Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography
Cover of Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography by Erick Peterson
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
Publication date1989
No. of issues1
Main character(s)Lex Luthor
Peter Sands
Creative team
Written byJames D. Hudnall
Artist(s)Eduardo Barreto
Colorist(s)Adam Kubert

Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography is a one-issue 1989 DC Comics publication.[1]


Struggling journalist, Peter Sands, decides to dig into Lex Luthor's past for an unauthorized biography. But must seek Superman's help when Luthor's henchmen come after him.


In a chalet somewhere in Aspen, Lex Luthor is stoking a fire when a woman holding a video tape that she received by helicopter arrives. Lex asks her to put on something more suitable while he watches the tape, after which he'll want her. The tape shows Clark Kent being interviewed as a criminal suspect.

Detective Hector Ortiz and his partner Ed Harris let Clark know they understand he's waivered his right to counsel to which Clark replies he doesn't need a lawyer to prove his innocence as he knows the interview will do it for him. Ed dismisses this by showing Clark photos of a dead man, telling him he was the one to see him alive and that the neighbors heard shouting and glass breaking.

In a flashback the dead man, revealed to be Peter Sands, is shown to be an alcoholic and behind on his alimony payments. He takes four Tylenol tablets and a shower. There is no money in his account, his electric bill's final notice came yesterday and his rent is past due. Peter makes some calls to various publications he's worked for in the past.

They all turn him down due to his habit of turning up drunk on interviews and once even vomited over an important person causing them to spend weeks dodging his people. The phone rings and he answers to a woman, Ellen Fisher, from a press release in Tinsel Town. She says that their publisher is looking for more product after he cited his previous book about the murder of Marilyn Monroe.

Ellen asks if he's working on any other books like a bio. Peter says he's doing one right now and after Ellen asks who it's about Peter, finding a newspaper about Lex Luthor, decides to right an unauthorized biography about him. Intrigued, Ellen gives Peter the go-ahead. Peter states he's having problems with expenses and Ellen agrees to front him three thousand as a start up.

At the police station Clark is still being interviewed. Clark confesses that he only met Peter last night and therefore doesn't have a motive to kill him. Hector explains that Peter was a journalist like Clark and was working on something he wanted. He also says there is an indication that some notes were stolen. Hector also points out that Peter wrote Clark's name on the floor in his own blood.

Another flashback, Peter investigates the library for anything about Lex. He manages to find an autobiography that Lex wrote years ago. The microfiche library provides Peter with years of newspaper articles revealing his Napoleonic scope corporate takeovers. At home, Peter reads the autobiography.

Lex's family died in a car crash when he was thirteen and that he supported himself after that but no details are given, something that deeply disturbs Peter. At the interview Clark admits that Peter invited him over via a phone call. The reason was that he had info that Clark would want and it was too dangerous to talk about it over the phone.

Clark goes on to further explain that Peter was afraid to go outside and the tone in Peter's voice made Clark believe him then went to see him after work. Peter, drunk and paranoid, frantic and angry asked Clark if he was followed and then demanded that Clark get Superman. Peter reveals that since he knows too much and has discovered things about Lex that could put him in prison for life, Lex now wants him dead.

Peter explains that if he doesn't get Superman everything he learned about Lex will be erased. Flashback again, Peter cleans up his apartment without getting drunk afterwards he goes to the slums where Lex's origin began. Lex has no living relatives and no records past seventh grade but his last recorded teacher, Mrs. Anderson, is still alive and lives in retirement.

Eventually, after some coaxing, Anderson agrees to tell Peter about Lex. She goes on that even though it's been thirty years since she taught him she still hasn't forgotten him. As a child Lex possessed a genius intellect far beyond his classmates but was also cruel especially towards girls. He had only one friend in the form of Perry White who was a good kid but Lex was a bad influence on him.

Two other students, Edward Kelly and Richard McGuire, were known for always picking on him. Then, one day they came to school looking as though they had been in a serious accident and that there was a rumor going around that Lex had paid some grown men to beat them up. Mrs. Anderson didn't believe it until she noticed that they never bothered Lex again. Not along after, Lex's parents died and he moved away. He got an insurance settlement for their deaths. He was rich.

After several hours Peter manages to find the insurance company that paid off young Lex. He was awarded $300,000 which was a lot of money back then. Peter gets the name of the insurance salesman and finds out where he lives to find out about the policy as taking out such a huge sum of money doesn't make sense given the fact Lex's parents were poor and antisocial. The salesman, Mr. Bryant, tells his story to Peter.

The size of it for one thing confused him as well as the fact that it came in the mail since back then he had to go door to door. When he went to the Luthors to let them know they'd been approved Mr. Luthor verbally abused him saying he never ordered any insurance then threatened to kill him if he came around there again. A couple of days later he received a letter of apology from Mr. Luthor saying he forgot about sending the policy and that he and his wife were going away for the weekend.

The next day they were dead their car having swerved into another lane and ran into a semi. Peter asks if their car was checked for tempering but Mr. Bryant dismisses this as he had a mechanic check the steering column but that it was impossible to tell. Peter then asks for the mechanic's name. Peter spends the whole of next day tracking down the now rich mechanic but doesn't get any answers.

Peter digs into his past which reveals that he quit two days after Lex's settlement came in and bought his first auto parts shop immediately afterwards with what Peter suspects was a cut from the policy. Peter then gets a call from someone who says they do not approve of his research and demand that he stops. Still being interviewed Clark, Hector says that Peter's body was discovered by Superman but six hours after Clark left and asks why he waited so long to contact him.

Clark tells him he contacted Superman right after he left and that the reason he took so long was the fact there was a quake in Tokyo. Ed rounds on Clark telling that if he wanted to read Peter's notes why didn't he wait with him. Clark says he was home reading a book. Ed bets there's no one to confirm Clark's claim to which Clark grimly agrees. Another Flashback, Peter believes there is no doubt that Lex killed his parents for the insurance money then bribed the mechanic to falsify the records for a cut of the return.

Peter trudges down Sutton Street to check up on an old friend of his, Harry, who worked for Lex in the sixties. He is unaware however he is being followed. Unfortunately, Harry has fallen on even harder times than Peter has. They greet each other warmly and Peter tells him he's writing a book about Lex Luthor, something that makes Harry deeply uneasy. After a couple of drinks, Harry tells Peter of his days of when he was under Lex's employ. When he was discharged from the army from his days in Nam Lex had a distribution company.

Harry was involved in Air America which was a front to smuggle heroine to various states during the war. Lex saw this and used it in order to get the capital to start a high tech company but didn't get personally involved. Lex created the first designer drugs then showed the Dons how to set up the labs all over the U.S. then sold his formulas and distribution system for two million dollars under an alias. The deal went through and Lex ended up loaded.

Harry explains that the wise guys soon dumped him for being a black man and that Lex is not one for racial equality himself as Lex has been using his influence to keep him out of work all these years. Harry states he can't get a decent job and that Lex likes to show off his power and make people suffer. Throughout this spiel Harry has been listened to by the same man who was following Peter. Harry voices his approval of Peter's book hoping that it will put Lex away for good then asks Peter who's he going to see next.

Peter says there's a woman that used to work for Lex in the seventies and that she used to date him so he'll interview her. Harry is then knocked down by a car driven by the man who overheard them at the bar. Amidst the crowd gathering at the scene Peter then sees two men pulling out guns so runs away just as the police turn up. Peter goes to do his last interview with some reluctance feeling he should have gone home instead. However he needs more evidence against Lex before turning his notes over for protection.

Peter visits the woman, Melissa Dugan, for answers. Wracked with guilt over Harry's death Peter hopes she won't let him in and turn him away without giving him anything but unfortunately she doesn't. Melissa tells Peter she was only twenty-three when she met Lex right after getting out of college and that she was looking for an entry level for a design firm as she earned a master's degree in electronics. One morning while reading the paper an article about Lex and his company, Lexcorp, caught her eye.

Impressed, she decided to work for him, was hired the following week and that Lex welcomed her on the first day. Melissa wanted him and he wanted her, they then became lovers and for a while were inseparable until she saw him as he really was. Lex used to own the Daily Planet and loved to boast how he used it to make himself richer. He also began hiring men to dig up incriminating evidence against his competitors.

The Daily Planet would then run an article using this information before a government contract was awarded, Lexcorp would win the contract and the competitors would find themselves in a morass of lawsuits. Everywhere Lex went his men would report to him and Melissa would hear whispers of executives driven to suicide and careers destroyed by photos and documents. Lex made sure there was no one to challenge him and he was ruthless. Melissa wanted out of the relationship but this only made Lex desire her more.

Soon they no longer made love, instead Lex hurt her and became cruel. Melissa left Lexcorp soon after that for which Lex never forgave her and it was a long time before she could get another job. Melissa goes on that even then Lex had the power to blacklist people and now works at S.T.A.R. labs a competing company he hasn't been able to hurt so far. Melissa wishes she could hurt Lex.

Peter goes home realizing that there is only one person who he can turn to for help as the police and government are most probably owned by Lex. Peter then finds that his apartment has been ransacked. Horrorstruck, he searches for the tapes as they are the only chance he has. Peter then begins to concoct way to get in touch with Superman via Clark Kent, who he knows is a reporter like himself.

At the interview things look bad for Clark as he wanted Peter's story, notes and that the neighbors say he didn't hear him come home therefore he does not have an alibi. Another flashback shows that while leaving Peter to go and change into Superman he got wind of the quake in Tokyo and went to aid in the accident. Meanwhile, Peter answers to a knock on the door only to be sprayed with knock out gas by the same man who killed Harry. Peter is then taken to an office in a warehouse somewhere.

Surprisingly, Lex is impressed about the information that Peter has managed to collect on him despite his limited resources. Lex also reveals that the tapes Peter hid had already been erased when he found him and all his notes have been incinerated. Lex is even more amazed that Peter chose to write his biography without requesting an interview. Peter states that he was just trying to get background material but Lex however says cannot allow Peter to publish his book. Lex says Peter will be paid a kill fee.

His project is finished. Lex then dares Peter to ask him anything since he has gone to so much trouble. Peter asks if Lex killed his parents to which Lex says that if Peter had known them he would have applauded his actions. Living in a slum gave Lex access to people with questionable backgrounds whom he impressed with his intellect. Lex further admits that he set up the insurance policy and had friends coerce the mechanic to make the alterations to their car.

He also thanks Peter for uncovering loose ends which have now been identified and they can now be eliminated. Peter voices worry about the people he's interview however Lex states they have already been destroyed and that Harry was the only one who could compromise his deniability. As for Richard and Ed Kelly, they grew up to become felons Lex offered them to work for him.

Richard accepted but Edward Kelly, still baring a grudge against Lex after the beating he received from the grown man who beat him up on Lex's orders and payment, refused. Peter asks why Lex does these things to which Lex replies that instead of becoming like his parents he chose to become a god. He now controls human lives instead of being controlled. This, he explains, is why he cannot abide Superman and is determined to being him down at any cost.

Lex also reveals that he was the one behind the quake in Tokyo that he orchestrated with his technology due to a company that was giving him some competition. Peter is then knock out gassed again, dragged home and then stabbed to death by the same man who took him before Lex who then make him writes "Clark Kent" on the floor. At the police station Clark still maintains that he is innocent. Then the commissioner, Macklin, comes in and says to let Clark go as they have new evidence.

A woman comes in saying the murder weapon has turned up bearing the fingerprints of a convicted felon Edward Kelly who is wanted for a history of assault and robbery. The position of Peter's hands also shows he couldn't have written the blood message. The woman states that she is Clark's attorney despite Clark saying he does not have one. She further explains that she was hired by Lex to insure Clark was free and clear of the charge made against him.

She voices that Lex might not be able to help Clark if this happens again. She also lets Clark know that since he is Superman's closest friend he must know a great deal about his personal life and that Lex will be asking questions about it. Before leaving she advises Clark to co-operate as he wouldn't want something like this to happen again. At the Aspen chalet Lex turns off the tape and calls that he wants the woman there, Lisa, now. Lisa asks Lex if he enjoyed the tape.

Lex, as he lies her down in front of the fireplace, responds by telling her "Let me show you. After all...actions speak louder than words..."


  1. ^ "Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography #1 - Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography (comic book issue)". Comic Vine. 2010-03-05. Retrieved 2012-10-15.