But I was just reading "The Seven Secrets of Superman," a story from WORLD'S FINEST #62 (1953), which was reprinted in SUPERMAN #278 (1974). The story features Lex Luthor capturing Lois Lane inside a tube and threatening to kill her unless Superman can recover several capsules teleported away by a scientist, which contain the secret of his teleporting Fourth-Dimensional Projector. The capsules are placed in the deepest part of the ocean, the highest mountain, and so on.

Now, here's the thing: they mention in this 1953 story that Mount Everest has never been scaled (presumably this must have been a few months before Sir Edmund Hillary made history and climbed the mountain). But there we have Superman go up the summit to find the capsule.

Although it's distinctly possible that George Leigh-Mallory may well have beaten Hillary to the summit of Everest, in 1924, but perished on the way down.
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