Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Luthor vs. Batman and Superman Part 4

The last of my articles on Luthor fighting Batman and Superman starts now!

Their battles in World's Finest Comics were legendary, but the battles continued on after...

...and continue on to this day, both in the comics, and now on the big screen with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice!

DC Super Stars #10

With the start of baseball season, why wouldn't Superman, and Batman face off against Luthor (and Joker, and a few more) in a baseball game?

DC Super Stars #10 (December, 1976) answers that question, with the Sportsmaster and the Huntress having a bit of trouble with their marriage, so they enlist heroes and villains to battle in "The Great Super-Star Game" (by writer Bob Rozakis, penciller Dick Dillin and inker Frank McLaughlin), with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Robin, Kid Flash, Green Arrow, Black Canary and Plastic Man on Huntress' team, and Sportsmaster getting Luthor, Joker, Weather Wizard, Felix Faust, Chronos, Tattooed Man, Dr. Polaris and Matter Master, all umpired by the Freedom Fighters' Uncle Sam and Justice League villain and power-copier Amazo!

This issue is just too joyful to be covered as a part of one article, but gets a mention here as it does have Superman and Batman facing Luthor...

...under an Ernie Chan cover.

Best of all, this was reprinted back in the day of the DC Digests, in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #13 (September, 1981), under a cover by Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano, so you feel like you are almost at the ball park with these two covers!

Both issues also have other strange sports stories...and we've talked about baseball at this site before as well.

Batman #293

In light of full disclosure, Luthor was in Batman #291 and #292, but they were both only as set-up for Batman #293 (November, 1977), as Luthor was on trial for killing Batman in "The Testimony Of Luthor" by David V. Reed, John Calnan and Tex Blaisdell.

As a part of his testimony in front of a collection of Batman villains acting as a court, Luthor claimed to have killed Batman, after switching Batman's and Superman's minds, thus in effect killing both Superman and Batman.  Two-Face brought out a witness that happened to put that claim of Luthor's in doubt (setting the stage for the final part of this four part story in Batman #294, with the Joker giving his testimony, after Catwoman's, Riddler's and Luthor's....).

Sadly, this was as close as we ever got to a Batman/Luthor issue of Brave and the Bold with this cover by Jim Aparo (hey, if Batman's foe of the Joker can make a few appearances in Superman's team-up title of DC Comics Presents, so why NOT Batman/Luthor in B&B....and wouldn't we all have loved to see more of Jim Aparo drawing Luthor in his snazzy super-suit...and who doesn't love seeing Luthor working with a bunch of villains?).

But, at least you can read this whole saga (and a few extra tales too!) in the Batman: Strange Deaths Of Batman tradepaperback of 2009, under the modified cover by Jim Aparo (that originally appeared on Batman #291).

Superman Annual #9

Next up for issues with Superman, Batman and Luthor is an inventory tale that got published in Superman Annual #9 (1983), with "Villain, Villain, Who's Got The Villain?" by Elliot S. Maggin, Alex Toth and Terry Austin, as Luthor had just gotten his new Lexor armor in Action Comics #544, and Superman and Batman were not all that friendly as of events of Batman and the Outsiders #1 and reflected in World's Finest Comics.  True, there were no major revelations here, but that Alex Toth art was just too beautiful to not be seen!

In the story, Luthor hatched a plan, to have Superman be blamed for all his crimes, while Luthor goes free (all involving turning Superman into a duplicate of Luthor via Red Kryptonite).  Then, Luthor would be free to use his great scientific mind for the benefit of mankind.  Worked for a while too, if it weren't for that blasted Batman and Superman.

This story has not been reprinted as of yet, and the annual contained a wonderful story of the relationship between Superman and his artist, Curt Swan.

Crisis on Infinite Earths #9

It would be terrible not to let artist extraordinare George Perez not have a chance at drawing Superman, Batman and Luthor....and he got to draw all three (with Luthor in his new Lexor armor, designed by George Perez) during the course of the Crisis On Infinite Earths.  

In Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 (December, 1985 by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Jerry Ordway) the remaining 5 Earths became a "War Zone", with the Earth-1, Lexor armor wearing Lex Luthor leading an army of villains (proving what a great leader he was, even though Luthor and Brainiac were some of the only Superman foes there), gathered by the new, advanced Brainiac against the remaining heroes in an attempt to take over Earth-4, Earth-X and Earth-S.  Of course, the heroes, led by Superman and Batman were there to stop this plan, which had to be put aside as the threat to the multiverse posed by the Anti-Monitor increased.

The Crisis also changed Luthor...making him into a brilliant scientist (and later, as expanded upon in the Man of Steel limited series), and a businessman, who used his mind to fill his pockets at the expense of others....with the relationship between Batman and Superman changing as well.

Heroes Against Hunger

But, the old battlesuited Luthor still had a few new appearances, including, the issue of Heroes Against Hunger (1986) facing a Superman and Batman who were still friends, which presents an odd problem with writer/ it's more of a case of who DIDN'T work on this book, all under a front cover by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, and plot by Jim Starlin,  assisted by Bernie Wrightson, and pages scripted by Cary Bates, Elliot S. Maggin, Paul Levitz, Mike W. Barr, Mike Fleisher, Bob Rozakis, Roy Thomas, J.M. DeMatteis, Robert Bloch, Robert Loren Fleming, Marv Wolfman, Tony Isabella, Gerry Conway, Barbara Kesel, Andrew Hefler, Dan Mishkin, Len Wein, Ed Hannigan, Mindy Newell, Steve Englehart, Joey Cavalieri, Paul Kupperberg and Doug Moench, with art by George Perez, Paris Cullins, Denys Cowan, Jan Duursema, Keith Giffen, Ross Andru, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Carmine Infantino, Marshall Rogers, Bernie Wrightson, J. J. Brozowski, Sal Amendola, Curt Swan, Barry Windsor Smith, Ernie Colon, Walt Simonson, Eduardo Barreto, Jack Kirby, Tony Salmons, Dan Jurgens, Joe Kubert, David Ross and James Sherman (and that doesn't include the many inkers, letterers and colorists!).

This story involved Superman, Batman and Luthor working together to end world hunger, facing the alien Master.  Sadly, even Earth's mightiest heroes and most sinister scientist were unable to totally defeat this problem.

The battles still rages on, as seen in the World's Finest 3 issue mini-series of 1990 by Dave Gibbons, Steve Rude and Karl Kesel, and in the Superman/Batman (and Batman/Superman) titles of the 21st Century.

So long as Lex Luthor causes evil, Superman and Batman will be there to stop him!

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