One of the ongoing storylines of writer Dan Jurgens’ Action Comics is the uneasy (at best) relationship between a Superman from a pre-Flashpoint existence and a New 52 Lex Luthor who claims he is now a superhero himself.
That relationship comes to a head in the third volume subtitled Men of Steel.
The stage has been set for Superman. He doesn’t for a minute trust this alternate Lex Luthor, but Luthor keeps claiming he’s one of the good guys now, as inspired by the death of the Superman he knew, going so far as to wear that Superman’s cape and the familiar S-shield on his armored suit. Things come to a head in this storyline as two aliens named Zade and L’call the Godslayer come to Metropolis looking to kill Luthor for his crimes. What crimes might those be? L’call has the ability to see the future, and he sees there that Luthor will one day succeed Darkseid and be responsible for the genocidal extinction of many races across the universe, including Earth! The two have been executing various evildoers for an unknown amount of time before these individuals could perform the acts that would warrant them death. L’call for one is tired of this, but if what he sees in the future is true, then killing Luthor now will save a lot of lives in the future.
Of course, Superman doesn’t believe in killing or in doing so for crimes that only might happen. He prevents the instant execution, but then follows L’call and Zade to retrieve Luthor from the planet they call home, and there he has to decide how much he trusts this man, particularly when the two are forced to work together to escape Luthor’s captivity. It’s hard enough when neither trusts the other, and Luthor for one feels he was never even given a chance due to Superman’s preconceived notions of whom any Lex Luthor might be.
This one was definitely a step up from the previous two books. The ongoing subplot of the other Clark Kent continues as Lois does her own investigation into a missing office building (one Superman and their son Jon have already found), and the reader can see that though Luthor is far from the most pleasant hero around, his attempts to be a good guy appear to be on the level…for now at any rate. He’s still Lex Luthor, so the arrogance is still there, and Luthor doesn’t even try to apologize for that sort of thing. Why should he? He’s Lex Luthor. Eight and a half out of ten pheromonal attacks.