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Bizarro Paperback – February 9, 2016
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Ahem, sorry for the backwards Bizarro talk there. Okay, so Bizarro, The Superman dysfunctional clone is in many ways a one-note character, but has a loyal following in the Superman lore with fans. He can be the villain, anti-villain, hero, anti-hero, etc, because he’s just trying to do the right thing, but his warped mind makes things easy prey for people to influence his actions. But again, he does have the right intentions; he only causes destruction in doing so. He has his share of decent stories, one of which is Geoff Johns Superman: Escape from Bizarro World does a good portrayal of the character. But from writer Heath Corson and artist Gustavo Duarte make is a fun, all-ages buddy comedy with Bizarro and Superman’s pal, Jimmy Olsen.
This mini-series has our dumdum friend, Bizarro, flying around Metropolis doing (his) Superman acts of random valor, but he’s causing more trouble than his worth and the people of the city want him gone. Just joking around, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen think it funny if someone got rid of Bizarro personally by sending him to Bizarro-America (Canada) and wrote their own book on the exploits on the Superman clone. And somewhere in that bitty brain, Jimmy decides to make the joke in reality to see Bizarro escorted to Canada. Jimmy see’s this as easy stuff hulling a simpleton like Bizarro around America and getting a book deal out it by taking pictures of him traveling. But things don’t work out for Jimmy when you deal with Bizarro, his pet Chupacabra alien, Colin, and traveling across America.
I would not have pegged Bizarro and Jimmy Olsen as a sellable duo, but writer Health Corson (producer and writer of DC’s animated films like Justice League War and Justice League: Throne of Atlantis for examples) makes for an enjoyable romp of a series that is just a simple buddy comedy of Bizarro, Colin, and Jimmy traveling across America while getting to Bizarro America (Canada) with a healthy dose of madcap adventures. All kinds of locations within the DC Universe are traversed like Metropolis, Smallville, a ghost town, and Branson Missouri where a certain lady magician is doing a magic show. There are plenty of other locations the characters visit in small captions, but everything these guys do together is charming and hilarious like dealing with an alien controlled used car lot salesman, dealing with a real ghost town, Jimmy and Bizarro switching bodies (meet Jim-Zarro everyone!), take on Area 51, and even deal with Bizarro having a special one-on-one with Superman himself. It’s all one big fun series and for good reasons.
As part of the “DCYou” line after the New 52, DC has taken more experimental work in art and portrayal, as this is one of the few books where it stays light and humorous like Harley Quinn, compared to the many darker titles. But whereas Harley’s solo series is fun, I don’t think it has the same amount of wit and charm as Bizarro has. This series is lighthearted, all ages, tons of DC references littered throughout every page, and has quite a bit of laugh out loud moments that appeal to adults where the jokes fly right over kids head. I kid you not, even the books exterior design on the spine is turned upside down and backwards to match Bizarro. It’s a very subtle design where I can see some people thinking it’s a printing error, but no folks, it’s intentional. It has it all, but the heart of it all lies in the chemistry for the characters involved.
Bizarro himself is the fun and lovable dumdum character who see’s everything with fresh eyes (in his backward style he’d say it’s horrible), while Jimmy is the straightman trying to get things in order, but he too has plenty of funny sequences between Bizarro and Colin (yes, Colin does not say words but his body language tells you everything you need to know). They bicker, they try to understand each what the other one is saying or talking about; but they grow to be worstest – I mean, bestest of friends.
But what really lights up Corson’s zany script is Gustavo Duarte’s cartoony art work flourish the pages. Duarte himself is a Spaniard who does comic strips for newspapers, so he knows a vast amount on all age designs and expressions, which carry the humor. All the exaggerated designs, easter eggs, and warmth here is done expertly by Duarte. He reminds me a lot like Marvel’s own Scottie Young. And better yet, there is a numerous amounts of grade A guest artist cameos who do only 1 page designs, who truly are standout pieces that I dare not spoil.
It's only setback is the case of Bizarro being seen as an annoying and confusing character because of his backward talk in comics. You never quite know when he’s speaking backwards or forwards, but I think Corson handles it well and even makes numerous statements from Jimmy’s mouth that question if he’s doing it intentionally or even Bizarro doesn’t even know.
Still, I am utterly flabbergasted by how much I enjoyed BIZARRO. I know it’s just a big ball of fun fluff, but writer Heath Corson and artist Gustavo Duarte make a truly fun all ages comic that I feel is criminally under the radar in the comic’s community that I highly recommend, even those who hate Bizarro as a character. It’s engaging, full charm, zany humor everywhere for kids and adults, plenty or great art, tons of DC references, and is something special about it from many DC series, and even other comics companies. There’s a little plug at a possible sequel series if the trade sells near the end of the book, that beyond probably just being a joke, I actually hope does happen with the creative team here. So in the words of Bizarro, “Worst comics series ever!”
Taking inspiration from an idea of Clark Kent's, Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen decides to befriend Bizarro in hopes of taking him on a cross-country venture to what would be the would-be hero's new home- Bizarro America (Canada!) And if this results in a best-selling coffee table book, well it's a win-win for Olsen. Along the way, the new pair of ‘Worstest Friends Ever!’ encounter a chupacabra named Colin, a pair of Egyptian themed villains, an actual ghost town, not so secret agents, and much more bizarre insanity that will have Jimmy Olsen rethinking the whole crazy scheme!
It's really hard to do Bizarro right or is it wrong? See to the quasi-hero, everything is backwards. Good is bad. Bad is good. For example, if the car Bizarro was driving in broke down, he would proclaim “This am the best thing to never happen!“
Only a few writers have ever gotten Bizarro imperfections just right. Creators Otto Binder and George Papp were the closest, with Curt Swan doing an admirable job as well. Series writer Heath Corson did a really great job on not just Bizarro but the whole series. I loved how not only does Corson capture the essence of Bizarro but he takes the character into areas that have never been explored such as having Jimmy and Bizarro switch personas a la a failed magic trick.
Yet after over 60 years none of the writers of Bizarro have ever got him 100% right. Because if everything is backwards to him wouldn't he introduce himself not as “Me am Bizarro” but “Me no am Bizarro” instead? Am I picky? Sure, but I am trying to stay true to the character folks… When something great happens, Bizarro should not respond with 'Awww-some!"
While the buddy-cop dynamic between Olsen and Bizarro was a laugh a minute riot, they were overshadowed by a bit player. The minute chupacabra Colin dwarfs over the regular sized characters and guest stars that pepper this book. Saying not a word but “hiss,” Colin's body language speaks volumes and he's really funny. That's all thanks to the fantastic cartoonish renderings of artist Gustavo Duarte ( and a slew of guest artists extraordinaire like Kyle Baker, Francis Manapul, and the late Darwyn Cooke.)
What with DC rebooting the DC Universe this summer and Bizarro to become a member of Red Hood's Outlaws, a sequel probably isn't on the horizon anytime soon. But to forget Colin would be a crime against all of comicdom. I hope we see him paired with Bizarro in the Outlaws book. Colin is that great of a character to be forgotten.
I actually found this to be pretty funny even though I will admit some of the puns are so bad they make you groan. In fact that makes parts of it even funnier. This would be a great gift book for younger fans because it really is a stand alone volume, and no need to have a deep understanding of the DCU to enjoy it.
The art is caricature style and is very suitable for the story.