Lex Luthor as Batman.
DC has been teasing the surprising development even before it revealed the Dark Knight could be dying in April's 'Death of the Justice League,' but now we know why Lex Luthor has been eying the Batman mantle and even what his original plans were.
Since Batman lost his Wayne Family fortune in the 2021 event 'The Joker War,' the international group Batman Inc. found itself without funding. In stepped in Lex Luthor, who began funding the group in exchange for guiding it towards his own brand of justice - with a new Batman-esque villain called Abyss as his proxy.
But in February 1's Batman #120, Lex takes a step from being the money behind the man into becoming the man himself.
But saying any more would be spoilers, so…
Spoilers ahead for Batman #120 by writer Joshua WIlliamson, artists Jorge Molina and Mikel Janin, colorist Tomeu Morey, and letterer Clayton Cowles.
"Dammit, Bruce. Why must everything with you be so difficult?" Lex tells himself aloud as a stereotypical supervillain would. "The world needs a Batman... but does it have to be you..."
Lex Luthor originally intended for the new villainous character Abyss to fill the Batman-shaped hole in Batman Inc., while he served as the guiding hand behind it all.
Lex delivers his soliloquy while in one of his LexCorp labs but is cut off from narrating more when the lights go dark. Lex realizes it must be Abyss reneging on their partnership, so Lex dusts off a previously unseen version of his Lex Luthor armor that is branded with the Batman logo on it. (Don't worry, it's still got green highlights - one of Lex's favorite colors.)
"You really think I wouldn't be prepared for you? I made this suit for Batman. In case he took my offer to join my Batman Inc." Lex says. "And it is my Batman Inc..."
(And I guess Lex thought to built this Batman armor one-size-fits-all).
Abyss ultimately is able to jump Lex and the scene ends before we know immediately what happens.
In the meantime, Batman (although blinded by Abyss's mysterious powers)manages to break his former Batman Inc. allies from an impending prison term. They're interrupted on the roof of the prison by Lex Luthor (still in his Bat-suit), who says he escaped Abyss and has deduced that both he and Batman are being played by Abyss.
Abyss and some surprising friends, that is.
Batman #120 ends with Batman's former Batman Inc. allies siding with Abyss for a new version of Batman Inc.
So Lex Luthor-as-Batman is been put in a semi-heroic role alongside Bruce Wayne Batman, at least compared to the upstart Abyss.
Depending on how the storyline continues, DC could be setting Lex up in the perfect position to take over as Batman if Bruce dies in April's Justice League #75 'Death of the Justice League' story. Both stories are written by Williamson.
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