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Author Topic: Is it possible...Lex Luthor is RIGHT?  (Read 11458 times)
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Aldous
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2006, 06:51:12 AM »


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.

There's always a movement that springs up around theories like this one.

It's a bit like my countryman Richard Pearse and his flying machines. There is a movement that won't let it go, despite the fact there is no real proof he beat the Wright Brothers to it, although I personally think there's a reasonable chance he was first.

The Mallory story has other problems, in that he didn't return from the mountain, and this means he failed to conquer it, no matter what happened up there.

There's no question he was a formidable mountaineer, however.

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Permanus
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2006, 11:00:13 AM »

This topic raises many of the same points as Maggin's "Must There Be a Superman?" in that Superman has to face the fact that he can't interfere directly in human affairs without slowing human progress (in fact, the fact that the story deals with his siding with Mexican labourers in the US gives it surprising relevance today, but I ain't touching that one: if Americans have to count on me to solve their problems for them, they'll never progress).

True, Superman's always doing things before the rest of us ordinary lot, but it's not much of a feat to get to the top of Mount Everest when you can fly, and I think that in a world with a Superman in it, people would understand that. When some guy breaks the world record for longest time spent underwater, nobody says "Big deal, fish do it all the time".

As far as Luthor's motives go, I don't think they're exactly pure as the driven snow. His problem isn't that Superman is slowing humans down, it's rather that he is afraid of Superman becoming a god-like figure instead of him. At least, that's the new take on the character; personally, I prefer Maggin's version, in which Lex is basically a decent man whose achievements are so extraordinary that earth isn't big enough for the both of them.
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Aldous
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2006, 08:51:14 PM »

Permanus:
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I prefer Maggin's version, in which Lex is basically a decent man whose achievements are so extraordinary that earth isn't big enough for the both of them.

I think that's a far too benign view of Luthor, Permanus. I, too, like Maggin's interpretation, but is that really the character he gave us? Luthor has been twisted by some pretty powerful emotions like hate and jealousy, and even in Maggin's version he has killed (or attempted to kill) innocent people in cold blood.

There could be a debate, I suppose, about who Luthor would be if Kal-El's rocket had never arrived here; but he has that inclination towards great evil, and he's not sorry about it, whereas a "decent man" might be.

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« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2006, 03:36:27 PM »

Well, Aldous, I can't find the exact quote (to be honest, I haven't even looked for it), but in his Last Son of Krypton novel, Maggin states quite bluntly that Luthor never caused the death of anyone - in effect, the only person he's interested in killing is Superman, so it's got to be personal. (It's rather hard to believe, given the scope of Luthor's crimes, that he didn't at least indirectly cause someone's death, but that's another story.) Certainly, Luthor is crippled by hatred and anger, but I think Maggin means that this comes from the frustration of being an isolated genius nobody understands - he just takes this out on Superman.

In the Silver Age, when Lex ends up on Lexor, he becomes the planet's foremost - indeed, only - hero. His deeds there seem to indicate that he actually seeks the common good, but he also wants to be identified as the one who does so: he's got an ego, he wants people to tell him how fantastic he is. On Lexor, they do. He likes to be revered, but that doesn't necessarily make him a bad guy.

It's odd to find myself being a Luthor apologist, but the fact is that I think it is more interesting, from a dramatic point of view, if Superman's arch-enemy is not someone identifiably "evil", but rather someone with a conflicting viewpoint who happens to be able to give him a run for his money. It's true that in most stories, Luthor is just a downright criminal, usually motivated by his desire to kill Superman; but whenever he gets arrested, he makes the point that he is trying to defy Superman's perceived moral authority, presumably in the name of all humanity (to bring us back to Julian's original point). That makes their opposition rather more engaging than the run-of-the-mill "Superman foils supervillain" story. No?
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Aldous
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« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2006, 04:19:40 AM »

Well, Aldous, I can't find the exact quote (to be honest, I haven't even looked for it), but in his Last Son of Krypton novel, Maggin states quite bluntly that Luthor never caused the death of anyone - in effect, the only person he's interested in killing is Superman, so it's got to be personal. (It's rather hard to believe, given the scope of Luthor's crimes, that he didn't at least indirectly cause someone's death, but that's another story.) Certainly, Luthor is crippled by hatred and anger, but I think Maggin means that this comes from the frustration of being an isolated genius nobody understands - he just takes this out on Superman.

In the Silver Age, when Lex ends up on Lexor, he becomes the planet's foremost - indeed, only - hero. His deeds there seem to indicate that he actually seeks the common good, but he also wants to be identified as the one who does so: he's got an ego, he wants people to tell him how fantastic he is. On Lexor, they do. He likes to be revered, but that doesn't necessarily make him a bad guy.

It's odd to find myself being a Luthor apologist, but the fact is that I think it is more interesting, from a dramatic point of view, if Superman's arch-enemy is not someone identifiably "evil", but rather someone with a conflicting viewpoint who happens to be able to give him a run for his money. It's true that in most stories, Luthor is just a downright criminal, usually motivated by his desire to kill Superman; but whenever he gets arrested, he makes the point that he is trying to defy Superman's perceived moral authority, presumably in the name of all humanity (to bring us back to Julian's original point). That makes their opposition rather more engaging than the run-of-the-mill "Superman foils supervillain" story. No?

Then my only problem with all that is, if Luthor doesn't kill (or even hurt?) anyone, and he is only obsessed with pandering to his own ego by being the nemesis of the top dog who gets all the glory, why does Superman spend so much time on him?

I do really like Elliot's Luthor, as I've said. I completely agree the pathos of Luthor's twisted motives make for a better villain. But I can't agree, as you've said, that he does what he does out of frustration at being an isolated genius and whatever else, and that he just takes this out on Superman. It's much more than that. In fact, Elliot MUST have thought it was more than that, because in his own writing he endorsed Jerry's origin story of Luthor. Luthor HATES Superman. That was his first motivation. He was a genius, and a reasonably well-adjusted one, before the accident that affected him. Why have that accident at all? If Luthor has been twisted by his own developing emotions, why have the accident at all, and WHY would he change in two seconds from a benign genius into a slavering madman who swears to destroy Superboy? This was not a natural development. As I said in my other post (on another thread), his brain was damaged by those chemicals, and it would seem to be the case that, even if the accident didn't spontaneously create his jealousy and super-ego obsessions, it most certainly accelerated their seeds to fever-pitch maturity in seconds.

No one can tell me Luthor doesn't kill. This is a man who will stop at nothing. He terrifies people with super-weapons, steals property and money, kidnaps, blows things up, destroys whole city blocks (who's under the rubble?), and must cost the Metropolis taxpayer millions. If no one ever got hurt by Luthor  Roll Eyes , there are plenty of other bad eggs around that Superman could spend time stopping.
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« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2006, 04:58:17 AM »

Plus he tried to steal the SUN!

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Permanus
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« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2006, 02:37:50 PM »

Then my only problem with all that is, if Luthor doesn't kill (or even hurt?) anyone, and he is only obsessed with pandering to his own ego by being the nemesis of the top dog who gets all the glory, why does Superman spend so much time on him?

Hmmm, yeah, I see what you mean. Well, perhaps Superman's ego enters into it too. It's entirely possible that Superman feels that Lex may have a point - like many good guys, he gets guilted out easily - so their encounters are part of an ongoing discussion they're having; a sort of ideological sparring. Also, from an altruistic point of view, Superman admires Lex and wants him to reform, because he knows how much good he could do for humanity, so he spends a lot of time on him.

I do really like Elliot's Luthor, as I've said. I completely agree the pathos of Luthor's twisted motives make for a better villain. But I can't agree, as you've said, that he does what he does out of frustration at being an isolated genius and whatever else, and that he just takes this out on Superman. It's much more than that. In fact, Elliot MUST have thought it was more than that, because in his own writing he endorsed Jerry's origin story of Luthor. Luthor HATES Superman. That was his first motivation. He was a genius, and a reasonably well-adjusted one, before the accident that affected him. Why have that accident at all? If Luthor has been twisted by his own developing emotions, why have the accident at all, and WHY would he change in two seconds from a benign genius into a slavering madman who swears to destroy Superboy? This was not a natural development. As I said in my other post (on another thread), his brain was damaged by those chemicals, and it would seem to be the case that, even if the accident didn't spontaneously create his jealousy and super-ego obsessions, it most certainly accelerated their seeds to fever-pitch maturity in seconds.

That goshdurned* accident, I wish it had never happened. Its dramatic purpose is clear, though - it acts as a catalyst for the bad feelings that were already there. I don't know, accidents like that are sort of comic-book shorthand to explain psychological motivations: do you really believe that an upstanding fellow like Harvey Dent would just up and turn into a villain because he got disfigured? You could probably write a whole book on the psychology of comics characters: in comics, people have nervous breakdowns at the drop of a hat and turn into homicidal maniacs. If baldness turned people evil in real life, Ghandi would have been one of the greatest villains of all time.

No one can tell me Luthor doesn't kill. This is a man who will stop at nothing. He terrifies people with super-weapons, steals property and money, kidnaps, blows things up, destroys whole city blocks (who's under the rubble?), and must cost the Metropolis taxpayer millions. If no one ever got hurt by Luthor  Roll Eyes , there are plenty of other bad eggs around that Superman could spend time stopping.

I know, I know. I just want him to be a good guy. I can't explain it, I just think it makes it more interesting. It's too obvious for Superman to go up against pure evil; we know he's going to win, so it makes sense for his greatest enemy to be someone he feels ambiguous about beating.

*I'm still trying to stay one step ahead of the language filter.
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jamespup
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« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2006, 03:10:47 AM »

It would seem that by the 1950's, it would have been possible to take some sort of aircraft to the top of Mt Everest and lower someone down with a rope.

Speaking of flying, Lindbergh was hailed as a hero, even though something like 37 people had already crossed the Atlantic by air
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