Lex Luthor:
The Unauthorized Biography

by James Hudnall, Eduardo Barreto
(DC Comics, 1989)

I make no secret about the fact that I am a huge fan of the superhero genre. However, I also realize that the comic-book industry cannot survive on the spandex scene alone. Surprisingly enough, one of the best Superman stories ever done has no superhero material whatsoever. Though it features the premier comic character's alter ego, Clark Kent, and the villainous Lex Luthor, Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography, by James Hudnall (writer) and well-known comic artist Eduardo Barreto, is much more gritty crime story than superhero prose.

The story revolves around Peter Sands, a down-and-out writer looking to score his big break with an unauthorized "tell-all" book on Luthor. As he tracks down and interviews individuals with dirt on the man most of the world considers a benevolent businessman, Sands begins to receive danger signals that he is getting too close to the truth. He receives threatening phone calls and warnings from sources before eventually becoming a target for assassination. Desperate, he contacts Clark Kent, and asks him to get an S.O.S. to Superman.

Sands' story is told as a flashback, while Kent is being grilled by the cops as the main suspect in Sands' murder, having means, motive (the police think he killed for the Luthor story) and opportunity.

Sands' and Kent's stories are told in tandem, in a very entertaining "back-and-forth" film noir style.

Hudnall's creative juices take readers for an exhilarating ride into seedy apartments, grimy back alleys and dimly-lit interrogation rooms as he weaves one of the most thrilling crime stories penned in the modern age of comics.

Barreto has an artistic flair for bottom-feeding, street-level crime stories. His illustrations lend a morose, depressed quality, which is wholly appropriate for this story.

- Rambles
written by Mark Allen
published 24 May 2003