etragedy's Superman: Birthright #8 - Lex Luthor in Smallville review

Redo Superman's Origin, See? Make It More Like 'Smallville', See?


#9: 'Birthright'

It has become increasingly clear that Superman: Birthright was somehow mandated in some misguided attempt to make Superman comics square with what screenwriters were writing in the then-popular TV series 'Smallville'. The Lex Luthor, boy genius of Superman: Secret Origin was hard enough to take, but Birthright erases that version of Luthor and takes it way further - instead of Luthor engineering his father's demise, it comes from a lab experiment Lex wanted to show Clark. It involved kryptonite, and when Clark was pained by the meteorite, Lex completely looses it, goes ape-shit, and throws him out the lab - based on the expression on his face!

There are a lot of other credibility stretchers in this issue two, such as a poor small-town high school saying no to a rich family offering to cover the costs of a new football stadium (and said football team's engineered defeat taking down bookies - since when does that kind of money ride on backwoods high school teams?).

But beyond the incidentals, there is a bigger reason why I don't like the 'Birthright' version of Luthor. He's basically a guy who (as Jonathan Kent insinuates in this issue) was born that way. Basically the born-bad idea just isn't as compelling as a Luthor who achieves the extraordinary in life by his intellect, drive, and hard work, only to be upstaged by a guy who actually was born extraordinary. The Luthor that slowly descends into evil is far more interesting a Luthor than the one who was just bad to begin with. That's what made the whole John Byrne, Man of Steel Luthor, and thus Superman, so interesting.

I've long since stopped caring about what happens in 'Birthright'. At this point only a morbid sense of completionism spurs me on.

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