First off, I just want to say that I love the cover design for this trade. It looks like Superman is staring at Lex angrily, thinking, “Oh yeah Lex? You’re going to run for President?! Ima bop you on the head.”
…It’s early. I need more coffee.
The storyline of this trade is simple: Lex Luthor wakes up one day and decides to run for President of the United States.
Simple. Straight-forward. Terrifying.
First and foremost, let’s address the fact that reading this comic was scary as all hell given our current election season. A crazed businessman with no history in politics deciding to run for the presidency on a lark? The parallels were chilling.
The bulk of the comic focuses on the election season. Nothing is said of Luthor’s opponents; this is clearly his show. He chooses Lana Lang’s husband, Pete Ross, as his running mate, and uses his extensive funds and connections to espouse his plans for his presidency. Of course, being Lex, he’s not above tipping the odds in his favor.
At one point a crazed woman (with no history of mental illness) emerges from a crowd and shoots Luthor in the leg. The woman is swiftly carted away and the press is denied any interviews.
Luthor is clearly willing to do anything to see his plans come to fruition. His dedication makes him dangerous, and all-too effective.
Between his deep pockets and extensive connections, Luthor is virtually unstoppable. The public views him in an extremely positive light, from his good work in helping rebuild Gotham after No Man’s Land to a recent meeting with Aquaman promising to open a trade network with Atlantis. Luthor is unstoppable, able to promote his good name while sweeping any negative press under the rug.
Not surprising, Luthor eventually wins the presidency. This puts Superman in a rather awkward position. He hates the idea of Luthor being president, but he knows that Superman is a quintessential American symbol, and that as such he must support whomever the people choose.
This particular comic doesn’t focus much on Luthor as president. Instead it’s all a lead-up to his win, so that much of the comic feels like a prequel of sorts. There was an entire section in the middle of this trade involving Superman traveling to visit various JLA members, vocalizing his concerns about Luthor as president, and presenting each person with a small holiday gift.
…No, I don’t understand the point of these mini Superman Christmas specials, either within the President Luthor storyline or within Superman at all. Filler perhaps? Luckily they were brief enough that they didn’t drag out. They were cute, albeit unnecessary, asides.
I liked this story, but I’m far more interested in seeing what transpires after Luthor wins. How is Superman’s relationship with the government impacted? How will Luthor use his newly gained powers to forward his own objectives? Will this change be felt in other comics? If so, how?
These questions aren’t fully answered in this collection. The comic is a great setup, but I still want more out of the story. I’m hoping there’s a follow-up trade for this storyline on “the shelf”, providing further detail as to what Luthor as President means for Superman, the JLA, and the world.
In the meantime I’m just going to hope and pray that our current election season doesn’t mirror the outcome of this comic (although if Superman swooped down from the sky and punched Trump in the face, I’d be okay with that.)