Superman: President Lex
Collects: Adventures of Superman #581, President Luthor Secret Files, Superman: Lex 2000, Superman #162-165, Superman: Man of Steel #108-110 and Action Comics #773
By Doran Murphy
What could make Lex Luthor, richest man in the world with blackmail dossiers on all major politicians in the world, even more powerful than he already is? Well, give him the keys to the White House, of course! It could be argued that he already was the most powerful man in the world, but after he takes on the mantle of The Most Powerful Man in the Free World (the informal title often given to the President of the United States) he has access to NASA, the CIA, FBI, NSA and all sorts of mean-sounding acronyms at his disposal — in addition to his huge amount of power. Before, he had subversive power to control the mandate of the government — now it's all in the open, and he can do whatever he wants.
I don't think I'm spoiling too much when I say Lex Luthor becomes the President of the United States in Superman: President Lex. Especially considering the book is about four years old. Anyway, Luthor is going about his daily business, and is confronted by Superman logos everywhere he looks. On pretty girls, on billboards, on kids, everywhere — it's un-escapable. Luthor has been seeking a way to re-attain his status as Metropolis' favorite son for quite some time now (ever since Superman made his presence known all those years ago), and, suddenly, he has an epiphany. He picks up his cell phone, and tells someone (presumably Mercy Graves, his personal assistant — one of them, anyway), "It's Luthor, call legal and tell them I want to run for President". Those words begin a wild ride through the electoral system.
So, the machinations of LexCorp get to work, and Luthor enters as his own party. He has Talia Head (the daughter of Ra's Al Ghul) cover things over at LexCorp for him once he officially severs his ties with LexCorp, and puts on the friendly facade we don't often see him portray. He kowtows to everyone that matters, he survives assassination attempts, he sets up trade with the King of Atlantis — he does it all. Through all of his good deeds he ensures his Presidency. Of course, this drives Superman insane. Not crazy-crazy-kill-people-Hal-Jordan insane, but more Grrr... I'll go smash shit up in space insane. It clearly bugs him. His old Smallville buddy, Pete Ross, is playing the Dick Cheney to Luthor's George W. Bush. That drives him barking mad, too.
Overall, it's a decent story. It certainly could have been better, though. There are some really goofball moments, like where Superman goes about giving presents to the rest of the JLA because it's Christmas. It struck me as a Why in the hell is this here? move, like the writers got lazy and half assed it. Same with the appearance of Bizarro. That could have been a really strong storyline in another book, but it's wasted here. The conflict between Luthor and Superman could have fueled this entire story easily, with a couple allusions to the major villain who appears at the end — but they sissied out and got lazy, really. The appearance of the time-traveling Linear Men, which created a giant time paradox, also pissed me off too. The concept of Superman: President Lex is awesome, but it could have come off a lot better, with a little more work.
Artistically, a solid effort from everyone involved. Superman: President Lex takes on a different artistic style than I'm used to seeing, but it certainly works for me in terms of the story — especially when you consider the laidback (lazy-lazy-lazy) Christmas story in the middle. (There's also a lot of other characters involved for no good reason.) Bizarro also looks pretty cool, so I'll give them decent marks in the art department.
Superman: President Lex could have been so much more than what it turned out to be. They tried to do far, far too much with this — I haven't really divulged too much from the story. It's a decent story, worth a look if your library carries it (like mine does). As a side note, DC set up a website for President Lex's election campaign — found here. Overall, Superman: President Lex is a good idea that they sort of went a little too scatterbrained with. Nice try, DC. Better luck next time.