There Is No Justice League
Alexander Joseph Luthor
Lex Luthor has the physical capabilities and limitations of a normal adult with no metahuman abilities. However, he possesses a genius level of intelligence. For virtually his entire publication history, he has been depicted as the most intelligent human in the DC Universe, and as one of the most intelligent beings of any planet or species. He has mastered seemingly every known form of science, including space travel, extra-dimensional travel, biochemistry, robotics, computers, synthetic polymers, communications, mutations, transportation, holography, energy generation, spectral analysis, and more (including time travel in many Pre-Crisis stories). With the exception of the extraterrestrial entity known as Brainiac, he does not view any other being as an intellectual peer.
Over the years, Luthor has made liberal use of Kryptonite weapons capable of injuring Superman and other Kryptonians. Since the Bronze Age, he has also utilized various battlesuits in many stories. During the Blackest Night crossover, he wore an orange power ring of avarice. Additionally, he often wore a Kryptonite ring on his right hand in Post-Crisis stories, but abandoned this tactic after prolonged exposure to K-radiation resulted in the loss of his hand and poisoned his entire body (requiring him to transplant his brain into a cloned body in order to survive).
As part of the continuity changes which followed The Man of Steel and Superman: Secret Origin, Luthor is shown actively participating in the creation of three Superman villains, Parasite (indirectly), Bizarro (the failed result of an attempt to clone Superman), and the cyborg Metallo. Upon discovering that Metallo is powered by a ‘heart’ of kryptonite rock, Luthor steals it in order to fashion a kryptonite ring for himself. He wears the alien ore around his finger as a symbol that he is untouchable, even to the Man of Steel, after carrying out a series of kidnappings to try to determine the nature of the connection between Superman and Clark Kent. However, although computer analysis of the assembled data revealed that Clark Kent and Superman were the same person, Luthor dismissed the results because he believed that he ‘knew’ that someone as powerful as Superman would never choose to live a normal human life. Luthor eventually suffers from severe cancer brought on by long-term radiation exposure to the ring; before this, kryptonite was mistakenly assumed to produce a ‘clean’ radiation that is harmless to humans. His hand requires amputation to prevent the cancer’s spread, but by then it has already metastasized, and his condition is terminal.
Luthor decides to fake his own death by piloting a prototype jet on a proposed trip around the world and crashing it in the Andes; this is merely a cover for the removal of his brain from his cancer-ridden body and the growth of a cloned body around it, whereupon he passes himself off as his hitherto unknown, illegitimate 21-year-old son and heir, Lex Luthor II. His deception is benefited by a vibrant new body with a beard and full head of red hair, as well as assuming an Australian accent as part of his fake backstory. As Luthor II, he inherits control of LexCorp and seduces Supergirl (a protoplasmic clone of an alternate universe Lana Lang), due to his resemblance to her creator (the alternate universe’s Luthor). Luthor’s clone body eventually begins to deteriorate and age (and lose its hair) at a rapid rate, a side-effect of a disease that affects all clones. Meanwhile, Lois Lane discovers proof of Luthor’s clone harvesting and false identity; with help from Superman, she exposes the truth, and a despondent Superman helps to apprehend Luthor. In the end, Luthor becomes a permanent prisoner in his own body, unable to even blink, and swearing vengeance on Superman.
Aid comes in the form of the demon Neron; Luthor is offered full health in exchange for services and his soul. Not believing in the existence of souls, he agrees. Returning to Metropolis, Luthor freely turns himself over to the police and is put on trial. He is acquitted on all counts when Luthor claims to have been kidnapped by renegade scientists from Cadmus Labs, who replaced him with a violent clone that is allegedly responsible for all the crimes with which Luthor is charged.
Deciding to turn to politics, Luthor becomes President of the United States, winning the election on a platform of promoting technological progress. His first action as president was to take a proposed moratorium on fossil-based fuels to the U.S. Congress.
Luthor is assisted by the extreme unpopularity of the previous administration’s mishandling of the Gotham City earthquake crisis (as depicted in the No Man’s Land storyline in the Batman titles), and his own seemingly heroic efforts to rebuild Gotham. After six months, Gotham is restored and rejoins America. Ironically, Batman ultimately learns that the entire debacle was the fault of Luthor alone as he attempted to take control of Gotham by forging deeds for the land in his name, which results in Bruce Wayne severing all commercial ties between the U.S. government and his company, Wayne Enterprises, in protest of Luthor’s election as President. Luthor responds in turn by arranging for the murder of Wayne’s lover, Vesper Fairchild, and framing Wayne for the murder (as seen in Bruce Wayne: Fugitive).
An early triumph of Luthor’s first term occurs during the Our Worlds at War comic book crossover, in which he coordinates the U.S. Army, Earth’s superheroes, and a number of untrustworthy alien forces to battle the main villain of the story arc, Imperiex. As it is eventually revealed, however, Luthor knew about the alien invasion in advance and did nothing to alert Earth’s heroes to it, leading to the destruction of Topeka, Kansas, by an Imperiex probe.
The initial story arc of the Superman/Batman ongoing series depicts the fall of Luthor’s reign as U.S. President. In “The World’s Finest” (more commonly referred to as “Public Enemies”), a cadre of superheroes eventually break ranks from the Justice League to oppose Luthor. Batman, who had previously forbidden any attempt to unseat Luthor from office by force, led the storming of the White House. This was predicated by an attempt on Luthor’s part to link Superman to a kryptonite asteroid that is hurtling toward Earth, claiming that he had ‘evidence’- which he declined to share while claiming that it would make the public laud his actions if they knew it- that the asteroid was being drawn to Earth by Superman, offering a billion dollar reward for Superman’s capture that pitted Superman and Batman against an army of villains, all of whom they defeated. Luthor even attempted to send a team of heroes after them under the leadership of Captain Atom- the team consisting of Major Force, Black Lightning, Power Girl, Starfire, Katana and Green Lantern, but this plan failed when Katana and Power Girl quickly sided with Superman and Batman and Major Force was apparently killed, Power Girl noting that Luthor had assumed in his arrogance that the heroes would obey him simply because he was President. When the Justice Society’s forced attempt to stop them by sending Hawkman and Captain Marvel against them met with failure and resulted in Superman and Batman briefly infiltrating the White House, Luthor, in an enraged and desperate gambit after Superman’s rapid defeats of his plans, used a variant combination of the “super-steroid” Venom (a chemical associated with the Batman villain Bane), liquid synthetic Kryptonite, and an Apokoliptian battlesuit to fight Superman directly.