Bizarro #1 Review

Written by: Heath Corzen

Art by: Gustavo Duarte and Bill Sienkiewicz

Publisher: DC

This am worst DC Me book yet. The art am so normal and uncreative, and writing am not funny, me am never laugh at boring dialogue and unamusing situations. This book should be read by no one and am disgrace to DC.

*Ahem* Sorry about that, the book just has the kind of effect on you, I promise I’ll never write like that again. Anyway, as you can hopefully tell (though most likely couldn’t) from that introduction, I really loved the opening issue of this new Bizarro mini-series. I was fully expecting to hate this book as I’m not usually a fan of this type of humor, but I have a soft spot for Bizarro and loved the preview so decided to check it out, and man am I glad I did. Bizarro manages to find the right balance between goofy antics and fun storytelling to create a comic that’s laugh out loud funny and bizarre, but also well worth a read.

Right off the bat, this book looks like no other comic DC is publishing. The art is incredibly cartoonish and bizarre, so much so that it feels a bit like a web comic or newspaper strip expanded into a full comic. That’s not intended as a knock to the art, I absolutely loved the willingness to embrace a new style for this comic, as it suits it so well. It feels like every page has at least one punchline rendered with perfect comedic timing thanks to the art, and there are even cute little details drawn in that are easy to miss but definitely expand the style of the book, such as Superman drinking from a Batman coffee mug. This extends into the design of the book too which features many fun little quirks, such as the “1” on the cover being printed backwards and this issue being labelled “part 6”. These little details make the book feel like a beautifully presented package and it feels like a lot of heart has gone into it.

The writing too is perfectly on point and has a very nice framing device. Everyone’s favourite Jimmy Olsen is on a road trip with Bizarro looking to get material for a book about the hapless creature. The set-up is done very quickly with most of the previous background details having been established in the aforementioned preview. While there really is no risk of anyone getting confused by this comic, I do think the preview material was strong enough that it should be read before reading this. It establishes this Bizarro’s origin (who is completely different from the one seen in the new 52 so far) and helps to flesh out the story a little bit more. What’s here though is absolute comedy gold. As stated, the set-up is fun and it lends itself well to some pretty funny comedic scenarios. Bizarro on his own can also be pretty grating in large doses (which is why I’m glad this is only a mini, not an ongoing) so Jimmy as the straight man provides a great foil to Bizarro and acts as a way to give the narrative some strength rather than just going from one crazy event to another. There’s a nice sense of progression to the comic, most of it is, of course, completely silly but the plot allows for enough inventive scenarios that makes the comic enjoyable to read and carries the pace well. For a series that seems to be all about silly antics, there’a  surprising amount of things that happen without dragging the pace down, making the issue very fun to read.

Another aspect of the writing I found brilliant was how well Bizarro’s dialogue is handled. You’d be forgiven for thinking Bizarro’s backwards dialogue could get grating stretched over an entire issue, let alone a six issue mini-series seeing as he usually works best in small doses (like in Action Comics #41 a few months back) but Corzen constantly finds new ways to make it work. Every line feels fresh and funny, it doesn’t rely too heavily on the one gimmick and constantly surprises with laugh out loud lines. It’s also surprisingly easy to read, I never had to read Bizarro’s lines more than once in order to understand what he was saying, but if you do stop and thing about how his language works it’ll most likely get a big laugh out of you to how creatively backwards it is. I’m still glad they’re relegating this to a mini however, as making it any longer than six issues is sure to mean an end to the creativity, but for now it looks to be a series full of fun, if it can sustain this level of quality that is.

The only thing I’m not too big a fan of is the villain of King Tut. I initially though this way quite a fun connection to the 60s Batman show, and while he does have quite a few funny lines and his car salesman tactics are handled quite creatively by the art, I don’t really think he’s needed. I like the idea of Jimmy being the protagonist of the series, with Bizarro being the one to cause the most problems and therefore create interesting and hilarious situations, a villain doesn’t really feel needed. That being said, maybe as the series develops Bizarro could get stale, so it could work in the long run, but right now I think giving Bizarro too specific of a goal or arc is counter-productive to the off-the-wall strangeness and jokey nature of the book.

Overall though, this was a huge surprise for me. I fully expected to hate it, but so far it has been my standout book of the relaunch. I’d encourage fans of books like Deadpool or Harley Quinn  to check this out, as it’s sure to be exactly the type of humor you enjoy, however I’d also recommend it to anyone looking for something different. You’ll probably find a lot you enjoy about this book that you didn’t expect to find, be it the unique visuals, charming characters or fun dialogue.