JB: It went like this: Marv Wolfman was offered the Second Chair on the Superman relaunch, to write what was then going to be ACTION COMICS, with a new title to be created for the team-up book.
Marv called me to discuss something he had in mind for Luthor, a "fix" he had been working on in his head for several years. Before he would tell it to me, however, he had a couple of stipulations:
1) It must be all or nothing. Either I accept his proposal in its entirety, or I take nothing from it. He was very insistent on this point: he wanted my promise that I would use nothing from his proposal if I did not take all of it.
2) If I decided I did not like his version of Luthor, he would decline the Second Chair and we would have to find someone else to write ACTION.
I agreed to both these terms, since they seemed very fair, to me. Plus I always like it when all the cards are on the table up front. That's how I play.
Then he told me his version of Luthor in exactly these words:
"Outside Metropolis, on a high mountain, in his palatial Xanadu-like estate, lives Lex Luthor, the world's richest man, and his mistress, Lois Lane." He paused, for dramatic effect, I suppose, then said "See, she's drawn to power!"
It took me about 3 nanoseconds to say "No." I said I liked the "world's richest man" angle, but what he was proposing was more of a reboot of Lois than it was of Luthor, and I already knew who I wanted Lois to be -- or, more exactly, what I wanted Lois to be: likeable ! And the Lois he presented was not my definition of "likeable"!
So I said "Thanks," and suggested maybe there would be some project in the future that we might work on together, and I was about to say "Good-bye" when Marv said "Well, we don't have to use that part!"
"But you said we have to use all of it," I reminded him.
"Oh, no! If you don't like the part with Lois, we don't have to use it!"
So I told him I would think about it, and over the next few days, after discussions with a number of people (including Roger Stern and Mark Gruenwald) who all heard the story as I have told it above, and who had suggestions on what I could do with Luthor as "the world's richest man", I decided that basic four-word seed was a good place to go with the character. Of course, since I saw Metropolis as New York (quite literally) I didn't want any mountains poking up along side the city, so that went away, and I built the character as a cross between Donald Trump, Ted Turner, Howard Hughes and maybe Satan himself!
Later, when everything was launched, and ACTION COMICS had become the team-up book and Wolfman was writing ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (the title was my suggestion, to invoke both the George Reeves' TV series and the old ADVENTURE COMICS home of Superboy), I found out that he was claiming sole credit for "creating" Luthor. I shrugged it off. It did not seem important enough to worry about.
Years later I found out Wolfman got paid a bonus for his "creation" of the new Luthor. Something that, somehow, no one at DC had thought necessary to tell me about.
After a most unsatisfactory first year of "collaboration" Wolfman's contract was not renewed, and I took over writing ADVENTURES, with Jerry Ordway doing a fair bit of the plotting. (10/20/2003)