Deck Log Entry # 166 You Be the Jury! Luthor v. Superboy (Part One)

“Good morning.”

 

“Good morning, your honour.”

 

“Good morning, judge.”

 

“First, as to the matter of the plaintiff’s pre-trial motion requesting that the defendant disclose his civilian identity and make known to the court his foster-parents under that identity, I have reviewed the facts and studied Mr. Barton’s brief submitted in argument.  The overwhelming factor here is the decision handed down by the Juvenile Court last year.  Yes, while the defendant is of an age in which one would normally be considered a minor, his unique intelligence and maturity meet the standard for an adult in our society---or so the Juvenile Court ruled when it awarded him the status of an adult. 

“As such, there is no requirement for the defendant’s representation by a parent or guardian, and I have denied the motion.”

 

“But, your honour, the name ‘Superboy’ is clearly an alias.”

 

“Yes, it is, Mr. Aldrich.  But then again, the name under which he maintains a civilian identity would also be, by definition, an alias.  For that matter, we have only the defendant’s word that his given name was ‘Kal-El’, since obviously no birth records are available.  The defendant has consistently used the name ‘Superboy’ since making himself publically known four years ago, and within that time, he has made no attempt to defraud under that guise.  Nor has he attempted to evade legal proceedings---as is evidenced by the fact that he is here to-day.  Therefore, the name ‘Superboy’ is sufficient for this court.”

 

“But, your honour . . . .”

 

“Nice try, counsellor, but let’s move on.  Are you ready to proceed?”

 

“We are, your honour.”

 

“Mr. Barton?”

 

“The defence is ready, sir.”

 

“Very good.  I’ll hear opening statements.  Mr. Aldrich?”

“Thank you, judge.  Gentlemen of the jury, this case may be difficult to accept, as the defendant, Superboy, is well known as the hero of Smallville.  We acknowledge that, in some cases, he has been just that.  But not in every case.  On the afternoon of February twenty-fifth of last year, Superboy did not perform heroically.  Instead, with a gross disregard for not only my client’s safety, but for the safety of the public at large, he acted with reckless abandon.

“His negligence---yes, negligence---robbed my client of a creation which undoubtedly would have brought him fame and fortune, not to mention depriving mankind of potentially the greatest advancement in medicine since the discovery of penicillin.  Furthermore, Superboy’s careless actions left my client with a tragic disfigurement.

“I realise that this is a staggering claim, in light of the defendant’s reputation.  But the evidence will show it to be true and that my client is entitled to compensation for the grievous wrongs committed on him by ‘the hero of Smallville’.”

 

“Mr. Barton.”

 

“Thank you, your honour.  We do not deny the tragic losses suffered by the plaintiff, Lex Luthor.  My client regrets them, as all decent, caring people would do.  However, as regrettable as they are, it is our contention that Lex Luthor himself created the conditions which caused them.  He set the stage for those unfortunate events, leaving my client with no other choice than to act as he did.  And Lex Luthor is entitled to no compensation for consequences that he brought upon himself.”

 

“Thank you, gentlemen.  I appreciate---and I know the jury appreciates---your short, to-the-point opening statements.  Mr. Aldrich, you may call your first witness.”

 

“Your honour, I call Lex Luthor to the stand.”

 

 

 

Testimony of Alexis “Lex” Luthor:

“Lex, when did you first meet Superboy?”

 

“About two and a half years ago, in the summer.  That’s when my family moved back to Smallville.  One morning, Superboy was flying over our property.  He was probably already spying on me---“

 

“Objection!”

 

“Sustained.”

 

“Lex, please just tell us the facts.  Go on.”

 

“As I said, Superboy was flying overhead, and he had just started to land when a large meteorite of green kryptonite struck the ground next to him.”

 

“Green kryptonite.  That’s the substance which is deadly to Superboy, is it not?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“So what happened next?”

 

“The big ‘hero’ over there keeled over like a sack of wet laundry.  That’s when I made the biggest mistake of my life.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I was driving a bulldozer my father had rented to level out some ruts in the dirt road leading to our house.  I used it to push the kryptonite meteorite into a nearby gully.  There was a pool of quicksand at the bottom of the gully and it sucked the kryptonite under.”

 

“So, you saved Superboy’s life.”

 

“That’s right.  Like I said, it was the biggest mistake I ever made.”

 

“Excuse me, Lex.  I know this is a painful subject for you, but I have to ask---were you bald at that time?”

 

“No.  I had a full head of brown hair.”

 

“I have a photograph here.  Is this you when you had hair?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you mind if I show it to the jury?”

 

“Go ahead.  Show them what that rat did to me!”

 

“Now, then, after you saved Superboy’s life, did he express any gratitude?”

 

“Well, he built a laboratory for me, if that’s what you mean.”

 

“A laboratory?”

 

“He acted friendly enough, so I told him that I planned on becoming a famous scientist, someday.  So he built me a laboratory.”

 

“Was it a good one?  I mean, modern, well constructed.”

 

“Yeah, it was decent, I'll say that much."

 

“Fully equipped?  Stocked?”

 

“I said it was decent.  And he made this grand gesture out of giving me some rare chemicals he said he had burrowed out of the ground.”

 

“Rare chemicals?  Of what nature?”

 

“Superboy said that he didn’t know, which didn’t surprise me.”

 

“Did you know what they were?”

 

“I’d have figured them out soon enough.”

 

“So now you have a brand-new laboratory, with modern equipment and stocked with resources.  Did you conduct any experiments?”

 

“Of course.”

 

“What, if anything, did your experiments produce?”

 

“Just the most incredible scientific development in the history of mankind, that’s all.”

 

“That’s all.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“I’m sure the jury will be interested to know that that development was.”

 

“I created, by pure scientific process, a simple-celled living organism.  I unlocked the secret of life itself!

 

“You mean you created a human being?”

 

“That’s not what I said.  It was an artificially based protoplasm---too rudimentary to classify as human, or even animal---but it was alive!

 

“That’s astounding!  Has anything in biology or medicine even come close to this sort of breakthrough?”

 

“Haven’t you been listening?  I discovered it.  Me---Lex Luthor!  While all those ‘experts’ with degrees after their names were still splashing around in the kiddie pool.”

 

"Such a thing would have staggered the scientific community.  It would have put you in line for a Nobel Prize.  At the least, you would have been world famous.  But none of these things happened.  Why not, Lex?”

 

“Because of that caped creep over there---Superboy!”

 

“You mean, Superboy prevented you from turning your discovery over to the world?”

 

“That’s exactly what I mean!”

 

“How did he do that?”

 

“By destroying the protoplasm!”

 

“Tell us what happened.”

 

“Not long after I created the protoplasm and ensured it was viable, my laboratory caught on fire.  Once again, Superboy ‘just happened’ to be flying by.  When he saw the smoke from the fire, he used it as an excuse to send a heavy blast of air through the window with his super-breath.

“That blast of super-breath knocked over a bottle of acid, smashed it against a flask holding the contents of . . . another experiment.  That rat knew that would happen!  He planned it that way!”

 

 

“Objection, your honour, and I really must protest the plaintiff’s contemptuous characterisation of my client.”

 

“Point taken, Mr. Barton.  Your objection is sustained.  The jury is instructed to disregard the plaintiff’s last outburst.  And young Luthor, there will be no more ‘editorial descriptions’ of the defendant.” 

 

“Bah!”

 

“I apologise, your honour.  But it’s understandable that my client would harbour intense emotions, and not very pleasant ones, over such a traumatic incident.”

 

“Nevertheless, he will keep a civil tongue in my courtroom.”

 

“Yes, sir.  Lex, tell us---without personal commentary, please---what happened next, after the acid bottle broke.”

 

“When the acid mixed with the contents in the beaker, it released a cloud of corrosive fumes inside the lab.  The protoplasm was destroyed, along with my notes containing the formula for creating it.  My brilliant creation gone forever---up in smoke!”

 

“Couldn’t you recreate the original experiment?”

 

“Not without my notes.  The final process was the result of thousands of experiments.  Not even I could redo it from memory.”

 

“And this corrosive cloud . . . were there any other effects?  On you personally?”

 

“Yes!  (Choke!It caused all of my hair to fall out!”

 

“And what was Superboy’s reaction to all of this?”

 

“He said he was sorry.  Like that, somehow, made it all O.K.”

 

“Did Superboy state, in any manner, that he was responsible for what had happened?”

 

“No!  He called it ‘an accident’.”

 

“Nothing further.”

 

 

 

“Don’t even bother to get up, Mr. Barton.  It’s too late in the day to start your cross-examination, and we’re all eager to get home to our families.  This trial is in recess and will reconvene after the Christmas holidays.  Court adjourned!”

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Very interesting.

There are a number of sides to all of this.  No question that Superboy acted hastily--he could easily have used his x-ray vision to ascertain whether or not Lex was in danger before using his super-breath.  At the same time, he could also have seen the protoplasm and considered his friend to be in danger of attack.  Also, fire.  Lots of fire, and no Fireman Farrell to put it out.  So he took the expedient course of saving Luthor's life, albeit destroying his creation and giving him a distinct look.

It's too late to get the testimony of Al Plastino.

Not wanting to say anything that may be brought up in the next testimony, I'll just ask:

  • will they bring up Lex's feelings about Superboy before the accident?
  • Or the cause of the fire to begin with?
  • Until Lena Thorul's origin, did we see Lex's parents in Smallville?
  • Was the protoplasm really alive or was it merely mimicking Lex?
  • Why was Lex so secretive even then?
  • Could the protoplasm been the earliest rudimentary predecessor to either Bizarro or the Galactic Golem?
  • Besides Lex saying so, was there any proof that the protoplasm existed in the first place?
  • Even though Superboy built the lab, it belonged to and was operated by Lex. Wouldn't that make him responsible for creating a safe work environment? Was it even legal in the first place?
  • BTW, Victor Von Doom, Harvey Dent, Ben Grimm, Jonah Hex, the Unknown Soldier, Ferro Lad, Tharok, the Parasite, the Orb, Negative Man and some others may want to talk to Lex about what constitutes "Disfigurement".

Can't wait for the next installment!

With regard to the questions you raised, Philip, that won't be addressed in later testimony:

"Until Lena Thorul's origin, did we see Lex's parents in Smallville?"

Nope.  They first appeared "on camera", albeit in a flashback sequence, in "The Curse of Lena Thorul", from Lois Lane # 23 (Feb., 1961).  And as best I can determine, Mr. and Mrs. Luthor never appeared in any sequence outside of flashbacks describing how they disowned their son and fled Smallville.

In "How Luthor Met Superboy", the Boy of Steel does reflect that, because Mr. Luthor is a travelling salesman and away from home most of the time, he is not around to provide Lex with the benefit of a father's guidence (or a father's discipline).

"Was the protoplasm really alive or was it merely mimicking Lex?"

I think you're confusing being alive with being sentient.  One-celled amœba aren't sentient, but they are most certainly alive.  The same holds true for Lex's creation, regardless of its capacity for thought.

"Even though Superboy built the lab, it belonged to and was operated by Lex. Wouldn't that make him responsible for creating a safe work environment? Was it even legal in the first place?"

Here, we are getting a little into testimony that lies ahead.  I can say this much:  I researched the laws in the early-twentieth-century United States with regard to hazardous material (called, in those days, "dangerous goods") and its proper storage and containment.  While there were laws on the books then as it dealt with transporting such material and how it was stored in industrial environments, there were virtually no laws governing hazardous materials in private homes.

"BTW, Victor Von Doom, Harvey Dent, Ben Grimm, Jonah Hex, the Unknown Soldier, Ferro Lad, Tharok, the Parasite, the Orb, Negative Man and some others may want to talk to Lex about what constitutes 'Disfigurement'."

Empirically speaking, your point is taken.  But think back, Philip, to when you were fifteen or sixteen years old and how you would have regarded it if, suddenly, all of your hair fell out and you were totally bald, and would be for the rest of your life.  Any such youngster would be inclined to see total baldness as a disfigurement.  

Incidentally, in preparing this series of articles, I made a considerable effort to utilise details presented in actual stories whenever I could.  Mostly Silver-Age tales, although occasionally, I had to step a few years ahead.  But virtually all of the names, dates, times, and previous incidents to which reference is made are based, in some fashion, from something established by DC.

Philip, I know you and some of the other regulars are sharp enough to spot some, if not all, of them.

Did a little research on the attorneys named, Commander. I won't say anything else but:

Well done, Sir! (SALUTE)

I don't think the protoplasm would have been a precursor to Bizarro. He popped out of a duplicating machine rather than being lab grown (at least in terms of Silver Age origins). As an adult Lex recreated the duplicating machine to make Bizarro #1.

Was it ever confirmed in the Silver Age that Luthor's first name was Alexis rather than Alexander? I assume so, knowing the Commander's depth of expertise, but I can't recall hearing it except for the earth-2 version (and that was when they revived hi a long time later).


Fraser Sherman said:

 

Was it ever confirmed in the Silver Age that Luthor's first name was Alexis rather than Alexander? I assume so, knowing the Commander's depth of expertise, but I can't recall hearing it except for the earth-2 version (and that was when they revived him a long time later).

Throughout the Silver Age and for quite awhile thereafter, the Earth-One Luthor's forename was never given as anything but "Lex".  This was one of those instances when I had to go beyond the Silver Age to draw information for this article.

It's not until the story "Luthor's Day of Reckoning", from Action Comics # 512 (October, 1980), that Luthor's proper forename, "Alexis", is established.

The forename of the Earth-Two Luthor was Alexei.  This was established sometime in the early 1980's, but no later than in DC Comics Presents Annual # 1 (1982), as one of the ways to distinguish the Earth-Two Luthor from his Earth-One counterpart.  This was a retrofit, since the 1940's Luthor had never been given a first name.

Hope this helps.


Philip Portelli said:

Did a little research on the attorneys named, Commander. I won't say anything else but:

Well done, Sir! (SALUTE)

Thank you, Philip.  I got a little lucky on that one, too, with regard to the art I intended to post.  For one of the attorneys, I was afraid I would have to use the "paint" function on my computer to "youthen" him to the proper age.  By a fortunate circumstance, however, I discovered that, in the story that provided the other lawyer, there was also a character who bore a strong resemblence to what the first lawyer would have looked like as a younger man.

It saved me a lot of work.

From memory, the "Alexei" name is used for the Earth-Two Luthor in Justice League of America #195 (cover-dated for Jul. 1981), when one of the villains is explaining who the Ultra-Humanite is and says that some say he's even smarter than "Alexei Luthor". But I couldn't say that was the first time.

That helps. Yes, Alexei not Alexis for Earth 2.

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