You’re reading The Complete Infinite Crisis, a Comprehensive and Encyclopedic look through the universe-changing superhero event published by DC from 2005 to 2006. Shelfdust are proud to provide a complete overview of the story, and everything that happens in it. We’ve made it as far as… page four!! Now we’re really rolling!!
This page says that Lex Luthor is a fugitive! What’s he on the run from? There’s only one man willing to comprehend the true cake-stealing evil of Lex Luthor – and that’s Tim Maytom. Tim, please explain?
Why is Lex Luthor a fugitive? What did he do?
Tim Maytom: Well, let’s face it, Lex has committed a whole lot of crimes across the years, from murder to grand theft cake. But I guess you’re asking why he’s specifically on the run at the moment. It’s a pretty complicated scheme which saw him attempting to trick Batman into thinking that Metallo was the man who had killed his parents all those years ago, while simultaneously blaming Superman for a gigantic kryptonite asteroid that was headed towards the Earth.
During this whole time, Luthor had been dosing himself with a cocktail of Venom, the strength-enhancing drug used by Bane, and synthetic liquid green kryptonite, which had left him even more unstable than usual. He even got so high on it that he kissed Amanda Waller without her consent, which is the sort of thing that normally results in the perpetrator being reduced to a smoldering stain on the carpet.
Instead, when his plans failed to turn the public against Superman, the unravelling Luthor donned his classic green-and-purple power suit, this time upgraded with Apokaliptian technology, and took the fight to the Man of Steel. Superman proved more than a match for him though, disabling the power suit and dumping Luthor in his old LexCorp offices. That was where Batman was waiting to explain that Talia al Ghul, who was acting CEO of LexCorp at the time, had sold all the company’s assets to the Wayne Foundation, and Luthor was now broke.
Rather than face justice, Luthor jumped out of the building and used a Boom Tube to escape, bringing the LexCorp towers down with him. Penniless and powerless, Luthor was left with no choice but to flee, and let his Vice President Pete Ross assume the Presidency.
Wait – he was the PRESIDENT?!
Maytom: Oh yeah, I probably should have mentioned he was the President of the United States while all this was happening. Luthor was actually three years into his first term as President, having kickstarted his journey to the White House by capitalising on his role in rebuilding Gotham after a devastating earthquake.
While the PR from helping Gotham recover helped endear the public to Luthor, it wasn’t until a White House Correspondants’ Association Dinner that he decided to run for President. The dinner, which was hosted by Lois Lane and Clark Kent (kind of a step down from the comedians who normally handle these things), included a number of jokes at Luthor’s expense, but these were mixed in with jabs at the sitting president and the Justice League.
The real humiliation came when, as part of a video montage honouring Superman, the crowd saw Luthor in his super-criminal days. After being caught by Superman but going free on a technicality, security camera footage shows Luthor enjoying a “victory Moon Pie” and throwing the wrapper aside. This act of littering (his tenth such offence) meant an arrest warrant could be issued, and led to stolen kryptonite being found in Luthor’s possession. Luckily, this is the only time that an ego-driven real estate mogul has been made a laughing stock at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and gone on to become President…
Luthor’s campaign had focused on delivering technological progress for everyday people, including a promise of “a flying car in every garage”. Combined with the previous administration’s unpopularity (another aftermath of the Gotham earthquake and the ‘No Man’s Land’ crisis that followed), Luthor was able to clinch a victory in the election and take office.
He wasn’t the only DC mainstay taking political office at the time. As well as Pete Ross, Clark Kent’s childhood best friend, who served as Luthor’s Vice President, Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lightning was a member of Luthor’s cabinet. He retired (temporarily) from superheroics and accepted an appointment as Secretary of Education, hoping to both deliver lasting change to the system and keep tabs on Luthor from the inside.
What happened whilst he was President? Is there anything important we should know about his time in the White House?
Maytom: As you might expect, Luthor had an eventful Presidency. Early into his term, the cosmic entity Imperiex attacked Earth, aiming to destroy the planet and trigger a new Big Bang. Luthor was instrumental in forging an alliance with Apokolips that enabled Earth forces to use Darkseid’s advanced technology in the fight against Imperiex. On top of that, Luthor himself was present at the final battle against Imperiex and Brainiac 13’s Warworld, triggering a temporal displacement weapon that sent them back to the original Big Bang.
However, the Imperiex War would come back to bite Luthor on the behind – he had known about the alien invasion in advance and done nothing to alert Earth’s heroes or governments to it. Lois Lane uncovered proof of this and published it in the Daily Planet, but Luthor (which secret help from the telepathic Manchester Black) was able to pass a barrage of lie detector tests that included Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth, and was exonerated. Clark took the fall for Lois, and was fired from the Daily Planet.
Around this time, a CIA scientist presented Luthor with undeniable proof that Clark Kent was Superman. Rather than expose Clark, Luthor sat on the information, and even came to Clark’s aid when Manchester Black attempted to kill Superman and his loved ones. Driven by a combination of nostalgia for their past confrontations and a desire to see Lois Lane spared from harm, Luthor helped Superman defeat Black. As revenge, Black erased Luthor’s knowledge of Superman’s secret identity just before killing himself.
Like so many of his seemingly-benevolent acts, even Luthor’s role in restoring the destroyed Gotham was eventually exposed as a double-edged sword. Batman discovered that, having blamed the previous administration for the mishandled reconstruction, Luthor had been involved in the calamitous process from the start.
Batman responded by severing all of Wayne Enterprises’ miltary contract ties with the US government, which in turn prompted Luthor to frame Wayne for the murder of Vesper Fairchild. Fortunately, Bruce was able to get that all sorted out in time to help boot Lex out of the Oval Office, and send him on the run like he so richly deserved.
Okay, okay, hold up. SO we’ve got an Imperiex War… a Lois Lane Expose…. a Manchester Black attack…. AND a destroyed Gotham City? Tim, this has been so helpful, but it’s also raised SO MANY questions. Agh! I’m going to have to get a whole bunch of people in to help guide us all through the Luthor Presidency!!
Tim Maytom is a writer and critic who has spent a lot of his time thinking about The Wicked and The Divine. You can find more of his writing here alongside Alex Spencer – and you can follow Tim on Twitter here!