Lex/Supes Mortal Enemies/Best friends

Pick your sides! Pick your Sides!

Okay, some folks – I’m guessing those not watching the tremendous protrayal of Lex Luthor by Michael Rosenbaum – are objecting to the retconning (if you can consider it such) of their childhood friendship. Some feel that it adds nothing to it and is just (introducing someone else’s great new term) Fanwankery.

Where do you fall on building in connections between characters “after the fact”

Superman had something like 30 years of continuity without him having Lex as a childhood friend. Now he does but it is a different story.

What do you think of all this backpeddling especially when we eventually end up in the same place?

We know who Joe Chill is, we don’t know who Joe Chill is.

I can’t think of any Marvel instances apart from Hulk is smart, Hulk is feral.
Someone else can provide more examples.


I assume you mean “back pedalling”, as in pedalling a bicycle or tricycle backwards.

“Backpeddling” would be selling back-orders, or maybe just selling backs.


Is Lex Luthor best friends with Superman in the comic books?

Because nothing else counts.


I realize you just threw it out there, but there is no way Superman went 30 years before they introduced Lex as his childhood friend.

Supes was created in 1939, that would place it at 1969. I’ve seen reprints of the story and it was very 50s.

In pre-crisis continuity (which was 20 years ago), they were best friends in Smallville until Superboy accidentally made Lex’s hair fall out.

In fact, there was even an imaginary story in which Superbaby is exposed to gold K, thus losing his powers and not only does Luthor not become evil, he invents a serum that makes him Superboy.

Ah, pre-crisis…

But apart from nitpicking my spelling errors and loose efforts at dating the “Lex-Clark friendship” How do you feel about such stories.

I personally hate the ones that take certain events and recast them in light of new information that neither improves the new or original story or adds interest or depth to anyone or anything.

I personally, in light of the way Smallville has done it, don’t mind the re-emergence of the Lex-Clark friendship. Had they done something like introduced Lex’s broody friend from Gotham, I don’t think I would have enjoyed that at all.

What would you like or not like in terms of you knew a lot but you didn’t know this writing in comics.

Wrong. Lex was actually working on a serum to make Superboy invulnerable to Kryptonite. There was an accident and he set his lab on fire. Superboy whipped up some chemicals (at super speed) to put out the fire. It worked, but made Lex permanently bald. After that, he went from Supe’s best pal to his archenemy.

This is not a retconn either. The Hulk was originally gray, and Banner changed into him at sunset. Then, the Hulk was green and Banner changed when angry. Then, Banner could change into the Hulk and retain his own mind. Then, he couldn’t. Then, he was back to the grey hulk and changing at sunset. But this grey hulk was smarter and meaner (he was a thug in the mafia). Then the Hulk was green again and Banner changed when mad. Then, the Hulk was green, wore a brown set of coveralls, had the green version’s strength, the grey versions attitude and Banner’s smarts. Then he was Banner, but with the mind of the Hulk.

I’m sure I missed a bunch. But all those changes happened in the Hulk’s present. A retconn happens in a character’s past.

Marvel Retconn- Vengance

When Marvel created a new Ghostrider and put him in his own series, it was very popular because the writing and art were great. At one point, they did the evil version thing (Spiderman/Venom, Captain America/Redskull, Wolverine/Sabretooth,) and created a character named Vengance. He sold his soul to Mephisto and was given an evil looking bike, and remade into monstrous flaming skeleton in biker clothes. Vengance was pure evil, and just wanted to kill Ghost Rider. Marvel made the usual mistake of turning a villian into a hero. It was revealed that Vengance, Ghostrider, and a few others shared an ancient, mystic heritage. Vengance suddenly, without real explanation, owed Mephisto his soul. He no longer wanted to kill Ghostrider. He was a bold and heroic man who went astray in his rage and grief. Nobody ever mentioned the innocent bystanders he killed before they changed him to a hero.
Someone else can provide more examples.

According to Elliot S! Maggin, when Luthor is cured of his obsession (Earth for Humans, dammit, and I don’t care how many people have to be hurt before they recognize the Alien Danger I’m trying to protect them from…) he and Superman do become best friends and he ends his days exploring the Cosmos.

It’s all at http://superman.ws/tales2/ghost/

Do I like retconning? In comics no. It ruins the backstory. Is Smallville a retcon? No. Nobody ever said the events in the TV series have to follow the ones in the comic. (Pesonally I predict that you’ll eventually see an eighty year old Tom Welling still going to Smallville High)

I have that issue. It also features the Superman of the present inventing a perpetual motion machine.

Okay, obviously I haven’t been clear mixing the message with Smallville.

I’ve thought of one that I liked and that came from Marvel:

The Vision, sent by the Grimm Reaper to betray The Avengers. Eventually it turns out that his shell and basic programming is that of the original Human Torch (who wasn’t actually human, but instead an android) imprinted with Simon Williams brain patterns.

You don’t find this out all at once, and, in retrospect, retcon is probably not the best choice of words for what I’m talking about.

In most of the introductory material for The Vision, it seemed that he overcame his “programming” due to the influence of The Avengers and some basic traits. It isn’t until many stories later that we find out the rest of it. I believe some years later all of that is somehow wiped away.

The phenomenon I’m talking about, for lack of a better description is what I’ll call a “Harveism” after Paul Harvey because most of these read like “and now you know the REST of the story.”

The Vision Stuff is like that. That’s what the whole “Slim” and Alex (Alec?) summers lost when their parents’ plane went down. And it turns out their Father, assuming his wife and children were lost to the afterlife, decided to dedicate his life to being an interstellar adventurer. (This is one I’m not crazy about).

The Clark-Lex thing was never well played in the books and I don’t think they ever got it completely straight. The one I remember best is the Kryptonite cure, a fire in Lex’s lab, and Superboy putting it out with his super breath. And so, someone didn’t think of it until the mid-50’s or early 60’s Weisinger era books – the point is, it wasn’t part of the initial concept, but was added at least 10 years or more later after they found a character for Luthor. [Remember Linda Danvers best friend Lena Throul? Lex’s little sister, who was crushed when her parents moved from Smallville and she couldn’t see her big brother anymore? Didn’t she have some kind of mental powers as the result of one of Lex’s experiments gone wrong. ]

The Lex-Clark connection really never added to the relationship or the stories that were told. What’s cool about Smallville (though it has no bearing on the comic until somebody decides to start building it in because it is full of such cool ideas) is that it really does add to the relationship and deepens the intensity of what goes on and what will go on.

What about the “Imaginary story” in which orphan Bruce Wayne was adopted by the kind-hearted Kents. Imagine if this were somehow shoehorned into what passes for continuity in comics. Would that make you throw your hands up in disgust?

Am I being any clearer as to the kind of thing I’m interested in discussing here?

See, to me, this issue just goes to show how trying to satisfy the vocal whiners in your audience is a fool’s errand. DC went out on a limb with the Crisis to try to rein in some of the silliness and discontinuities. They didn’t entirely succeeded, but they tried their best. Now they’re screwing it up again, and the only reason I can see is because they’re buckling under to those who’re so starry-eyed for the days of Lex the rogue scientist and Beppo the Supermonkey that they don’t care what has to get trampled over to get there.

So some folks liked it better in the “old days.” Well, the old days weren’t all that great either. It’s not like the Superman costume change that had an explanation behind it that easily allowed an out. What’s done is done. Move on. Sheesh!

ddgryphon, I think your explanation helped. What you’re describing, however, is desperation. Comics are a monthly medium, and many of the more popular characters have multiple titles along with special mini-series and annuals and all the rest of the ways to try to gouge money out of the readership. How do you (the generic writer) keep up interest in a character after you’ve written 50 or 100 or 500 stories? You throw in twists. You reveal pasts never before seen. You throw the character for a loop and make him doubt his very existence. You have to top yourself constantly.

This has happened with every comic character since I started reading comics in the early Marvel days. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think most of the real fans learn very quickly that this is part of the game and keep on reading, grumbling loudly all the way. Can it get bad enough that people just give up on the character entirely? Sure. I remember Dr. Strange way back when. His series wasn’t doing very well so they turned him into a literal super hero, with a face that looked like a blue version of the Vision. Killed the strip dead in a few issues.

You either accept that this is part of comics or you don’t. “Comic booky” isn’t a pejorative for nothing.