Comic Review – “Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography”

My second foray into the DC universe was much more fruitful. Details found below.

General Information

Title: Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography
Credited To: James D. Hudnall, Eduardo Barreto, and Adam Kubert
Original Publication Date: 1989
Cover Price: $3.95 US, $4.95 Can


An alcoholic reporter stumbles into writing an unauthorized biography
of Lex Luthor. Lex doesn’t like that.

High Point

The focus was kept off of Superman. Clark is here, but Superman
appears as a blur in one panel. This is a story about the villain,
and the hero takes a side seat.

Low Point

I’d have liked it to be a little longer and reveal more about Lex. In
other words, it left me wanting more, because the stuff they provided
was good.

My Background

I’ve read one Superman comic in my life. (It was an issue of Action
comics from the late 1980s, where some telepathic kid rode around in
Superman’s head for a day.) This collection was both entertaining,
and complete enough that I had no problems falling right into the
story. It could have been confusing if I didn’t know that DC rebooted
the Universe with their Crisis on Infinite Earths after the
Superman movies came out, though. If you don’t know about Crisis and
you pick this up, you should know that the current incarnation of Lex
is more like the Kingpin from Marvel comics than the character Gene
Hackman played.

The Scores

Revealing the origin of a comic book character is hardly an
original concept. The delivery was nice, though. It’s
really told through the perspective of a character who (I presume)
hasn’t appeared before or since. The implementation, if not the
content, earns this a 4 out of 6 for originality.

The artwork has the gritty and grainy feel that is
reminiscent of 16mm film, which really works for the story at hand.
I wouldn’t be impressed to see this art at a showcase, but it works
very well when combined with this story. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is excellent. It’s well paced, and it uses a
non-linear narrative style that helps to keep the pace moving by
breaking up a scene that could otherwise be a bit slow. The
revelations are handed out slowly, methodically, and naturally. I
give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization sells the story. We get a sense of
Lex’s hunger for power, Clark’s frustration at Lex’s successful false
image, and Sands’ feeling that he’s trapped himself in a much
different situation than what he’d expected. A new reader like myself
would learn as much about Lex’s personality as s/he does about Lex’s
past. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response generated by this was impressive. I
don’t know this incarnation of the characters very well, but I do care
about them. If you know nothing of the characters, it would be more
effective, in my opinion. I give it 4 out of 6.

The flow was very well done. There was very little action to
mess things up, and the non-linear storytelling kept the pace coming
along at a decent clip. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this is a story that was well told, and certainly
worth the cover price. If you can find a copy, do. I give it 5 out
of 6.

In total, Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography receives 33
out of 42.