Bizarro #2: “America Part 5”
Written by Heath Corson
Illustrated by Gustavo Duarte
Colors by Pete Pantazis
Letters by Tom Napolitano

Next month on Bizarro: Jimmy Olsen, long-suffering pal of Superman, has been appointed a task nobody would want: caretaker of Bizarro.  With promises of a possible book deal out of it, and the fame, fortune, and ladies that will surely follow, Jimmy reluctantly agreed.  The duo, along with Colin the chupacabra, headed toward “Bizarro America” (Canada), but got sidetracked in Smallville. While there, they ran afoul of King Tut, he of King Tut’s Slightly Used Car Oasis and self-described Pharaoh of Fair-O deals. With “ancient Egyptian magic” at his disposal (actually alien technology), will the dastardly fiend Tut enslave the entire town and force them to buy (slightly) used cars at (substantially) low prices, leading to his greatest quarter ever?

Will Jimmy get the girl, “the girl” in this case being Tut’s daughter who I didn’t deem it necessary to mention until now?

Will Bizarro save the day?

…or …not save the day?

Lose the day?

…whatever?

And why exactly are we reviewing this on Batman News? The answers to all of these questions and more may be answered in issue number two. I hope.

Told ya.
Told ya.

First things first, that’s not actually the King Tut you’re thinking of. Other than the villainous name, he has nothing to do with Batman ’66‘s beloved Professor William McElroy. As much as I’d love to imagine Victor Buono playing a diminutive used car salesman, I think it’s for the best.

As with most of the current crop of comedy books, like Bat Mite and even All Star Section 8, there’s a loose overarching plot that serves as a through line for a series of loosely connected vignettes.

Unlike the aforementioned books, this one is actually funny.

The premise of the book, like I said, is pretty simple: Jimmy is escorting Bizarro to Canada to get him out of the way, while also chronicling the journey for a coffee table book he was he was promised he could make as an incentive.  The previous issue was a bit slow, but it won me over in the end with its tongue in cheek attitude and desire to poke fun without being obnoxiously irreverent.

This month, things kick into gear early and stay consistently entertaining for the duration. The problem with Tut is quickly solved, leaving his daughter to seek revenge in the future (a turn that was kind of jarring and out of nowhere, but whatever), and then Jimmy, Bizarro, and Colin are on the road again.

Heath Corson and Gustavo Duarte, along with a few surprise guest artists, go for both broad comedy and subtle in-jokes, and most of them land pretty well. Some gags are in your face and obvious, like a Hangover homage of all things, but nothing feels like it’s appealing to the lowest common denominator or a reference for its own sake. Corson isn’t trying to say anything sharp or have any sort of subtext in his script; he’s just trying to be funny for the sake of fun and laughs, which is incredibly refreshing.

That’s not to say the humor isn’t smart.  The trek through America takes the crew to many familiar locales to see some familiar faces, and while some of the cameos are at least worth a chuckle, there’s an Arrow joke that had me rolling.

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Seriously, most of my review slate is funny books and I haven’t laughed that hard at a comic in ages.

That brings us to the first main stop our heroes make, and the reason for the coverage here: Gotham.  It lasts a scant few pages, but Bizarro and Jimmy’s sojourn is packed with in-jokes for Bat-fans: there’s a Riddler appearance, complete with a tired parting riddle, and a stop at a hot dog stand that features the return of Nightwing!

Please don't hate me.
Please don’t hate me.

There’s an appearance by the Dark Knight in a full page spread by a legendary comics artist that you really need to see for yourself, though I’ll post it in tags for the curious.  I will say I’m not the biggest fan of this artist’s style, but it was nice to see them have some fun in the book.

Spoiler

 

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Kelley Jones’ style is a bit grotesque for me more often than not, with the high foreheads, long Bat-ears, and insane shading.  This, though, I can fully get behind, with him letting loose and playing things for a laugh.

About the only thing that isn’t quite clicking with me so far in this book are the two intrepid government agents who are pursuing Jimmy and Bizarro.  There have only been a handful of panels dedicated to them, so it’s not clear what role they’re going to play in the long run, but the “government agents in pursuit of a misunderstood creature” angle is kind of played out.  Time will tell, though.

In the end, our boys end up in Ol’ Gold Gulch, a ghost town that turns out to be literally populated by ghosts.  Is this the end of Bizarro coverage here on Batman News?  Right now that’s uncertain, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.

Recommended if:

  • You’re a fan of comedy.
  • You like Bizarro and/or Jimmy Olsen.
  • You want to see how Bizarro got his “#1” medallion.
  • You want a nice book for all ages that isn’t dumbed down for any particular group.

Overall: One of the more pleasant surprises to come out of this crop of new books, Bizarro is a delight to read.  The simple plots may not be for everyone, but smart gags and fun one-liners should make even the most jaded of readers crack a smile.  There’s very little Batman in this issue, but what’s there is gold, so everyone pick it up and enjoy.

SCORE: 8/10