Submitted by CalamityJon on December 29, 2009 - 11:37
Back in the late 1980s, DC undertook a complete reinvention of the Superman titles from scratch, wiping away almost fifty years of backstory and giving a bare bones cast and setting a whole new coat of paint. Part of the revamping involved addressing that old general complaint about Superman - that he's too powerful1 - and toned him down drastically, making him more of a match for the contemporary threats of terrorist organizations and rogue super-scientists2. Along those lines, they revamped Superman's archenemy3 Lex Luthor by ... ALSO toning down his power level. I didn't get this, because if you make Superman less powerful but also make his greatest enemy less powerful then you sort of have acquired no net value change so why exactly did this happen again?
Anyway, in an effort to make Superman more "street-level", Luthor went from implacably evil super-scientist to corporate douchebag with a good PR machine, supposedly beyond Superman's reach because the city of Metropolis just lo-o-o-o-oved Luthor, like we all just lo-o-o-o-o-ove fatcat industrialists. Shy of his formerly trademark jetpacks and kryptonite death-traps, late-Eighties Luthor's arsenal of evil tricks was comprised of (a) loads of money (b) megalomania and (c) he was an avid womanizer. This was one of the things that made him so evil; he didn't value women as people. You don't need Superman to save you from a bad boyfriend, ladies, Oprah can help you with that shit4.
It's all part of the hyper-juvenile confusion over gender which typifies super-hero comics, that Luthor was such a bad guy because he slept with women but he wasn't nice about it, that the women are once again targets whose only purpose in the story is to get raped or murdered and thereby give the hero something to get mad about. By the end of this period, I literally cannot think of more than two or three core female characters with whom Luthor had not had his way - I was going to say "Perry White's wife Alice," BUT NO, he fathered an illegitimate child with her! It's been strongly suggested that he and Lois Lane were bumping (exceptionally) uglies, and possibly that he'd even raped (or had arranged to be raped) Lana Lang. Dude was combing it out of his hair5.
Anyway, it just got me thinking about Luthor as a predatory sexual opportunist - if the incredibly boring late Eighties Luthor was all about conquering his enemies by sleeping with their ladies, why not also sleep with their friends? Why not seduce Jimmy Olsen? How about Perry White? Why not Pa Kent6? Why not Krypto7? If poorly-conceived late Eighties Lex Luthor insists on using his dong as a weapon of conquest, why not open up the playing field? It'd give him an amped-up advantage against his old enemy and also it would lead to the hilarious scene up above, implied robot-hand fisting not intentional8.
1A complaint most often made by the same group of people who then go read a comic about an "ordinary guy" who is also the world's most brilliant genius of everything and also best athlete of all time and also gets tons of tail and is indescribably rich and also if he gets shot or gets his back broken he just shakes it off, but at least he can't fly I guess.
2 Which is what the Eighties were known for.
3 "Enemies", actually, because a lot of Superman's rogues gallery got trimmed back - Brainiac, for instance, went from interstellar toy train enthusiast to fat magician named Milton. He and Luthor had once been Superman's greatest enemies, now they were mostly tubby targets of a potential visit from the Ghost of Cardiac Events Yet To Be. Also did I mention that Luthor got cancer? A terrifying menace, that sick fat sonofabitch Lex Luthor.
4Like, I'm not even joking, that was basically Luthor's super-power - he made women feel like shit. They wrote whole comics about it. Included in DC's "The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told" is a back-up story wherein Luthor just fucks with the head of some waitress in a greasy spoon out in Buttfuck, South Egypt. THAT WAS IT. The whole conflict of the story, what drove the narrative, was that he made her feel quite bad -- ON PURPOSE! Move over Joker, stand aside Doctor Doom, there's a new number one baddie in town!
5 Sort of.
6Because he's dead.
7Because he's a dog.
8 PS Late Eighties Luthor had a robot hand. He was a fat cancer-ridden middle aged dude with a prosthetic, A FINE OPPONENT FOR THE MAN OF TOMORROW!