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Superman 193
"Lex Luthor, Hero! (1)"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND (80 Page Giant #31) "Lex Luthor, Hero!" Part 1 January/February, 1967

Story: Jerry Siegel Art: Curt Swan and George Klein

The beginning of a three-part imaginary novel which may or may not happen, filled with surprises! Lex Luthor has been the man of steel's nemesis, determined to destroy Superman, but now on this imaginary day, their feud ends! Luthor reforms, and both men become friends! Incredible? Prepare to be astonished when you read the first chapter of ... "Lex Luthor, Hero!" On the splash page, all of Metropolis are cheering Luthor, who is given a parade, and is carried on a grandstand by the man of steel, himself!

One imaginary afternoon at Metropolis Prison, Lex Luthor is strolling by the rock pile, when he sees a strangely glowing rock! When the guard tells him to keep walking, Luthor punches him, to the astonishment of his fellow inmates. The guard tells Luthor that he'll lose his cushy job in the prison library, but the criminal scientist doesn't care, and says that he could be placed on the rock pile for all he cares! The following day, Luthor is at work on the rock pile, where he can examine the glowing rock in secret. As he has suspected, it is no ordinary rock, and knows by its appearance that it is a meteor from space! He slips a handful of the crushed rock in his pocket, while the guard's back is turned. At night in his cell, Luthor sees that the meteor granules are giving off a multi-colored brilliance in the dark, and feel warm to the touch. He believes that this is Element "Z." (Holy Selegue, Batman!)

Element "Z" is a mysterious chemical substance which he has believed to exist in the universe, and if it is now reacing Earth, he is on the edge of a grand discovery! Morning finds Luthor in the warden's office, where his request to use the prison hospital laboratory for 24 hours is being denied. He insists that he can find a cure for cancer, but the warden is sure that if Luthor were to be left with the equipment, he would invent a new method of jailbreaking. Since he is a scientist and since Cancer is a deadly disease, Luthor can't see why the warden wouldn't let him try, but the official wonders why the criminal scientist has gotten so concerned all of a sudden. He knows that Luthor's inventions have been used for criminal purposed and have been thwarted by the man of steel. Luthor tells the warden that he has come to the realization that it was wrong of him to use his knowledge against mankind. He wishes to atone, and the warden reluctantly agrees to his petition...

Luthor labors through the night, his every move watched by an armed guard. When the 24 hours have passed, the scientist presents the warden with a serum which he says will cure cancer. The warden returns Luthor to the rock-pile, while having some reputable scientists go over the claim. Later that day... the warden tells Luthor that cancer patients have been cured by the serum, and the scientist assures him that the effects of Element "Z" are permanent! The warden congratulates Luthor, who will no doubt be remembered as humanity's benefactor, but the prisoner is pleased, and wants no reward... other than make up for his evil past. At the Daily Planet, news of Luthor's cancer cure impresses the staff, and mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent heads for a empty alley, where he changes to Superman... Since Luthor has made a invaluable contribution to science, it's now the man of steel's turn!

Superman soars into space, in search of the rare element... his microscopic-vision soon spots a meteor swarm containing Element "Z." He rams into the swarm and forms it into a large ball... Back on Earth, the large ball of "Element "Z" is presented to the United Nations as a gift to cure everyone who suffers from cancer. Days later, Luthor is called before the parole board... they are skeptical, but the man of steel has arrived to speak on the scientist's behalf! The board values the opinion of the man who faced Luthor on many occasions... and Superman is convinced by his sincerity to atone for his past.

Since Luthor has cured cancer, there's no telling what else the scientist is capable of. The man of steel asks the board that Luthor be given a chance to go straight! Parole is granted, and Luthor thanks Superman for coming forward on his behalf. As Luthor leaves through the prison gates, the man of steel offers to help him with a fresh start... and the scientist asks him to fly him to his former secret headquarters. The two men fly down near an impressive building... an abandoned museum, which used to be Luthor's hideout. The eyes of a large statue signalled whenever Superman flew by. On the ground, a shake of "Caesar's" hand opens a secret doorway into Luthor's Lair! Since he's reformed, Luthor is showing the man of steel his secrets...

Inside, they see Luthor's Hall of Heroes... statues of Atilla The Hun... Genghis Khan... Captain Kidd... Al Capone! He asks Superman to smash the statues... and tells him that he'll sell the place, rent a laboratory in an office building, and operate in the open like any respectable scientist. With their feud over, they reminisce about past battles, such as the time Luthor invented an atomic-powered top, which destroyed an entire town! The man of steel built a circular track on a huge raft, then dumped the giant top into the ocean!

Superman recalls when Luthor's imperfect duplicator ray created Bizarro, and how the idiot of steel has caused problems for him over the years. Once Luthor has disposed of his hideout, he rents a lab in an office building... and is holding an interview with reporters, where he announces that he'll find a cure for... heart disease! They realizes how wonderful it is to have the scientist concentrating his knowledge on mankind's woes than adding to them! Once the reporters have left... Duke Garner and Al Mantz, two underworld thugs have entered to speak with Luthor! They want him to kill Superman or they'll kill him!

Maybe it's me, but I find Silver Age Lex Luthor in prison greys much more interesting than Present-Day President Lex Luthor.

Radio actor Jackson Beck has been the voice of Lex Luthor, as well as the narrator on the Superman Radio Show, as well as in the '60s Filmation Superman cartoons. He is also the voice of Bluto and Brutus on the Popeye cartoons. Mr. Beck has also done voice-over work for the "Little Caesar" pizza commercials.

Superboy has met Genghis Khan in the pages of his own comic.

Clark Kent has met Al Capone during a time-travel trip to the Roaring Twenties after being exposed to Titano's Kryptonite-Vision in the pre-historic past.

In an episode of the Filmation Superman cartoon, the man of steel places the point of a pyramid on his hand, and spins it like a top!

In Comic Effect #36, Greg Schienke cites Superman #193 as one of the ten comics which has changed his life.

Parts Two and Three, to be reviewed soon...

This Review Is Dedicated To Greg Schienke

Steve Chung
"Lex Luthor, Review!"