It should come as no surprise that everyone here at io9 has a not-so-secret love for Lex Luthor. After all, what's not to love? A self-made man who also happens to be a mad scientific genius driven by his own selfish desires and overwhelming ego, he isn't so much a fictional character to us as much as a constant inspiration for at least three quarters of the people who write for this site. And we're not the only people who feel this way, apparently.What draws us to Lex isn't his religious background (Although, really, did you know that he was a Nietzschean atheist? Or even that such a thing existed?), but rather his single-minded dedication to his goal. This, after all, is a man who became President of the United States purely to piss off Superman. A man who cured cancer purely as a ruse to make Superman trust him, so that he could double-cross him later. A man who would die, then come back to life in a cloned body, pretending to be his own repentant son, hook up with Supergirl, buy the Daily Planet and then try to destroy all of Metropolis, just to make Superman's life difficult. And yet, despite that, he's more than a one-note villain, as Christopher Bird understands:
Why is Luthor so complicated when compared to other supervillains? I'm not kidding when I say you can sum up Dr. Doom's innermost character motivation in one sentence (more importantly, in one sentence and accurately). Lex is a book where most supervillains are a sentence. Why is that? The answer's pretty obvious and wears a big red cape. Lex is going to be more complex because his enemy, the battle he fights, is more mythic by far than any other. If you look at the ranks of great comic villains - and I'm talking the true greats here - they're generally either on some level either the equal of the hero(es) they loathe (the Joker, the Green Goblin, Dr. Doom, Sinestro) or their superior (Galactus, Dormammu, Magneto on the high end of the power scale, the Anti-Monitor). But Luthor is unique - definitively the only great villain who is, by any reasonable standard, weaker than his archenemy. Remember, Superman isn't just powerful - he's also smart, and wise, and personable, and generally possessed of a huge number of admirable quality traits, and he has a ton of friends who are also for the most part more powerful than Luthor is (and who all hate Luthor too), and he has alien technology nobody else does, and a secret fortress, and a super-cousin, and a super-dog. Luthor doesn't have any of that. Luthor has brains, determination and cojones, and that's it. Sometimes he has a corporation, sometimes a secret science fortress, but that's all ephemeral stuff. Other villains fight men. Luthor is, when you get down to brass tacks, a man trying to fight God.
That's just one part of Bird's impressive essay in honor of Luthor, which also points out the high- and low-points of the character's history (Even including his own planet, Lexor - Yes, really; he found a populated planet in outer space, claimed it for his own and named it after himself. And you wondered why we love him so? Even though he, uh, was also accidentally responsible for the destruction of said planet due to his hate for Superman). If you don't already worship at the church of the 20th century's greatest mad scientist, it's a good place to go and learn the error of your ways, and if you do, then go there and remember why you were right to do so in the first place.
Luthor is more than just a bald Kevin Spacey, dear readers. Luthor is Luthor. On Luthor [MightyGodKing]