K. Russell Abernathy (Kryptonite Kid/Kryptonite Man)

Lucy W. sticks to villains, as next in line we have the Kryptonite Man, one of the less used (and less memorable) among Superman‘s enemies. As for now, this glowing green goon received a single live action appearance in the Superboy tv series, and in a single episode. In here, a boy named Mike Walker and portrayed by Jay Underwood is caught in an explosion in the military facility he works in. The experiment, aimed to make Superboy immune to Kryptonite, imbues Walker with the deadly mineral, an infection that also makes him go crazy. Superboy only defeats him with the aid of a human double, immune to Kryptonite Kid‘s energy blasts. In the comics, there are two versions of this first Kryptonite Kid/Man, but none of them is called “Mike Walker”. Let’s see together.

The first Kryptonite Man was a resident of Earth-One, and he actually debuted as the Kryptonite Kid. An unnamed alien travelling through space with his dog (some sort of bulldog), he was a punk and a scundrel, and he did pretty much whatever he wanted, taking whatever he desired. During one of his wanderings, the alien’s ship went through a cloud of Green Kryptonite, the radioactive substance released by the destruction of planet Krypton: the element penetrated the ship, and infected both the boy and his dog. Despite the heavy amount of radiation, however, they didn’t die, as their alien physiology allowed them to absorb the Kryptonite in their organism, albeit with unforseen results: they both became green, glowing with Kryptonite radiation, and the kid could also turn everything he touched into Kryptonite. Shortly after, he landed on Earth, where he resumed doing what he always did: being a space punk with violent tendencies. Said planet had a powerful protector, however: Superboy, an invulnerable hero…who turned out to be extremely sensitive to Kryptonite. The mere presence of the mineral was nearly lethal for Superboy and the Kryptonite Kid, taking advantage of the fact the hero couldn’t even touch him, started a rampage. Eventually, however, Superboy managed to catch both him and his dog thanks to a makeshift armor made of lead, that could stop Kryptonite’s radiations. This first defeat was the beginning of a faud between the two young aliens, and they clashed several other times: years passed, Superboy became Superman, and the Kryptonite Kid became the Kryptonite Man, but their enmity never ceased. Eventually, near the end of Earth-One, the Kryptonite Man was hired by Brainiac (who, in turn, was manipulated by a now malevolent Mr. Mxyzptlk) in a final battle against Superman: this time he had no restraints, and he started attacking civilians to attract the hero’s attention. During the mayhem, Superman’s dog, Krypto, attacked the Kryptonite Man biting him at the throat. Albeit dying for the radiations, Krypto never let go, so the two enemies died together, killing themselves in a deadly struggle. Their reality didn’t live much longer.

After the end of Earth-One, the Kryptonite Man’s story was recreated completely for New Earth. This time, he was a human scientist, K. Russell Abernathy, born and raised in Metropolis. Researching an alternative power source, Abernathy collected samples of Kryptonian elements from Superman’s house, the Fortress of Solitude, making experiments to harness its power as the ultimate green energy. He used monkeys as test subjects to understand whether the radiation was dangerous for living beings or not, but he had to change the disposition of his laboratory when the Daily Planet, the newspaper he had chosen for an interview aimed to promote his work, sent to him its top reporter, Lois Lane, who Abernathy knew was hostile to animal lab testing. The lab appeared very different from what it used to be with all the monkeys hidden from view, and for the sake of appearance Abernathy even neglected security. As soon as Lane was gone, Abernathy came back to his work…but the experimental isotope enhancer he had built overloaded, having been active for the entire duration of the interview, and it exploded…fully investing the scientist, who wasn’t protected by the usual lead barrier. The amount of radiation, however, didn’t kill Abernathy, rather he was transformed on a cellular level, with his organism being imbued with Kryptonite. Not only the radiation poisoning had affected the scientist’s body, giving him a fair amount of superpowers in addition to a glowing green skin, but it also had messed up his mind, sending him into a violent rampage. Christening himself the Kryptonite Man, Abernathy walked through Metropolis destroying everything in sight with laser beams from his eyes, as if he had just come out of a B-movie. Unfortunately, Superman was missing at the time, and nobody was there to stop him. One of the witnessesses of the rampage, however, was reporter Clark Kent, who immediately contacted his cousin, Supergirl. The heroine intervened and tried to stop the Kryptonite Man, only to realise she couldn’t even go near him without suffering major poisoning. After a prolonged battle, finally, Supergirl melted a truck with her heat vision, entrapping the Kryptonite Man inside of it and protecting herself from his radiations. The deranged criminal was locked in Stryker’s Island Penitentiary, but his deeds had attracted the attention of Lex Luthor: he wouldn’t have stayed in prison for long, with such an admirer.

The first Kryptonite Kid is, simply, a young punk, an alien thug who wants to do whatever he likes whenever he likes, and who doesn’t care if people get hurt while he does; K. Russell Abernathy, on the other hand, is a brilliant but ambitious scientist, who’d do anything for glory and who’s made sloppy by his arrogance. As the Kryptonite Man, they both project constantly Kryptonite radiations, which they can concentrate into powerful energy blasts either from their hands or their eyes, and they also have their strength, durability and stamina greatly enhanced; the alien Kryptonite Man is also a telepath, while the human one is able to see radiation spectrums. Being one or the other, the Kryptonite Man is not an evil man per se, rather, he’s a short-tempered one who tends to lose control quite easily, with his judgement clouded by a constant radiation that keeps eroding his sanity.

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Jules & Lionel Luthor

lionelluthorfilmWith this week’s episode of Supergirl we complete the Luthor family tree (at least for this generation). In Luthors, in fact, we see a little bit more of Lena‘s past in a couple of flashbacks, where Lionel Luthor, portrayed by Ian Butcher, adopts the girl and introduces her to his wife and son. This version of the Luthor patriarch is modelled on the one we saw in Smallville: in the ten-seasons long show, John Glover portrays the one who, for most of the series, has been the most charismatic character around, first a ruthless villain who’s more or less an anticipation of what his son will become, then an ally to Clark Kent, “cured” by his evil personality by Jor-El himself, then again a villain when his evil Earth-Two version replaces the deceased good Lionel and becomes the main ally of Darkseid on Earth. This cunning and Machiavellian businessman is very different from both versions ever appeared in the comics, since the Luthor patriarch has been a good man in a world, a despicable loser in another: let’s see together.

On Earth-One, the head of the Luthor family was Jules Luthor, a honest man born and raised in Kansas, in the rural town of Smallville. As an adult, he found a job as a simple salesman, and he fell in love with a girl of his same town, Arlene. The two got married, and moved to a farm out of town to start a family. They had a son, Lex, and some years later they also had a daughter, Lena. Because of his job, Jules was often away from home, and Arlene did most of the parenting, with Lex giving her a hand with the farm as soon as he grew up. When Arlene told Jules that their son, Lex, was growing more and more intelligent, and that he felt restricted in the farm, Jules worked even harder to afford a house in Smallville, and the family moved there. Even this, apparently, wasn’t enough, as Lex soon found julesluthorcomicsother ways to express his genius, and after entering a dangerous competition with the local hero Superboy, Lex ended up endangering the entire town. Jules felt somehow guilty for not being there when his son clearly needed him, but he couldn’t support his criminal turn; wanting to protect Lena, who was still a baby, Jules decided to disown Lex, and convinced Arlene that it was far better for their baby girl if she wasn’t influenced the slightest by her older brother. In order not to be found by Lex, then, the Luthors moved away from Smallville, and even legally changed their name to Thorul. Jules even told Lena, who missed her brother, that he had died in an accident while climbing. This brand new life, however, didn’t last as long as Jules had imagined: soon after, while driving with his wife Arlene, he was involved in a car accident that killed them both, leaving Lena to be raised in an orphanage.

With the Chrisis on Infinite Earths, Earth-One was erased from existence (until recently, it seems…), and Jules Luthor/Thorul’s life disappeared as well. In the new reality, New Earth, there was Lionel Luthor, one of the local bullies in the rural town of Smallville, Kansas. Lionel wasn’t loved nor respected in town, but he somehow managed to find a girl nevertheless, Letitia. The two got married and had two kids, but it was all up to Letitia to look after the kids and to run the house: the ambitious Lionel was focused on his work. Following his dreams, he moved the entire family to Metropolis to try and become a businessman, but he failed miserably, and the Luthors never moved from the Suicide Slums, the worst and most squalid part of Metropolis. Eventually, the family had to come back to Smallville in shame, and somewhere around this point Letitia died, leaving Lionel the sole parent Lex and Lena had…not that this increased his sense of responsibility: depressed and humiliated, Lionel started drinking, and venting all his anger and frustration on his children, especially on Lex, believing that his thirst for studying and learning was just another way to make him feel stupid. Lena grew terrified of her dad, while Lex simply hated him: in the following years, Lionel became involved in a series of weird accidents that nearly costed his life, but everytime he was saved by the mysterious hero guarding over Smallville. Obviously, the incidents were orchestrated by Lex, who had secretly stipulated a life lionelluthorcomicsinsurance on his father. Finally, Lex found his way when Lionel’s heart, due to alcoholism, started to fail: Lex switched some of his pills, causing an allergic reaction that stopped once and for all Lionel’s heart. With the money from the insurance, Lex finished his study and moved to Metropolis again, ready to start his own company and to become one of the richest men on the planet…but the experience with Lionel had taught him an important lesson, and Lex would have also become the most dangerous man alive, who would have never allowed anyone to treat him like his father did.

The two Luthor patriarchs are extremely different men: Jules is a honest and hard-working man, very sever but always concerned with the well-being of his family; Lionel is an arrogant and bullying drunkard who uses violence on his children to hide the humiliation he constantly feels. Ironically enough, despite their many differences, both men ended up raising the gratest criminal mind ever existed.

Mister Mxyzptlk

mr-mxyzptlkfilmAnother big character coming from Brick89‘s list, which is almost at its end: Mr. Mxyzptlk, one of the most annoying DC “villains” (as a villain he can be considered) ever. The pesky Imp never appeared in a movie, but tv apparently loves him: he first appeared in Superboy, portrayed by Michael J. Pollard, in a version that was practically identical to his comicbook counterpart, even graphically, with bowler hat and everything. In Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHowie Mandel portrayed a much more malicious version of the character, this time human-sized and with no trademark: he trapped LoisClark and the rest of the world in a time loop leading to the planet’s destruction, but the two protagonists managed to trick him into spelling his name backwards, thus sending him back to his dimension for good. In Smallville a completely different version appeared: in Season 4 Trent Ford portrayed Mikhail Mxyzptlk, a foreigner student from the Balcans with the ability to influence anybody’s body (Clark’s included) into doing anything he says; Chloe manages to strip him of his powers with a particular sound frequency, but Lex Luthor offers to restore them in his labs. Last but not least, we’ll soon see the Imp in Supergirl as well, portrayed by Peter Gadiot, and apparently also this time he’ll look like a regular guy. Now, let’s take a look at one of the most peculiar characters in the DC Comics.

It’s quite difficult to summarize a bio of someone like Mister Mxyzptlk, considering that he’s a native from the Fifth Dimension (called a Zrfffian), not bound by limits of space, time or even logical consistency. Apparently, in New Earth, the first time he came to Earth was as a serious and uptight student who wanted to learn as much as he could of the alien dimension. During his study trip he met the three young heroes from Young JusticeRobin, Impulse and Superboy, who recognised him as the interdimensional prankster who had been tormenting for years Earth’s greatest hero, Superman. The young Mxyzptlk was simply outraged, as he didn’t recognize himself in the description, quite the opposite: he swore he would have never become that person. This, unfortunately, badly affected the timeline, creating a major paradox: as a result, the world itself risked to be destroyed thanks to the three heroes’ intervention. Trying to save the universe, Robin, Impulse and Superboy decided to put Mxyzptlk under a “prankster therapy”, and they made him watch a video of the Three Stooges, until the young Imp fell in love mr-mxyzptlkcomics1with the stupid jokes and pranks of the comedians, triggering the evolution into the well-known trickster everybody loved to hate. If this was the actual origin of the pesky Imp, or just an elaborate ruse from Mxyzptlk to mock the young heroes, remains a mystery. Being it a way or the other, when Mister Mxyzptlk came back to Earth, he was a full grown adult, and he was an immortal being growing constantly bored of his eventless existence. When he first met Superman, he found in the invincible hero a great way to spend his time, and made him the constant target of tricks and challenges, involving him in a series of ridiculous and impossible misadventures the Man of Steel usually emerged from by tricking the Imp into spelling his name backwards (the nearly unpronounceable Kltpzyxm), thus forcing him to come back to the Fifth Dimension for ninety days at least. This game was the one thing that kept Mxyzptlk happy, despite his many failures, and he took quite some joy into mocking the most powerful hero of the three-dimensional world. Then, the Chrisis on Infinite Earths happened.

When the multiverse became a universe, Mr. Mxyzptlk emerged from the cosmic cataclysm pretty much unchanged and unscathed, with his pesky and annoying nature being exactly the same. He resurfaced in Metropolis posing as a human, Ben Deroy (or DeRoy); just to mess with Superman, he seduced his love interest Lois Lane, and convinced her to marry him, but he was exposed as an Imp by the hero just in time. As usual, to be sent back home he challenged Superman into making him spell his name backwards, and among all his aliases he chose the impossible “Mxyzptlk”, spelling it on a giant typewriter, believing it to be impossible for the hero to make him say something like “Kltpzyxm”. Superman actually managed to do it by taking away the first paper with the name written on it and challenging the Imp into writing it again…in the meanwhile rewiring the typewriter, so that when Mxyzptlk used his magic to type again the exact same keys, his name appeared spelled backwards. In the new universe, however, this trick could only work once, as each time Mxyzptlk appeared the conditions to send him back mr-mxyzptlkcomics2home changed, even if the urgency of interrupting his absurd games before he hurt someone was always the same (once, for example, he animated the Daily Planet building just for fun…but all the people inside it weren’t having as much fun as he was, obviously): from painting his face blue to finding him in a world-wide hide and seek game, Superman found himself forced to fulfill a number of conditions for winning the Imp’s games. The only constant in the challenges was the honesty showed by Mxyzptlk in respecting his own rules…but that changed as well. On Earth during Superman’s absence, the Imp found a substitute to annoy in the hero’s nemesis, Lex Luthor, but with the mogul the game turned out to be much more different that the usual one, as Luthor easily exploited Mxyzptlk’s honesty to trick him faster than Superman ever could…thus, however, teaching him what a lie was. The following time, Mxyzptlk forced Superman to have a race around the world with The Flash, telling the latter he would have left only if Superman (the slowest among the two) won…while the rule he magically casted told the exact opposite. Not bound to truth anymore, there was a whole new universe of fun to explore for the Imp…

Mr. Mxyzptlk (real name unknown, but even more unprononceable than the one he chose on Earth) is not exactly an evil being, rather being simply annoying, an immortal Imp who just wants to have fun, especially if at someone else’s expenses. Despite his puckish attitude, he’s actually one of the most powerful beings in the universe, an interdimensional sorcerer able to bend reality itself, who ignores and manipulates space and time, who can subvert any known physical law; he’s also aware of his nature as a comicbook, and sometimes he talks directly to the authors to modify the stories involving him. Luckily enough, Mxyzptlk is childish and immature, and is not interested into killing his adversaries or even causing serious damage…that wouldn’t be fun. If he acted seriosuly just for a moment, without limiting his own powers with rules of his invention, the universe itself would be in dire danger.

Arlene & Letitia Luthor

arleneletitialuthorfilmNo new character seen in Crossfire, the fifth episode of Supergirl‘s second season, but we finally learn the name of the mysterious scientist running Project Cadmus: she’s none other than Lillian Luthor, the mother of Lex and Lena, portrayed by Brenda Strong. Lillian holds a grudge against aliens after her “poor” Lex was “deceived” by the “evil” Superman who made the world see him like a deranged psycho, so she started a crusade to kill all the aliens, just to prove she’s not crazy. Perfectly logical. The character, always named Lillian, already appeared in Smallville, even if she’s dead long before the beginning of the story: portrayed by Alisen Down, she mostly appears in flashbacks and in Lex’s allucinations, being the lovely mother opposed to the severe and authoritative father Lionel. In the comics, there are two different versions of this character, but none of them is anything more than a less-than-secondary character, and none of them is named “Lillian”. Let’s see together.

The first version of the Luthors’ mother existed on Earth-One, and she was called Arlene. She was born in Smallville, a little rural town in Kansas. Nothing is known about her family of origin, but as a young woman she met Jules Luthor, a salesman she fell in love with. The two got married, and they moved to the town’s suburbs, in Jules’ family farm; soon after they had two children, Lex and Lena. Since Jules was often away for work, it was up to Arlene to raise her children, and when he grew up, Lex helped with the farm; as the woman soon realised, however, he was far too smart to be a farm boy: he was actually a natural-born genius, who felt limited in the suburbs. In order to grant their son more stimuli, the Luthors moved to Smallville, where Lex became a fan of the local hero, Superboy, and even started helping him. Soon enough, an unfortunate series of events led Lex to be arleneletitialuthorcomics1consumed by envy and paranoia, and he started a lethal competition with Superboy: while trying to kill the hero over and over again, Lex also endangered the entire Smallville more than once, using his intellect to build futuristic but deadly machines. Arlene was surely aching to see her son act like this, but she had to take care of Lena as well: along with Jules, she decided to protect their youngest daughter, so they disowned their first born, and left Smallville forever. In order not to be found, the Luthors changed their name into Thorul (a simple anagram of Luthor), and they told Lena that her beloved older brother had died in a tragic car accident. Quite ironically, both Arlene and her husband were eventually killed in a true tragic car accident, and their daughter was raised in an orphanage.

After Chrisis on Infinite Earths, Earth-One was wiped away from existence, and so was Arlene and (that version of) her family. In the universe resulting from the collapsing of the multiverse, New Earth, she was a woman named Letitia, and her story began in Smallville, Kansas as well. She married a local, Lionel Luthor, who had more ambitions than good ideas: somewhat of a bully, Lionel wasn’t liked by Smallville population, and even becoming a family man didn’t help his reputation. Letitia did her best to stand at his side, but the man didn’t make it easy for her. The two had a couple of kids together, Lex and Lena, but Letitia raised them pretty much on herself, since Lionel only cared about work. Believing he had found the right way to become an important and respected enterpreneur, Lionel moved along with all his family to Metropolis looking for better business, and at first it really seemed that the Luthors’ life was about to change for the better. Eventually, however, Lionel’s incapacity costed him his work, and he lost a lot of money. The entire family was forced to move to the Suicide Slum, the poorest and and most disreputable neighborhood in the all city. Lionel fell into alcoholism, and Letitia wasn’t a good company either, going from depression to apathy to bursts of rage. Both of them vented their arleneletitialuthorcomics2frustration over their children, especially over Lex, a “bookworm” they couldn’t apreciate the value of. Not that the boy minded it at all: as soon as he was old enough to do it, he made a life insurance in his parents’ stead, counterfeiting their signatures. Then, he engineered their death, earning a lot of money from it and finally having wealth enough to found his own company, LexCorp, and to move away from Suicide Slum. At least in death, Letitia had been a better mother than she had ever been during her life.

The two women who have been Lex’s and Lena’s mother couldn’t be more different: Arlene is a caring mother and a hardworking woman, who always puts her children’s wellbeing over anything else, while Letitia is an abusive parent and a grudging wife, who abandons herself to depression and vents her resentment on her children. The only element they share is the constant disappointment their son Lex is for both of them, and the role he more or less directly assumes in their untimely death…

Lena Luthor

lenaluthorfilmNew pics from the upcoming Season 2 of Supergirl give us a look at one of the new recurring characters, Lena Luthor, portrayed by Katie McGrath. Lena is a powerful businesswoman who moves to National City to try and escape her infamous brother’s influence and reputation, but whether she’ll actually be an ally of Supergirl and the others, or the Luthor legacy will have the best of her as well, remains to be seen. She already appeared in the Superboy tv series, portrayed by Jennifer Hawkins in flashbacks from Lex‘s life, and by Denise Gossett as an adult. In the series, Lena is the only person Lex ever loved, and he’s always been fiercely protective of his little sister; she faked her death and changes her name to escape the Luthor’s “curse”, but she’s found by Lana Lang and brought back to her brother to try and stop him from another mad plan. She also appeared in Smallville, as in Season 10 it’s revealed that the true name of Tess Mercer, the antagonist introduced in Season 8 portrayed by Cassidy Freeman, is actually Lutessa Lena Luthor, the secret daughter of Lionel Luthor, whose memory was erased by Granny Goodness so that she forgot her true heritage. In the show, Tess debuts as a villain, loyal to Lex Luthor’s comands, but later she evolves into an ally for Clark Kent and the others. Now, waiting to see what this new incarnation of the character will bring on the table, let’s take a look at the original. Multiple realities ahead.

Lena Luthor originally appeared on Earth-1, as the daughter of Jules and Arlene Luthor. She was but a baby when her older brother, Lex Luthor, became a world famous criminal, and her parents, ashamed of what Lex was doing, decided to leave Smallville and to change their names, so that their little daughter would have never been linked to the madman terrifying the world; when Lena grew up, since she had some memories of an older brother, she was told that he had died while climbing a mountain. The Luthors changed their surname in Thorul, simply scrambling the letters, believing that doing so they would have protected Lena from Lex…but they didn’t know that her older brother had already influenced the life of the girl (even if not purposefully) as, when she was little more than a toddler, she had snuck into Lex’s room, stumbling upon one of his early experiments, an alien device he called the Space Brain: upon touching the thing she saw as a weird toy, Lena unlocked some psionic lenaluthorcomics1abilities she would have developed only in adulthood. Growing up, Lena was completely unaware of both her latent powers, and her true parentage to Lex Luthor. There was something bonding the Luthor family to the House of El, however: Lena attended Midvale High School, where she met the one who would have become her best friend, Linda Lee…who was actually Kara Zor-El, the cousin of her brother’s nemesis Superman. It was unavoidable, the moment Linda/Kara became Supergirl, that Lena was involved in her and her cousin’s adventures in a way or the other, but anytime Lex was present, he did everything in his power to prevent the girl to learn about her true family, receiving even help from the two Kryptonians in this facade. As a young woman, Lena Thorul met Jeff Colby, fell in love with him and eventually married him. She became a simple librarian, and she had a son from Jeff, Val…but when her mental powers finally manifested, Superman was forced to reveal to her the truth about Lex, so that he could convince her to undergo brain surgery and have her life saved. From that moment, Lena desperately tried to redeem her criminal brother, succeeding at least in becoming the one person in the world he loved and protected.

Obviously, after Chrisis on Infinite Earths Lena Luthor had her story undergo some major changes, as Earth-1 was erased from existence and she was reborn on New Earth. In this new reality, she was the last daughter of Lionel Luthor, a drunken man who lived in Smallville, Kansas. Since her mother Laetitia died when she was still a child, she grew up with her father and her older brother Lex, but the latter eventually started hating Lionel, and left as soon as he could; Lena, who was already paraplegic at the time (it’s unknown if she was born like this or if this was the result of an accident), was the only one to take care of her father, and when he died of a heart attack, she was devastated by it. Plus Lex, who needed money to start his corporation, took all the money from the insurance for himself, leaving his wheelchair-bound sister to take care of herself. In a way or another, Lena managed to fend lenaluthorcomics2for herself: she married an unknown man, and she had a daughter from him, Lori. It’s unknown what happened to her husband, but eventually only Lena and Lori were left, taking care of each other. Again, the mysterious connections between the Luthor family and the House of El stroke again, as Lori became (close) friends with Superboy, Smallville’s newest superhero, and brought him home to meet her mom: even Lena took a liking for the young hero. When Lex Luthor managed to escape from Project 7734, he came back to Smallville in an attempt to control his creature, Superboy; in order to convince him to follow him, he cured his crippled sister and gave her back the ability to walk…only to revert her to her usual condition immediately after. To an enraged Superboy, he said that he did so to prove he was able to cure Lena, but that he would have done it permanently only the moment Superman was dead. Superboy found another way, and entrusted Lena to his friend Red Robin, who in turn brought her to Wayne Enterprises, where the best doctors in the world tried to understand how Luthor cured her so that they could replicate the process. Witnessing her own brother’s cruelty, however, was now a crippling far worse than the one to her legs…

Lena Luthor, in any reality she lives in, is a gentle and kind woman, completely different from her megalomaniac and cruel brother. Despite being good-hearted, she proves to be also very strong and brave, able to live an extremely difficult life with honesty and dignity. On Earth-1 she was an ESP with limited psionic abilities (at least until her powers were removed through brain surgery), while on New Earth she doesn’t possess any superpower…apart from being a single crippled mother able to raise her daughter with no help from anyone. Smart, determined and steadfast, Lena Luthor will do what it takes to free herself from the ill fame brought to her family name by her brother Lex, and to build a better future for her and the people she loves.

Bizarro

bizarrofilmToday we start with the DC side of casualgamer‘s request, and we begin with one of Superman‘s most iconic villains: Bizarro, the perfectly imperfect duplicate of the Man of Steel. He first appeared in the Superboy tv series, portrayed by Barry Meyers: in this version, he was born from an experimental duplicating ray that hit Superboy, fell in love with Lana Lang and kidnapped her; after allying with Lex Luthor, he eventually became a good guy and even saved Superboy’s life a couple of times. He appeared again in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, portrayed by Dean Cain: this version wasn’t monstrous as the previous one, being a perfect copy of Superman, but he surely turned out to be much dumber than the original Man of Steel. The last live action version so far appeared in Smallville, portrayed by Tom Welling as a failed Kryptonian experiment who escapes from the Phantom Zone, steals Clark Kent‘s DNA and becomes a malicious and evil doppelganger who, aside from conquering the world, even tries to seduce Lana Lang, and who’s able to absorb energy from Kryptonite. It’s likely he’ll eventually make an appearance in the DC Extended Universe, but in the meanwhile let’s take a look at the originals…yes, because there are more than one, even considering just the New Earth continuity.

The first Bizarro was born when Lex Luthor, unable to convince Superman to work for him, decided to create “his own Superman”. He managed to obtain the services of Chinese biologist Doctor Teng, who was put in charge of Project: Changeling, aimed to create a perfect duplicate of Superman with his powers and memories, but imbued with a blind loyalty to Luthor. Teng, as everyone else, believed Superman to be a mutated human rather than an alien, and this proved to be the cause of his failure: the creature that emerged from the cloning process was a mute, monstrous being that looked like a parody of the real Man of Steel; disgusted by his creation, Luthor ordered it to be destroyed, but the clone escaped Lexcorp, starting to act like his heroic counterpart (even saving the life of a blind girl, Lucy Lane, who was trying to commit suicide). Upon meeting the true Superman, however, Bizarro reacted violently, and punched him through the Daily Planet building; inheriting part of the Man of Steel’s memories and bizarrocomics1even feelings, he kidnapped Lois Lane and escaped, followed by Superman. Lucy’s presence managed to calm down the artificial being for a while, but when Superman appeared again to save Lois, he charged at his “genetic father” with all his superhuman speed: with his body worn out by the use of his powers, Bizarro’s body exploded when he hit the hero’s body: even dying, he managed to perform one last good deed, as the powder produced by his destroyed body healed Lucy’s blindness. Even the second Bizarro was created for Lex Luthor, this time to heal him from a genetic plague: engineered by Sydney Happerson, this Bizarro was able to speak, and was slightly more intelligent than the previous one. After rebelling against Happerson and seriously injuring him, he escaped and built a fake Metropolis, which he started “protecting” from threats he himself created. Also the second Bizarro had the original’s feelings for Lois Lane, and he kidnapped her, repeatedly exposing her to lethal threats he later saved her from. After battling Superman in Smallville, he was captured by Luthorcorp, that resumed researching on him…but with the last of his strength, Bizarro used his Heat Vision to destroy the lab, dying a hero while dismantling Luthor’s illegal facility for human experimentation.

The third and definitive Bizarro was created when The Joker managed to steal Mr. Mxyzptlk‘s reality-bending powers. He created a twisted world he was the emperor of, inhabited also by an insane and twisted version of Superman, who had Superman’s powers, but reversed, who had a childish personality, and who had a complicated speech pattern according to which everything meant its opposite (for example, “I love you” meant for him “I hate you”). When Joker’s empire fell, the twisted creature was captured by Avruiskin of Pokolistan, the dictator who had named himself after General Zod, and who kept him to torture and beat somebody resembling Superman. The real Superman intervened, and saved Bizarro from Pokolistan: the doppelganger built for himself a refuge, the Graveyard of Solitude, and made it his home, from which, from time to time, he came back to Metropolis, either to help or to challenge Superman depending on his mood (and causing a remarkable destruction either way). One of the most powerful beings on Earth, he was also contacted by Zoom to join his Secret Society of Supervillains, but he told the speedster he would have challenged him in a race around the planet first. Due to his bizarrocomics2unique way of speaking, Zoom didn’t quite understand if Bizarro would have joined after winning or losing the race, but agreed to run nevertheless. Bizarro’s pattern was so erratic and nonesensical that Zoom grew exasperated by him, and started to insult him…so that Bizarro grew flattered with all his “compliments”, decided they were friends and agreed to join. Bizarro stayed with the Society until he grew tired of it and left, only to be captured by Lex Luthor and studied and experimented upon for thirteen months (this wasn’t such a bad experience for Bizarro, since he spent all his time watching television and considered this period as some sort of vacation). He was freed by the original General Zod, and followed him in his migration from Earth…but only to move on his own and create his homeworld, the cubic Bizarro World. The blue sun his world orbited around gave Bizarro a new power, and he was able to populate the planet with Bizarro-copies of people from Earth, starting with Lois Lane. Thanks to Superman’s and Jonathan Kent‘s help and suggestions, with time, he became Bizarro World’s greatest hero, finally finding his place in the universe…always acting and thinking in his own, unique and twisted way, of course.

Bizarro is a living paradox, a “perfectly imperfect” duplicate of Superman who’s the exact opposite of the hero in any way. The first two Bizarros were little more than mindless monsters who displayed the same powers of the Man of Steel, but the third one is something else entirely: with the mind of a baby and the power of a god, he’s an unpredictable creature who acts on his obscure logic and speaks in a language only he can truly understand. Apart from flight, invulnerability and superhuman strength, speed, stamina and durability, Bizarro has the opposite version of Superman’s powers, such as the Arctic Vision in place of the Heat Vision and the Flame-Breath instead of the Freezing Breath; albeit Blue Kryptonite is lethal for him, the radiations of a blue sun gives him the power to create new lifeforms from his body mass. Just as dangerous as he is unpredictable (he accidentally killed the hero Human Bomb while “playing” with him), Bizarro is like a big baby toying with a nuclear device, with him being both the baby and the bomb. It’s quite hard to tell if he causes more damage by being a villain or by trying to be a hero…

Maxima

maximafilmSupergirl is back with the final episodes of the first season, and in Myriad we find another new character. Under the influence of Non, Lucy Lane releases all prisoners from D.E.O., among which Maxima, portrayed by Eve Torres. Maxima is an alien queen, who came to Earth to convince Superman to be her mate; rejected, she started destroying everything, until Superman arrested her. The alien queen already appeared in Superboy, although her name was changed to Neila: again, she tried to seduce the Man of Steel, but she didn’t succeed quite well. She did exactly the same also in Smallville, where she was portrayed by Charlotte Sullivan: unfortunately, she didn’t know who her “soulmate” was, so she kissed random people trying to find him. Normal humans died of a heart attack with her kiss, and only Clark Kent endured it, feeling just arousal…and that’s how she found him, before being sent back home. Now, let’s see who this superhuman seductress is in the comics.

Maxima was born in the planet Almerac, in a technologically advanced warrior society. Maxima was the eldest daughter of the planet’s ruling family, the House of the Blood Royale, which selected the emperors and empresses of Almerac through a generational process of selected breeding, aimed to assure that only the best warriors could mate to give birth to the planet’s rulers. From her birth, Maxima was taught how to fight and how to be the queen of her world, and she was obviously prompted to find a perfect mate to be her king (something that her handmaiden and personal advisor, Sazu, kept reminding her). The House of the Blood Royale, however, had already selected the perfect genetic mate for Maxima: Ultraa, a warrior born, a scion of the Blood Royale and a war hero, a capable leader, and a handsome man; there was only one problem: Maxima didn’t like him, and she rejected her bethroted, judging him not worthy of her. Sure that other races and species could bring to Almerac’s genetic pool maximacomics1unusual and useful traits, like it happened in the past, Maxima started searching for a suitable mate in other galaxies, hoping to find a man finally worthy of her strength. Eventually, Sazu intercepted a transmission from Warworld, a massive gladiatorial arena run by the intergalactic warlord Mongul: the transmission described the incredible deeds accomplished by one of the gladiators, Superman, a Kryptonian male. Listening to what Superman was capable of doing against Mongul and his best warriors, Maxima was sure she had found her mate. At first, obviously, she had to know him better, so Maxima created a perfect duplicate of herself, and sent it to Earth along with Sazu, in order to study the Kryptonian. The duplicate ran some analysis, and found out that Superman was genetically compatible with Maxima: that meant that the Almeracian queen was able to give him what no human woman would have ever been able to, children. Sazu, however, didn’t approve Superman as a choice (he was “too compassionate”), so she destroyed the copy and tried to dissuade her queen…obtaining the exact opposite result.

More attracted than ever to Superman, Maxima arrived on Earth personally, and at first engaged the Man of Steel in battle to test his power; finally, at the bottom of the sea, the queen made her move on him, and declared her true intent, also touching the possibility of having Krypton reborn thanks to their union. Superman, however, declined, stating that he wasn’t interested in fathering despots (Superman was under the influence of the Eradicator, so his answer came out even more cold and dispassionate than needed). Shocked and deeply offended by the Man of Steel’s rejection, Maxima apparently renounced to meet his favors, but Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, so she didn’t abandon Earth and its protector, quite the opposite: she kept coming back to the planet, trying to exact her revenge on the man who had humiliated her. Things changed the moment Brainiac took control of Warworld, and used it as a weapon of mass destruction against other planets; the alien conqueror tried it on Almerac maximacomics2first, and the Warrior Queen obviously intervened to defend her home. Upon realising that Brainiac was an enemy beyond her power, Maxima pretended to offer him an alliance, and presented herself as a loyal lieutenant. Brainiac accepted Maxima’s service, and spared Almerac from total destruction; together, the two “allies” travelled to Earth, where Brainiac had some score to settle with Superman and the other heroes. However, when the Justice League of America moved to intercept Warworld, Maxima finally revealed her true colors, and hit Brainiac: she severed his contact with his planet/weapon, then she lobotomized him using her own telepathy. After the battle, Maxima came back home, only to find her planet in ruin, desperately needing a strong government. More determined than ever to find a suitable mate in order to be ready to serve her people, Maxima came back to Earth, where she had met so many perfect candidates, and joined Justice League International, the new version of the team formed by Maxwell Lord after the original one was disbanded. Maybe, fighting with so many heroes would have finally given the Warrior Queen a chance to meet a man worthy of her.

Maxima is a proud and strong-willed woman, a warrior born trained since her very childhood to be the perfect queen (more of a dictator, actually) for a planet trained in the arts of war for millennia. Strong and fierce, she despises weakness in any form, and it’s not exactly easy to find a man in the entire universe whom she deems worthy of herself. As an Almeracian, result of centuries of controlled breeding, she possesses a vast array of powers: flight, superhuman strength, speed, stamina and durability, teleportation, virtual invulnerability, and powerful mental powers including telekinesis, telepathy, illusion casting, mind control, force fields generation and the emission of powerful psychic blasts. Relentless and determined, Maxima is ready to travel the entire universe to find her perfect mate…hoping that the one she choses is able to survive their first encounter, obviously.