Sunday, November 8, 2009


This episode was part of the Comic Book Theme Week for Halloween among many comic book podcasters.

The story They Saved Luthor's Brain! was collected into a trade paperback by the same name, released on January 26, 2000. It collected the following issues Superman (vol. 2) #2 and Action Comics issues 660, 668, 672 and 676-678. However, there are more issues of the various Superman titles that were a part of this story.

The story began with Superman #2, February 1987. At the end of the new Superman #1, Metallo had almost killed Superman with kryptonite poisoning before vanishing. In issue #2 it was revealed that Luthor's security forces had captured Metallo, and Luthor himself ripped out the kryptonite that powered Metallo's robot body with his bare hand, and had a new ring with a kryptonite stone setting custom made for himself, as a symbol of his ability to keep Superman at bay. What Luthor would eventually learn was that kryptonite was not totally harmless to humans. While short exposure posed no threat, prolonged exposure would prove fatal to Luthor.

His troubles really began in Action Comics #600, May 1988, published on February 2, 1988. In the third story of the issue, Games People Play (written by John Byrne, pencilled by Dick Giordano, inked by John Beatty, lettered by Albert Tobias DeGuzman, colored by Thomas J. Ziuko and edited by Mike Carlin), Lex's right hand, with the kryptonite ring, had been aching. When he slammed his right fist on his desk in anger, the pain was excruciating. Dr. Kelley diagnosed kryptonite poisoning.

Luthor had his hand amputated and a robotic hand installed in Superman #19, May 1988, Febryary 2, 1988, in the story titled The Power That Failed (written and pencilled by John Byrne, inked by John Beatty, lettered by John Costanza and colored by Petra Scotese. That would not stop the spread of cancer, as Lex found out in Action Comics #656, August 1990, July 10, 1990, Going To Blazes (written by Roger Stern, pencilled by Bob McLeod, inked by Brett Breeding, lettered by Bill Oakley, and colored by Glenn Whitmore). In Action Comics #660, December 1990, November 6, 1990, titled Certain Death, Luthor was taking chemtherapy treatments for the cancer. He decided to go out with a bang instead of withering away to nothing. He commissioned a round the world flight, around the poles, on one of his LexWig planes with a co-pilot. During the flight Luthor jettisoned the co-pilot in a rescue capsule in the Caribbean, and the plane crash landed in the Andes Mountains of Peru.

Luthor's will, naming an heir, would eventually be found in Action Comics #662, February 1991, January 8, 1991, in the story Secrets In The Night, in the same issue that Clark Kent revealed his secret identity to Lois Lane. Happersen and Kelley, Luthor's inner circle, went to New South Wales, Australia, to find Luthor's son, whose mother was none other than Dr. Kelley herself, in Action Comics #670, October 1991, September 3, 1991.

Lex, Jr. landed in Metropolis in the very next issue, and in #672 settled the Daily Planet strike by promising to buy afvertising in the paper for various LexCorp companies. Lex, Jr. had his father's affection for the ladies and began a romantic affair with the Matrix Supergirl in issue #677.

The true story behind Lex, Jr. was finally revealed in Action Comics #678. The cover, drawn by Art Thibert, carried the title They Saved Luthor's Brain, which served as the title of the paperback collection of this storyline. The title of the story itself was Talking Heads, written by Roger Stern, pencilled by Jackson Guice, inked by Andy Parks, lettered by Bill Oakley and colored by Glenn Whitmore. The story began when Lex, Jr. was attacked by a gunman, who was then injured when one of his bullets richocheted off of Supergirl. He was taken to a hospital and identified as Dr. Dabney Donovan (mentioned in episode #34, Jack Kirby's Project Cadmus). He was interviewed by Inspector Henderson, who remained in the shadows of the hospital room that night.

Dabney told the whole story, how the "late" Lex Luthor had secreted another body, also missing his right hand, onto the ill-fated LexWing. With the jet on autopilot, Luthor placed the body in the pilot's seat and ejected in a secret escape pod. He was found by Dr. Happersen and taken to a remote lab established in the Australian Outback. There, Donovan and Dr. Teng, another old Luthor associate who had created the original Bizarro (in the Man Of Steel mini-series) operated on Luthor. All they were able to save from Lex's body that was cancer free were his brain, eyes and spinal cord, which were placed in a fluid filled isodation tank. A clone body was grown around the brain, and sleep tapes gave the "new" Luthor the correct Austrailan accent.

When the new Luthor was ready to resume his life as his own heir, he blew up the lab. Teng was killed but Donovan survived to plan his revenge. Inspecotr Henderson was revealed to be a disguised Lex Luthor, Jr. Luthor revealed to Donovan that he had planted his will so that it would be found after his death, when his company would be in chaos, along with the rest of Metropolis, because of Luthor's demise. The stage would then be set for Lex, Jr. to arrive and become the savior of Metropolis and once again be the city's top dog. Luthor planned to poison Donovan with a syringe, but Dabney beat him to it. Donovan himself was a clone, and activated an implanted self-destruct device and burst into flames. Of course Luthor escaped the hospital without detection.

That was not the end of the cloned Luthor, during the Bizarro World story, found in all of the Superman titles from Superman #87 - Superman #88, a disease swept through the clone community, Cadmus escapees who lived underground below Metropolis, and afflicted Luthor as well. He had Bizarro captured and experimented on to find a cure. Luthor withered away and he lost his hair. Lois and Superman stopped Luthor's experiments but too late to save Bizarro. Luthor's condition continued to deteriorate, and when it seemed that death would not escape Luthor he decided to take Metropolis with him. In The Battle For Metropolis and The Fall Of Metropolis storylines, which ran through the Superman titles from Action Comics #699 - Action Comics #701, most of Metropolis was destroyed. Luthor was finally stopped and his body became paralyzed while his mind was still actvie, a fitting punishment.

His health was restored in Underworld Unleashed #2, when the demon Neron offered to restore Lex's health in exchange for his soul. Since Luthor did not believed in the afterlife he found that quite a bargain. Luthor was eventually cleared of all charges when he was able to prove an evil clone of himself was responsible for the atrocities, which cleared the way for Lex Luthor to eventually run for President and all of the adventures that followed.

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