How An Artist's Mistake (And A Negligent Superboy) Turned Lex Luthor Bald
Bad hair days: Marginally less distressing than Attack of the Clones.
Comic book enthusiasts seemingly agree. The second official trailer for Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice unleashed Internet uproar with its depiction of Lex Luthor bearing long, bedraggled locks. “Why isn’t Superman’s fiercest foe bald? Y’know, like he’s supposed to be…?”
Not so fast, Super-Fans! This isn't the first time Luthor has come clad with a memorable mane. The villain first appeared in Action Comics #23 (April, 1940), complete with plans to take over the world and kidnap Lois Lane. All while sporting a full head of hair!
Joe Shuster, co-creator of The Man of Steel, was no stranger to long shifts at the drawing board. To help combat his momentous workload, Shuster utilized several “ghost” artists to assist penciling. Leo Nowak was one such stand-in, tasked with a 1941 Superman newspaper strip.
Artist Fail #1: He'd accidentally drawn a bald Lex Luthor. Later that same year, Nowak found himself working on Superman #10. It brought about Artist Fail #2: The villain was again in possession of a gleaming chrome dome! And this time there was no going back...
Most agree that Nowak’s double blooper was due to confusion with a character (ironically enough, one of Luthor's henchmen) appearing in Superman #4, illustrated by Paul Cassidy, another Shuster fill-in. Others argue it was prompted by the physical appearance of bald scientist/supervillain, The Ultra-Humanite. (They're wrong.)
Fast-forward to 1960 and the release of Adventure Comics #271, wherein the conundrum is "explained" in a story starring Superboy and teenage Lex Luthor. The young scientist saves Superboy from a Kryponite meteor, inspiring the grateful Superboy to build his new chum an ultramodern laboratory. Such technological advancements enable Luthor to contrive a basic form of protoplasmic life, and with it, the antidote to Kryptonite!
But the bromance comes to a screeching halt when a fire breaks out in the lab, leaving Superboy with no choice but to blow out the escalating flames. Kinda like you would candles on a birthday cake. Superboy's oafish exhalation knocks a bottle of acid over Luthor's fabricated lifeform, killing it stone dead. Worse yet, the organism's carcass releases a gas that makes poor Lex's hair fall out! Enraged by his newly bequeathed Ben Kingsley-like noggin, Luthor vows to vanquish the hirsute Superhero.
EW seemingly confirms that Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor will shed his thatch, but chances of the hair loss coming via Superboy huffing, puffing, and blowing his lab down seem rather...faint.
But hey, one can always hope!