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"I'm the only sane inmate of Asylum Earth. I'm not eager to hand tomorrow over to an interplanetary extremist with laser eyes. There's only room on this world for one leader, Superman. When I'm finished with you, every last gibbon out there will know you for the menace you are... and they'll realize that Lex Luthor is their savior."The Super Villain, according to many, Alexander "Lex" Luthor is the archenemy of Superman, and one of the oldest villains in comic book history, making his debut in Action Comics # 23 in April of 1940. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the same team who created Superman himself, Luthor was an instant success, and ensured himself a permanent place in the Last Son of Krypton's Rogues Gallery. Since then he's gone onto be a major player in the DC Universe, serving as one of its most iconic villains, alongside the likes of The Joker.Originally portrayed as a red-headed war profiteer who aimed to gain World Domination by playing various political factions against each other, Luthor was reimagined as a bald, egomaniacal Mad Scientist after an illustrator confused him with the Ultra-Humanite. This conception of the character stuck, and for the remainder of the Silver Age and Bronze Age of comics, Luthor was written as a Card-Carrying Villain who used his technological prowess to match Superman's phsyical might, regularly allying with other villains, like Brainiac, Bizarro, and The Joker in order to vex the Man of Steel and his allies. One thing that did change about Luthor was that as time went by, he became progressively younger and more physically active. The paunchy man in his fifties was replaced by an exceptionally fit man in his forties, and was then retconned again into being only a few years older than Superman and possessed of a warsuit that allowed him to fight the Kryptonian mano-a-mano. He also gained his own supporting cast, including his sister and Morality Pet, Lena, and the planet of Lexor, which hailed him as a hero after he saved it from destruction, and a number of alternate universe doppelgangers, including Alexei Luthor of Earth-2 (based on his original, Golden Age appearance) and the heroic Alexander Luthor Sr. of Earth-3. This version of Luthor, along with the rest of the existing DC Universe, was erased from continuity following the Crisis on Infinite Earths.After the Crisis, John Byrne was given the job of re-imagining Luthor for the new DC Universe. Byrne, aware that Luthor's Mad Scientist portrayal was becoming dated, chose to reinvent Luthor as a Corrupt Corporate Executive, who was able to control the city of Metropolis' criminal underworld from behind the scenes, avoiding any responsibility for his actions by maintaining a good public image and employing legions of lawyers. As one of the richest and most politically influential men in the DCU, Luthor was able to become a perpetual thorn in Superman's side, as the one criminal whom the Man of Steel could never bring to justice. As a planner and criminal financier second-to-none Luthor also became the main backer and organizer of the various Injustice Gangs and Secret Societies of Supervillains that have plagued the larger DC Universe, making him a problem for not only Superman, but the entire Justice League as well. Possessed of a "tenth level intellect", Luthor is easily the smartest human being alive, and is a formidable adversary for any hero who thinks of crossing him. It has been said that while other supervillains might fear The Joker, they want to be Lex Luthor.He has since gone back and forth in terms of characterization, at times the CEO of LexCorp, at times a Mad Scientist, at times a classic Diabolical Mastermind, and sometimes a combination of all three. He has faked his own death, and impersonated his supposed son, revealed himself as one of Superboy's genetic donors, and met Death. He's been the mastermind of numerous plots against the heroes of Earth, a participant in General Lane's genocide of New Krypton, and briefly, President of the United States of America. He's even starred in his own spinoffs, serving as the Villain Protagonist in Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, the "Black Ring" story arc in Action Comics, and Forever Evil. In any incarnation, Luthor is driven by his burning hatred of Superman, which is frequently put down to envy over the fact that, no matter how rich Luthor becomes, no matter how much political power he attains, and no matter how hard he schemes, he will never, ever be Superman. His current characterization is a balanced medium between all his incarnations: he is the ruthless and savvy corporate executive, the formidably brilliant mad scientist and the egomaniac conqueror in equal measure. This makes him one of the more complex and multifaceted villains in all of comics, which helps cement his enduring popularity.Luthor has appeared frequently in other media, featuring in video games, the original Superman films, Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League, Superman Returns, and the television series Smallville. He has also appeared in the animated films Superman: Doomsday, and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. He is easily the most recognisable, and best known, member of Superman's Rogues Gallery, and was rated IGN's "4th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time." Comic book critic Peter Sanderson has described Luthor as one of the few genuine megavillains, whose adventures cross genres, putting him in a league alongside Professor Moriarty, Count Dracula, Hannibal Lecter, Doctor Doom, and Darth Vader.If you want to hear Lex's take on all of this, click here.
Appearances:Notable Pre-Crisis comics
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