- Posted by Johanna on January 15, 2006 at 8:49 am
- Category: Superhero Reviews
- PUBLISHER: DC Comics; $19.99 US
Bizarro World is a high-concept anthology in which some of the best of today’s alternative and independent creators do short stories featuring DC’s iconic superhero characters. The result is 35 tales that are original, light-hearted, fresh, unusual, and well-done.
The book opens with two kids visiting the Bizarro World theme park in a story written by Chris Duffy, and Scott Morse’s art makes many references to the odder elements of the DC universe, such as Gorilla City or giant pennies in the Batcave. It’s oddly symbolic that the adults are thrilled by all the rides (many based on puns), while the kids are apprehensive about what’s in store for them. There’s a throwaway line about comics being “exciting yet predictable” that sets the tone for what’s to follow, which is both exciting and unpredictable.
Some of the stories, like the one where Superman becomes Santa Claus by Andy Merrill and Roger Langridge, could have appeared in “regular” comics if not for their more unique art styles. Others of these include James Kochalka drawing a simple tale (written by Abe Foreu) about Chameleon Boy trying to find his shape-changing pet Proty at bathtime, or Batman entering a young girl’s mind to find the Joker, in a piece by Tomer and Asaf Hanuka.
Others take concepts usually played straight, such as Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth or Green Lantern’s yellow weakness, and exaggerate them to make a point or a joke. Aaron Bergeron and John Kerschbaum show what would happen if Bruce Wayne got some good psychotherapy, and Paul Di Filippo and Derek Kirk Kim detail Deadman’s love life in limbo.
Yet others are refreshingly silly in premise and outcome. A particular favorite was Evan Dorkin cataloging many of the ridiculous excesses of the Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes in only two pages, drawn beautifully by Andi Watson. Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier also put together a fun story about the kids of the Justice League meeting their villains’ children.
Some of these styles are truer or better-suited to the characters than the more traditional art DC publishes monthly. Craig Thompson’s Spectre, for instance, captures the casual vengeance of the spook, and the Flash story by Dylan Horrocks and Farel Dalrymple is simply gorgeous. There’s a classic charm to Tim Lane drawing the Justice League hanging out at a carnival.
Other contributors include Ellen Forney, Tony Millionaire, Harvey Pekar, Dean Haspiel, Peter Bagge, Gilbert Hernandez, Eddie Campbell, Paul Grist, R. Sikoryak, Philippe Depuy and Charles Berberian, Brian Ralph, and Kyle Baker. Kudos to editor Joey Cavalieri for pulling it all together into a handsome hardcover package under a Jaime Hernandez cover. This is a wonderful tonic for those comfortable enough to approach DC superheroes with a wink and a smile.