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Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #4

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #4

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 8, 2005

Cover date: August 2005

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Penciller: Lee Bermejo
Inker: Lee Bermejo

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Lex Luthor stands before a crowd on the science spire he's built, praising mankind and what they've done with history and science.

As a crescendo, he reveals Hope, a new superhero on the Lexcorp payroll (the woman from the vat in issue two) in a skintight leather suit.

Hope takes on the deeds of your average superhero, rescuing cars on ledges, etcetera, and gains a quick following in Metropolis.

Lex praises her in private, with Mona nearby. Mona becomes jealous. Hope leaves to go fight a fire. Lex points out Mona's jealousy, and she calls Lex a bastard and leaves.

In front of the board, Lex brags about Hope. Hope, meanwhile, charms the public on television.

Orr meets with Winslow Schott AKA Toyman. He pokes fun at Schott's name and gives him a job. Toyman agrees to take it.

Soon after, while Lex walks down the city streets, an explosion rocks a building downtown, including a daycare. Many children die. Schott is a suspect, having been seen sending a teddy bear toward the building. Orr drinks in a bar and laments his existence.

Lex goes back to his car and drives off.

Soon after, Mona continues to barb at Lex for creating Hope, and storms out of the room again after belittling Hope.

Lex tells Hope that he loves her and kisses her.

1Story - 1: I remain biased because of my vehement and violent anger at such a great potential project being squandered. This series has been grinding on me on two levels. One, the level of the story, and two, the level of the potential missed here.

As I stated in my last review for issue two, Brian has Lex Luthor, and we have a story of Orr, the petty thug, and some union difficulties.

Last issue, which I didn't review, followed par for the course. Suddenly, the book veers off in the direction of a Batman and Superman fight that's nonsensical.

NOW the focus of the book is on a science spire. And finally, we get the woman in a vat explained.

So get this. Lex Luthor has a bodyguard named Hope, or at least, had, before he became a fugitive from the law. Now, he's created an android named Hope that he loves, presumably in the vein of making up for the fact that he can't control Superman, so he wants to control a superhero, and presumably to create the perfect woman, a woman who will love him, which he can't seem to find (Except, uh, Mona? But who said Azz had his character motivations straight, at all?)

Suddenly Winslow Schott goes from a guy who killed one kid in a fit of rage (Adam Grant) to a terrorist willing to kill children in a daycare for money from Lex Luthor. Why? Money? I don't know. That's not the character of Schott I have in my head.

Why replace a Hope with a Hope, and where is this in terms of the overall story? I can't fit it in any schema. If Orr is around, it seems to be happening in the year of the disappearances, but then, Clark is still around, and reporting. And apparently fighting Batman over Kryptonite possession, despite the fact that Batman already has Kryptonite.

And apparently Batman is colluding with Luthor against Superman despite knowing Luthor's a fink.

So the only thing I can ascertain is that this issue takes place in the far flung past. If it does, then where?

The whole concept is muddled, poorly executed, in every direction, and honestly, a trial to read.

The dialogue is atrocious. I know a lot of people like Azz's dialogue because it makes you look at it twice. They see that as sophisticated. I see that as a pain in the butt. Especially when it's not how people actually speak. Orr to Toyman:

"Have fun, man toy."

Oooh. That's a real scary bounty hunter there. He made a joke by making Schott into snot, and saying that Winslow's life is Schott. Oh ho ho.


If Toyman is the murderous Toyman, this takes place AFTER Lex already has Hope and Mercy. That's canon.

This story lacks continuity.

It lacks a straight story.

It lacks intriguing dialogue.

It severely deviates from the focus of the story, which is Lex Luthor, often.

It is a story about Lex Luthor in which Superman has yet to make a solid interactive appearance. (What, I say? Yeah. That's the truth)

It's using terrorism to pull at heartstrings in an artificial way.

It's posing a fight with Batman and Superman for no real reason.

It's villainizing Bruce Wayne, the Batman.

It's not getting to the point, just like For Tomorrow.

It is, in short, everything we the fans hold Brian in contempt for in his penning of the Superman scripts.

Eddie's being moved off Superman. I'll have a few words on that at some point, but I'll just say that in brief, I hope Brian goes with him.


Because in his own words of characterization, he's one "bastard" that couldn't sell condoms to nuns.

(Forgive the vulgarity, I guess it's okay for a Superman book, so it should be okay here, right? I didn't think so either. I retract.)

I could go on. There's a ton of stuff here to beat up. I really could. But I've given this book enough of my time. Endless delays, horrible final product... this isn't the 90s. This doesn't fly any more.

3Art - 3: Unlike last time, there are some better moments in this art. It still has to decide where to turn to when it comes to color. It's dank, dark, dreary. Perhaps this is going for trying to evoke the spirit of the humanity as opposed to the colorful hero world, but there's tone, and there's three color work. Everything is blue or red, blue or red, it grates.

That said, Luthor is really well drawn, very spot-on and definitive, and Toyman as well. The character shown almost made up for the failures of tone, but not quite, they more just balanced each other out.

3Cover Art - 3: I had two responses to this cover. The first was that this was well drawn, with a decent pose. My second response was spoken by my comic book guy before I even had the chance to say it. "Yep, Lex is copping a feel."

And he is.

The dude actually has his hand on her breast. Lex Luthor is getting to second base right on the cover.

That tears me. Not because I'm puritanical. Heck, those who know me know how vulgar I can truly be. But I guess there are a few things that I never expected to see in a Superman comic. Hardcore porn on the insides, children being smashed to bits, Superman acting like he hates his powers, and certainly not Lex copping a feel.

There's no background, but it adds to the image because it works with the color. I still dig the logo, but I hate the new DC bullet. Lord, do I hate it. I'm one of these people who, when they say they're gonna kill JLA, say, "Coolsville. Shake that world up!" but for some reason I can't stand that logo. It's like some wuss stepped in and smacked my DC around and gave it a geeky look.

So can I condemn this cover because Lex is copping a feel? Nah. No mothers spoke up, it hasn't got a comic book code authority seal on it, and he's not grabbing her hoo hah, he's just pushing his thumb into it.

Still, pretty ballsy.

However, no matter how beautiful it is, and no matter how safe and sane it is to me, this is the kind of thing that gets comics cancelled, banned, censored, etcetera. It's the kind of thing that, in this time of people saying what's okay to see and not see on television and in media, can start a whole new witch hunt like the last one which ended in the comics code authority. I know people who would see this cover and complain to the comic shop owner. And with the addition of the aforementioned spoofed "Bastard" and references to selling condoms to nuns, how do you think a parent (especially a sensitive one) would react to this issue?

On the one hand, I want to see more bold art, more of a rude gesture to the censors and artists burning their own way.

On the other hand, being one of those artists, I know where being bold, avant garde, offensive and original leads you.

Obscurity, or being banned and shunned.

Is that right? No.

So I'm going to say a 5 for the picture, a 1 for the lack of foresight as to the potential consequences, and meeting in the middle at 3.

I'm personally more offended about the bullet than the cop, but hey, I know mothers, those crazy, crazy, mothers who blame the artist for what their kid finds on their own and dares to enjoy.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2005

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