Lex Luthor: Man of Steel
|Lex Luthor: Man of Steel.|
Cover of Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #1 (March 2005), art by Lee Bermejo.
|Publication date||March–September 2005|
|No. of issues||5|
|Main character(s)||Lex Luthor|
|Written by||Brian Azzarello|
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel (later collected as simply Luthor) is a five-issue monthly American comic book limited series written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Lee Bermejo, which features Superman's nemesis Lex Luthor as the protagonist.
The story explores Luthor's motivations behind being a constant foe to the Man of Steel inside a city that has largely embraced him. Luthor views Superman as a demigod who looks down on humanity and believes that in order to "save" the human race from extraterrestrial threats, Superman must be stopped.
At the onset of the series, the story seems to be narrated from Luthor's point of view, one depicting himself as someone much different than the ruthless, corrupt killer that readers are accustomed to. He displays a charitable nature by giving a loyal employee an invitation to the grand opening of Luthor's own "Science Spire", a new Metropolis attraction under construction. By contrast, many of the "heroes" Luthor encounters during his story (Superman, Batman) are depicted as duplicitous and unworthy of trust. Luthor watches footage of Superman engaging criminals with heat vision and wonders to himself why the public invests so much trust in an alien simply because he looks human. Meanwhile, in Chechnya, Mr. Elias Orr, one of Lex's operatives, leads a group of mercenaries in a raid to free a Russian scientist who is to assist Lex Luthor in a new project.
While holding a meeting, it is brought to Luthor's attention that the union workers building the Science Spire want a higher wage. Luthor tosses his business plan and decides to build and unveil the attraction as a non-profit project, which undercuts the union's demands. Upon leaving the boardroom full of stunned executives, Luthor arrives at his lab where he observes Hope, a woman floating inside a vat. Sometime later, Orr beats and threatens the union leader into complying with his demands while Lex flies to Gotham City to try to arrange a deal with Bruce Wayne (Batman).
As a gift, Lex presents Bruce with kryptonite and asks him to consider how the public only has Superman's word that he won't turn on them and that he wants a recent scientific development Bruce's company has come up with. That night Batman is looking at the kryptonite when Superman arrives in Gotham and uses his breath to blow the kryptonite from Batman's hand before crushing it in his own. Superman finishes a brief, one-sided fight with a knockout punch to Batman's face. Later that evening Bruce calls Lex and tells him he will give the research to Luthor.
At the opening for the Science Spire, Lex announces the arrival of a new superhero by introducing Hope to the public, the result of the scientist's work and Wayne's medicinal breakthroughs. Hope displays abilities of super-strength and flight, essentially replacing Superman and becoming a corporate-sponsored hero. Over a short period, Hope takes on duties normally reserved for Superman and gains a loyal following. Orr approaches Winslow Schott (Toyman) with an offer on behalf of Lex. Hope and Lex are in bed together when a news bulletin breaks that Schott is wanted for a bombing at the Metropolis Daycare Center (in which over seventy adults and children, including, coincidentally, the Russian scientist and his family are killed). Orr realizes that he has been double-crossed when Schott mentions a different kind of explosive being delivered to him from someone other than Orr's men. Lex urges Hope to bring the criminal to justice.
Inside his warehouse, Toyman is confronted by Superman, who is immediately met by Toyman's soldiers as Hope grabs Schott and soars into the sky with him. From a separate location, Lex activates a control and causes her to drop Toyman, a development that pleases many of those watching on television. At the last moment, Superman flies up and catches Toyman.
Hope wonders why she involuntarily let Toyman go just as Superman confronts her for attempted murder. Hope attacks Superman and flies away towards the Science Spire. During a battle with Superman, Hope is blasted by his eye lasers, revealing to both of them that Hope is actually an android. Lex then remotely detonates Hope, causing the Science Spire to explode. This destroys all evidence that she was an android and makes it appear as though Superman killed her.
Superman flies to Lex's office, where he is waiting with his back turned. Lex says that not one person in Metropolis wanted to see Schott live after the destruction he caused and that, even with his many visions, Superman can't see Luthor's soul. Lex is infuriated by Superman’s silent judgment and demands he say something. Superman simply says, "You're wrong...I can see your soul." Taken aback, Lex pounds the window in defiance then tries to regain composure, saying that, if Superman could, he would see a man who sacrificed everything, including hope, for "A world without a Superman" and that if just one person out there saw Superman saving a condemned man and "realizes what you are" then his actions were worthwhile. Luthor turns away from the window, asking him to "Please, just fly away." Superman complies, soaring off with a sad expression, leaving Lex with the thought "I am a man. I hope."
Man of Steel received mostly positive reviews upon release and garnered attention to the team of Azzarello and Bermejo, who had previously worked together on Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire. The team would reunite in 2008 for the hardcover graphic novel simply entitled Joker, sparking fan speculation about a possible "villain spotlight" trend due to their works with Superman and Batman's greatest foes.
|Title||Material collected||Publication date||ISBN|
|Lex Luthor: Man of Steel||Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #1-5||December 28, 2005||978-1401204549|
|Luthor||Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #1-5||November 10, 2015||978-1401258184|
|Luthor 10th Anniversary Edition (DC Black Label Edition)||Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #1-5||July 9, 2019||978-1401291990|
|Title||Material collected||Publication date||ISBN|
|Absolute Luthor/Joker||Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #1-5, Joker graphic novel, along with sketchbook section||October 29, 2013||978-1401245047|