Every good villain has a signature look, and for billionaire ex-president Lex Luthor, bald is beautiful. While some might view the 'Mr. Clean' look as a challenge, Superman’s greatest enemy has made the chrome dome a staple of his refined, straight-to-business aesthetic... but Lex wasn’t always as bald as a newborn babe.
When Superman’s co-creator Joe Shuster first introduced the villain in Action Comics #23 in April 1940, Lex appeared with a full head of ginger hair. So how did the villainous mogul go from Carrot Top to Walter White? It turns out it was a mistake from a ghost artist. Sometimes, the truth really is stranger than fiction.
Lex’s original hairstyle was a burnt-orange half bowl/half Ivy League cut garish enough to make Green Lantern Guy Gardner jealous, but it only lasted until 1941. That was the year (as chronicled by Tech Times) a ghost artist mistakenly confused Lex Luthor with one of his bald henchmen. A one-off mistake could be fixed, but believe it or not, the same artist later made the same mistake in Superman #10. After the second blooper, Lex’s cue ball was cemented in the annals of comic book lore. And judging by the decades since, it was an improvement.
The blame (credit?) has since been placed on Leo Nowak, who was penciling for Shuster as a ghost artist for the Superman newspaper strip. With such a tenuous workload, mistakes happen – and this one just happened to stick. In 1960, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel explained Lex's lack of hair in Adventure Comics #271. In a backstory involving a young Lex Luthor and Superboy (Clark Kent), the science-minded redhead saves the Boy of Steel from a kryptonite meteor. Thankful for the act of kindness, Superboy builds his savior a laboratory, which Lex uses to develop a cure for kryptonite poisoning. But their BFF status is short-lived, after a fire breaks out in Lex’s lab and Clark, in a moment of panic, uses his “super-breath” to blow out the flames. This causes a container of acid to fall on the genetically engineered protoplasm Lex was using to synthesize his kryptonite cure, and in its death throes the organism belches out a vapor that causes Luthor’s hair to fall out. Rightfully livid about his new look, Lex promises payback against Superboy. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, other backstories have been developed to explain Lex’s baldness. In the not-yet-Superman TV series Smallville, Luthor’s baldness is the result of a childhood close encounter with a kryptonite meteor, which fails to take the boy’s life, but claims his thick nest of red hair from radiation (likely a slight nod to Adventure Comics #271). Throughout the show, Lex (played perfectly by Michael Rosenbaum) explains that growing up bald caused him to be a social pariah, thereby shaping his views on humanity’s lack of empathy towards people who are different.
In the rebooted 1986 comic book series Man of Steel, Luthor is depicted as having a heavily receding hairline, suggesting his baldness is hereditary, and not the result of an accident. At a certain point off-panel, Lex must have decided to just take a razor to what little hair he had left. However, in the (again) rebooted 2004 comic book series Superman: Birthright, writer Mark Waid explains that Lex's hair was burnt away during yet another laboratory accident (apparently Lex failed his lab safety course, since he can't stop setting himself on fire). In Batman v Superman, Lex Luthor enjoys his comic-accurate head of hair, until it is shaved off when he's taken into prison. The look grows on him, since he maintains it after escaping in the end credits scene of 2017’s Justice League.
While not everyone can pull off the gleaming skull look, it makes sense for someone like Lex Luthor. Famously successful thinkers like Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg have claimed reducing the amount of decisions they must make throughout the day allows them to spend more brainpower on tackling bigger obstacles. This typically leads to them wearing the same outfits everyday, instead of wasting time on their appearance. So what better way to cut back on morning rituals than not having any worrisome hair to comb? Being a billionaire tech mogul with aspirations of world domination already takes up most of Lex’s free time--he’s not about to waste precious seconds throwing on pomade when he could be thinking up new ways to save humanity from Superman.
Source: Tech Times