BIZARRO TPB REVIEW
He Am Wordsmith: Heath Corson
He Am Artizte: Gustavo Duarte
Marker Man: Pete Pantazis
Letter Lad: Tom Napolitano
Review by John Dubrawa
Writing Bizarro must grate on a creator’s sanity. Forget the nuisance of fighting with autocorrect when it comes to typing a script full of nonsense words–creating a balance within the character as both endearing and obnoxious has to be an absolute nightmare to write. Yet, within their six-issue Bizarro miniseries, storytellers Heath Corson and Gustavo Duarte demonstrate that not only are they up to the daunting task of handling such a combustible character, but that they can do so with absolute assurance. Not to take anything away from what Geoff Johns did with the character in his Forever Evil event but this is the best version of the character since DC relaunched back in 2011.
Part of what makes this version of the character work so well here is how goshdarn likeable Corson makes him. There’s an infectious innocence to Bizarro in the way he is roped into taking a road trip to Canada with Jimmy Olsen all because Bizarro believes he’s heading to “bizarro America.” Furthermore, the bits of endearing dialogue Bizarro shares with Jimmy along the way—referring to him as his “worstest friend” or saying “boo-ray” when he’s excited about something—just cements his status as a loveable oaf. Corson has such a handle on the dialogue of Bizarro that it’s hard to hate all the backward speak, even if at times it makes leetspeak seem like a more tolerable communication option. You can’t help but laugh along when Bizarro challenges a foe to a “showup” while in the Old West, or when departing from a scene with Superman he shouts, “down, down and present.” It’s all so wonderfully clever.
Oh, and there’s an issue of this miniseries where Bizarro meets Zatanna. Imagine those conversations.
But that’s not the only cameo in Bizarro. No, Corson manages to weave the hijinks throughout all corners of the DC universe, finding a lot of unexpected fun along the way. There’s a confrontation with used car salesman King Tut (“asp him about his financing!”), ghost hunting with Chastity Hex (possible relation to Jonah), and alien encounters with two A.R.G.U.S. agents (who like remarkably similar to two other alien truth-seekers), just to name some standout ones. That’s not even including brief appearances from stalwarts Superman, Batman, and The Flash. You even get to find out how much Etrigan enjoys breakfast.
Even in the art department, Bizarro has a stable of wildly unexpected guest artists providing incredibly minor yet noticeable contributions including Darwyn Cooke, Francis Manapul, and Tim Sale (among others). But the brunt of the work here is handled by Gustavo Duarte and his essential character designs. Where Corson’s script provides Bizarro with the means to be a loveable clutz, seeing the big guy’s cheese-eating grin as drawn by Duarte is what really sells that notion. Similarly, his other characters have a sense of personality to them, from the awkward bean-stalk-like appearance of Jimmy Olsen to even the fierceness on the face of Colin, Bizarro’s pet chupacabra. It’s unfortunate that Duarte’s female characters—all of whom posses an angular, anime-look to them—are drawn nearly identically. It takes a bit from their individuality, and the book overall, but not in any drastic way. Just a noticeable one.
BUY! I get it, the idea of a miniseries all about Bizarro is kind of a hard sell. But what Corson and Duarate are able to do with the character both through clever dialogue (seriously, “down, down and present”–get it?!) and inventive artwork (when Bizarro takes flight, even the word “whoosh” is drawn backward) is impressive beyond belief. Most of all, however, this book is just plain fun. It’s also the perfect palette cleanser for a universe filled with a whole lot of dark, gritty, and brooding heroes.