Thursday, 3 March 2016

Bizarro Review (Heath Corson, Gustavo Duarte)

I thought about reviewing this the Bizarro way - one star, me hated it, etc. - but decided against it because I really liked this comic and didn’t want anyone unfamiliar with the character to think I was being sincere with my pretend-dislike. But wow, a terrific Bizarro comic - who saw that coming?? 

It’s a perfect little story for a limited series: the Master of Disaster, Bizarro, is a nuisance in Metropolis so Clark suggests maybe sending him to “Bizarro-America” (Canada) to Jimmy Olsen who could do a photo-essay coffee-table book on their road trip. Throw in a sidekick called Colin the Chupacabra and you’ve got a silly-awesome fun comic!

Heath Corson writes Bizarro in the most likeable, loveable way, like a big puppy dog with a huge heart - I’ve honestly never cared much for Bizarro before but adored him in this book! Jimmy’s great too, the straight man to Bizarro’s clown, the two play off each other wonderfully. The friendly bickering dynamic takes its cue from Asterix, Obelix, and Dogmatix (such an inspired choice) - Jimmy as Asterix, the cunning leader, Bizarro is Obelix, the simple, super-strong big fella, and Colin is Bizarro’s pet, the silent cutie tagging along. That’s a huge plus for me as an Asterix fan, but then who isn’t one? 

Lots of familiar faces from the DCU crop up like Superman and Batman as well as Zatanna, Riddler and Jonah Hex but what really won me over was Corson working in King Tut as the villain - KING TUT!! Amazing. And exactly the kind of villain a book as light and bonkers as this needed. 

The art is outstanding. Gustavo Duarte’s name didn’t click until about the second issue but I suddenly remembered he drew an incredible silent comic called Monsters that was published by Dark Horse a couple of years ago (highly recommended if you haven’t already partook). It really helps a book when the artist is a superb storyteller themselves and Duarte showed that in Monsters. 

He gives Bizarro this unique look - and I love that DC brought in Duarte and let him be himself - that’s very cartoonish and exaggerated but very appealing too. His style perfectly matches Corson’s script in that both are clever and brilliant but silly and over the top too. Even the design of the book is brilliantly Bizarro-ed - the chapters are backwards (beginning at 6, ending at 1) and the book’s spine is upside-down! No other book at DC (or Marvel for that matter) looks like this and I hope we get to see Duarte on more mainstream titles. 

As if that weren’t enough, a roster of the finest art talent contributes to the book by drawing part of a page in their own individual style: Tim Sale, Darwyn Cooke, Kelley Jones, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba and more make delightful cameos throughout. 

About the only part of Bizarro, Jimmy and Colin’s road trip I wasn’t totally stoked about was the Area 51/Mulder and Scully spoof detour they took - otherwise, I loved everywhere they visited (shout out to Bronson, Missouri!). Maybe a dance scene to the tune of Bizarro’s theme, Miley’s Wrecking Ball, might’ve improved things? 

Forget everything you thought you knew about Bizarro, Corson/Duarte’s reimagining of the character is fresh, funny, and pure genius. It should be the definitive version of the character because it’s too good to be glossed over. Great fun, Bizarro is easily one of the standouts of the DC You line and one of the publisher’s best efforts in recent years.

Oh what the hell, one Bizarro-ism to close: Worstest Bizarro Comic Ever - BOO-RAY!


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