"Up Up & Away!": Lex Luthor has been imprisoned at a Hypermax Detention Facility in Utah for the better part of a year and, to an extent, he has enjoyed the time away. But the time has come for him to go home. Metropolis needs Lex Luthor. As he is e
- Give me my legally mandated ten-minute phone call and I can destroy a dam in Hyderabad, score the contracts to rebuild it, seduce your significant other and, as an afterthought, invent a phone you could use to call Mars.
- -- Lex Luthor
Appearing in "Up Up & Away!"
- Casey (Dies)
- Noel Spheeris (Phone Call Only; Dies off-panel)
- Thomas Kord (Mentioned only)
- George (Single appearance)
- General Garrison (Single appearance)
- LexSpace Shuttle Clarion (Destroyed)
Synopsis for "Up Up & Away!"
Lex Luthor has been imprisoned at a Hypermax Detention Facility in Utah for the better part of a year and, to an extent, he has enjoyed the time away. But the time has come for him to go home. Metropolis needs Lex Luthor. As he is escorted out, he offers his guard the opportunity to take and sell his discarded prison jumpsuit for a massive profit, but when he insists that the man take it from him, the guard thinks better of it and urges him onward. Despite having been put away in a prison of his own design, Lex's exit is the work of expensive lawyers, and by no means is it an escape. Something troubles him about it, though. Superman's absence is conspicuous. Lex's personal assistant Casey explains that Superman hasn't been seen anywhere today. Ego bruised, but free to do as he pleases, Lex initiates Project Ghost Town, a project which Casey is surprised to see put into action.
Since returning to Metropolis, Lex's presence at dinner parties is high in demand, and it is only a select few whom he will give the opportunity to bid on his attendance. In the meantime, Noel Spheeris is attempting a hostile takeover of Greenyield, LLC; an unprofitable LexCorp subsidiary. Even so, Lex dictates a message for Spheeris, warning him off, which Casey paraphrases heavily. He then has Casey look up an encoded document on his system regarding Spheeris, the contents of which she must follow exactly. Fortunately for Lex, the scarring on his face is expertly repaired by surgeons, and when he sees their work, he declares that it is a good day for him. However, Superman's absence for the last eight hours is still troubling him.
Meanwhile, as part of Project Ghost Town, a spacecraft is launched from St. Roch, Louisiana at a LexSpace facility. The speed with which the mission was put in motion unnerves the spacecraft's pilots, but obediently, they attempt to enter stable orbit, and await their orders from there.
Lex occupies his time by checking in on one of his favourite projects: a clone created using alien DNA. Still, it will be an additional five years before the clone reaches maturity, so he must bide his time - waiting for the better times to come. When Casey reports that stable low-earth orbit has been achieved, Lex initiates the second phase of Project Ghost Town. Casey adds that Spheeris has called back, making threats against Lex's person. Smirking, Lex shrugs the man off, reminding that Noel Spheeris' day is soon to get much worse. Moving on, Lex performs field-testing on his war-suit, and after noticing fourteen ways in which it could be improved, he orders his technologists to scrap the design and start over, implementing at least five of those improvements he envisioned by the next morning, or they'll be fired.
On the spacecraft, the pilots are becoming nervous about their orders. The course they plotted seems dangerous - more so given their orders to shut down the main engines. They suspect that it may be a stunt meant to attract the attention of Superman.
Lex receives news that Noel Spheeris' repeated calls have become more desperate, and he amusedly turns on the TV to watch news reports indicating that the police have arrived outside Spheeris' property. Breaking news interrupts the report, though, as Lex's spacecraft, the Clarion is currently 250 miles above the earth, broadcasting a live distress call regarding their imminent catastrophic re-entry. Desperately, they request Superman's help, specifically. Suddenly understanding, Casey realizes that with Superman gone, Lex is free to save his people instead. Even so, he delays the preparation of his suit.
When Spheeris calls again, Lex decides to take it himself. Spheeris begs Lex to leave his life alone, unaware that the issue has nothing to do with business, but rather principle. So, he turns instead to begging for Lex to buy his business at pennies on the dollar, as Lex warned him that he would in his initial warning message. However, Lex had not said that he would actually buy it. Instead, he leaves Spheeris to go down with his company.
After such a delay, Casey warns that there will be little time for Lex to save the shuttle before it burns up in the atmosphere. Lex informs her that he has no intention of saving them. Realizing that Superman isn't coming for them, the shuttle crew decides to turn their engines back on, and get back to a safe orbit. Unfortunately, the engines are dead.
With horror, Casey watches as the shuttle explodes under the pressure of re-entry, and outraged, demands to know why Lex didn't save them. Lex responds that he never needed to save them to get what he wanted. The disaster will be seen as Superman's failure, not his. If he had tried and failed, he would have garnered blame for failing. No one will blame him, though, for failing to try. He is only human, after all. Shaken, Casey attempts to call 9-1-1, to have Luthor pay for the crime, but learns that he has cut off communications. She learns that the whole ordeal was a test, to see if she was like him, or like them. Sighing, he shoves her off the roof of his building to her death.
By a remarkable coincidence - or not - the wreckage of the Clarion landed right on Noel Spheeris' home. Returning to his office, Lex calls for lawyers again, and asks that a replacement be found for Casey following a tragic accident. In the meantime, he needs to leave in a few minutes for his six'o'clock meeting with Thomas Kord.
By the time he gets into the helicopter, his new P.A., Miranda, has arrived. It is a good day to be Lex Luthor. With Superman missing, no one and nothing can stand in his way.
- This issue takes place between Justice League #23 and Forever Evil #1. At the end of the issue he goes to the meeting with Thomas Kord, as depicted in the first moments of Forever Evil #1.
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