What would happen if Silver Age Luthor met CEO Luthor?
The Byrne/Wolfman version specifically, rather than the modern guy who combines elements of both? Oh, the pre-Crisis Luthor would absolutely detest him, and certainly wouldn’t hesitate to crush him underfoot for acting under his name. As Maggin’s Last Son Of Krypton put it:
“There were other super-criminal geniuses in the world; he had met some of them, dealt with them on occasion. They were chairmen of great corporations, grand masters of martial arts disciplines, heads of departments in executive branches of governments, princes, presidents, prelates, and a saint or two. Unlike Luthor, these men and women chose to retain their respectability. They had trouble coping with honesty.
“Luthor was not motivated by a desire for money, or power, or beautiful women, or even freedom. In solitary Luthor decided that his motivation was beyond even the love or hate or whatever it was he had for humanity. It was consuming desire for godhood, fired by the unreasonable conviction that such a thing was somehow possible. He began by being an honest man. He was a criminal and said so.”
[Superman: Last Son of Krypton – Action Comics (1938-2011) #844]
[Batman and Robin: Born to Kill – Batman and Robin (2011-2015) #1]
I’m rereading my comics for nostalgic purposes and also to find trashy parallels because that’s what I do with my life.
It’s just interesting. I can’t end my fixation on Chris Kent and Damian Wayne’s curious parallels or how they deal with incredible changes to their environments at around the same age.
Chris has just escaped an incredibly abusive background and finds the first person he’s met with to be warm, inviting, and nurturing. Chris clings to Clark, and will come to cling more and more to Clark and Lois as he is accepted into their family.
Damian (going strictly by New52 canon for this parallel since that’s the example I found here) likewise is met with a change of environments that is mostly out of his control, but he meets signs of nurturing and acceptance with rejection and anger. He grew up in an environment where affection and respect were earned, and he expects to have to prove himself. Unwarranted affection is found almost unacceptable.
It’s two interesting takes on children coming from horrific circumstances that will be met with very opposing arcs. Even though their fates are both tragic and something I disagree with entirely.
March 31, 2017. The man, believing he has regained the inner fire necessary to make peace with the inner child he let down years ago, decides to stop taking his medication.
You see, he’s an idealist. As a child, he habitually hid comic books between bible pages and admired how the colorful ink made a vengeful god seem more likable. This kind of man was born and raised on truth, justice and the american way.
If batman could walk off a broken back, being written out of continuity, and literally being 90 years old, you can conquer an invisible disease. *You don’t need crutches, momma gave you legs, god provided air, so fucking walk.
The man makes it three days. Three glorious, indescribable days of super elated freedom wherein he is less man and more idea, acrobatic wordplay and enough self love to last a season. Three days. No further.
On day 4, the man is aghast to be awoken by his very bones igniting before his very eyes, his skeleton an enraged 4th of july float with every firecracker aimed squarely inward, every barrel lit to the very wick of his heartbeat. Imagine his terror, his eyes watching his hands try desperately to claw through tattoo and meat and muscle, fingernails hoping to snuff that flame pillaging his coronary muscle like the last time he fell in love hopelessly and didn’t care where love let his body hit the ground. Imagine his surprise, his broken mind trying to find itself in a game of scrabble where all the pieces spell “suicide,” seven letter seductress whose sole life goal is to break his poor mother’s heart.
How quickly we succumb to those kind old, withered addictions.
You see, the man tries to fight the madness off: he meditates to his happy place and is only greeted by a raging apartment fire in the projects in summer. His body, horribly torn by a full pack of American Spirits caught between his shirt pocket and both his lungs, his “lucky strike” quietly waiting to be wished upon the one woman who he fell in love with so hard, would have died for so easily, he keeps forgetting he pulled a trigger of live ammunition. He presses his weight on these coping mechanisms the way sinners lean their bodies against broken faith.
He has tiptoed this line before, thinner than a razor but twice the bloodlust. The man will go to work and function…adequately. His brain will plot and scheme the many hows and whys and whens of that act which we do not speak of in this house. Both man and brain struggle on the old familiar snags: feels his heart crack thinking of what ways his mother will internalize this pain, shoulder on the blame. He bursts into tears upon realizing “I love you” won’t mean shit to a little sister who doesn’t speak in mouthfuls of painkillers.
I wish I could say that this narrative had a happier ending. The man did find his way back along the prescription-bricked road, back onto the familiar cycle of swallowing both pills and pride by the tablespoon, breakfast lunch and dinner, but not before 4 police officers found the man, this Robin in freefall, clipped his wings to ash, stuffed him in a cage, jammed paraffin wax on both ends of beak, and said, “well, let’s hear you sing now, boy.”
This, all of this, is not to be interpreted as a cry for help. This is a demand that you make the effort to try and see how cracked things are from my side of the glass. When your brain chemistry resembles oil and water mixed in the shittiest blender known to man, plugged into the biggest dying battery on earth. See, rolling blackouts are my only sense of truth.
When you ask yourself, what drives a young man, six years of higher education, three degrees and an ocean of potential before him, to do selfish, barely forgivable things, remind yourself, that there is more darkness in the night sky than drops in the ocean. Ask yourself, what sorts of agony must one man endure constantly before accepting his fate as an anomaly in his own fairy tale, the question mark that will haunt his father anytime anyone asks him, “and how’s your youngest son doing?” How many children must this man kiss goodbye and goodnight to, before God herself steps off gilded perch, brushes cracked streams from his face, and says, “my child, some trees aren’t meant to bear fruit.”
This is not a cry for help, I am not a fucking charity case. The only tin cup to my name got hung like an ornament in the first cage the police locked me up in. Two years later, one more cage under my belt, seven prescriptions to make the world spin, four beautiful ideas keeping me awake, three women that molded man from clay, two…times I will repeat, this is not a fucking charity case. One…bad day. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t genetics or poor choices but rather, the leading cause for the ignition of mental illness is one bad day. For someone of my design, one bad day is the difference between, “oh he was the sweetest boy,” to the slow rising mushroom cloud quietly strangling the epicenter of an atom bomb desecrating holy ground.
So maybe, he had this coming. I had this coming. A little less bad day per se, a little more controlled descent into self-destruction. Can you blame me? For trying to remember what it was like to be Superman in an age where all my doctors tell me microdosing kryptonite is the only thing medically keeping Clark Kent breathing.
Then again, I didn’t ask for this. Much like Superman, last son of his world, didn’t ask to be the savior that two farmers found in a cornfield in Kansas, I didn’t ask to be the last son of two family trees, smuggled across a border to be a damn pariah to people who don’t understand me. my only superpower: mood swings faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than the average romance, more powerful than a million broken promises.
I didn’t ask for any of this. Much like those similarly situated as I, I am the love child of circumstance and paradox that wasn’t supposed to make it out of the nursery in one piece. I didn’t ask for suicide to leave her name, number, measurements, poor intentions tattooed behind my ear like a love song with a broke as fuck bass line.
What I do ask, proudly and unapologetically, is that you all bear with me. See, I am doing the best job I fucking can with what god built me with, much like those similarly situated as I. I manage dual identities, punch depression in its stupid ass mouth on the daily, micromanage the uglier thoughts constantly so my fair city can sleep through the night. I may not be the hero you all need or deserve, but I put my super suit on one leg at a time, just like all of you do.
So please, bear with me. Bear with us. All of us. Just as we have born with the social constructs you try and bury us in, your stigmas and misunderstanding and hatred, Police Code 5150 for a three day stay, 5250 for the horribles that need a longer vacation. Bear with us, thieves in the night pulling off the crime of the century. All we really want, at the end of the day, is to exist and be loved, respected even, as the individuals we really are and not the carbon copies you pray we’ll grow into.
And maybe, just maybe, you can all learn to live with and love us the same damn way we have learned to live with and love you all, unconditionally, long before we even dared to love ourselves.