WANTED: Earth-Two's Most Dangerous Super-Villains
Name: Alexei Luthor
Residence: Mobile, but commonly Metropolis
Occupation: Professional Criminal
First Appearance (Golden Age): Action Comics #23 (April 1940)
First Appearance (Post-Golden Age): DC Comics Presents Annual #1 (September 1982)
Nothing is known of the early life of Alexei Luthor, including his citizenship, age or background. He first came to the world’s attention in early 1940, as Europe was beginning the slide into full scale war. Two small nations, Toran and Galonia were engaged in open hostilities, a situation that seemed amplified by misinformation and broken agreements for no reason. Clark Kent and Lois Lane journeyed to the war-torn nation to assess the situation for the Daily Star. Using the opportunity to explore things as Superman, a plot was discovered in which a Galonian General Lupo appeared to be under hypnotic control of a mysterious figure. Following Lupo to a remote area, he found him communicating with a hidden idol face and when he confronted, Lupo revealed that he been communicating with “Luthor”, and there was a plan to drag a third nation into the conflict. Enraged at betrayal, the idol face emits rays that slice Lupo in half. Superman destroys the idol but there is nothing behind it. The cavern collapses around him and when he tunnels out, Superman sees warplanes headed for the unnamed neutral and intercepts, ending Luthor’s scheme.
Kent reports his finding to leaders of both countries that they have a common enemy but is dismissed as a fraud. Luthor, realizing the American reporters are the root of his troubles, sends his minions to kidnap Kent but capture Lois Lane instead. Taking her to his flying fortress held aloft by a giant dirigible, they torture her until Superman arrives but he also is captured. Luthor reveals his plans to destabilize the world for conquest and submits them to destructive rays that weaken Superman but fail to kill him. Summoning his strength, Superman smashes the rays and grabs Luthor and Lois and heads to the control room of the flying headquarters. There Luthor’s minions attack but are quickly thrashes and the control room destroyed, sending the fortress crashing to the earth while Superman and Lois fly to safety. Luthor is presumed dead and peace is Toran and Galonia is restored (Action #23).
Luthor is not dead but follows Superman to America where he challenges Superman to a duel. In reality, the feats are designed to distract Superman while Luthor’s henchmen steal a weapon that can produce earthquakes, which he sets up for tests in Satan’s Canyon. Superman gives chase and is buried when the weapon is unleashed but he dig free and destroys it. Luthor, in the meantime, had used the device to destabilize oil wells in Oklahoma, stealing enough fuel to raise an undersea city to the surface off the Pacific Coast. He establishes a base for his global ambitions of conquest and uses genetic technology to recreate dinosaurs that he unleashes on intruders. After kidnapping Lois, Luthor is again pursued by Superman who ultimately smashes the protective dome of the city and destroys it (Superman #4). Luthor survives and uses a hypnotic form of incense to coerce business leaders to make investments that favored him. When eventually confronted by Superman, he flees in a plane that appears to crash, ending his threat forever (Superman #5).
Luthor developed a method to electrically charge his body, giving him augmented strength and the ability to emit low level electric pulses. While dangerous to ordinary men, these abilities would prove no match for Superman unless they were massively augmented. Luring Superman by capturing Lois Lane, Luthor send the Kryptonian to see the Powerstone, an ancient artifact that would drastically augment his abilities. Superman recovered the stone but swapped with it a replica, deceiving Luthor into releasing Lane and allowing him to be arrested for the first time (Action #47). Several months later, Luthor was scheduled to be executed by the electric chair the voltage amped up the treatments he had received earlier and he broke free. Seeking the real Powerstone himself, his capture of it greatly augmented his powers to enormous strength, size-changing abilities and the drainage of Superman’s own powers. Superman eventually goads Luthor into displays of powers, one of which cases him to drop the Powerstone, losing his abilities. Facing defeat, Luthor exploded his headquarters, seemingly destroying himself as Superman and others escaped (Superman #17).
Luthor reappeared soon after using rays on a meteor to overheat Metropolis but intervention by Superman sent him back to prison (Superman #18). For the next several years, Luthor settled into a role of professional criminals. Some of his activities were fairly mundane such as committing robberies using vibration technology (Superman #31), using a local fortune teller to engage in deceit (Action #125), animating statues to attack Superman (Action #146) and kidnapping Perry White and replacing him with a robot to avenge his ego on the Daily Planet (Action #166).
In 1942, Luthor developed a method to electrically charge his body, giving him augmented strength and the ability to emit low level electric pulses. While dangerous to ordinary men, these abilities would prove no match for Superman unless they were massively augmented. Luring Superman by capturing Lois Lane, Luthor send the Kryptonian to see the Powerstone, an ancient artifact that would drastically augment his abilities. Superman recovered the stone but swapped with it a replica, deceiving Luthor into releasing Lane and allowing him to be arrested for the first time (Action #47). Several months later, Luthor was scheduled to be executed by the electric chair the voltage amped up the treatments he had received earlier and he broke free. Seeking the real Powerstone himself, his capture of it greatly augmented his powers to enormous strength, size-changing abilities and the drainage of Superman’s own powers. Superman eventually goads Luthor into displays of powers, one of which causes him to drop the Powerstone, losing his abilities. Facing defeat, Luthor exploded his headquarters, seemingly destroying himself as Superman and others escaped (Superman #17).
Luthor reappeared soon after using rays on a meteor to overheat Metropolis but intervention by Superman sent him back to prison (Superman #18). For the next several years, Luthor settled into a role of professional criminals. Some of his activities were fairly mundane such as committing robberies using vibration technology (Superman #31), using a local fortune teller to engage in deceit (Action #125), animating statues to attack Superman (Action Comics #146) and kidnapping Perry White and replacing him with a robot to avenge his ego on the Daily Planet).
At other times, he pulled off grander schemes including partnering with alien beings (Superman #34), harnessing nuclear power (Superman #38), harvesting unusual elements from meteors (Superman #43) and inventing new devices like Atom Scramblers (Action #131, synthetic kryptonite (Action #141), evaporation rays (Superman #71) and giant robots of himself (Superman #81). He once even acquired Kryptonian technology directly from a cache of weapons that survived the destruction of Krypton (Superman #74). While Luthor most commonly worked alone, he did occasionally team-up with other Superman adversaries including Mr. Mxyzptlk, The Toyman and the Prankster (Action #151, Superman #88). Luthor plagued Superman well into the 1950’s, his last recorded case in this decade being the use of an ancient magical mask he found in an Indian burial mound (Superman Family #210).
Luthor’s activities for next two decades are unrecorded. In the early 1980’s the Lex Luthor of Earth-One deduced that he must also have a counterpart on Earth-Two and used transdimensional technology hidden on a henchman to switch places with Alexei. The two battled their opposing counterparts and defeated again, fled to Earth-Three where they allied with Ultraman, the evil counterpart of Superman on this Earth. The group was defeated by the arrival of the Supermen of Earths-One and –Two and the unlikely heroism of Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three, who became that Earth’s first super-hero (DC Comics Presents Annual #1). Soon thereafter, the Crisis on Infinite Earths began and Brainiac assembled a team of super-villains to exploit the chaos. Luthor was drawn to this but attempted to assert leadership over his Earth-One counterpart with whom Brainiac was more familiar. Declaring that two Luthors were not needed, Brainiac disintegrated the Luthor of Earth-Two (Crisis on Infinite Earths #9).
Powers and Abilities
Alexei Luthor's primary strength was his prodigious genius-level intellect. He had an extensive knowledge of physical, chemical and biological sciences combined with engineering expertise in all three areas. This gave him the ability to create weapons, devices, novel compounds and life-forms both new and established, He was sufficiently successful to have resources to fund his criminal enterprise including hired henchmen and various bases of operation around the globe.
Weaknesses and Limitations
Luthor's major weakness was his extreme arrogance which often caused him to underestimate even the Man of Steel as adversary and he could be goaded into his own defeat even when was possessed of a superior position. Whether the manipulations he performed on his own person over the years had any effects on his health or longevity were never determined.
While most Luthors carry specific enmity with the Kryptonian counterpart, few are more personal that the Luthor of Earth-One. Like the Superman of Earth-One, Lex Luthor grew up in Smallville and was a childhood friend of Clark Kent. A deep admirer of Superboy, Luthor saved the young hero by moving a kryptonite meteor away from him, saving his life. In gratitude, Superboy built Luthor a state-of-the-art laboratory and Luthor, in deeper gratitude, attempted to make a chemical that would render Superboy invulnerable to Kryptonite. In so doing, he started a lab fire that caused him to call for help but Superboy’s use of his super-breath to extinguish the fire inadvertently mixed some chemicals, causing all of Luthor’s hair to fall out. Blaming Superboy rather than himself, Luthor swore vengeance and to become the Kryptonian;s great adversary (Adventure Comics #271). His antics drive his parents to leave town and abandon him, changing their name to Thorul and protecting his younger sister Lena from knowing she was the sister of a notorious criminal.
After several years of attacks on Superboy and referral to reform school, Luthor followed Superman to Metropolis and continued his vendetta. Notable activities of the Earth-One Luthor include the creation of the race of Bizarros by enhancing the original duplicator technology of Smallville’s Professor Dalton (Action Comics #254-256), the rescue of the planet Lexor (Superman #164) and team-ups with the Joker (World’s Finest #88, #177, Joker #7) and Brainiac (Superman #167, Superman #173 and Action #335). In the late 1970’s, he adopted a weaponized costume (Superman #282) that he later upgraded with technology he obtained upon returning to Lexor (Action #544). While living there, he learned that he had fathered a son and vowed to reform. His old ways returned and in a battle with Superman, he inadvertently destroyed Lexor, killing his wife and son. His animus for Superman became all the greater still. He remain active on Earth-One until the Crisis on Infinite Earths, in which he was a major player in Brainiac’s army of villains (Crisis on Infinite Earths LS). His current activities are unknown.
The Luthor in the Post-Crisis timeline grew up in the slums of Metropolis and rose to prominence as a businessman and political operator. He attempted to manipulate and exploit the newly arrived Superman but instead was arrested for public endangerment for his antics. The humiliation led him to become the sworn enemy of Superman (Man of Steel LS #4). Over the years, the version of Superman was more a manipulator and architect of crime rather than engaging in direct combat with Superman. He wore a Kryptonite ring to evade capture by Superman but eventually succumbs to cancer from its radiation (Action #660). He faked his death to move his consciousness to a clone, ostensibly his son that he used to resume his activities until the clone deteriorated into advanced age. A deal with the demon Neron restored Luthor to full health (Underworld Unleashed) and with a clear record, he returned to Metropolis. He was eventually elected President of the United States (President Luthor: Secret Files and Origins) but was ultimately impeached after his activities were exposed by Superman and Batman, causing him to resign and leave the office to Vice-President Pete Ross (Superman/Batman Vol.1 #6).
After remaining underground for some period of time, he re-emerged in his warsuit in a more traditional super-villain role, being an ally of Libra (Final Crisis LS), the architect of the murder of Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three (Infinite Crisis LS) and acquiring temporary use of a orange ring of Greed (Blackest Night LS). He was active before the Flashpoint event but his current fate is unknown.
Current Earth-0/Prime Earth
The Lex Luthor of the current timeline grew up on Smallville and became a business leader with ties to the US military. He ultimately manipulated military operations in Qurac, leading his initial confrontation with Superman and his first imprisonment. During the invasion of Earth by the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3, he helped repel the invaders (Forever Evil LS) and ultimately became a member of the Justice League (Justice League #30). He eventually fell from grace, formed a new Legion of Doom and ushered in Perpetua to remake the Multiverse (Dark Nights: Metal LS). His fate remains unclear.
Alexander Luthor and his wife Alexandra are a pair of genius level scientists and business executives, commonly called Lex2. While the two help the government try to better understand and potentially combat Superman. When the Kryptonian Zod arrives Earth to kill Kal-El and conquer the planet, Alexander ultimately sacrifices his life to save the planet. Alexandra only sees her own loss and vows to destroy Superman, adopting the name Lex Luthor (Superman:Earth One #3).
Various versions of Luthor have emerged on this world and like their counterparts, oppose the counterpart of Superman on their world. In this case, the counter is Ultraman, an evil Kryptonian and paranoid warlord over Metropolis. Versions of Luthor tend to be good, either a more lawful variety (DC Comics Presents Annual #1, Crime Syndicate LS Vol. 1) or a more chaotic kind bent on destroying
In this gender-switched timeline, a bald female Luthor exists on Earth-11 and is an adversary of Superwoman. Nothing else is known of her history (Countdown Presents: Superwoman/Batwoman #1).
The Luthor of this timeline is thought to have a fairly similar history as the Prior Earth-0/Post-Crisis version. In the future, Luthor is thought to be dead and his empire inherited by his daughter Lucinda. Whether her father is truly dead remains unclear (Superman Beyond).
A wizard version of Luthor exists in this timeline and is apparently killed by the Luthor of the Prime Earth timeline. Whether that holds true remains to be seen (Lex Luthor: Year of the Villain #1).
A version of Lex Luthor is known to exist in this timeline but his history is largely unknown (DC: The New Frontier LS).
The Lex Luthor of the Earth-22 timeline is thought to have a similar history to at least the early part of the Post-Crisis Luthor or perhaps the Luthor of Earth-One. In the early parts of the 21st century, the aging Luthor helps assemble a group of villains masquerading as the Mankind Liberation Front to oppose the return of Superman and the Justice League after years if chaotic superhuman vigilantism. He has developed mental control of Billy Batson/Captain Marvel who serves as his personal bodyguard until the control is broken and Marvel sacrifices himself to stop the nuclear destruction of superhumans battling in Kansas. Luthor is arrested and out to work serving in a clinic to help survivors of that apocalyptic battle (Kingdom Come LS).
In this timeline, Luthor is also opposed to Superman, this time President Calvin Ellis. A white man in a predominantly black world, he has a similar modus operandi and most versions of Luthor and insists he is unmotivated by racism (Action Vol. 2 #9). His interest in the multiverse lures him in a pact with Darkseid and ultimately gets him killed (Infinite Frontier #4).
Several Luthors have existed in the Bizarroverse, some who are allies or help Bizarro (Adventure Comics #293-294), some who are red-head opponents (Superman Vol. 4 #44) and some who are bald opponents (Action #856). Whether all of these are the same character or unstable variants in a common theme in unclear.
The Luthor of the Earth-30 timeline is an American scientist in the 196-'s, enlisted by the US Government to deal with the presence of a Kryptonian powerhouse residing in the Soviet Union. After several experiments, including the creation of Bizarros and the Green Lantern Corps, failed to arrest Superman's progress. Luthor devotes himself full time to the Soviet hero's defeat. As America fades in prominence in the shadow of Soviet power, Luthor eventually assumes the presidency and eventually learns to defeat Superman using his wits rather than power of his science, convincing the Kryptonian that his strategy of control through strength would never truly allow greatness, a realization that drove Superman to abandon his role as protector and allow Superman to rule the world through benevolent science. Luthor lived nearly 1000 years, created enormous benefits to humanity and died a legendary hero of the human race (Red Son LS).
This version of Luthor was born in the early part of the 20th century and ultimately became a henchman to the Ultra-Humanite. When the elder villain lay near death, he murdered Luthor and placed his brain in the younger man's body. He then became known as Lex Luthor, Superman's ultimate nemesis until his true identity was revealed when he was finally defeated decades later (Generations LS Vol. 1). The brain of Luthor was preserved and found it's way into the hands of alien beings who, in the early 21st century, placed it in a robot body where it adopted the name Metalo and returned to Earth to seek conquest. He was eventually defeated by the heroes of Earth-38 and returned to the aliens for further study (Generations LS Vol. 2).