HAIRCUT 100: Day 90, No. 90. (Yes, we’re into the final ten, folks – thank Christ for that!) In honour of US Election Day, I’m going with power-mad billionaire supervillain Lex Luthor: owner of LexCorp, evil genius, Superman’s nemesis, and President of the United States of America. Luthor has been around since Action Comics 23 (April 1940), in which he was depicted as a middle-aged man with ginger hair and a penchant for robbing banks with giant robots. The next year, however, Luthor was suddenly bald in the daily Superman newspaper strip, and subsequently in Superman 10 (May 1941). Both strips were drawn by studio artist Leo Nowak, and it has been conjectured by comic historians that rather than reinventing the look of the character, Nowak had actually confused him with a bald Superman villain, the ‘Ultra-Humanite.’ The new look endured though, with Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel writing a new backstory published in Adventure Comics 271 (April 1960) to incorporate his hair loss into Luthor’s origin. This is the story in which Superboy and Luthor are friends until Superboy extinguishes a fire in Luthor’s laboratory with super breath, accidently releasing chemicals that trigger alopecia and destroy Luthor’s research. Luthor believes this was intentional and vows revenge. He’s been dedicated to ridding the world of Superman’s ‘alien menace’ ever since.
Lex has achieved the highest office at least twice that I know of, in a long Batman/Superman ‘World’s Finest’ story arc at the turn of the century (filmed as Public Enemies in 2009); and in Superman: Red Son (2003), an ‘Elseworlds’ story by Mark Millar in which instead of crashing in Kansas, baby Kal-EL’s spacecraft lands in a collective farm in the Ukraine. He is also the power behind the throne in Frank Miller’s underrated sequel to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (2002). Believed dead, Bruce Wayne has been quietly planning a revolution for years, a rebellion against a corrupt American government so corporate that the president is no more than a very high res CGI effect, not that the voting public would know or care, being slaves to social media and tabloid television. Lex Luthor and Brainiac are really running the show, all the angles covered: Superman and Wonder Woman working for the man, the Atom trapped in a petri dish, Green Lantern exiled, and the Flash generating cheap turbine power like a hamster in a wheel. Lex plans to trigger an apocalypse, reducing the global population to ‘manageable’ levels (about a billion), while sparing industrial and military sites. Making America Great Again, you might say: ‘Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, so long as nobody’s listening.’