I know it is blasphemy to say it, but I like the 52/Rebirth Lex Luthor more than the classical Luthor. The versions of Luthor before Rebirth were just an evil, megalomaniacal scientist or an evil, greedy businessman. He was pretty much pure black to Superman’s white. You could be sure that if Luthor did something that benefited people, there was an angle for him to exploit before too long.
The current version of Luthor is certainly ruthless when he feels the need for it, but he seems much more conflicted. He lives in a gray world where he wants to think that he is not only benefitting himself but that he is making the world a better place by working to get rid of aliens. (The outer space kind, not the over-the-border ones.)
He is even willing to exploit alien technology to rid the Earth of aliens and their influence. And while others might see that as a paradox, Luthor certainly does not.
Interestingly, it is his xenophobia that becomes his weakness in this issue. His Apokoliptian-based armor compromised by Mr. Oz and then exploited by the Machinist. He is losing control of his armor and the more he uses his armor to attack Superman, the more he is taking on the characteristics of Darkseid. (Strangely, we never see the same thing happen to cyborg, who is even more dependant on a motherbox.) Luthor has to fight to retain his humanity as much as he needs to fight Superman and the Machinist’s mind-tick. He finds himself right at Nietzsche’s point of having the abyss stare back at him.
I really enjoyed how Rob Williams (2000 AD, Suicide Squad, Unfollow) and Guillem March (Red Hood & The Outlaws, Trinity) played with the themes of humanity and alienness. The struggle within Luthor to retain his humanity as he was becoming more and more Apokoliptian was contrasted by Superman’s innate humanity despite physically being an alien. Superman is trying to reach the part of Lex that is still human and connect with that.
There are a lot of theories floating around out there over the real identity of Mr. Oz. I haven’t been taking part in them, mainly because, so many of them would be so disappointing if they turn out to be true. Williams drops another clue in this issue as he makes it clear that Mr. Oz is smarter than Luthor and there are so few characters who fit that bill. It looks like all the wild speculation will end next month when it looks like Mr. Oz will reveal himself.
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Guillem March
Cover Artists: Guillem March & Tomeu Morey