"There was a time, years ago, when all young Lex Luthor wanted was to be President of the United States." - Miracle Monday
The warped scientific genius who has been Superman's most dangerous enemy for over six decades. An evil genius and avowed enemy of humanity, he is the greatest renegade scientist of all time and one of the most dangerous evil-doers in the universe.
In the first encounter with Superman, Luthor describes himself as "Just an ordinary man - but with the brain of a super-genius!" (Act No. 23, Jul 1940), yet the texts portray him as a crazed scientist and master-fiend, a wily scientific genius with a consuming urge to conquer the world.
"A power-mad, evil scientist, Superman's most inveterate hater, is Luthor. He could have been a mighty force for good in the world yet he chose to direct his great scientific brain into criminal channels" (Act No. 47, Apr 1942).
Although Superman clearly considers Luthor one of the world's greatest scientists, despite the fact that he is a criminal, the Man of Steel has also described Luthor as a "madman" and a "fiend" and numbered him among the world's worst villains. "With that fantastic brain of his," reflects Clark Kent in September 1962, "Luthor is a menace to the entire universe!"
"Of all Superman's foes," notes Action Comics No. 294, "none is more relentless than Luthor, Earth's most evil criminal scientist! Luthor's driving ambition has always been to enslave the Earth, but Superman has always stood in the way!"
"For years, Lex Luthor has been Superman's arch-foe! Time and again has this master-criminal used his scientific genius to aid the forces of evil! But in spite of the incredible dangers, Superman has always managed to bring Luthor to justice!" (Act No. 292, Sep 1962: "When Superman Defended his Arch-Enemy")
In his earliest appearances in the chronicles, Luthor has a full head of bright red hair, although in one text his hair is colored a dark, purplish gray. From 1941 onward, however, Luthor is portrayed as completely bald-headed, an aspect of his physical appearance which he retains to this day. In the early 1960s, however, after the history of Luthor's relationship with Superman has been revised in the chronicles to allow for the creation of adventures pitting Luthor against the Man of Steel during the period when both men were teen-agers, it is stated that Luthor's baldness was originally caused by an accidental laboratory explosion that occured while the two were still youngsters in Smallville. "My arch-enemy, Luthor, might have been the world's greatest benefactor!" sighs Superman aloud in November 1962. "But he lost his hair in an accidental explosion and blamed me for his baldness! In his bitterness he became Earth's most evil criminal scientist!"
The texts describe Lex Luthor as as man of "insane conceit" and "incredible evil features." Particularly in his early appearances, he is unbelievably ruthless.
Luthor's lifelong goal has always been mastery of the world as the first stage of his even grander scheme to dominate the universe.
On more than hundreds of separate occasions, Superman has intervened valiantly to thwart Luthor's seething ambition for power.
In his effort to destroy Superman and thereby pave the way for his conquest of the universe, Luthor has created "Luthorite," synthesized kryptonite, and produced dozens of extraordinary inventions. He has, however, despite his genius, shown scant insight into the vast difference in values that sets him irrevocably apart from his super-powered opponent.
In the course of his villainous career, Luthor has employed numerous secret hideouts and headquarters - places where he could perfect his diabolical inventions and concoct his intricate schemes, safe, at least for a time, from the prying eyes of Superman. Over the years, Luthor's hideouts have included a complex of buildings held aloft by a giant dirigible high above the stratosphere, a glass-enclosed city of ancient, weird design, an abandoned factory, a gigantic man-made meteor floating in outer space, an abandoned barn, a secret underground lab, a giant spaceship, a secret mountaintop laboratory, an electronics firm, a hidden laboratory on the outskirts of Metropolis, a laboratory hideout that has been lined with lead to conceal it from Superman's X-ray vision, a massive fortresslike citadel on a lonely mountaintop north of Metropolis, a lonely farmhouse in the mountains north of Metropolis, a secret lead-lined subterranean hideout built into the side of a grassy hill, and the elaborately equipped Luthor's Lair, Luthor's Lair II, and Luthor's Lair No. 5.
Aliases and alternate identities employed by Luthor in the course of his villainous career have included Zytal, Carlyle Allerton, Mr. Smith, Professor Clyde, Professor Guthrie, The Defender, and Luthor the Noble.
Luthor has fought more than one hundred separate battles with Superman. Superman's mementoes of these mighty battles - including confiscated weapons, inventions, and other devices - are on display in the Fortress of Solitude and in the Superman Museum. At least one of Luthor's inventions - a device designed to summon beings from the fourth dimension - is on display in the Fortress of Solitude's forbidden weapons of crimedom exhibit, while four of his super-scientific weapons - a money magnet, a vault-blaster, an earthquake maker, and an atomic death ray - are on display, along with a bust of Luthor, in the Fortress's wax museum of crime.
On the far distant planet of Lexor, the one world in the universe where Luthor is considered a hero, Luthor's exploits have been glorified by the dedication of a Luthor Museum and by the erection of a gigantic standing statue of Luthor in Lexor's capital city. For his part, Luthor returns the favor to some degree by assisting the Lexorians with their problems while using the planet both as his base of operations and arsenal. In June 1983, Lexor along with its entire population, is inadvertantly and totally destroyed by Lex Luthor in a battle against Superman when an energy blast from Lex's battlesuit accidentally overloads a device called the Neutrarod that he built to quiet the planet's dangerous sesimic activity. Although profoundly aggrieved at the tragedy, Luthor blindly refuses to accept responsibility for it and blames Superman with even greater ferocity. (Act No. 544/1: "Luthor Unleashed")
Luthor's relatives include his late Lexorian wife Ardora, his late son Lex Luthor, Jr. and his sister Lena Thorul, who is gifted with the power of extrasensory perception. His descendants include an heroic 30th Century namesake, who is a member of the Adult Legion of Super-Heroes, and the ruthless Rohtul, a villain also living in the thirtieth century A.D.
Although Superman first encounters Luthor in April 1940, when both men are full-grown adults, the later chronicles extend the relationship between the two adversaries all the way back to their boyhood in Smallville, where Superman and Luthor were close boyhood friends until the day when Luthor lost his hair in an accidental laboratory mishap that he misguidedly blamed on the teen-aged Superman. In his bitterness, Luthor became Earth's most evil criminal scientist and the greatest enemy Superman has ever known.
"Ever since they first clashed as boys in Smallville," notes Superman No. 170, "Superman has time and again thwarted the evil schemes of his arch-foe, Lex Luthor."