Current Reviews


Action Comics #856

Posted: Friday, October 5, 2007
By: Kevin Powers

“Escape from Bizarro World: Part 2”

Writers: Geoff Johns, Richard Donner
Artist: Eric Powell

Publisher: DC Comics

Bizarro is definitely a prominent figure in the Superman mythos as of late. I’ve mentioned this before, but I didn’t realize exactly how true this was until the release of Superman: Doomsday. While the cloned Superman isn’t exactly Bizarro in the animated film, there are enough similarities to warrant my reference to the character as such. Bizarro is a popular character lately, and Geoff Johns and Richard Donner team with Eric Powell to bring a somewhat psychological feel to the failed clone of Superman. “Escape from Bizarro World” continues in this issue, and to say it’s a bit strange is an understatement.

Don’t get me wrong, this is an excellent story, it’s just a bit, well… bizarre. The strange blue sun that the Bizarro World “orbits” apparently grants those with Kryptonian DNA modified abilities. Jor-EL warns Superman of this after Pa Kent is kidnapped by Bizarro. The blue sun has granted Bizarro the strange ability to make “duplicates” or Bizarro manifestations of those closest to Superman, such as Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen and the citizens of Metropolis. Last issue, the Bizarro citizens discovered that Bizarro Clark Kent was indeed Bizarro. Johns and Donner don’t exactly pick up where last issue left off, and the first quarter of this issue is devoted to the formation of Bizarro world.

I love Eric Powell’s artwork during the opening sequence. It’s kept in black and white, and his style emulates a type of “40s and 50s” vibe that really works well here. The opening sequence is absolutely fantastic. Bizarro plays the classic role of “confused dummy” and tries to make things fly. Superman has to come in and inform Bizarro that he’s wrong. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of sympathy for Bizarro; he’s confused and doesn’t fit in. Donner and Johns are touching on a more pure version of Bizarro rather than the more common crazed “Bizarro #1” version. The creative team then quickly takes readers through the formation of Bizarro world, which is simple, effective and square. It was also very funny and enjoyable to see the Bizarro Lois created and then shriek in fear at seeing Bizarro.

Now that the Bizarro people know of Bizarro’s true identity, they want him to die. Enter Bizarro Lex Luthor. Bizarro Lex is rather intelligent, a nice touch by Johns and Donner, as he acknowledges himself as the “World’s Greatest Hero.” This idea isn’t so far from the truth as there are often creators and stories that reference Luthor as seeing himself as the world’s savior from Superman. Here, Bizarro Luthor is proclaiming himself as the savior of the Bizarro World. It’s an interesting twist and similarity of the character.

I love Bizarro Luthor’s “secret weapon.” My only question would be that if these other creatures are mad from Bizarro, do they share his same abilities? Or does the blue sun create manifestations that are only as powerful as Bizarro imagines them? The questions are prudent, and I can’t help but wonder the logistics and the power of the blue sun as Bizarro Luthor’s secret weapon, Bizarro Doomsday, rampages through Bizarro’s fortress of solitude and proceeds to rip other Bizarros in half. Honestly, it's not that difficult to follow. It’s actually very well done and wildly entertaining.

Superman is able to rescue Pa, and just when he’s ready to unleash his power on the Bizarro world, a strange space craft lands and even more Bizarros appear. However, the Bizarros that appear are an even greater threat. Donner and Johns end with a great cliffhanger ending where even Bizarro seems confused.

Eric Powell’s artwork is superb, especially for a story surrounding Bizarro. While I stated in my last review that his Superman looks iconic, his distinct style is perfect to capture Bizarro and the Bizarro world. With this story being Bizarro-centric, Powell’s unique style transitions into the superhero genre flawlessly.

Overall, Johns and Donner deliver once more with this issue. Eric Powell’s artwork fits this story very well and helps bring all of the elements together. This issue and story-arc is a great example of how to utilize a superstar creative team. With all the different incarnations of Bizarro throughout all types of media, it is a bit refreshing to see a more classic version of the character.

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