Alternative versions of Lex Luthor

Alternate versions of Lex Luthor
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Action Comics #23 (April 1940)
Created by Jerry Siegel
Joe Shuster
See also Lex Luthor in other media

The fictional character Lex Luthor has appeared in a number of media, always as the archenemy of Superman. Each version of the work typically establishes its own continuity, and sometimes introduces parallel universes, to the point where distinct differences in the portrayal of the character can be identified. In addition, the DC Universe has been rewritten a number of times, establishing additional versions of the character. This article details and lists various versions of Lex Luthor depicted in works including DC Comics Multiverse, Elseworlds, television and film.

Alternative continuity

Earth One

Main article: Superman: Earth One
Alexandra "Lex" Luthor in Superman: Earth One Volume Two.

In the alternative reality Earth One, Dr. Alexandra Luthor is a xenobiologist married to Dr. Alexander Luthor, an inventor with degrees in many fields, specializing in particle physics. The pair refer to themselves as Lex2 Incorporated. They, as in the mainstream universe, are extremely wealthy. They are hired as independent contractors by Major Sandra Lee, a United States Air Force officer tasked with first guarding and studying Superman's ship, and, after it escapes, neutralizing Superman should he pose a threat to national security. Alexandra is the more aggressive of the two, but, initially, neither actively hate Superman, although Alexandra researches ways of killing him as an intellectual exercise. Alexander Luthor is more compassionate and contemplative than the mainstream Luthor and questions the ethical implications of developing anti-Superman weapons, but willingly joins his wife and Major Lee.[1]

Alexander ultimately sacrifices himself helping Superman battle Zod; Alexandra, consumed by rage and grief, blames Superman and vows to dedicate her life to destroying him, claiming that the old Alexandra died alongside her husband and demanding to be henceforth called Lex Luthor.[2]

Superman: Birthright

In Mark Waid's version of Superman's origin in Superman: Birthright, Lex is shown to be roughly five years older than Clark Kent. His father Lionel is pompous, arrogant, and somewhat distant towards his son. Being an outcast in Smallville, Clark befriends him, but they separate as Lex obsesses with contacting alien civilizations. When Clark feels sick due to the Kryptonite being used in his plan, Lex banishes him from his lab and ends up becoming disfigured in an explosion. All of his hair is burned off, and Lionel is killed in the ensuing fire. Years later, Lex comes into conflict with Superman, as he attempts to recreate the accident that cost him his hair to contact extraterrestrials.


Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three, reacting to the death of Superwoman, from Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 (April 1985). Art by George Pérez.

The parallel world of Earth-Three has a heroic counterpart of Luthor, Alexander Luthor.. He is a foe of the evil Crime Syndicate of America. Alexander, who is married to the Lois Lane of Earth-Three, dies in Crisis on Infinite Earths, but manages to save their son, Alexander Luthor, Jr.. Alex is sent to the Monitor's space station on Earth-One, where he rapidly ages to adulthood. Along with Kal-L, Lois Lane, and Superboy-Prime, he saves the newly formed merged universe before disappearing into a paradise dimension. Alex and Superboy-Prime later return as the antagonists of Infinite Crisis.

The Earth-3 concept was revisited following DC's "The New 52" reboot. In the Forever Evil (2014) series, Alexander Luthor is revealed to be Mazahs, the Shazam of Earth-3.[3] Though he claims to be a hero [3] he is shown as being just as ruthless as the members of the syndicate and is stated to be the father of Superwoman's child. He is slain by the mainstream Lex Luthor, who uses the fact that they have identical voices to depower Alexander prior to killing him. This Lex had the ability to take on the powers of those he killed; how he acquired this ability is unexplained, but it is likely as Shazam of Earth-0 can give powers to others, that Mazahs can take powers.

JLA: Earth 2

The 2000 JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel is an updated version of Earth-Three concept of an evil "mirror universe". The Luthor of the anti-matter Earth 2 is a mirror image of Earth 1 counterpart (all his internal organs are switched left for right). The sole hero on his world, Luthor comes to the mainstream DC Earth to the Justice League for help rebuilding his world. However, since "evil always wins" in this alternative world, the attempt fails, and Luthor resigns himself to being the only noble character on his Earth.


In the Trinity series, reality is altered so that Superman does not exist. In this alternative timeline, Dr. Lex Luthor is a member of the underground hero group known as The League.[4]

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew

The 1980s series Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew presented the parallel Earth of "Earth-C," a world populated by funny animal superheroes. Captain Carrot, in his secret identity of Rodney Rabbit, is the creator of the superhero comic Just'a Lotta Animals (an animal version of the Justice League of America). Captain Carrot and the Zoo eventually discover the characters in Rodney's comics actually live on "Earth-C-Minus", in yet another alternate universe. Earth-C-Minus is the home of "Lex Lemur," a lemur counterpart of Lex Luthor who battled his nemesis, the heroic Super-Squirrel.[5]


In the alternative timeline of the Flashpoint event, a young Lex Luthor is alongside his father, Lionel Luthor, touring Sam Lane's facility of aliens. When they are shown Subject 2 held in captive glass, Subject 2 breaks out and attacks the guards and young Lex. Lionel, in an effort to save his own life, uses Lex as a human shield. He is later killed or seriously injured.[6]

Pocket Universe

In a "pocket universe" created by the Time Trapper,[7] a good version of Lex Luthor existed. Years after Superboy (his reality's only hero) died to protect the pocket universe,[8] Lex accidentally releases three Phantom Zone criminals led by General Zod. With no other super-powered beings in his universe to confront them, Lex creates his own Supergirl, an artificial being composed of proto-matter and based upon the image and memories of a recently killed Lana Lang. Because his artificial Supergirl is not strong enough to fight the three Kryptonians, Lex sends her to the mainstream DC universe to enlist Superman's help. During the final battle with the Kryptonian criminals, Lex is killed while piloting a fighter jet. With the last of his strength, he tells Superman where his Earth's last supply of Kryptonite is located. Superman uses it to execute the Kryptonian criminals, as the villains have killed everyone on that version of Earth.[9]


In The New 52 Multiversity series, Lex Luthor has parented a (bald) daughter, Alexis (her mother is unnamed). Her father is dead and it is implied that he was abusive if she exhibited sub-optimal intelligence. She is involved with that world's Batman, Damian Wayne, but is using him to hack into the artificial intelligence that controls that world's Superman robots, which leads to a rampage across that world as they malfunction[10]


On Earth-17, "Luthex" works with Darkseid against the Atomic Knights of Justice. This Earth experienced a devastating nuclear war in 1963.[11]

Earth 23

The Lex Luthor of Earth 23 is largely similar to his classic incarnation. He is the archrival of U.S. President Calvin Ellis, the Superman of that world (who is black) and after being defeated, angrily declares that he is not a racist (this is implied to be an impression most have of him in this world).[12]


In the miniseries Superman: Red Son, Kal-L's vessel lands in the Ukraine in 1938, not in Kansas. After Josef Stalin dies in 1953, Superman becomes Premier of the Soviet Union. In the United States, Lex Luthor is a respected scientific prodigy, and married to Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane-Luthor. He becomes Superman's nemesis and, eventually, US President. When Luthor convinces Superman that his presence is halting human progress, Superman apparently leaves Earth (in reality, he adopts his Clark Kent identity and remains hidden. Luthor become the leader of a unified world and ushers in a golden age of "Luthorism". Millenia later, when the Sun has expanded into a red giant, it is revealed that he is a distant ancestor to Superman, who had been sent back in time, not through space.[13]


This DC Multiverse alternate Earth is based on the graphic novel Superman & Batman: Generations, in which Superman and Batman begin their heroic careers in the 1930s. Luthor is one of the henchman of the evil scientist the Ultra-Humanite. The two men are mortally injured in a fight with Superman and Batman at 1939 New York World's Fair. The Ultra-Humanite, his body permanently damaged, secretly has his brain transplanted into the brain dead body of Luthor. Over the decades, Luthor/Humanite plots against Superman by turning Joel Kent, the powerless son of Superman and Lois Lane, against his family. In 1989, Superman catches up with Luthor/Ultra-Humanite and, while trying to escape a trap, inadvertently, kills Luthor.[14]


An alternate Lex Luthor exists on Earth-50, an alternate Earth on which he becomes US President and murders The Flash. Provoked beyond recall, Superman then incinerates Luthor with his heat vision and declares martial law with the assistance of the Justice League of America, corrupted into the Justice Lords on this dark alternate world.


Luthor as he appears in The Dark Knight Strikes Again.

Film and television

See also


  1. Superman: Earth One Volume 2 (October 2012)
  2. Superman: Earth One Volume 3 (February 2015)
  3. 1 2 Johns, Geoff (w), Finch, David (p), Friend, Richard (i), Oback, Sonia (col), Leigh, Rob (let). "Forever Evil Chapter Six: The Power of Mazahs!" Forever Evil 6 (May 2014), DC Comics
  4. Trinity #25
  5. Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #14-15, April–May 1983
  6. Flashpoint: Project Superman #2 (July 2011)
  7. Action Comics #591 (August 1987)
  8. Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 3, #38 (September 1987)
  9. Superman vol. 2, #21-22; Adventures of Superman #444 (September/October 1988)
  10. The Multiversity 3 (October 2014): The Just
  11. Multiversity Guidebook (January 2015)
  12. Action Comics (vol. 2) #9
  13. Superman: Red Son: New York: DC Comics: 2004
  14. Multiversity Guidebook: (January 2015)
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