Update: DC surprised readers when its solicitations for March's Batman #121 suggested Lex Luthor could take on the identity of Batman (see that story below).
But readers of February 1's Batman #120 (opens in new tab) might be even more surprised when Lex becomes a Dark Knight a month earlier than that ...
In a preview of Batman #120 that Newsarama readers get to see first, after Bruce Wayne is incapacitated and rendered blind in a fight with the new villain Abyss, Lex opines that the world needs a Batman, but asks himself if it needs to be Bruce.
And when LexCorp Tower is infiltrated at the same moment (presumably by Abyss), Lex takes matters into his own hands, seemingly literally.
You can check out the full five-preview below for the full gist of it, but to be upfront, it ends on the image above. So we'll all have to wait until Tuesday, February 1 to find out if Lex-Batman makes a full debut in the remainder of Batman #120.
Batman #120's main story is written by DC's everywhere-guy Joshua Williamson with art by Jorge Molina and features covers by Francesco Mattina, Dan Hipp, and Jock. The issue also includes a backup story scripted and illustrated by Karl Kerschel.
Original story follows...
Iconic Superman villain Lex Luthor has been called many things - Apex Lex, Mockingbird, The Kryptonite Man, President - but in 2022 he'll have a new moniker: Batman.(opens in new tab)
March's Batman #121's primary cover by series artist Jorge Molina gives a startling sight: Lex Luthor suited up as a Batman. This issue is the fourth part of the current 'Abyss' storyline, and while the story's name refers to a new Batman adversary, Lex is the bigger threat according to series writer Joshua Williamson.
"When we were first talking about ideas [for first Batman arc], I asked 'what if there's someone trying to kill Batman Inc.? Then I realized we've seen that - it's every Batman Inc. story. 'Oh no, what if Batman Inc. killed someone and now Batman has to deal with it?' I needed a bad guy, so I asked myself who do I want him to go against, who would be fun, and someone we hadn't seen Batman against much recently. I remember landing on Lex, and said to myself 'Yeah, I think I got this.'"
This idea of Lex-as-Batman might seem like a one-off thing, but subsequent announcements - namely the 'Death of the Justice League' storyline in Justice League #75 - portent that Bruce Wayne/Batman has a 90% chance of being killed off by DC in April. And if that's the case, DC will need a successor - and Lex Luthor might be the man for the Batman job on a more long-term basis.
Batman and Lex crossed paths in January 4's Batman #119, with a scene that Williamson tells Newsarama was actually the first thing he wrote for Batman.
"There's a scene in Batman #119 with Bruce and Lex," Williamson told Newsarama. "The conversation is about how Batman is broke; Batman doesn't have money anymore. It's essentially Lex taunting Bruce, and just poking at him; trying to crack the Bruce exterior.
"Bruce is trying to be Bruce, but Lex is doing everything to piss him off; he wants the Batman to come out."
As it turned out, Lex has become Batman Inc.'s new primary investor - swooping in after Bruce Wayne/Batman lost his fortune in 'The Joker War' arc.
Take note of Molina's Batman #121 cover though - it's not just a classic Batman suit - it's a mash-up of the Lex armor first designed by John Byrne, with elements of the Bat-suit - especially the Bat insignia.
As DC describes Batman #121, this is all part of Lex Luthor's "dangerous master plan for Batman Inc." While the description refers to a new member of Batman Inc. joining the fold, the appearance of Ghost-Maker on the cover seems to lead credence to that Gotham hero being the new inductee - although with Lex, you can never tell what's up his sleeve.
Batman #121 goes on sale on March 1.
Keep track of this and all the new Batman comics, graphic novels, and collections in 2021 and beyond.