Superman Adventures #27
DC Comics (January, 1999)
“How Much Can One Man Hate?”
WRITER: Mark Millar
PENCILER: Aluir Amancio
INKER: Terry Austin
COLORIST: Marie Severin
LETTERER: Lois Buhalis
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Frank Berrios
EDITOR: Mike McAvennie
Superman stops Lex’s latest attempt to kill him and asks him why he hates Superman so much, but Lex tells him he wouldn’t understand. Then goes into his next plan, to replace Superman with a new hero, Superior-Man. When Superman shows no concern that the new hero in town is taking all the press (because that’s not what Superman is about), Superior-Man attacks him and during the fight is revealed to be Metallo, brainwashed and shoved into a new body. Back in (the best equivalent to) his right mind, Metallo goes after Luthor and Superman is forced to save him. Superman tells Lex he could be using his genius to benefit humanity but all that does is make him want to kill Superman even more. Why? When he was a boy he dreamed that he’d get away from Suicide Slum and his drunken father and that someday everyone would look up to him. Kind of hard when the guy above him can fly.
What they got right: While we do see more of what makes Superman what he is by not leaving simply because he’s not the hot news story anymore, this is clearly a Lex Luthor story. Not only do we see what makes him tick and what he really desires (of course, how he goes about it is wrong), we also see in the design and persona of “Superior-Man” how warped his view of Superman and possibly other superheroes is but how little he thinks of the masses in how they’ll accept this overpowered superegoed newcomer. Lex is upset because of a statue dedicated to Superman because others paid for it while Luthor has to spend his own money to get his name on things. As a kid he talks about wanting everyone to look up to him, but he has to watch Superman literally and figuratively rise above him. It’s a great character study as to what makes Luthor who he is.
What they got wrong: How did Luthor have an opening to brainwash and rebuild Metallo? And how will Metallo get his previous mechanical body back for future appearances?
Recommendation: A great Superman/Luthor story. Worth adding to your collection.