Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Adventure Comics #271Cover date: April 1960
"How Luthor Met Superboy"
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Penciller: Al Plastino
Inker: Al Plastino
Cover: Curt Swan & Stan Kaye
Reviewed by: Tom-EL
One day Superboy is out flying, and decides to introduce himself to a young man he sees below driving a bulldozer. Just as he is about to land, a kryptonite meteor falls out of the sky and hits the ground right next to him, he immediately begins feeling the effects. The youth yells out "Hold on Superboy, I'll get rid of the meteor!", then he uses the bulldozer to shove the meteor over the edge of a cliff, into a quicksand pit below, and safely away from the Boy of Steel. After he recovers, the introductions are made, and Superboy asks his name. The young man answers "Lex,.. Lex Luthor. Meeting you Superboy is about the most thrilling thing that has ever happened to me!"
Lex invites Superboy to the farm where he lives. He shows Superboy the barn that serves as both his make-shift laboratory and display place for his collection of Superboy pictures and trophies. He admits that Superboy is his hero, and that someday he intends to be a scientist and inventor that will bring him fame and notoriety rivaling Superboy's. In appreciation for saving his life, Superboy rounds up all the junk and other odds and ends on the farm and uses the materials to construct for Lex a pristine, state-of-the-art research lab, including some rare chemicals from beneath the Earth that Lex can use in his research. An eager Lex decides that his first project will be a kryptonite antidote to repay Superboy for his kindness.
Lex begins by constucting a giant claw-arm that he mounted to his bulldozer so that he could retrieve the kryptonite meteor out of the quicksand pit, giving him a sample for his experiments. Next, he grounded a portion of the meteor into a fine powder that he mixed with a liquid form of protoplasmic life he had created. Previously, Superboy had warned him to be extremely careful with those unknown chemicals, but an unconcerned Lex told him "I'm cleverer than you think!" Luthor continues his work, and after weeks of experimentation, he believes he has fully created an artificial protoplasmic life form. Later, he completes his research on the kryptonite antidote, and in his joy, he accidentally knocked over a chemical flask that caused a fire, smoke, and fumes in the lab. Superboy arrives on the scene and decides the quickest way to extinguish the blaze is with a blast of super-breath. With the fire out, Superboy enters the lab and finds not a thankful, but an angry Luthor.
The blast of air knocked an acid bottle into the bottle containing the life-form, destroying it and creating a gas which caused all of Lex's hair to fall out. Enraged at the loss of the life-form, the irreplaceable formula for its creation, and his hair, Luthor vows to have his revenge against Superboy. Superboy's apologies are meaningless to Lex. He claims that Superboy deliberately ruined his work because he was jealous, and afraid Luthor would become even more famous than he is. Nothing Superboy could say was sufficient to change Lex's mind, and after he left, Lex completely destroyed his entire collection of Superboy memorabilia. He vows "Superboy will regret the day he decided to steal the glory of LUTHOR!"
Lex plots the method of his revenge. There is still a small amount of proto-plasm left, just enough to make a very small portion of the kryptonite antidote. He apologizes for his outburst, and tells Superboy the antidote is ready to be tested. Displaying a changed attitude, the now friendly Lex joins Superboy to test the cure. Superboy brings along a space-globe so that Lex can witness the results of the test. They approach a kryptonite meteor field, and Superboy feels no ill affects whatsoever. He thinks "I feel normal! I am immune to kryptonite!" Luthor, inside the globe is thinking "Does he really think after what he has done to me that I would help him?" When they return to Smallville, Lex automatically lets Superboy know that the effects of the antidote were temporary, and there won't be anymore. "You could have had life-long immunity to kryptonite if you hadn't become jealous of me and sought to crush my greatness!" Superboy replies "You won't believe this Luthor, but I only wish success for you" as he flies away.
A determined Luthor still intends to be more famous and admired than Superboy. He approaches the mayor of Smallville with an idea for an invention that would keep Smallville warm, even during the winter. Summer crops could grow the entire year. The mayor agrees and Lex builds his "weather-tower", but later, a problem arises in the mechanism, causing the tower to send scorching heat across Smallville. Superboy intervenes and with a blast of super-cold breath, freezes the tower. Luthor's anger at Superboy is fueled even further. Lex then comes up with a new project, fruit trees that will spring up overnight after being planted. He gives away his latest discovery to many farmers in Smallville, including some seeds that he gives to Lana Lang to be given to her father. The planted trees grow to full height overnight, just as Lex predicted. The problem is that the trees don't stop there, but continue to grow to giant size, smashing several area houses and barns. Again, Superboy comes to the rescue. He rips the trees out of the ground, throwing them seaward, then scorches the remaining unused seeds with his heat-vision. After receiving critcism and disdain from the town, a furious Luthor once more pulls the kryptonite meteor out of the quicksand pit, thinking "I need you again."
Superboy calls on Luthor to offer his regrets over the failure of Lex's inventions. Luthor, still believing Superboy's sympathy is phony, has set a new trap. A section of the lead-lined wall in his house opens, revealing a huge chunk of the Kryptonite meteor. He traps Superboy with the meteor, but Superboy survives by inhaling the last few drops of Luthor's antidote that Lex was holding, just to taunt Superboy. Superboy declares that they are even now, and he owes Luthor nothing, though he refuses to take him to jail and tells Lex to straighten out. Luthor vows that he will someday become more famous than Superboy, and will destroy him. A saddened Superboy leaves, realizing that this is yet another L.L. person in his life, and wondering if Luthor will eventually become a great scientist or a villain?
Story - 4: This story is reprinted in a 1981 trade paperback of collected stories called "The Great Superman Comic Book Collection", edited by Laurie S. Hutton. (BTW, my copy is autographed by Curt Swan). In the book's intro to this story it says: "The first running villain who matched wits with Superman was the Ultra-Humanite. When he died his brain was transplanted into the skull of a beautiful actress. Jerry Siegel had plans to switch Ultra's brain into different forms as time went on. But something happened to put this villain in limbo. Luthor happened". The intro says that this is the very first story that has Luthor's first name "Lex" mentioned in it, going back to Luthor's first appearance in the 40's. It also indicates that Joe Shuster was fond of drawing bald villains. Fifteen years later, a condensed version of this tale was told as part of the larger story in Superman #292 (10/75).
This is the second silver-age appearance of Lex Luthor, the first was in Adventure Comics #253, as a villain. However, this story would have to be considered the first chronological appearance of Luthor, so the events in issue 253 would have to be at a time after this story took place. Reading this story, I thought one of the obvious comparisons would be with the TV series Smallville, and to be sure, there are similarities. In fact, you have to wonder if this story provided any of the source material for the show. In the story it is Lex, not Clark, who is the farmboy that spends some of his time in the barn. The story illustrates two times Lex does something that gets him in trouble with the town of Smallville, and Lex doing stuff that caused the citizens of Smallville not to like him often happened in Smallville, the series. The main difference being that in the series, the rift between Clark and Lex evolved and expanded a few degrees each time after various incidents that occurred over the first seven seasons. The chasm between them grew over time. In this version, the rift was an immediate 180-degree about-face by Luthor towards Superboy after the lab accident. This one incident causes Lex to go from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other regarding his friendship with Superboy. I thought this story was good, and fairly well-written, but as a basis for a life-long hatred of Superboy, carrying over to Superman, I thought the explanation in Superman: Birthright (influenced by Smallville) was a little more plausable, but this is a good origin story for the silver-age Luthor. In it, we certainly see the paranoia that Lex often displayed, fitting the template of his character in many silver-age Superman stories. After reading this story, you wonder how Lex's life might have gone if the lab accident had never happened. Alas, it was not to be.
Art - 4: Some time ago I decided that I liked Al Plastino as a Superboy artist better than I liked him as a Superman artist. Maybe it's in part because I've been spoiled by the work of Curt Swan, but Plastino's style works better for me when he's doing the youthful features of characters like Superboy and Lex, as opposed to the way he does them as adults. I see it as a little more cartoony, which should not come as a surprise given that he has a background originally as a comic strip artist, including doing Abbie 'n' Slats. That is not intended as any kind of slight against Al Plastino, he was a veteran Superman illustrator, but that's how his art affects me. Plastino's Superboy looks younger to me than Swan's Superboy, and the plot and scripting of some of the stories struck me as a better fit to a younger Superboy. Plastino did a great job of getting that smirky expression on young Lex's face that perfectly suits the personality he projected. Even in the start of the story when he idolized Superboy, he still in some panels displayed a certain arrogance of expression when he talks about how famous he plans to be.
Cover Art - 4: Basically, this is standard Swan and Kaye for the early 60's, not quite as definitive as the Swan/Klein team would be later, but pretty well done for the level of cover art in 1960. The cover captures a key story moment showing Superboy happily breaking up a green kryptonite meteor as Luthor watches from a space globe. Superboy believed Luthor had come up with an anti-kryptonite antidote, while Luthor was really thinking that this was a trick, ultimately leading to his plan for vengeance against Superboy.
Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews
- Action Comics #1 (June 1938)
- Action Comics #2 (July 1938)
- Action Comics #3 (August 1938)
- Action Comics #4 (September 1938)
- Action Comics #5 (October 1938)
- Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
- Action Comics #7 (December 1938)
- Superman Archives: Volume 1 (1939)
- Superman #1 (Summer 1939)
- Action Comics #8 (January 1939)
- Action Comics #9 (February 1939)
- Action Comics #10 (March 1939)
- Superman #13 (November/December 1941) - The Archer
- Superman #19 (November/December 1942) - Case of the Funny Paper Crimes
- Action Comics #60 (May 1943) - Lois Lane - Superwoman
- Superman #30 (September/October 1944) - The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk
- Action Comics #80 (January 1945) - Mr. Mxyztplk Returns
- Superman #38 (January/February 1946) - The Battle of the Atoms
- Superman #42 (September/October 1946) - The Death of Clark Kent
- Superman #45 (March/April 1947) - Lois Lane, Superwoman
- Superman #53 (July 1948) - The Origin of Superman
- Action Comics #124 (September 1948) - A Superman of Doom
- Superman #60 (December 1949/January 1950) - The Two Identities of Superman & Superman Fights the Super-Brain
- Superman #76 (May/June 1952) - The Mightiest Team in the World
- Superman #80 (January/February 1953) - Superman's Lost Brother
- Superman 3D (1953) - The Man Who Stole the Sun, Origin of Superman and The Man Who Bossed Superman
- Superman #87 (February 1954) - The Prankster's Greatest Role
- Superman #88 (March 1954) - The Terrible Trio
- Superman #89 (May 1954) - Captain Kent the Terrible, Superman of Skid Row, and One Hour to Doom!
- Superman #91 (August 1954) - The Superman Stamp and Great Caesar's Ghost
- World's Finest #88 (May/June 1957) - Superman and Batman's Greatest Foes
- Superman #115 (August 1957) - The Midget Superman!
- Superboy #65 (May/June 1958) - The Amazing Adventures of Krypto Mouse
- Action Comics #242 (July 1958) - The Super-Duel in Space
- Superman #123 (August 1958) - The Girl of Steel
- Superman #127 (February 1959) - Titano the Super Ape
- Action Comics #252 (May 1959) - The Menace of Metallo and The Supergirl From Krypton
- Superman #129 (May 1959) - The Girl in Superman's Past
- Superman #130 (July 1959) - The Curse of Kryptonite!, The Super-Servant of Crime!, and The Town that Hated Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #40 (October 1959) - Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl's Pal
- Superman #134 (January 1960) - The Super-Menace of Metropolis
- Jimmy Olsen #42 (January 1960) - The Big Superman Movie!, Perry White, Cub Reporter!, and Jimmy the Genie!
- Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960) - The Wolf-Man of Metropolis
- Adventure Comics #271 (April 1960) - How Luthor Met Superboy
- Jimmy Olsen #46 (July 1960) - Jimmy Olsen, Orphan
- Superman #141 (November 1960) - Superman's Return To Krypton
- Superboy #85 (December 1960) - The Impossible Mission
- Jimmy Olsen #51 (March 1961) - The Girl with Green Hair
- Jimmy Olsen #52 (April 1961) - Jimmy Olsen, Wolf-Man
- Superboy #89 (June 1961) - Superboy's Big Brother!
- Action Comics #279 (August 1961) - The Super-Rivals
- Superman #147 (August 1961) - The Legion of Super Villains
- Superman #149 (November 1961) - The Death of Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #57 (December 1961) - Jimmy Olsen Marries Supergirl
- Superman #155 (August 1962) - Superman Under the Green Sun and The Downfall of Superman
- Justice League of America #13 (August 1962) - Riddle of the Robot Justice League
- World's Finest #129 (November 1962) - Joker-Luthor, Incorporated
- Superman #158 (January 1963) - Superman in Kandor
- Superman #160 (April 1963) - The Mortal Superman
- Superman #161 (May 1963) - The Last Days of Ma and Pa Kent
- Superman #162 (July 1963) - The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue
- Superman #163 (August 1963) - Wonder-Man, the New Hero of Metropolis and The Goofy Superman
- Justice League of America #21 & #22 (August/September 1963) - Crisis on Earth-One! and Crisis on Earth-Two!
- Superman #164 (October 1963) - The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman
- Superman #165 (November 1963) - The Sweetheart Superman Forgot
- Superman #166 (January 1964) - The Fantastic Story of Superman's Sons
- Superman #167 (February 1964) - The Team of Luthor and Brainiac
- Superman #168 (April 1964) - Luthor - Super Hero and Lex Luthor, Daily Planet Editor
- Superman #169 (May 1964) - The Man Who Stole Superman's Secret Life
- Action Comics #314 (July 1964) - The Day Superman Became The Flash
- Justice League of America #29 & #30 (August/September 1964) - Crisis on Earth-Three! and The Most Dangerous Earth of All!
- Superman #173 (November 1964) - The Triumph of Luthor and Brainiac
- Action Comics #318 (November 1964) - The Death of Luthor
- Action Comics #319 (December 1964) - The Condemned Superman
- Superman #175 (February 1965) - Clark Kent's Brother
- Superman #181 (November 1965) - The Superman of 2965
- The Legion of Super-Heroes - Archives Volume 4 (1965)
- Superman #184 (February 1966) - The Demon Under the Red Sun
- Action Comics #338 (June 1966) - Muto - Monarch of Menace
- Action Comics #339 (July 1966) - Muto versus The Man of Tomorrow
- Superman #189 (August 1966) - Krypton Lives Again
- Action Comics #346 (February 1967) - The Man Who Sold Insurance to Superman and The Case of the Superman Imposter
- Superman #194 (February 1967) - The Death of Lois Lane
- Superman #196 (May 1967) - The Star of Steel
- Superman #199 (January 1967) - Superman's Race With The Flash
- Superman #200 (October 1967) - Super-Brother Against Super-Brother
- The Flash #175 (December 1967) - Race to the End of the Universe
- Justice League of America #63 (June 1968) - Time Signs a Death Warrant for the Justice League
- Superman #211 (November 1968) - The Name of the Game is Superman!
- Superman #215 (April 1969) - Lois Lane Dead Yet Alive
- Superman #224 (February 1970) - Beware the Super-Genius Baby
- Action Comics #393 (October 1970) - Superman Meets Super-Houdini! and The Day Superboy Became Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #133 (October 1970) - The Newsboy Legion
- Action Comics #394 (November 1970) - Midas of Metropolis and Requiem for a Hot Rod!
- World's Finest #198 (November 1970) - Race to Save the Universe!
- Action Comics #395 (December 1970) - The Secrets of Superman's Fortress and The Credit Card of Catastrophe
- Jimmy Olsen #134 (December 1970) - The Mountain of Judgement!
- World's Finest #199 (December 1970) - A Race to Save Time!
- Superman #233 (January 1971) - Superman Breaks Loose!
- Jimmy Olsen #135 (January 1971) - The Evil Factory!
- Superman #234 (February 1971) - How to Tame a Wild Volcano
- Jimmy Olsen #136 (February 1971) - The Saga of the D.N.Aliens
- Superman #235 (March 1971) - The Sinister Scream of the Devil's Harp
- Superman #236 (April 1971) - Planet of the Angels and The Doomsayer
- Jimmy Olsen #137 (April 1971) - The Four-Armed Terror!
- Superman #237 (May 1971) - The Enemy of Earth
- Superman #238 (June 1971) - Menace at 1000 Degrees
- Jimmy Olsen #138 (June 1971) - The Big Boom!!
- Superman #240 (July 1971) - To Save a Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #139 (July 1971) - The Guardian Fights Again!!!
- Superman #241 (August 1971) - The Shape of Fear
- Superman #242 (September 1971) - The Ultimate Battle
- Jimmy Olsen #141 (September 1971) - Will the Real Don Rickles Panic?!?
- Jimmy Olsen #142 (October 1971) - The Man from Transilvane!
- Jimmy Olsen #143 (November 1971) - Genocide Spray
- Jimmy Olsen #144 (December 1971) - A Big Thing in a Deep Scottish Lake!
- Superman #247 (January 1972) - Must There Be A Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #145 (January 1972) - Brigadoom!
- Jimmy Olsen #146 (February 1972) - Homo-Disastrous!
- Jimmy Olsen #147 (March 1972) - A Superman in Super-Town!
- Jimmy Olsen #148 (April 1972) - Monarch of All He Subdues!
- Superman #292 (October 1975) - The Luthor Nobody Knows!
- Action Comics #458 (April 1976) - Make Me a Super-Hero! and Masquerade of the Nutty Kid!
- Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (Spring 1978)
- Action Comics #484 (June 1978) - Superman Takes a Wife!
- Superman #328 (October 1978) - Attack of the Kryptonoid
- Action Comics #489 (November 1978) - Krypton Dies Again and Where There's a Will... There's a Fray
- Superman #329 (November 1978) - I Have Met The Enemy... And He Is Me! and The Secret of the Talking Car
- Superman #330 (December 1978) - The Master Mesmerizer of Metropolis!
- Action Comics #490 (December 1978) - No Tomorrow For Superman
- Action Comics #491 (January 1979) - A Matter of Light and Death
- Superman #331 (January 1979) - Lockup at 20,000 Feet
- Action Comics #492 (February 1979) - Superman's Secret Afterlife
- Superman #332 (February 1979) - The Eternity Cage
- Action Comics #493 (March 1979) - The Metropolis UFO Connection
- Action Comics #494 (April 1979) - The Secret of the Super S
- Action Comics #495 (May 1979) - Attack of the Ultimate Warrior
- DC Comics Presents #14 (October 1979) - Judge, Jury... and No Justice!
- The Superman Story (1979) - The Life Story of Superman
- DC Comics Presents #57 (May 1983) - Days of Future Past
- DC Comics Presents #67 (March 1984) - 'Twas the Fright Before Christmas
- DC Comics Presents Annual #3 (1984) - With One Magic Word
- Superman: The Secret Years #1 (February 1985) - Dreams and Schemes and Feeling Proud!
- Superman: The Secret Years #2 (March 1985) - Reach Out and Touch
- Superman: The Secret Years #3 (April 1985) - Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #80 (April 1985) - A World Full of Supermen!
- Superman: The Secret Years #4 (May 1985) - Beyond Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #85 (September 1985) - The Jungle Line
- Superman Annual #11 (1985) - For The Man Who Has Everything
- World's Finest #323 (January 1986) - Afraid of the Dark
- DC Comics Presents #97 (September 1986) - Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter
- Superman #423 & Action Comics #583 (September 1986) - Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?
- Showcase Presents: Superman Family - Volume 1 (October 2005)
- Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons (December 2007)
- Not Brand ECHH #7 (April 1967) - The Origin of Stuporman
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