A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsS

In a recent issue of Superman, it's revealed that Lex Luthor was reprimanded as a child for stealing 40 cakes. What you may not know is that the supervillain has had a long, terrible history of pastry larceny.

In last week's Superman #709, we learn via flashback that a juvenile delinquent Lex Luthor once absconded with 40 cakes from a school bake sale. This was no mere throwaway line but a reference to a weird 1970s DC Comics children's book that graduated to internet meme.

A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsS

1978's Super Dictionary featured bizarre prose and illustrations defining basic words and depicting DC superheroes acting like total lunatics. You know something's terribly wrong when the Joker is the paragon of sanity. Let's take a look at some panels...

A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsS

In the definition for "Enemy," Batgirl is awfully chipper about her impending demise.


A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsSDitto goes for Batman.
A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsSLest you forgot, this is a children's book.
A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsSThis is another story arc we want to see on the Wonder Woman TV show.
A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsSSimilarly, this is a huge spoiler for Zack Snyder's Superman reboot.
A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsI've never agreed with a statement more.
A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsIf only you knew, Black Canary. If only you knew.
A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsSDuring the great DC writers' strike, Wonder Woman was forced to narrate her own comic.
A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsSTo an outside party, Hawkman and the Atom's foreplay is downright mystifying.

The book's most infamous moment was its nigh poetic definition of "forty," which starred Lex Luthor committing crimes against shortbread and buttercream:

A brief history of Lex Luthor's cake-stealing anticsS

When no one was looking, Lex Luthor took forty cakes.
He took 40 cakes.
That's as many as four tens.
And that's terrible.

Lex Luthor's great cake heist was consigned to obscurity for almost 30 years, until the internet resurrected it as a full-blown meme circa 2005, prompting such imaginative graphics as this poster by TheOtherJeff.

So there you have it — Superman's greatest foe's ganache addiction is now comic book canon. Oh internet, what can't you do?

Scans via Krypto's Flickr, Artastic Avenjer, and Strange Visitations.