Superhero Secrets: Lex Luthor

Lex Marks the Secret

Luthor: “Do you know what happens when you take on Lex Luthor?! [empties a gun into Parasite, then starts beating the corpse] The same thing! That’s gonna happen! TO SUPERMAN!

All-Star Superman

Lex Luthor is one of DC Comics’ greatest villains. He’s battled Superman since the 40s, but many of his schemes have fallen by the wayside. There are secrets even X-Ray vision can’t see. So what are the greatest Lex Luthor Secrets? Let’s find out.

#5 The March 15th Mystery

Luthor:No! You can’t stop me here! Not now, not today!”
Superman:I can’t stop you? Why is this day different from all days?”

Superman #416 

It took Superman three years to learn this Lex Luthor Secret. Perhaps you can do better? We’ll give you all the clues you need to unravel The March 15th Mystery. Can you solve it before we do?

Luthor escaped from jail and began acting strangely. He was found sailing off the coast of New Jersey the first year. The second saw him flee to Germany and work in a patent office. The final year saw him studying at Princeton University. Superman caught him when Lex stopped to save a drowning swimmer, claiming he couldn’t let someone die on that day.

Superman realized that March 15th was Albert Einstein’s birthday. Luthor had been reenacting his personal hero’s journey, from his love of sailing to his years studying at the college. To reward him for saving the swimmer, Superman brought Luthor to visit the Smithsonian Institute’s Einstein Memorial before returning to prison.

#4 Lex Learns the Truth

Computer: “Clark Kent is Superman.”
Scientist:Oh my goodness! That would never have occurred to me! And yet, given the body of evidence, it’s logical. So flawlessly logical.”
Luthor: Logical? Is it?

Superman #2 (1987)

Lex spent decades fighting Superman with incomplete information. He never knew about Clark Kent’s connection to the Man of Steel. That changed after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. This Lex Luthor Secret is what happened when he learned Superman’s greatest secret.

Superman developed a rivalry with Lex Luthor shortly after arriving in Metropolis. The billionaire investigated him and discovered that Superman had a connection to Clark Kent. He hired a team of scientists and thugs to find the link.

The scientists sent drones to study Superman’s powers and experimented on a newly discovered element called kryptonite. The thugs roughed up the Kent family for information before kidnapping and torturing Lana Lang, Clark’s childhood sweetheart. An enraged Superman attacked Lexcorp, but Luthor warded him off with his new kryptonite ring.

Luthor fed the Superman data into a supercomputer to find the connection. It revealed that Superman was Clark Kent, to Lex’s outrage. He wouldn’t believe that someone with godlike power was wasting it as a mild-mannered reporter, because that’s not what he would have done. Lex fired the scientists for wasting his time.

#3 They Saved Luthor’s Brain!

Donavan: “Luthor, can you hear us?”
Luthor:Y-yes, I… What’s wrong… with my voice?”
Donavan:It’s electronic. We had to lose the larynx.”
Luthor: [revealed as a brain in a jar] “Damn.”

Superman: They Saved Luthor’s Brain!

Years of waging war on Superman will wreck your reputation. There’s no escape except death. Or is there? Our next Lex Luthor Secret is how he pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes.

Luthor knew that kryptonite radiation would fend off Superman, but he didn’t know it could harm humans with sufficient exposure. Years of wearing his kryptonite ring gave Lex terminal cancer. He participated in an experimental test, but died when his plane exploded. All of Lex’s fortune went to his long-lost son, Lex Luthor Jr.

Lex Jr. quickly became popular in Metropolis. He hired Supergirl as a bodyguard and even earned Superman’s respect. Someone tried to assassinate Lex, but failed and was blinded by his own explosive. A police interview revealed that he was cloning expert Dabney Donavan. Even more shocking, he claimed that Lex Jr. was actually Lex Sr.

Luthor had faked his death and hired Donavan to put his mind into a cloned body. Donavan and other scientists worked for weeks, creating a young and strong body while Luthor studied books on tape to sell the illusion that Lex Jr. was Australian. After surgery, Luthor blew up the lab to kill everyone who knew the truth.

At that moment, Lex Jr. spoke up. The police interviewing Donavan were hired goons. They murdered him, removing the last loose end. Lex enjoyed the fruits of his plan until his clone body suffered a degenerative disease, returning him to his usual appearance.

#2 The Fall of Lexor

Luthor:You’ve taken my family from me. You’ve taken my world from me. Until now, I thought I hated you as much as any one being could hate another. But I was wrong… until today, I never knew the meaning of the word! I’m coming for you, Superman, and I’ve only just begun to hate!”

Action Comics #544

Lex Luthor has always hated Superman, but lacked the power to kill him. That changed when he changed the locale. This Lex Luthor Secret is when his rivalry with Superman became personal.

Luthor had tired of endlessly struggling and challenged Superman to one final duel. They traveled to a planet with a red sun and fought, Luthor using advanced technology to bridge the gap against Superman’s waning strength. A storm separated them, leaving Lex searching for a way to win.

Lex discovered human-like aliens in a ravaged city. He saved them from wild predators and pretended to lose against Superman in exchange for his help ending their drought. The aliens viewed Luthor as their savior and renamed the world Lexor in his honor. Luthor returned to Lexor several times, even marrying a local woman and starting a family.

Luthor eventually moved to Lexor, where he discovered a heavily-armed warsuit that would make him Superman’s equal. The Man of Steel flew to Lexor to recapture Luthor and they fought until a stray laser hit a geothermal plant. The blast destabilized Lexor’s core, almost like a miniature Krypton. Luthor’s family died inches from his grasp when the planet exploded.

Superman survived and returned to Earth without knowing that a grieving Luthor had also survived and sworn vengeance anew.

#1 The Endless Debate

Luthor:In a cosmos like ours — if you accept the “Big Hand theory” of the universe’s origin — deciding on atheism isn’t a logical choice. It’s an ethical one. If there is a God, if he turns out to be… a little man in a bowler hat or something, do I at least get to put forth my case? Do I get to argue?

Action Comics #894

Death eventually comes for everyone. Even villains who survive horrific fates eventually run out of luck. Our final Lex Luthor secret is what happened when he gave Death her due.

Luthor was hunting for a source of infinite power. His search led him to Flash’s enemy Gorilla Grodd who was looking for the same thing. The hyper-intelligent ape shot Lex, who fell from an airplane. He awakened and was face to face with Death of the Endless.

Lex refused to believe the gothic teen was the embodiment of Death, but came around after witnessing her powers. They talked, discussing Lex’s past, ambitions, views on atheism, and what he ultimately wanted from life. Luthor also raged against Death for allowing the recent rampage of Black Lanterns and how heroes kept coming back to life. She was ambivalent since the resurrected will come back to her eventually.

Death brought Luthor to her realm and offered several appealing afterlives. He ordered her to send him wherever he’s meant to go. She revealed that Lex was still alive and having a near-Death experience. Luthor was resuscitated, Death’s promise that he’ll be seeing her again ringing in his ears.

What is your favorite Lex Luthor Secret? Tell us in the comments.

Image: Pictured (L-R): Tyler Hoechlin as Superman and Michael Cudlitz as Lex Luthor. Photo: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2023 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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