Bizarro and the Rogues finally come to the forefront in this floppy copy of Digital Firsts No. 9 “Objects in Mirror…” & No. 10 “The Curious Case of Bizarro Superman”. These are two threads that have been percolating quietly in the background since the start of Year Five, and it’s great to finally see how they are connecting into the action of the state of affairs. In two words: terrorism and terror!

Superman is being honored in Kansas with a statue. Because he’s still a hero to people in spite of the ongoing war for the last few years. I’m frankly amazed at the support he has at this point given that he’s alienating his own teammates left and right, but clearly he’s still putting out “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” for the rest of the world. Ironically, his parents are absent at this unveiling because even they didn’t support him in his monstrosity.

The celebration is interrupted by a terrorist act, naturally: Batman has sent the Rogues to deploy bombs all over the world in a coordinated attack. Bizarro sees this on TV and gets it into his head that since he’s Superman, he must necessarily leap to the rescue. The result would be comedic if it weren’t ultimately tragic. Let’s just say the Rogues are down a few gang members before the dust clears.

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Add Cyborg to the growing dissent

The book says Bruno Redondo is doing art duty for both halves of this issue, with Juan Albarran on inks, but that frankly surprises me because the first half of the book doesn’t match the second half. I suspect either one of these two sections isn’t actually inked by Albarran or possibly not drawn b Redondo. The difference in the inks is particularly striking where the character models generally match up. The biggest difference to my eyes is how Bizarro is rendered in the second half. His hair is tamped down, his chin is less bulbous.

Anyway, the point is the artwork doesn’t seem to match up, but even so this doesn’t detract from the book overall. Brian Buccellato maintains an excellent balance between the big picture of Superman and Batman still at odds while focusing on some new/minor characters to broaden the scope of the fight. It’s fun seeing people like Trickster and Mirror Master do their D-level thing after so much A-list action.

Probably the most interesting point of this issue is the introduction of Bizarro into the thick of the action at long last. And of course, he makes a disaster of it.

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Batman’s now got TWO Supermans to deal with!

Meanwhile, one of the plot points that’s coming to a head is the problem with the manufacture of the little green pills. We’ve known this is a problem for several issues and now it’s become a point of contention between Supes and Flash (whose relationship is already strained), as well as between Supes and Lex (who we know is a double agent). We’ve been looking at this from the Superman camp for three issues now, so I wish we knew what Lex might be relaying to Batman or if they are even in contact at this point. It’s a tantalizing thread that feels like it’s unraveling a bit too slow given that we are nearly halfway through the Year with this issue.

At the end of this issue Catwoman tells Batman she’s out for good. This was a weird scene. Though nicely rendered, I feel like Selina had already made her exit from Batman’s team in issue No. 9, so this felt redundant and sort of “filler” that had little impact as a cliffhanger. This was the one thing that detracted from the issue most.

Recommended If…

  • You want to see the Rogues in their final moments as a team.
  • You like big dumb Bizarro (he’s not written quite so deliberately backwards by Buccellato, but I like the golem-like characterization).
  • You don’t like Superman (because he’s really gotten hateable here lately).

Overall

Superman and Batman are back to the sort of skirmishing we saw early on in the series, though the players have been brought down a notch now that the A-game has been mostly decimated. There are still plenty of interesting characters on the board, however, and Buccellato makes good (though brief) use of the Rogues here. With Bizarro now on the scene and Lex strapped to make little green pills, it should be interesting to see yet another tip in the balance of power.

SCORE: 8/10