Every now and then I pick one of my long-boxes, close my eyes, and pull something out at random, just like I did this past weekend. The book that I hauled out was Superman: The Man of Steel #32 (April, 1994), and happened to be part four and the five part story-arc “Bizarro’s World”. With part four in hand, I rummaged through my boxes and pulled out the rest of the arc, that ran through: Action Comics #697, the Adventures of Superman #510, Superman: The Man of Steel #32-33, and finally, Superman #87-88. I’ve read this story more times then I can count, but that’s okay, because it remains one of my favorite Superman story-arcs of all time.
When I first started collecting comic books I jumped right into the “Death of Superman” event. Once that epic saga was finished, I was still a newbie to the world of comic books. I hadn’t learned that events are an annual thing, or that there was such a thing as story-arcs. Post-Death of Superman, “Bizarro’s World” was the first limited story arc that I read; it was also my very first introduction to Bizarro.
The Superman-team at DC Comics in the early 1990’s was loaded with some of the industries biggest and best talent. To name just a few from that era: Dan Jurgens, Brett Breeding, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern, Stuart Immonen, John Bogdenove, Karl Kessel, and Barry Kitson; and all of this top talent worked under the superb editorial direction of Mike Carlin. Together the team introduced me to Bizarro, creating one of the most nuanced stories in the character’s history.
Breaking from the pre-Crisis Bizarro, which was a childish oaf from a cubed Earth in the Multiverse, and instead followed John Byrne’s post-Crisis model of a failed cloning experiment, this time of Lex Luthor’s making, not CADMUS. In the story-arc, Lex Luthor II, who had been introduced not too long before the “Death of Superman” event, and would later be revealed to be a clone of the original Luthor, the body grown around the brain and eyes of the original Luthor. One of the over-arching story-arcs that ran through the Superman titles throughout 1994 was the deterioration of the clones of Metropolis’ Underworld, and as the plague ravaged the Underworlder’s, it also caught Luthor.
With his cloned body dying, Luthor has his Chief scientist Happerson clone him a new body, only the process isn’t complete and released too soon, the perfect clone of Superman collapses to the floor and turns into the twisted creature, Bizarro. The clone escapes Lex’s tower, taking with him the genetic material to try and clone another Superman, and his own salvation.
What transpires is a story of good intentions done all wrong as Bizarro tries to create a world for him and Lois Lane to inhabit. The only trouble with that is that he creates a replica version of Metropolis out of garbage and far from keeping Lois safe, she’s constantly in danger (absolutely back-assed, as everything Bizarro does is. Withtout Superman to rescue her, Lois makes a death-defying escape and Superman desperately tries to track down the creature. Although misguided, Bizarro’s love for Lois is real, and the writers put the reader through the ringer as they force us to see the world through his eyes. Bizarro’s love is for Lois is twisted, wrong, backwards, but also pure, innocent, and unconditional.
When, the creature is finally apprehended using Lois as bait to catch Bizzaro in a contraption built and deployed by CADMUS. The emotional crescendo comes as Bizarro attempts to free Lois only to be captured in a torturous energy net. With Bizarro down and apprehended, Lex Luthor’s Lex-Corps swoop in and steal the creature back and returning to him Lex. Through the pitched conflict Luthor managed to stab Bizarro with an instrument design to take a flesh sample – absolutely necessary to recreate the cloning process. Before Luthor and Happerson can process the data Bizarro destroys the machine with his heat vision; a final act of independence and dignity before he passes.
The result of this act would reverberate through the Superman titles for the next five to six months, culminating in the “Fall of Metropolis” story-line.
The Superman-team at DC Comics nailed this story-line. It is probably one of the finest story arcs the team wrote post-“Death of Superman”, and one of the most under-rated and forgotten. From a speculators perspective there really isn’t anything in these five books to attract much attention. However, that’s where speculator’s fail and suck, because “Bizarro’s World” stands on it’s own merits and holds up more then thirty years later, and too many re-reads to count.
For comic book collectors who take the time to curate their collections, “Bizarro’s World” is a must have for the treatment given to Bizarro. It would be roughly thirty-years before a tragic Bizarro would re-emerge during Geoff Johns’ “Forever Evil” event in 2014. Again, this Bizarro didn’t survive past the event, and I hope we’ll see more of this treatment. Once every thirty years is ridiculous Dan Didio, com’on!
Bizarro’s World is a must have for a comic book collector that carefully curates their collection. It is a serious treatment of an otherwise silly character that worked on so many levels. As a character study, Bizarro’s World is a much have, and you can get it cheap, cheap, cheap out of the back issue bins.