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Action Comics #1061 (review)

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: John Timms

DC Comics, March 2024.

Reading Superman stories involving Bizarro, a flawed duplicate of Superman first appearing in 1958, is likely to induce a mild headache. Everything the character says needs to be read in the negative, and occasionally the double-negative. (Creator Otto Binder has a lot to answer for.) The last time we had to navigate this linguistic quagmire was in Grant Morrison’s and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman. And even in that funny, amusing, poignant story, it was hard to keep track of what was being said.

Unlike All-Star Superman, there is nothing special here in Action Comics #1061. Writer Jason Aaron’s track record is stellar, in our view: this is an uncharacteristically uninspiring tale. Bizarro has visited a place called Sorcerers World, acquired magical powers, and has come to Earth to confront Superman.

Bizarro historically has been a confused and childish adversary to Superman, not motivated by any malign purpose. Mr Aaron’s Bizarro is different. Suffering from the disappearance of his homeworld of Htrae, and blaming one of the dimension-shredding crises which straddle DC Comics’ superhero continuity like fleas on an alley cat, Bizarro this time around is motivated by revenge.

During the obligatory fight scene, Bizarro manages to slap Superman all the way to Venus within minutes, then again through the sun’s corona, a third time past Jupiter’s moons, and then a final punch out to Pluto. It is some silliness to impress upon us Bizarro’s new strength (no doubt the magic helped with the speed and accuracy).

The story culminates in Bizarro’s disintegration as a consequence of a magic spell. But Bizarro’s sloughing has purpose. Metropolis is suddenly infected by his atomised parts, and its citizens are transformed into Bizarro versions of themselves. It is reminiscent of the symbiote bomb, launched upon New York by the malign robot Ultron in the pages of the various Avengers books published by Marvel Comics in 2007-2008.

So, we can expect a lot more mangled English for the next three issues of this four-issue arc. (Mr Aaron temporarily spared us Bizarro-ese by having Bizarro case a spell, backwards like DC Comics’ magician Zatanna, which renders his English comprehensible. Perhaps even Mr Aaron was frowning as he typed his script.)

We raved about Mr Aaron’s efforts on The Mighty Thor for Marvel Comics. Our effusive review of The Mighty Thor #1 in 2015 was one of our very first critiques: Perhaps our expectations eight years later were too high.