Welcome to Metropolis in 2050, as representatives of the United Planets meet in their shiny new headquarters. There’s an ongoing energy shortage in the Galaxy, but that’s quickly dealt with. The new business comes courtesy of Earth rep Lois Lane.
Nobody wants a cake-stealing stinker on board, why would the leader of a rogue planet even want to join the UP? Someone thinks he knows – Superman. It all began when…
It turns out that Lexor’s booming economy is based on worlds being terrorised and plundered by Luthor’s robots. The Man of Steel isn’t having it, and destroys the manufacturing plants on Lexor. Meanwhile, Lex doesn’t seem to be fulfilled, despite ruling a world.
As word spreads of the disappearance of the Reticulants, Lex considers his power base.
On learning that his longtime nemesis is behind his troubles, Lex dons a power suit and has at him.
Superman under the red sun of Lexor risks being defeated but he makes it back to Earth to address the UP dignitaries.
The UP come up with a plan, and it’s one that promises loads of fun next issue. Which is also what we get this month. Writer Mark Russell transplants the Luthor he gave us in his tremendous Wonder Twins books into the future for this two-issue mini, set 20 years after Superman of Metropolis and Superman: Worlds of War, and at the same time as Kara Zor-El, Superwoman. Russell taps deep into Superman lore – Lexor, the world that loves Luthor and hates Superman, debuted in 1963, while the cake references is a wink to a 1978 DC dictionary definition that became a meme.
I always enjoyed Lexor stories; by the Bronze Age Luthor’s relationships with the people there – he gained a wife and son – had given Lex depth, and readers a glimpse of the great man he might have been. Not here though – this is a lonely Lex, a man running on spite. And physically, who knows what his deal is; a line on Lex’s skull, and skin colour differences, hint that Lex may have had one alien hair transplant too many – he seems to be wearing a mask of his own face!
The satire which is Russell’s trademark is here, as is the marvellous humanity Brian Bendis has gifted Superman of late.
That’s Superman. I hope we see more work on the character and his world from Russell. And if he brings illustrator Steve Pugh with him, so much the better. Pugh co-produced a brilliant reimagining of the Flintstones with Russell and here they again gel brilliantly. If Lex is imperious, the elder Superman is positively regal in his new hero togs. And while Lois is older, she remains a smart, sexy woman. The action and aliens look terrific, too, as depicted by Pugh and coloured by Romulo Fajardo Jr. There are splendid letters, too, courtesy of Carlos M Mangual.
Yanick Paquette’s cover is a clever, good-looking piece, reminiscent of North Korean propaganda posters
As good looking as it is smart and funny, Superman Vs Imperious Lex is a standout in the Future State stable. Buy it or Lex Luthor will come and steal your cakes.