Volume 12 of the DC Comics Graphic Novel Collection proves it’s good to be bad. While we’ve already received one bad guy-centric edition in the form of Harley Quinn’s Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes, this one showcases Superman’s bald rival, Lex Luthor. Collecting Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #1-5 and the character’s first appearance (with a full head of red hair!) in Action Comics #23, this one’s a celebration of one of DC Comics’ greatest villains.
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel is a tale of the powerful industrialist who feels he’s losing his grip on his city. Perturbed by Superman’s growing influence as a hero to the people, Lex goes about plotting the Man of Steel’s demise by introducing his own Woman of Steel. In addition, he also recruits others, such as Bruce Wayne, to his cause.
In this thought-provoking limited series, writer Brian Azzarello delves into the psyche of Lex. He paints a much different picture of Lex than what we’ve seen before: he’s a deep, rich character that doesn’t see his actions as anything more than noble to the human race. He isn’t a mad scientist or crazed billionaire; he’s a sociopath who genuinely believes what he’s doing is right.
It isn’t hard to see that a lot of this series’ themes found their way into Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In fact, I wonder why the screenwriters didn’t stick closer to this story as its motives are much stronger than BvS’s. It has all the noir and grimdark influences that Zack Snyder loves, so it doesn’t make sense why this wasn’t the reference point rather than The Dark Knight Returns.
Azzarello’s partner in crime, Lee Bermejo, pencils absolutely gorgeous visuals. He’s worked before with Azzarello on the equally brilliant Joker, and he brings his lifelike drawings to life here as well. Every page is rich with detail and screams for you to spend one more minute taking in its sheer beauty. It’s eye-catching in the best possible way.
All in all, this volume fits in nicely with the rest of this collection. It features arguably one of the greatest Lex Luthor stories ever told and certainly kills all the darlings. Its books like these that make being a comic book fan worth it.