Bates, Swan and Oskner pull off one of the better Lex Luthor stories from the early 80s in Superman 401 (Nov. 84). It was a pleasant surprise after an extremely disappointing issue 400, which saw a huge amount of artists on a messy mish-mash of interpretations of the character.
This issue has a clean and direct story, not to say there aren’t plot twists. Two of Luthor’s recruited goons burst into the WGBS studios as Clark Kent and Lana Lang are anchoring the news, announcing a forthcoming attack by their boss.
Meanwhile, Luthor is making plans with his semi-sentient suit, which flies off on its own.
As Luthor planned, Superman catches up to the two henchmen. The attack they announced was just a ruse, the whole plan was to lure Superman, and allow the suit to capture him.
Superman winds up in the suit itself, but only partly in control of it.
When he heads to Jimmy Olsen to get help, he discovers that the suit makes him look and sound like Luthor. Jimmy does not believe this is really Superman, no matter what he says, and no one else is likely to either.
But the story takes a twist when a giant alien warrior shows up, going on a rampage and challenging Superman. Superman fights the guy, even though to the rest of the world it looks like Luthor is the one standing up to him. Lex himself is furious, as it appears he is fighting on behalf of Superman, and he releases the hero from the super-suit, calling it back.
And that was exactly what Supergirl intended. When Superman was a Jimmy’s, he used the suit to burn an explanation, written in Kryptonian, into the wall. Jimmy realized Superman really was in the suit, contacted Supergirl, and they devised the plan, playing on Lex’s ego.
A good evil scheme, and a good resolution.