Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel

(2006) Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo, Titan Books, 8.99, trdpbk, 118pp, ISBN 1-84576-211-8

This is a collection of the five-issue mini-series published last year. This is beautiful to look at and very well-written but, ultimately, is a bit lightweight. The reason I say this is that, what with the endless re-invention of the DC universe, including the current Infinite Crisis, it's not like Luthor's motives haven't been explored before. Why does this obviously very clever man want to fight Superman? If you leave aside the frivolous "you made me bald" excuse, the fact is that it's always come down to envy, however expressed. However, this story makes it more explicit than ever that that envy is motivated by a real fear of what happens to humans in a world where it's largely impossible to aspire to be superhuman (not that you'd guess it from the sheer numbers of superheroes and villains out there - an implied 3 million, at least if we're to take the Infinite Crisis plotline seriously). During the course of the story Lex even makes a gift of some kryptonite to Bruce Wayne (not knowing who he really is, or that he's got his own supply) suspecting that, if Supes ever lost his mind, he'd target Wayne and others as well as Lex himself. It's nice to see this view from the other side, with Supes looking appropriately villainous and alien, but I'm not sure it adds a lot to continuity that wasn't already there to begin with. It's also a bit late in the day given the events of the DC universe that saw Luthor President of the USA and now one of the fugitive masterminds of Villains United (and the shake up of the whole continuum engendered by the current Crisis - yet another chance to re-imagine everything all over again). I'd still recommend the book on the basis of the quality of the writing and art, but I'm really not sure that the story reveals anything we didn't already know or couldn't have already guessed. Please yourself...

Tony Chester

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