Superman: Lost sees Lex Luthor do something unthinkably evil even for him

Christopher Baggett
Superman: Lost #7 textless cover

Lex Luthor has always been the Man of Steel’s ultimate foil, but he just crossed a line that may be too far – even for him.

Superman: Lost has been a real gem of a series. Released in conjunction with the Man of Steel’s 85th anniversary, the series sees Superman lost in space on a mission. While he seems to return just a few hours later, he’s actually been on a trauma-inducing 20-year journey through space and solitude. 

The book is an incredible two-sided tale. Superman’s journey through space is the kind of old-school, classic storytelling you want, as he faces larger-than-life threats and big regimes. But the quiet moments of Superman lost in space or stoically at home trying to reacclimate to his life on Earth are some of the most powerful moments ever put on a comic book page. 

That might be what makes the final pages of Superman: Lost #7 so shocking. Lois Lane turns to a desperate foe for help, but what she gets is something no one could have guessed. 

Note, spoilers for Superman: Lost #7 to follow.

Lex Luthor launches his final attack on Superman by giving Lois Lane terminal cancer

Superman’s return to Earth has him trying to cope with the severe PTSD of being more or less alone in space for two decades. He’s withdrawn and sees everyone as alien and distant. Early issues have Lois constantly having to remind him to breathe as he’s so used to holding his breath in space. 

Lois doesn’t know what else to do at this point, so she goes to Lex Luthor. Her logic is pretty flawed, but she’s desperate. She thinks if Lex does his typical Lex supervillain schtick, it’ll be enough to snap Superman out of his fugue. Lex responds by giving her terminal cancer. 

Superman: Lost #7 Lex Luthor & Lois Lane
When Lois Lane asks Lex Luthor to provoke Superman, he responds by giving her cancer.

To describe this as an unnerving pair of pages is the understatement of the series. The reveal comes out of nowhere, and its callousness is shocking. The issue drives the point home with its final pages. Lois confirms the diagnosis and returns home, the issue ending on a cliffhanger as to whether she’ll actually tell Superman. 

Comic book characters & cancer have a surprisingly long history

While it is shocking, cancer itself has never been a taboo subject in comics. Deadpool’s scarred visage is due to his own cancer conflicting with his healing factor. The original Captain Marvel developed terminal cancer following exposure to a nerve gas, which resulted in his own fairly mundane death. 

Infamously, even Lex Luthor has faced cancer in a ’90s story. Stricken with Kryptonite-induced cancer due to a ring he wore, Luthor had to transplant his brain into a clone.

All-Star Superman
Succumbing to overexposure to solar radiation, the Man of Steel faces an allegory for cancer as his cells break down in All-Star Superman.

Superman himself has even faced cancer, in a sense. The non-canon all-time classic All-Star Superman sees the Man of Steel overwhelmed with solar radiation. The result is something analogous to cancer, where his overcharged cells are imploding and eventually kill him. 

Still, Luthor’s attack on Lois remains a shocking one that is sure to catch readers off guard. How it plays out could make all the difference in determining if Superman: Lost is one of the best Superman stories ever.

Superman: Lost #7 is available now. For more Superman and comic book news, be sure to follow all our coverage