“Action Comics Special #1” Puts Lex Luthor in President Trump’s Origin Story

Today’s release of “Action Comics Special #1” includes a story titled “Suprema Est Lex” by Mark Russell and Jill Thompson which gives us a look at a different side of Lex Luthor. It’s also a story that takes place at an event currently in the headlines: the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with writer Mark Russell to discuss the story and the inspiration behind it. Here’s part of the interview…

Why did you choose to set the story at the Correspondents’ Dinner? Was there a sense of, “Clark Kent’s career as journalist is particularly important these days” or something else? Despite the setting, Clark is almost incidental to the actual story…

It was really a story about Lex Luthor, and the function that a sort of lese-majeste plays in our democracy. How you need to worry about someone who takes themselves that seriously; it’s kind of the worst attribute someone can have in power, to take themselves so seriously. It leads them to believe they’re infallible, and that’s when they double down on their worst attributes.

The story makes clear the contrast between how Lex Luthor sees himself and how the world sees him. I don’t want to be too obvious, but the Lex Luthor as Donald Trump analogue is very clear here, especially the way the story mirrors Seth Meyers’ 2011 speech at the Correspondents’ Dinner. Do you see Trump as a Lex Luthor-Type figure, or is it more about the ego of both, and their shared desire to be close to power?

It’s all about the ego and closeness to power. I don’t see [Trump] as having, even, the foresight to be much of a super villain. It’s more about the danger that ego poses to power; what a bad combination that is. And it really is, in large part, based on the White House Correspondents’ Dinner that Seth Meyers did, where he was roasting Donald Trump and you see Donald Trump in the background, steaming, getting increasingly angry and more uncomfortable. This comic is, what was going on in that person’s head while they were sitting there. Someone who takes themselves so seriously, what goes through their head when they’re confronted with people laughing at them.

You can read the complete interview at the Hollywood Reporter website.

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23 Comments on "“Action Comics Special #1” Puts Lex Luthor in President Trump’s Origin Story"

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Duke
Member

“Privileged white guy”
Yeah, getting tired of hearing that garbage, sad to see it’s made it’s way into Superman books now.

Kal-Elvis
Member

I saw it talk about privilege, but where did you see “privileged white guy”? I didn’t see that anywhere.

The idea does have some merit, depending on what origin for Lexcorp we’re going with. Personally, I prefer the Post-Crisis “rags to riches”, but there’ve been a few that would fit this (“Smallville” is one example).

Duke
Member

Look at the picture on the top right were the artist drew Clark to look like Stephen Colbert

neal bailey
Editor
If you’re tired of hearing about privilege, imagine how tired some people are of having to deal with not having it every day. Superman fights for the underprivileged. It’s in his DNA. If that bugs you, I’d advise finding another superhero, because a Superman that’s for privilege is a Superman in name only. I’m a white dude who really hasn’t benefitted too much from his privilege in my life, but only a fool can’t see the stark dichotomy between the privileged and the non-privileged, and being angry that pop culture is invested in exploring it is shooting yourself in the… Read more »
NeoRanger
Member

I’d advise finding another superhero, because a Superman that’s for privilege is a Superman in name only

Bad form, Bailey. You should know better by now.

neal bailey
Editor

Yeah, jeeze, what unmitigated gall I have, suggesting Superman might not like one group being treated better than another.

I’m surprised you can’t see me through the internet rolling my eyes right now.

NeoRanger
Member

You’re not the arbiter of who gets to be a Superman fan. You’re not the gatekeeper of the character.

neal bailey
Editor
Ah, yeah, accusing the guy who worked for ten years to bring fans across the board toward liking Superman of gatekeeping, that’s your point? That’s your burn? The guy who could, literally, with the press of two buttons, ban you from the site, but instead is choosing to engage you and communicate with you and foster your fandom in spite of what you’re accusing me of, THAT guy is saying who can and can’t be a fan? *snerk* Might want to think that one through more. And to be abundantly clear, because it seems subtlety ain’t your jam, I am… Read more »
NeoRanger
Member

What the hell happened to you? What is this self-important drivel you keep spouting? You’re dabbling in generalities now, when you’re speaking to individuals? “If you’re one of the people–“, you made that assumption about the guy, Neal! He made a sentence-long statement and you went into a tangent! You were absolutely gatekeeping! Are we playing with words now?

neal bailey
Editor

I’m sorry, was that meant to be a coherent thought?

It’s not.

Jeremiahboor
Member

How is calling Lex a “privileged white guy” fighting for the underprivileged?

I think the problem people have with this kind of rhetoric is the implication that there is something wrong with being white, male, or well off.

A person should be judged by their actions. Not by things about they were born into. I.e. sex, race, or class.

In other words, Lex is bad because of his choices, not his privilege.

neal bailey
Editor
I think the real problem is your basic failure of logic and comprehension of rhetoric. Saying, “Look at this Neal guy, a broke, white man.” is not racist. Saying “Broke white men suck.” is. If you can’t see the nuance in that, you’re beyond help. No one has suggested that being white, male, or well off is wrong. That’s your assumption, and context you read in that isn’t there. Privilege as a concept exists externally to race. Descriptors are not condemnation. In Superman’s society, however, the one we live in here, in America, there are certain classes of privileged white… Read more »
Jeremiahboor
Member
I think the real problem is your basic failure of logic and comprehension of rhetoric. […] If you can’t see the nuance in that, you’re beyond help. There’s no need to be snarky or rude. I don’t know how I came across, but I tried to be civil and polite. Saying, “Look at this Neal guy, a broke, white man.” is not racist. Saying “Broke white men suck.” is. I understand this, of course, it’s the basic definition of racism. But… No one has suggested that being white, male, or well off is wrong. That’s your assumption, and context you… Read more »
neal bailey
Editor
You’re right about the hostility, I apologize. I get very frustrated when I see people not getting this concept and veering toward arguments that are kissing cousins to ‘white guys are oppressed for having money and having that pointed out!” Lex isn’t being made fun of for building a business, or becoming rich. He’s being mocked for being emblematic of a broader social problem his ilk (those with privilege) are causing. They have power, and wealth, but they don’t use it to better things, they use it to talk about how oppressed they are. That’s a legit beef, and it’s… Read more »
Jeremiahboor
Member
Lex isn’t being made fun of for building a business, or becoming rich. I hate to be picky, but that was literally the joke. It was the actual punchline. He’s being mocked for being emblematic of a broader social problem his ilk (those with privilege) are causing. They have power, and wealth, but they don’t use it to better things, they use it to talk about how oppressed they are. Perhaps I’m misinterpreting, but you seem to be overgeneralizing those with power and privilege. There are plenty of examples of businesses and wealthy people who try to make the world… Read more »
neal bailey
Editor
He was called a privileged white guy and we were left to infer that to mean he’s doing harm to society by not helping or doing more. (Because all rich white guys are like that, I guess?) This is the problem, right here. “We were left to infer.” and “Because all rich white guys are like that.” I don’t see where saying he was a privileged white guy is saying all rich white guys are like that. And yes, Luthor (and his ilk) ARE doing harm by not helping or doing more. They owe a debt to the society that… Read more »
Jeremiahboor
Member
I feel like we’re going in circles on a lot of this stuff. But I also think we’re not too far apart. So let me just address the Bill Gates part. I understand what you’re saying on one hand. He’s given a lot, but that doesn’t make him Mother Theresa since it’s not even close to sacrificial giving. Fair point, for sure. I could counter with an argument that says maximizing people’s talents can result in the greater good. That is, Bill Gates or Warren Buffet are insanely good at making money (and since they’re philanthropical) they should be encouraged… Read more »
NeoRanger
Member

It’s like Neo up there. They see “Ah, he said something akin to something I disapprove of, so I’m not going to listen or address his concerns, I’m going to mock and ignore.”

Jesus Christ, you’re uniquely disingenuous. You came into this conversation swinging a sword. You’re the one that set the tone of this conversation and you’re turning this around now to reflect badly on those *you* disagree with? Treat others how you want them to treat you. You’re not interesting in engaging, you’re interesting in grandstanding.

Duke
Member
Superman fights for everyone, doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, rich or poor. What that guy wrote was a divisive jab at white men. If the comment was “Privileged black guy” everyone would be losing their minds right now and demanding a boycott on DC. Either all of it is alright or none of it’s alright Fighting racism by demonizing another race and gender is not the way to bring everyone together. “Contrastingly, if you’re just someone who wants to silence others who say things you disagree with, needless to say, you’re still doing yourself a disservice.” lol how far… Read more »
neal bailey
Editor

Yeah, you’re beyond help.

tordis
Member

yo whats going on neal bailey i think you got it twisted a lil bit dawg u keep saying about people being privileged but growing up as a muslim man i never saw any white ppl above me because my parents went to school and they earned their good jobs and kept me out of the bad streets and houses Allah yabaarak fiik neal have a goodnight brother

Kal-Elvis
Member

It’s certainly an interesting take. Seems a bit on the Silver Age side for what they’re trying to say, but still interesting.

tordis
Member

yo whats up kal elvis i think your names funny p.s nice suit