I just returned from a week-long driving trip to Chicago, hanging out with friends while doing as little work as possible. I used to do this three times a tear, but I haven’t for the past 21 months because, you know, Covid.
The driving part is, for me, wonderfully relaxing. I control the music, I nosh on tons of life-saving unhealthy food, and I get to enjoy long internal conversations with the one person who totally gets me. This time, while plowing through north central Ohio, my thoughts drifted towards Lex Luthor and the frightening growth of the white separatist movements. Now, before you can scream “oxymoron” let me state internal conversations often are 100 miles short of reality. It’s my brain, damn it, and it’s time I indulged it.
Back in 1961, DC published what I believe was the first story titled “The Death of Superman.” It said so right on the cover, which kinda gave away the ending. It was an “imaginary story,” meaning it didn’t really happen. Compare this with Marvel’s later What If? stories, which I gather really did happen…. somewhere.
To illustrate this bit of comic book logic: DC did not publish a series of Death of Superman comics based upon this imaginary story — they rebooted the concept many, many times, often under the same title. On the other hand, this March Marvel will be coming out with a Captain Carter series based upon the first What If? teevee episode. Reality is what happens between the staples.
In this imaginary story, Lex Luthor is pardoned from all crimes after inventing a cure for cancer. That made sense to me at the time because I was barely 11 years old when I read it at the counter of Normie’s Deli while consuming a plate of french fries and a glass of Green River. It didn’t occur to me at the time how the hell Lex actually could come up with a cure for cancer while incarcerated. Penal reform, I guess.
Upon his release, Lex buckled down to his real plan: killing the Man of Steel. SPOILER ALERT: In this story, titled The Death of Superman, Lex Luthor’s nefarious scheme was successful.
Being in 21st century Ohio, I wondered what would have happened had Lex Luthor been a Trumpster white supremacist.
In the original story, Luthor was beloved for coming up with the cancer cure — perhaps it did not involve getting a vaccine injection. He lost that love after murdering Superman. Go figure. But in my more contemporary scenario, I suspect about one-third of Americans, those who are avowed Trumpster while supremacists, would be quite happy about Luthor’s newfound prerogative.
Undoubtably, Lex would be invited to guest on Steve Bannon’s podcast. He might get his own television show on one of the lying far-right wing fake news networks. He’d go on tour raising money for Trump. He could even become the new Rush Limbaugh.
Indeed, I suspect Donald Trump would pick Lex Luthor as his vice-presidential candidate in 2024. If you think about it, this might be a grave mistake on Trump’s part — with emphasis on the term “grave.”
I mean, WTF, Lex just killed that not-white alien Superman. Killing anybody else would be no big deal. Luthor could be a better Trumpster than Trump himself.
We would have President Lex Luthor which, as I recall, happened in DC’s not-imaginary stories. These sagas, by definition, really happened.
It doesn’t take a political wag to note the Republican party would be fine with this. They are fine with the invasion of the Capitol building by violent insurrectionists, they care fine with eliminating, oh, school programs, health programs, social security, Medicare, abortion, and poverty programs in order to give the wealthiest of the wealthy another cut in the taxes they don’t pay anyway. That’s how these bastards roll.
The man who edited that original Death of Superman, Mort Weisinger, was a friend (of sorts) of the Kennedy administration, so perhaps he would not have green-lit this saga. But that way then.
This is now, and that story doesn’t seem so extreme today.