Current Reviews


Action Comics #856

Posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2007
By: Bryant Frattalone

Writer(s): Richard Donner & Geoff Johns
Artist(s): Eric Powell

Publisher: DC Comics

Plot: Bizarro creates a world of his own and then wants to destroy it.

Commentary: Donner continues to have fun in DC’s sandbox and is ably assisted by Geoff Johns and Eric Powell. This month’s issue of Action Comics almost makes me forgive the long delays waiting for the conclusion to “The Last Son” storyline. All I can say is I hope the Action Comics Annual really wows us. I’m trying not to get my hopes up however; if it turns out to be something good I’ll be pleasantly surprised. In regards to the current “Escape From Bizarro World” storyline I wasn’t impressed by the first chapter of the story as it seemed a bit rushed and sketchy. Script and art wise Johns, Donner and Powell pick up the pace and quality this time around.

I didn’t want to like this but I did. From the cover where the monstrous, imperfect Superman clone is being mobbed by his own twisted “children” to the last pages where a hobbled together “JLA” transport “drops in” in favorite Warner Bros. cartoon style (think of those falling safe’s in the Wile E. Coyote clips). The story is absurd to the uttermost but the writing team takes full advantage of Bizarro’s impulse to become all that Clark Kent is except he can never get it quite right. Witness Bizarro Lois! Bizarro Jimmy! Bizarro Doomsday! And Bizarro Luthor! The nods to the classic Boris Karloff Frankenstein movies throughout are hilarious and brought to four color life well by Powell. Everything Bizarro-like is a parody of something else because that’s what Bizarro is; a skewed version of Superman. Bizarro is the Superman that should have never been, in contrast to Subjekt 17, who is a Superman that might have been.

Bizarro is trapped in a world he never made so he attempts to make a world in his own image. Much like the aforementioned Dr. Frankenstein, Bizarro’s attempts at creation begin to turn against him. Amidst all the dark, tongue-in-cheek humor we are reminded that Bizarro, and by extension his “copies”, are monsters. They shriek and rend and tear in frustration against a world they just can’t understand. Indeed the very idea of life is an antithesis for them. They are bound to destroy life because their prime directive is to move toward the opposite of any stimulus presented to them. They are brought to a semblance of life and so they seek death. The implications though handled somewhat comically here are chilling and thus Superman is faced with a decision. Allow these hopeless automatons to survive and thrive on this Bizarro World or help Bizarro to utterly destroy his own planet and all of the Bizarros? The posing and answering of these questions makes for interesting and enjoyable reading.

Powell’s art is top notch and perfect for the bizarreness of the story. I like his retro-Fleischer version of Superman himself and how he makes all of the other Bizarro’s similar yet distinct at the same time. The introduction of the Bizarro Justice League is a hoot but again we are also mindful of the potential for devastation these mockeries with mock awesome power have. The Bizarro Lantern is even drawn with a Sinestro Corps uniform and power ring. Such a weapon in the hands of a child would be dangerous. How much more so in the hands of one of these shambling mockery’s of life? Brrr…Superman has got his hands full here and Pa Kent is in the crossfire.

I enjoyed Johns, Donner and Kubert’s re-introduction of Bizarro as Luthor’s chained dog in “The Last Son” and am enjoying him again as both Maker and Monster in this “Bizarrro World” tale.

Final Word: This issue left me wondering what other warped imaginings the creative team has up their sleeves for Bizarro. I’ll tune in again next issue.

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