Warning: there are major spoilers for Justice League #41 ahead!
For over 70 years, Lex Luthor has been a thorn in Superman’s side, trying to kill his Kryptonian nemesis every which way possible. Since last year, however, Luthor has reformed (at least on the surface) and been serving as a force for good after joining the Justice League following the events of Forever Evil. So far he’s helped them take on the Doom Patrol and stop the spread of the Amazo Virus, but his tenure as a superhero may have just been cut short falling in the line of duty in the first chapter of writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok’s “Darkseid War.”
Among the many shocking moments from this issue was Luthor’s sister Lena gunning him down. As the reformed supervillain bled out in Superman’s arms, Lena calmly told the Man of Steel that he shouldn’t be too surprised by this considering that everyone hated Luthor. Lena’s exact reasons for shooting her brother weren’t revealed, but several panels later, she is holding a Mother Box, a piece of Apokoliptian technology, and telling it to send Superman and Luthor “to their end” for Darkseid, the storyline’s titular villain. The two men are subsequently teleported away.
Geoff Johns told Comicbook.com that Lena’s shocking act has been in the cards ever since she was name-dropped in the Forever Evil miniseries.
When I first mentioned Lena in Forever Evil and brought her into Justice League almost a year ago, I always knew she was going to be the one that shot Lex in this moment,. We wanted to get her on stage, and have her as a presence in the book. She’ll be a key player in the storyline too.
The plot of “Darkseid War” revolves around the conflict between Apokolips’ leader and the Anti-Monitor, a cosmic entity that was responsible for universe-changing events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Aside from the Justice Leaguers themselves, Johns mentioned that other players from his Justice League run will be reappearing, like the remaining members of the Earth-3 Crime Syndicate, but it appears that Lena will be playing an especially important role. In the New 52, Lena was introduced in the “Amazo Virus” story arc where she was seen wheelchair-bound, which explains Luthor’s earlier comments about finding a cure for her. Now we know that she’s been up to some sinister shenanigans in secret, which will hopefully be elaborated on in the upcoming chapters.
While there’s no arguing that Luthor is severely injured, it’s hard to believe that he’s actually dead. For one thing, this guy is one of the most intelligent people on the planet, so one would think that his armor would protect him from normal bullets (unless they’re special science bullets), or at the very least stave off death. For another thing, an image was recently released of Luthor rocking a new costume for Batman/Superman #21. Because “Darkseid War” seems takes place before the other June storylines in DC’s other books (since Batman isn’t “dead,” Green Lantern isn’t a fugitive, etc), that means Luthor won’t kick the bucket. Even if Luthor is truly deceased, every comic book reader knows that death is rarely a permanent state in the world of superheroes. Lex Luthor is an important enough figure in the DC universe that he’ll eventually be revived, whether it’s by the next issue or several months from now.
You can pick up Justice League #41 at your local comic book store or online at sites like Comixology or DCComics.com.