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Out of all of the Superman characters, supporting characters, villains and heroes there is one that I feel tops the list. The one that is the nearest and dearest to my heart. The one who has no equal. The singular “Number One”. This could be no one else than Bizarro, himself! Let’s get into why he is exactly so great.
Well first of all there is his appearance. The striking, chalky, and rocked surface that is his skin is something that just screams “classic villain design”. He is a grotesque in the truest sense, but without leaving the reader in any actual nausea. He is just on the edge of sickening but also, in a well balanced way, almost even endearing looking. It’s a bit of a puppy dog or Kramer-esque quality that engenders emotions of all kinds.
Let’s not forget about the logo here. Its the whole thing that ties it together. So few Superman characters have an emblem that the reader can immediately recognize. Something that one can see and instantly think of this character. What does Lex Luthor have? Those L’s? That’s kid stuff compared to the backwards S. Even if you’ve never even heard of Bizarro, just seeing a backwards S tells you the crux of what you need to know.
The funny story behind the backwards S is that it actually one of the last things to be developed in the Bizarro mythos. Way into his regular back up in Adventure Comics did they implement that particular design aesthetic, but it is something that is so uniquely tied to his entire character. Writers and artists back then really knew their stuff if something like that can breathe in the future/present like that.
What else is, and was, it about Bizarro? All it takes is a cursory look at those stories. The Adventure Comics stories are seriously some of the best work on the character ever done. There has been such an incredibly lazy trend that modern writers seem to use when writing Bizarro, but more on that next. What really makes these stories stand out is the lengths of imagination inherent in them. That and his supporting cast were all great.
Superman may not be able to always juggle his personal and professional lives, but Bizarro always had the support of his wife and son. Through thick and thin they would always be together. It was a nice dynamic and it played off the incredibly ridiculous scenarios incredibly well. That is why it is such a shame that modern writers have dumbed him down considerably. Bizarro may speak weirdly, but he had his own life.
Going right out on making him this idiotic brute is where the camel broke its back. Especially when they simplify the beloved “Bizarro Speak”. Originally just bad grammar mixed with a few antonyms became something that was ALL antonym. It was a harsh demotion from such a nice and atmospheric aspect to a character. “Opposit-O” (as I call him) is so much worse.
The only modern writer to have even touched Jerry Siegel’s original incarnation of the character is Geoff Johns. And I don’t mean that other writers haven’t done good Bizarros, just that Johns himself is able to bring back that spark of light the original had. He brings back the complexity, the likabilty, and most of all – he does the Speak incredibly well. “Escape From Bizarro World” is one of the, hands-down, best modern Bizarro stories ever written.
Yet, not everything can be that particular story arc, which is such a stand out from pretty much anything done with the character in the last decade or so. Johns once more got his hands on the character with Forever Evil and even did more wonders, but was not able to top his last performance. “Escape” and the original back-ups are some of the best of the best, and they alone are examples of why Bizarro is something we should not lose. Thoughts and comments would be appreciated below.