DCAU #163: Return of the Hero

 IN THIS ONE... A boy from Suicide Slum has two heroes, Superman and Lex Luthor.

CREDITS: Written by Scott McCloud; art by Mike Manley and Terry Austin.

REVIEW: This is the story of Francisco, a kid from the slums who used to idolize his father until he went to prison (and died there), never knowing that his CURRENT hero, Lex Luthor, framed him after he blew the whistle on one of his crooked businesses. Of course, he loves Superman too, he's not a bad kid, or even particularly misled. He even turns on his friends who want to rob a store, though he foolishly gets himself arrested because he followed them in.

What McCloud has crafted here is actually a pretty mature look at hero worship. To many in Metropolis, Lex may well be a hero. He was an underdog, which means he's a one-percenter you can respect. One of us, who somehow managed to make it big and is, outwardly, giving back to the community. (Of course, burning down low rentals so he can build shopping malls isn't part of that "outward" perception.) And though Francisco is ultimately disappointed by his hero, Superman surprisingly comes to Lex's defense, or rather to the defense of what Lex represented for the boy. The traits Francisco admired are still admirable, and are still an ideal worth pursuing.

And Lex does have some good in him. We discover he gave Francisco Sr. his word that if he went to prison without a fight, no harm would ever come to his family, and Lex, somewhat haunted by the man's death, is committed to keeping it. He keeps tabs on the family, pulls Jr. out of trouble (another version of this story would see Francisco become a loyal henchman down the road), and when his goons accidentally set fire to the wrong building, drives to Suicide Slum to warn them. This book is full of real people, essentially.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: Lex Luthor having been born in Suicide Slum and raised himself by his bootstraps is a post-Crisis invention, chronicled in Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography.

- The story can come off as wordy and cheesy at times, but it's got a strong and complex message.



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