T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
Bizarro #2 by DC Comics is on the shelves and we have complete review for you here on ComiConverse!
Bizarro and Jimmy Olsen continue their cross-country road trip in the second issue of Heath Corson’s and Gustavo Duarte’s limited series, which hit the stands earlier this week. I loved the first installment’s lighthearted Silver Age feel, so I am pleased to announce that Bizarro #2 maintains the book’s favorable momentum.
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Smallville car dealer Regis “King Tut” Tuttle is abusing his newly-acquired alien powers by employing mind-control to force the townsfolk and Jimmy to buy used vehicles at usurious interest rates. Bizarro, aided by Colin the Chupacabra and King Tut’s daughter Regina, frees Jimmy, who saves the day by breaking the spell while his new traveling companion uses super-hypnosis to convince Tuttle he is a chicken.
(If you don’t already love this comic book based on this paragraph alone, I have nothing more for you.)
Rewarded with a new convertible, the unlikely adventurers depart, still pursued by the clandestine government agents known to some as Mully and Sculder (actually referred to as Agent Mahalo and Chicken Stew).
Bizarro and Jimmy make their way through Gotham City (including a detour through Burnside), Central City, Starling City and various other locales before ditching the federales following them. At the issue’s end, our odd couple find themselves meeting a gun-toting Chastity Hex in Ol’ Gold Gulch, an Old West ghost town populated by actual apparitions.
Critique and Discussion:
This issue is another winner, literally from the first page; which summarizes the plot of Bizarro #1 using the title character’s cartoon doodles on a restaurant place mat. Thus is the whimsical tone set in the story’s first installment carried over into what is billed, in typical reverse-logic fashion, as “Bizarro America: Part 5”.
Once again, Corson’s buddy-movie dialogue and Duarte’s exaggerated artwork compliment each other perfectly, in a comic book that is both funny and fun. Any concern that the series’ initial issue would prove to be a one-hit wonder is successfully dispelled by this latest zany chapter in the twosome’s trek along the highways of the heartland.
The premise underlying Bizarro is simple enough: Jimmy is taking the imperfect Superman duplicate from Metropolis to Canada (“Bizarro America”) and planning to gain fame and fortune by writing a coffee table book about the trip. Among the results are some of Olsen’s wackiest antics, and, given the Daily Planet photographer’s Silver Age shenanigans, that is saying something.
Because the characters’ actions and circumstances are as exaggerated as their physical depictions, it is easy to overlook the fact that Bizarro is chock full of nuances. The book is rich in subtle touches, from King Tut’s Egyptian expressions (“by the over-mascara’ed eyes of Isis”) to a shopping trip to Lex-Mart (from which Bizarro buys the belted shorts that complete his historic Superman-inspired ensemble) and from a Gotham City hot dog stand (where the fare includes brat-mobiles and Robin relish) to Central City street signs (“J. Garrick St.”), all emphasized by Bizarro’s mangled backwards syntax (“You want me come front for less?” when asking if he should go back for more).
Cameos abound: Batman bounces a batarang off of Bizarro’s noggin as the Riddler slips away after shaking Jimmy’s hand; the Flash is clotheslined inadvertently as Bizarro gestures while speaking; even Swamp Thing shows up in one of several hilarious photos from the road as our protagonists take a swing through Louisiana.
All this is capped off by some especially elegant Silver Age references. The classic “Bizarro #1” badge reappears, this time as a medallion presented in gratitude by the repair bay mechanics from Tuttle’s car dealership. Finally, in the issue’s penultimate page, Chastity responds to Bizarro’s incomprehensible greeting by replying, “If you say so, chief.” Echoing decades of repeated admonitions from Perry White, a deadpan Olsen instinctively answers, “Don’t call him chief.”
What makes this series work, even more than the crazy situations and the nuggets for the fanboy and fangirl set though, is the interplay between the characters. There is genuine comedic chemistry between Jimmy Olsen and Bizarro, in the best traditions of the mismatched-buddies-on-a-road-trip genre. In this series, as in the movies that helped inspire it, we are able to laugh at the protagonists’ predicament while also sympathizing with their circumstances.
Where do our heroes go from here?
What further adventures await them in Ol’ Gold Gulch?
Who is the mysterious Jeremiah Blackhearse being hunted down by Chastity Hex?
We will learn the answers one month hence, at the same Bizarro-time on the same Bizarro-channel, but, meanwhile, we welcome your thoughts on this Silver Age revival as we ComiConverse in the comments below.
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.