Lex Luthor was a genius.
There was never any denying that.
Folks in Smallville used to joke that he could take a wristwatch and turn it into a device to control the weather.
Everyone thought that was real funny. Until the day Lex actually did it.
It wasn't really a wristwatch, but it got the job done.
Whipped up a storm that would have destroyed half the town if it hadn't stopped itself. Must have created some kind of snow storm, because when all was said and done, Lex's machine was encased in a block of ice.
Everybody was real scared of the boy right then, standing there all calm and collected while the world had almost destroyed itself around him, like he was the eye of the storm. Until he said something that made them all start laughing again.
"Superboy did it."
Seems young Lex Luthor, who was new to town, actually believed the local tall tales about the mysterious flying boy who performed miracles, putting down fires and helping cats out of trees while no one was looking. He claimed that it was Superboy who had frozen his device. Lex said Superboy did it out of spite, because he was jealous of Lex's invention.
After that, everyone just kind of shook their heads and chuckled. They even decided that the whole thing must have just been some freak storm that came up out of nowhere. Lex was smart, maybe smart enough to predict weather patterns, but no one was smart enough to build a machine that could make it rain.
Especially not some kid who still believed in fairy tales like Superboy.
Folks just walked by Lex, no longer afraid or in awe, laughing that he'd make a great weatherman. But one person didn't. One person in town actually sided with Lex when he said that Superboy had ruined his weather-controlling machine.
Now, by all accounts, Ms. Lang was a bright girl, especially for being so pretty. She came from a large family that had lived in Smallville for generations. And aside from one crazy uncle, the Lang's were known for being the down-to-Earth sorts. So a lot of people found it pretty strange that a level-headed girl like her would take up with a fellow like Lex.
Turns out Lana claimed to have had her own experiences with Superboy. She claimed she'd been rescued enough times to where she actually thought his existence wasn't all that far-fetched.
Lana and Lex spent more and more time together, talking about all the crazy stuff that happened in and around the town of Smallville, trying to track down leads as to the true identity of Superboy.
There was just one problem. The more time Lex spent with his new friend, the less time Lex's only other friend, Clark Kent, spent with him.
Lex convinced himself that Clark was actually jealous of Lana for taking up so much of his time. Lex was real bright when it came to all things mechanical and scientific. But he had a lot to learn when it came to dealing with people.
Maybe that had something to do with the way he was raised.
Lex's father, the great and powerful Lionel Luthor, was reportedly the richest man in Metropolis.
Lex's mother, Lillian, her family came from Smallville. She married the elder Luthor when he was still a poor shoe-shine lad, and worked three jobs at any given time just to put him through business school. She did it out of love.
Rumor has it, when Lionel's company, LuthorCorp, finally turned a profit he started turning a blind eye towards his tired-looking old red-neck wife, and began running around on her. Eventually, he decided to divorce her so he could marry some European supermodel or countess or something.
Now, growing up in a house like that would make anyone a little off. But it's been said that Lex was an odd one to start with, on account of his high I.Q. He claimed to simply see the world differently than most people. To be able to make connections that other people's brains failed to make. He wasn't always kind about how he said it, and he was never shy about sharing that fact with you.
The only person who had any power to reign Lex in when he got out of hand was young Clark Kent.
The pair had initially bonded over a shared love for the town of Metropolis. Both boys had spent hours reading about the unique and storied history of that once-great city. It seemed that each one's head was filled with limitless information about the City of Tomorrow.
"Trivia," Lex would say to Clark. "What was the Daily Planet originally named?"
"The Daily Star," the other lad answered correctly. "They changed their name from Star to Planet right before America entered the Second World War, to reflect the increased coverage in world affairs. That's still their claim to fame; they get news from all over the world faster than anybody."
Lex would smile.
It seemed Clark was the only person who could put up with Lex, and even that wasn't always easy for him.
"You do know that you're adopted, right?" Lex asked him once.
Clark just stared back. "Yeah. Good thing too. What would you have done if I hadn't?"
"Explain to you all the reasons you should have already figured it out for yourself," Lex answered. "Do you know what happened to your real parents?"
Clark paused for a minute, considering his options. "Not entirely, I suppose."
"Hmm, maybe one of these days I'll take an afternoon and piece together where you really come from."
"That's not necessary," Clark replied.
Lex let the matter drop.
Perhaps if Clark had been there in the end, it would have made some difference. Perhaps not.
But now Lex and Lana spent their days together. An unlikely pair, the scientist and the beauty queen. She didn't understand half of the stuff he talked about, but the important thing was that she listened.
And like Clark, Lana shared something with Lex, an almost-obsessive desire to prove that Superboy really did exist.
Lex asserted that a great number of his experiments had been ruined by Superboy. Never mind that fact that the majority of them posed a danger to the citizens of Smallville, and that if Superboy, should he really exist, hadn't intervened, people could have died.
Lex's theory was that Superboy was a rival boy-genius who destroyed Lex's work out of spite. Lex and Lana composed a catalogue of the abilities Superboy must have possessed, and from this, Lex began drawing up schematics for the type of equipment Superboy had to use. Jet pack, strength-enhancing gloves, a gun that shot fire and ice.
At first it was hard for Lex to admit that there might be someone out there as smart as he was. But Lana always reminded him that if he could deduce who Superboy was and how he did his "magic tricks," Lex would prove himself to be the smarter.
"You don't think he's an alien, do you?" Lana would ask.
"No," Lex answered simply. "I don't believe in aliens."
"That is to say," Lex continued, "I don't believe that aliens have visited Earth, now or at any time in human history. And I certainly don't believe that aliens came down from the sky and gave our ancestors the secrets of technology, like Prometheus and the gift of fire.
"The gods didn't give man fire and aliens didn't give him technology.
"We did it all on our own."
"That's really smart, Lex," Lana would say.
And Lex would smile.
Then came the day when the pair arrived at Lex's small house to find a limousine parked in the driveway. Mr. Luthor had come to call on his estranged family.
Lex tried to talk Lana out of coming in and meeting his father, but she was always so friendly, she was sure all the bad things Lex said about his dad couldn't be true.
No one knows what was said in that little house. Whether Lionel spoke cruelly to Lana of the fact that Lex seemed determined to follow in his father's mistake of making time with a worthless country girl, or whether he spoke a little too kindly of her good looks, the only thing that is known is that Lana fled the house in tears, never to return.
She was followed soon thereafter by Lex's father, who drove back to Metropolis in huff.
It seems that Mr. Luthor had come to Smallville to claim his son. He declared to have had a change of heart, and felt his only heir now deserved to sit by his side as the Prince of Metropolis.
Lex properly deduced that his father's new rich and useless new wife was barren, and could have no children. Lex was all his father had if he wanted an heir to his empire.
Lex, already angry at the loss of one of his only friends, told his father, in no uncertain terms, what he really thought of him. Lex called Lionel a parasite that had always fed off others. He had used Lex's mother and was currently profiting from the decay of a once great city. And that in the end, he fully expected Lionel to die a lonely death, revealed as the diseased old maniac he had always been.
In short, Lex told his father to go to Hell.
After Lionel Luthor took his leave, Lex ran off, and didn't come home for three whole days.
When he finally returned, he was even more isolated and alone.
Clark tried to patch things up with his old friend, if for no other reason than because he was worried what Lex might do in his present mental state.
But Lex refused even Clark's company for long periods of time. Things had changed.
Lex began working in secret on some new experiment. Talk spread about how this time, it wasn't one of Lex's own run-of-the-mill, homemade, doomsday devices. This was something he had supposedly found during his self-imposed exile.
What little Lex chose to reveal to Clark was that he found this thing, a type of camera or projector in the woods. He claimed that some voices had whispered to him in the dark of night and led him to its location, buried deep in the ground. Although it was broken when he found it, Lex worked for weeks trying to bring it back to life.
Lex never did tell anyone what he thought the strange artifact was for. But he did let slip, once, the name he had come to call it.
The Phantom Zone Projector.
The people of Smallville began to get real worried. Folks remembered the storm Lex had claimed to conjure up, and began wondering if maybe he was telling to truth. People in the town feared that the next time Lex had a bad thought, they might not be as lucky as they were last time.
Then came the night Lex's house blew up.
Miraculously, both Lex and his mother survived, although they were badly hurt. One of the firemen said they also saw Clark Kent on the ground nearby, doubled over in pain as if he had been poisoned by something. But the boy disappeared before anyone could question him.
When someone was sent out to the Kent Farm to tell his parents, they found Clark there, perfectly fine. Since it would have been impossible for a teenage boy, injured or not, to make it across acres of farm land on foot in the middle of the night in such a short amount of time, the matter was laid to rest.
Besides, there was more important stuff going on. The police found a large amount of chemicals and plans in Lex's basement. Weird, high-tech-looking stuff. Some people though Lex was trying to build a bomb. Others thought one of Lex's experiments finally got away with him.
A few folks even suspected a concerned citizen had taken it upon himself to sabotage Lex's personal lab, perhaps to keep him from causing any more problems. But no one in Smallville really wanted to believe something like that about one of their own.
While Lex and his mother both survived, it wasn't without a price. Lex had been horribly burned in the explosion. It took months for him to heal, and when at last he did, he had lost every strand of hair from his head.
The baldness only added to Lex's reputation as a mad-scientist in the making.
But, punished or not, the people of Smallville had had enough. The Luthors became pariahs after that. Fear will make monsters out of anybody.
And then, one day, a convoy of military trucks drove into town. It looked as if word had finally gotten to the proper authorities on Lex's illicit hobbies.
But to everyone's surprise, the man in charge, a Four-Star General by the name of Sam Lane, hadn't come to arrest Lex. He had come to recruit him.
It seems the designs Lex had done while trying to discover the secrets of Superboy were years ahead of their time, and had caught the eye of the government. And they were very interested in having Lex design more practical weapons for them.
And so the Luthors finally left Smallville to work for the Government. They said many of Lex's best inventions are to this day so classified no one except the highest levels of Government have seen them.
But beyond that, Lex made a name for himself designing more family-friendly, household electronics. He even used the money he'd made to start up a company of his own, LexCorp, which devoured his father's fairly early in its existence.
It turned out Lex had a head for business as well.
Lex was finally able to put his mother, Lillian, in the kind of home she'd always deserved.
There are rumors that Lex still employed his father after the hostile takeover of LuthorCorp. Lionel Luthor supposedly works as the janitor.
To this day, Lex makes very little reference to his time in Smallville. He's since taken up residence in his beloved Metropolis. Lex has halted the urban decay and done wonders restoring the city to its former glory.
And as a final act of vindication, recently rumors have begun to spring up of a mysterious "Superman" flying around Metropolis, putting down fires and helping cats out of trees. So it seems Lex may have been right about the existence of Superboy all those years ago, after all.
Surely that must make Lex smile from time to time.
This was a sequel of sorts to my Superboy stories
Like with that story, where I tried to combine all the different ways Clark has found out about is heritage, here I tried to combine all the different versions of Lex's origin into one account.
The idea that Lex and Lana were close didn't sit right with me at first, until I realized that they were married in Smallville, and they were no where near that here. Plus, in the recent comics, Lana was appointed to replace Lex as CEO of LexCorp, which seems to imply a strong connection between the pair.
My idea for "my" Lionel was that he left Lex's mother after she put so much time into making him a "somebody," much in the same way Metropolis will leave Lex once Superman shows up. I thought the irony fit.
I hope you enjoyed this little story. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.