According to Taste

January 16th, 2010 by | Tags: , ,

Spoilers for Adventure Comics #6

In the latest issue of Adventure Comics, Lex sends Superboy on various quests in order to make a cure for his sister, Lena, of a mysterious illness.  He looks over Lena’s medical records and comes up with a solution to the problem, seemingly over the course of an evening.  At the end of the book, Lex injects Lena with something that not only cures her, but seems to undo the damage of whatever the disease (and months-to-years of being in a wheelchair), did to her body. 

After briefly saying hello to his sister, Lex injects her with another substance that reverses all the progress and leaves her wheelchair-bound and mentally deteriorating again.  He says that he wanted to prove that he could do it, and that now that he has, the secret of her cure will stay with him until Superman is dead.

There are a few problems with the plot.  Lex keeps giving Lena guilt-ridden looks, which were stupid, given what he did.  Also, he talks about how what he is doing in the larger sense (working with Brainiac) would restore his empire.  He talks about that while he is curing a seemingly incurable disease over the course of one evening.  Anyone who could do that could rebuild an empire without getting involved with a clone or an earth-conquering alien.

That being said, it made sense for Lex to value his ego enough that he would spent time and effort proving something even if it did nothing for him and made people he cared about miserable.  He’s also nuts enough to let his hatred of the supers discount traditional means of making himself rich in favor of doing anything that would destroy them.  It’s a credible portrait of him, is what I’m saying.

It, however, is not what I wanted to see.  Eeeeeeevil Lex is not a Lex I prefer.  I like Lex Luthor to be brilliant enough, driven enough, angry enough to not be able to see the forest for the trees.  I want him to be shown as a true altruist.  He thinks he’s doing the right thing.  He’s just wrong.

I also don’t like the change this book made in his relationship with Conner.  The most interesting Lex Luthor ever got in the Superboy saga is when he actually treated Conner as his son.  An antagonistic relationship between parent and child is tough to do, but very, very interesting when done well.  And it has been done well.  Brenda and her aunt (who was her legal guardian), had a relationship like that in the Blue Beetle series.  Cassandra Cain and David Cain had such a relationship in Cassandra’s original series.  It wasn’t the cheap, easy antagonism, in which one side is unspeakably cruel to the other and then randomly says, “I’m doing this because I love you.”  That would be cliched and boring.  Instead it took a look at both characters and defined what made them incompatible.  They cared about each other, and tried to make each other happy, and they always failed because they didn’t understand each other.

It would have been a lot more interesting for Lex Luthor to get a pardon for curing the President’s mom or something, and rebuild his empire with Conner’s reluctant help.  (Well, wouldn’t you help a guy who could cure Alzheimer’s in a week?  Who could cure Parkinson’s in a month?)

I still like the series, and I love the art.  And I can’t really fault the storytelling.  But I wish it would have gone the other way. 

Do you have any examples when a series has gone another direction, and you have to admit it’s legitimate, even if you don’t like it?

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6 comments to “According to Taste”

  1. Red Robin

  2. Wow. Even with Lex being back in Mad Scienctist mode thats just..wow. When was it decided Lex would be a petty dick? More and more what I see from DC makes me cherish their Johnny DC versions…

  3. I totally prefer Lex in Supergirl Cosmic Adventures. Where he cared about Lena so much that he allowed her to be friends with Supergirl in order to prevent her death. And then promptly blamed Superman for it. “I HATE YOU MORE THAN EVAH!” That was so Lex, and so very compelling.

    The sad thing is I wanted to get this issue, but I saw the ending and decided not to. This is not a Lex that is interesting or compelling. This is a Lex that sucks.

  4. I think Luthor genuinely thinks that THIS time his plans will go right, and Superman will die and then he’ll come in as a white knight and cure the world.

  5. @Nev: I respectfully disagree, I personally feel more along the lines of the BSE newsarama reviewers but whatever, it’s a matter of taste

  6. there was a silver age story where Lex cured cancer as part of a plot to convince Superman he’d reformed and then kill him.

    If they build on this it could be a neat storyline (even though we know Lex will never ‘really’ cure cancer, it’s one of the unwritten rules of comics, geniuses can build time machines but not mass produce anything useful).

    But if it’s just a one-off that they forget it’s kind of a cheap shot.