- I just wanted to save the world.
- — Tess Mercer src
Tess Mercer was the loyal lieutenant of Lex Luthor. Though she did not know it for most of her life, she was actually his half-sister.
Born November 12, 1984 as Lutessa Lena Luthor, Tess was the result of an affair between Lionel Luthor and his son's nanny, Pamela Jenkins. After a few years, Tess was sent to St. Louise's Orphanage, by Lionel. What Lionel didn't realize was that the orphanage was run by Granny Goodness, a prophet of Darkseid, who used the orphanage to train an army for service to her lord. Granny Goodness had planned to train Tess to become the leader of the Female Furies, but when the girl was five years old, Lionel arranged for Tess to be adopted by the Mercer family in Louisiana. Before Tess left, Granny Goodness erased all the girl's memories of her time at the orphanage, to protecting the secrets of St. Louise's Orphanage.
Now named Tess Mercer, Tess grew up in a swamp house. Her childhood was an unhappy one, as her adoptive father was an alcoholic and would frequently beat the young girl. Despite these hardships, Tess managed to get into Harvard University at 15, studying marine biology. A few years later, Tess went on a research trip with her friend, Megan, to the South Pacific. The two girls found themselves kidnapped and taken to a deserted island, where Tess encountered and saved the life of a poisoned Oliver Queen. The kidnappers murdered Megan, but Tess managed to escape together with Oliver. The two dated for a while, until Tess caught Oliver with a waitress and ended the relationship.
Some years later, Tess was employed by LuthorCorp. Shortly afterwards, she was recruited by Checkmate, who wanted to keep an eye on Lex Luthor. Lex would later save her life, which made Tess devoted to him. What she didn't realize was that Lex, during her recovery, had a nano-transmitter implanted in her eyes (allowing him to see anything she saw). As far as Tess was concerned, Lex was a good man who had dedicated his life towards making the world a safer place. Shortly before his disappearance in 2008, Lex manipulated Tess into kidnapping Lana Lang. She believed Lex when he told her that it was for Lana's own safety and that she needed to be protected from Lana's boyfriend, Clark Kent.
A month after the disappearance of Lex Luthor, Tess assumed control over LuthorCorp and moved into the Luthor Mansion in Smallville. She faced many questions. Not only about the disappearance of Lex, but about the mysterious Crystal and Orb that had been recovered from the Arctic Circle. A short time later, she encountered the man that had killed Megan, who attempted to murder both her and Oliver. Tess survived and poisoned the man and sent him to a hospital, where he was likely to get the wrong treatment and die.
Tess remained devoted to Lex and continued searching for him, until Lana Lang revealed the truth to her about the nano-transmitter in her eyes. Angered, Tess arranged for the transmitter to be shut off and had Lex declared legally dead. She also engaged in a corporate merger between LuthorCorp and Queen Industries.
Tess became increasingly suspicious about Clark Kent. Being the caretaker of Lex's belongings, she managed to conclude that the young Mr. Kent was an alien with super powers. To prove this theory, she arranged a test, where Clark was forced to use his powers to save them both from crashing onboard the LuthorCorp private jet.
After Davis fled Metropolis, together with Chloe Sullivan, Tess began putting his face on the front page of the Daily Planet. Wanting to take care of the threat, posed by Doomsday, she sent out a team of meteor freaks, that she had been recruiting members for during the past few months. Unfortunately, some of them died and the remaining members turned on her. Thankfully, she was rescued by Clark and the Green Arrow.
Around this time, she had begun to hear a voice coming from inside the Orb, that LuthorCorp had recovered from the Arctic. Shortly after the defeat of Doomsday, Tess saw a clone of General Zod emerge from the Orb.
For the next three weeks, Tess was held as a captive in the Luthor Mansion by the Zod and the Kryptonian clones. She was subjected to harsh treatment and interrogated by the clones. After those three weeks, the clones vanished from the mansion. Tess began searching for them and soon discovered that the clones had turned John Corben into a cyborg. After Corben had been defeated by Clark, Tess had her scientists take Corben's body and study it. She later made a deal with Winslow Schott, to repair Corben's power source.
While all of this went on, she also had to bring Oliver Queen back from the bender he was on in Mexico, so he could attend a shareholder's meeting in Metropolis.
Eventually, the clone of Zod returned to the Luthor Mansion as a business partner for a LuthorCorp project to create a Solar Tower in Metropolis. Having been told by the Orb that the clones would save the world, Tess began to hope that Zod and the Kryptonians would do it. However, while she'd begin to ally herself with the Kryptonian clones, she couldn't bring herself to do what Zod wanted and deliver the "Blur" (Clark) to him. Instead, she got her hands on the clone of Jor-El (who had been created with the other clones) and convinced the clone to pretend to be the Blur, thus protecting Clark.
Tess' allegiance to Zod was short-lived. Using technology from the Summerholt Neurological Institute, Tess managed to see the future that Lois Lane had visited, during the three weeks that Lois had been missing. What Tess saw was an apocalyptic future, where the Kryptonians enslaved humanity and Tess herself ended up killed by Chloe Sullivan.
Around this time, Tess also found herself reactivated by Checkmate and tasked with bringing in the Green Arrow. However, between her failure to bring in the Green Arrow and giving away the location of Checkmate's headquarters to Clark, Tess soon found herself forced to go underground or running the risk of being killed by Checkmate. Tess would ultimately be able to escape her fate through aid from Chloe, who took out a transmitter inside of Tess, that Checkmate was tracking and by Zod attacking Checkmate's headquarter. Seemingly killing Amanda Waller and putting an end to Checkmate.
However, Tess wasn't entirely out of the woods. She found herself confronted by the Red Queen, who forced Tess to surrender the Book of Rao (a device able to send the Kryptonians to another planet).
Looking for redemption for everything that she had done, Tess went to the Fortress of Solitude and tried to confront Zod. Tess failed to bring him down with Kryptonite and was mortally wounded by Zod, who burned her with his heat vision. However, before she could die, she was found by Clark and brought to a hospital. She told Clark how he could get rid of the Kryptonians. After he left, Tess suffered an attack and died from her injuries.
This would've been the end of Tess Mercer, but her body was stolen by Granny Goodness from the hospital.
A few hours after her apparent death, Tess awoke at Cadmus Labs and found that her burns had been completely healed, thanks to skin grafts from clones of Lex Luthor. At Cadmus, she came across LX-15 and accidentally released the bad LX-3. LX-3 burned Cadmus, killing most of the clones and left Tess tied up, for Clark to find. After she was released she found LX-15 again and, secretly, took him back with her to the Luthor Mansion.
Tess returned to her old life, but soon found it changed. With the recent disappearance of Chloe, Tess eventually found herself recruited to the team, as the new Watchtower. At the same time, she attempted to be a maternal figure to "Alexander" (LX-15). Tess hoped that she would be able to save him from becoming like Lex.
However, she was fighting a losing battle. As Alexander rapidly aged, he manifested Lex Luthor's memories. At first, she had desired to save him from the clone's accelerated aging. But, by the time a cure was produced, she had realized that it was too late to save the boy and decided to let him grow old and die.
In November, on the night of her birthday, Tess had a visit from Granny Goodness. Granny left a music box as a "birthday present" and used her powers to trigger some of the memories that she had erased from Tess, when she had left the orphanage. As a result, Tess began to have nightmares about her time under Granny's care. Aided by Clark, Tess traced the music box back to St. Louise's Orphanage and uncovered the truth that she really was Lutessa Lena Luthor.
Tess Mercer's life would only get more complicated. Shortly afterwards, Alexander escaped from her care and Clark lashed out at her, for keeping him secret. Her recent discovery about her lineage became more traumatic, when Clark declared that Luthor blood is poison. Tess had never had a real family and was now risking losing the friendship she was forming with Clark and the others. However, Clark changed his attitude, after having visited Earth-2, where he had been raised by Lionel and was evil. After that experience, Clark assured Tess that she would will never be alone again.
However, Clark's visit to Earth-2 had created a new problem. Lionel Luthor of Earth-2 and ended up on Earth-1 and took over Lionel's identity, taking LuthorCorp away from Tess. Earth-2 Lionel also recruited Alexander, to work alongside him. This ended up backfiring for Lionel, when Alexander burned down the Luthor Mansion and tried to kill Clark with Kryptonite bullets. Tess managed to talk Alexander out of it. However, fearing that Alexander could still pose a threat, Tess attempted to give him a lethal injection. Only for the needle to bend against his skin.
Over the next few weeks, Tess began learning the truth about LX-15 (now called "Conner"). That half of the boy's DNA came from Clark. After all of Lex Luthor's memories had faded away after the clone's mind, as it was rebooting itself, and he was beginning to manifest Kryptonian powers, Tess felt it would be for the best for her to place Conner in Clark's care. Shortly after this, she managed to prove that the Earth-2 Lionel wasn't the real Lionel Luthor and reclaimed LuthorCorp.
However, she hadn't seen the last of him. Just as Apokolips was approaching Earth, Tess found herself kidnapped by the Lionel of Earth-2 and taken to Cadmus Labs. He revealed to her, that the real Lex was still alive and needed a heart, so Lionel was going to use her heart. Tess managed to break free, before the operation. She shot Lionel and fled. When she made it back to LuthorCorp, she found herself confronted by Lex, who fatally stabbed her. However, with the last of her strength, Tess infected Lex with a neurotoxin, that would paralyze all cognitive recognition. This made it impossible for Lex to remember anything before this moment and keeping Clark's secret safe. Tess seemingly died in Lex's arms. Officially, Tess Mercer had committed suicide.
Once more it seemed like the world had seen the last of Tess Mercer. However, Tess hadn't done much research into the neurotoxin that she used on Lex. A side effect from the neurotoxin had caused the creation of a telepathic link between Tess and Lex. When her body had died, her consciousness had moved from her own body into Lex's brain. Six months after her apparent death, her consciousness had grown strong enough that she began appearing as a ghost in front of Lex.
Her time inside of Lex's mind was a constant battle. Tess fought Lex over control of their shared body to alert her friends about her being trapped inside of Lex's brain. Meanwhile, Lex fought her to get her to reveal the identity of Superman. Eventually, Tess managed to get a message to Lois. Together with Clark and Oliver, Lois confronted Lex and managed to extract Tess' consciousness from his brain. After having recovered her, they uploaded her consciousness into the Watchtower computer system. Thanks to holographic projectors, Tess was able to project an image of herself inside of the building.
However, Tess' new state took some getting used to. Because of the earlier incident with Hank Henshaw, Emil Hamilton had to conduct a psychological evaluation of Tess. No longer considering herself human, she originally refrained from including clothes as part of her holographic image, as she felt clothes are for people. She also struggled with desires of getting revenge against her brother. After a conversation with Henshaw (the only person in the world, in a similar situation to her), Tess realized that she had been given a second chance at life and didn't want blood on her hands. Tess gave up on her desire to kill Lex and agreed to start wearing clothes again, even began using her new state to saving people in Metropolis.
However, there was still one step that she would require several months more to take. Watchtower was upgraded with a 3D printer capable of constructing a new body for Tess. She wouldn't use it out of fear that if she got a physical body once more, it meant that she could lose it again. It wasn't until the battle against the Monitors that Tess decided to create an android body for herself, so she could join the fight. The 3D printer finished her new body just seconds before the Watchtower building was destroyed by a Monitor ship. Thanks to the powers that her new body possessed, Tess managed to get both herself and the pregnant Chloe out of the building alive.
Powers and Abilities
While she was human, Tess was a normal human being with no superhuman capabilities. Upon having her mind transferred into a computer and then an android body, she gained new abilities.
- Computer Interfacing
- Android Body
- Psychic Link: (Formerly) During the last moments of her life as a human, Tess had developed a psychic link to her brother, Lex Luthor. This link ultimately allowed Tess to escape her own death.
- Genius Level Intellect
- Business Management
- Marine Biology: Tess Mercer is an expert in the field of marine biology and pursued this as a career prior to assuming control of LuthorCorp.
- Toxicology: Tess Mercer has a working knowledge in identifying and using known poisons. Her experiences in the South Pacific educated her as to the existence of a rare, poisonous herb.
- Kickboxing: As a human, Tess kept herself in top form and maintained a regular exercise regime while also practicing kick-boxing techniques. She practiced kickboxing to release her stress and anger.
- Computer Operation
- Computer Hacking: Tess is a superior computer hacker and a specialist in retrieving information.
- This version of the character is exclusive to the continuity of the television series Smallville and is an adaptation of Lena Luthor. The original character was created by Jerry Siegel and Kurt Schaffenberger and first appeared in Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #23.
For season 11, elements of Red Tornado were adapted into the character.
- Tess Mercer was portrayed by Cassidy Freeman. In "Abandoned", a younger Tess was portrayed by Leigh Bourke.
- The name "Tess Mercer" was a nod to Mercy Graves and Eve Teschmacher. However, she was not an adaptation of either Mercy Graves or Ms. Teschmacher.
- When Tess Mercer was first introduced, her interactions with Lois Lane led to a fan theory that Tess might be a lesbian or bisexual. Freeman addressed this theory in an interview with AfterEllen.com, noting that the writers seemingly included undertones of same-sex attraction towards Lois.
- 80 Appearances of Lutessa Luthor (Smallville)
- 16 Images featuring Lutessa Luthor (Smallville)
- 2 Quotations by or about Lutessa Luthor (Smallville)
- Character Gallery: Lutessa Luthor (Smallville)
- "Absolute Justice, Part II"
- "Finale, Part II"
- Smallville Season 11 #2
- Smallville Season 11 #3
- Smallville Season 11 #1
- Smallville Season 11 #7
- Smallville Season 11 #9
- Smallville Season 11 #12
- Smallville Season 11 Special #3
- Smallville Season 11: Continuity #1
- Smallville Season 11: Continuity #3
- Smallville Season 11: Continuity #4
- KryptonSite - "KryptonSite Comic-Con Report: Todd Slavkin & Darren Swimmer Talk Season 8!"
- AfterEllen.com - Cassidy Freeman on "Longmire" and what we didn't see on "The Playboy Club"
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