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The warped scientific genius who has been Superman's most dangerous enemy for over six decades. An evil genius and avowed enemy of humanity, he is the greatest renegade scientist of all time and one of the most dangerous evil-doers in the universe.
In an early encounter with Superman, Luthor described himself as "Just an ordinary man - but with the brain of a super-genius!" (1940), yet the texts portray him as a crazed scientist and master-fiend, a wily scientific genius with a consuming urge to conquer the world.
Although Superman clearly considers Luthor one of the world's greatest scientists, despite the fact that he is a criminal, the Man of Steel has also described Luthor as a "madman" and a "fiend" and numbered him among the world's worst villains. "With that fantastic brain of his," reflects Clark Kent in September 1962, "Luthor is a menace to the entire universe!"
"Of all Superman's foes," notes Action Comics 294, "none is more relentless than Luthor, Earth's most evil criminal scientist! Luthor's driving ambition has always been to enslave the Earth, but Superman has always stood in the way!"
In his earliest appearances in the chronicles, Luthor has a full head of bright red hair, although in one text his hair is colored a dark, purplish gray. From 1941 onward, however, Luthor is portrayed as completely bald-headed, an aspect of his physical appearance which he retains to this day. In the early 1960s, however, after the history of Luthor's relationship with Superman has been revised in the chronicles to allow for the creation of adventures pitting Luthor against the Man of Steel during the period when both men were teen-agers, it is stated that Luthor's baldness was originally caused by an accidental laboratory explosion that occured while the two were still youngsters in Smallville. "My arch-enemy, Luthor, might have been the world's greatest benefactor!" sighs Superman aloud in November 1962. "But he lost his hair in an accidental explosion and blamed me for his baldness! In his bitterness he became Earth's most evil criminal scientist!"
The texts describe Lex Luthor as as man of "insane conceit" and "incredible evil features." Particularly in his early appearances, he is unbelievably ruthless.
Luthor's lifelong goal has always been mastery of the world as the first stage of his even grander scheme to dominate the universe.
On more than hundreds of separate occasions, Superman has intervened valiantly to thwart Luthor's seething ambition for power.
In his effort to destroy Superman and thereby pave the way for his conquest of the universe, Luthor has created "luthorite," synthesized kryptonite, and produced dozens of extraordinary inventions. He has, however, despite his genius, shown scant insight into the vast difference in values that sets him irrevocably apart from his super-powered opponent.
In the course of his villainous career, Luthor has employed numerous secret hideouts and headquarters - places where he could perfect his diabolical inventions and concoct his intricate schemes, safe, at least for a time, from the prying eyes of Superman. Over the years, Luthor's hideouts have included a complex of buildings held aloft by a giant dirigible high above the stratosphere, a glass-enclosed city of ancient, weird design, an abandoned factory, a gigantic man-made meteor floating in outer space, an abandoned barn, a secret underground lab, a giant spaceship, a secret mountaintop laboratory, an electronics firm, a hidden laboratory on the outskirts of Metropolis, a laboratory hideout that has been lined with lead to conceal it from Superman's X-ray vision, a massive fortresslike citadel on a lonely mountaintop north of Metropolis, a lonely farmhouse in the mountains north of Metropolis, a secret lead-lined subterranean hideout built into the side of a grassy hill, and the elaborately equipped Luthor's Lair, Luthor's Lair II, and Luthor's Lair No. 5.
Aliases and alternate identities employed by Luthor in the course of his villainous career have included Zytal, Carlyle Allerton, Mr. Smith, Professor Clyde, Professor Guthrie, The Defender, and Luthor the Noble.
Luthor has fought more than one hundred separate battles with Superman. Superman's mementoes of these mighty battles - including confiscated weapons, inventions, and other devices - are on display in the Fortress of Solitude and in the Superman Museum. At least one of Luthor's inventions - a device designed to summon beings from the fourth dimension - is on display in the Fortress of Solitude's forbidden weapons of crime-dom exhibit, while four of his super-scientific weapons - a money magnet, a vault-blaster, an earthquake maker, and an atomic death ray - are on display, along with a bust of Luthor, in the Fortress's wax museum of crime.
On the far distant planet of Lexor, the one world in the universe where Luthor is considered a hero, Luthor's exploits have been glorified by the dedication of a Luthor Museum and by the erection of a gigantic standing statue of Luthor in Lexor's capital city.
Luthor's living relatives include his Lexorian wife Ardora and his blond sister Lena Thorul, who is gifted with the power of extrasensory perception. His descendants include the ruthless Rohtul, a villain living in the thirtieth century A.D.
Luthor's Lair is an abandoned museum - situated smack in the middle of Metropolis - that serves as Lex Luthor's hideout and base of operations.
Described as a building that was once a great museum - but is now ignored and abandoned, Luthor's Lair was purchased by Luthor long ago, under an alias, and transformed into a gigantic, elaborately equipped headquarters, its hallways lined with lead to shield its secrets against Superman's penetrating X-ray vision.
The building itself is an imposing two- or three- story affair, fronted by a colonnaded entranceway adorned with a statue of Julius Caesar. Shaking the hand of the statue releases a secret mechanism which opens the building's massive front door. Mounted atop the building is a gigantic statue of classical design which is actually the first stage of a rocket ship capable of carrying Luthor on journeys into outer space. Inside the building, a special tele-screen tuned to hidden cameras in the eyes of the collosal statue enables Luthor to scan the surrounding city for the possible approach of Superman or other intruders.
Elsewhere in the interior of the building is a bizarre Hall of Heroes, lined with full-color, life-sized statues of Luthor's personal heroes, evildoers such as Atilla the Hun, Genghis Khan, Captain Kidd, Al Capone, Nero, Blackbeard, and Benedict Arnold. "Many times when I've felt discouraged," remarks Luthor to one of his henchmen in 1961, "I've come here - and gone away uplifted, inspired to go on with my work!"
Just as Superman's Fortress of Solitude contains the famed bottle city of Kandor, so does Luthor's Lair contain a bottled land, a primeval jungle, filled with all sorts of weird flora and fauna, which Luthor once captured and reduced after probing into another dimension.
Other features of Luthor's Lair include Luthor's elaborately equipped workshop, where, in Luthor's words, "I invent my great machines for crime - and for my forthcoming conquest of Superman," and a special Reminder Room papered with crossed-out calendar pages. "Those crossed-out calendar days remind me how many years I've spent in prison because of Superman, " explains Luthor, "--and that I must never lag in my war against him!"
Although Superman first encounters Luthor in April 1940, when both men are full-grown adults, the later chronicles extend the relationship between the two adversaries all the way back to their boyhood in Smallville, where Superman and Luthor were close boyhood friends until the day when Luthor lost his hair in an accidental laboratory mishap that he misguidedly blamed on the teen-aged Superman. In his bitterness, Luthor became Earth's most evil criminal scientist and the greatest enemy Superman has ever known.
(See also LEXOR, LEXCORP, and LUTHOR'S POWER SUIT)
Text on this page taken from The Great Superman Book © 1978; by Michael L. Fleisher.
Lex Luthor © DC Comics
The Saga of Lex Luthor:How Luthor Met Superboy The Luthor Nobody Knows The Einstein Connection The Ghost of Superman Future Luthor's Gift
Intro by E. Nelson Bridwell
About Lex Luthor