Tuesday, 22 January 2013

President Luthor

I collected the Superman titles for a few years after The Crisis On Infinite Earths. There was a very good possible future story about President Superman with a black woman as Vice-President. Pete Ross had stood but was incapacitated by an assassination attempt (or something; I can dig comics out of boxes in the cellar if I want to check details) and Clark, revealed to be Superman, took his place.

I felt that this was a complete story in that it systematically traced out every possible logical implication of its premise. For example, Superman, with Aquaman's help, recovered sunken treasures to pay off the national debt. Clark's involvement in politics had started with his father's death. Right at the end of the story, when Superman prevents Jonathan's death, the reader alone knows that a political future for Superman has been averted.

Back in the present, as opposed to a possible future, Lex Luthor got involved in politics, backing a Presidential candidate. Someone with super strength trashed a campaign office and a member of the candidate's team blamed Superman. Luthor's advice: sack the guy who said that; Superman does not operate that way and, even if he did, it would do you no good to say so.

The candidate, present when Superman averted a disaster, did his best to be filmed shaking hands with Superman afterwards while Superman did his best to fly away as quickly as possible. It is good to see authentic real world politics in a Superman comic. Years ago, all that happened was Supes shaking hands with Kennedy.

Later in the post-Crisis DC universe, Luthor, leading his own Tomorrow Party, became President with Pete Ross as Vice. This provided a neat dilemma for Supes. He supports the President of the United States while privately detesting Luthor. When General Sam Lane died resisting an alien invasion, Luthor was able, from his knowledge of his own number one enemy, to assure Lois Lane that Superman would have done everything that he could have done to save her father's life.

The comics feed into screen adaptations. In the sixth episode of Smallville, it is revealed that a flash of light from a meteor impact had robbed a woman, who happened to be called Cassandra, of her sight but given her second sight. Her vision of Luthor's future as President is so horrific that she dies of shock without having told him about it...

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