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Location: The Bottle City of Kandor
Member Since: Sun Oct 10, 1999
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Subj: Re: I've never quite bought that argument with Luthor...
Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 at 01:41:36 am EST (Viewed 67 times)
Reply Subj: A brief musing on Luthor, Krypton and Superman's failures
Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 at 03:58:35 am EST (Viewed 71 times)

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I heard an interview recently with Elliot S! Maggin discussing the pre-Crisis Lex Luthor where he said, if I may paraphrase, that much of the tragedy of Luthor is that he, much like Krypton, he is a great treasure that was lost, and no matter how much Superman wanted or tried to save him, it still blew up in his face.

The pre-Crisis Superman, at least as people are familiar with him in his iconic 1960s/1970s depiction, was full of so much pathos that I think has, in many ways, been lost in subsequent revisions. Krypton, Luthor, the Kents, Mon-El, Kandor* and more. All failures for Superman. To borrow a line, despite all his wonderful powers, he couldn't save them.

* Yes, I know he restored Kandor eventually, but for more than 20 years of stories, he was not able to do so.

Because there's plenty of evidence that Luthor, had Superboy/man never existed, would still have turned out to be an arrogant SOB if not outright evil.

To truly be a failure, it has to be a situation that couldn't happen unless some variation of Superman comes into play... and I just don't see that with Luthor.

He's working as a farmhand in his Adventure Comics, but he already has a crude laboratory set up and wants to work. Then you look at how he acted AFTER his protoplasm is destroyed and hair is lost... he creates all sorts of things to make life better in Smallville, but in his sheer arrogance moves way too fast, which causes his experiments to fail.

And if you really look at what happened when he was creating the Kryptonite cure, it was him rushing super-fast that caused him to start the lab fire. And here's the kicker, for all his talk about creating life itself, he had WEEKS to safeguard it and his notes, but did no such thing!

Nothing in his origin is Superboy's fault. It's all Luthor, but Luthor in his arrogance can't see any fault in himself.

We're talking about a guy who became a hero to an entire planet, had a wife and son and STILL couldn't let go of his hatred, eventually becoming a super-villain to his own planet before it exploded.

Superman could (and probably should) feel pity for a man who could've done so much good if he could just get over himself... but acting like Luthor's faults are a failure of his own making? No, I don't buy that.

I feel like failure gets thrown out a lot with the Pre-Crisis Superman and outside of the Kents and Mon-El (which were definite failures on his part) most of the other stuff doesn't fit. Heck, he was all set to enlarge Kandor in their first appearance, when a Kandor scientist took it into his hand to enlarge Superman!

Once again, I have to disagree with Maggin.

Ryan Brandt
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