Superman: The Last Days of Lex Luthor #1 – Mark Waid, Writer; Bryan Hitch, Penciller; Kevin Nowlan, Inker; David Baron, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: Mark Waid has written some of Superman’s most iconic stories, but he’s never had an extended run on the main book. Instead, he’s focused on flashbacks and stand-alone tales that break the character of Superman down to his bare essentials. He may be on the verge of another classic with this Elseworlds that focuses in on the complex rivalry between Superman and Lex Luthor, combining moments in the present and the past. The oversized first issue opens with a dazzling segment where Superman races to a small island nation under assault by a trademark purple-and-green robot. As Luthor tries to flood the island, Superman pushes the boundaries of physics to save everyone there. And then Luthor reveals his game—he’s dying, courtesy of radiation sickness caused by an experiment with Kryptonite. His attempts to find a cure have failed—and so he wants Superman’s help.
Luthor manipulating Superman into helping him is not an entirely new story, but Waid does a great job of showing this complex scorpion-and-frog dynamic they have, with Luthor always seconds away from a shocking betrayal as they travel to Kandor and the Phantom Zone. But why is Superman so determined to save Luthor? It all has to do with Luthor’s start of darkness, dating back to Smallville when the two were teenage friends. Clark was a farmboy seeking something more, and Luthor was an offcious young genius who seemed to take personal offense when the residents didn’t appreciate his interventions. It’s clear that both saw something similar in the other, but it’s also clear that Lex was a toxic friend who never revealed his secrets to Clark and was treating him as much like a science experiment as anything. It all comes together into an incredibly compelling tale of friendship, betrayal, life, and death.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.