Superman (vol.2) #164 (2001)

Superman (vol.2) #164 (January, 2001)
“Tales from the Bizarro World”
Writer – Jeph Loeb
Pencillers – Ed McGuinness & Carlo Barberi
Inkers – Cam Smith & Juan Vlasco
Letterer – Richard Starkings
Colorists – Tonya & Richard Horie
Assistant Editor – Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.25

It’s Election Day in Metropolis, what could possibly go wrong?  I think it’s also Election Day somewhere in the real world as well… and it doesn’t seem like anything can go right!  That’s about as political as this post will get, hopefully.  I’m really not much of a political animal anymore.  At one point in my life, perhaps… but I just kinda got “over it”.

If you ask me, DC did a great job in 2000 by ignoring the actual election and just throwing ol’ Lex in office.  Again… if you ask me, this is the way politics should be handled in comics.  I don’t read comics to get bombarded with political opinions or talking points… gimme a fictional Commander in Chief any day over a current sitting President either acting as a super-villain or fist-bumping with Spider-Man.

Annnnnnnnnnnyhoo, let’s check in with the Super-gang as they prepare for a potential life under Lex.

We open up with Jimmy Olsen hanging precariously from a helicopter with hopes of snapping some pics of a Navy submarine that is running on LexCorp’s (now) proprietary B13 viral tech.  Jimmy being Jimmy… he leans just a bit too far outside the chopper… and falls out.  Lucky for him, Superman Bizarro #1 is there to catch him before he falls too far.

All during the flight, Jimmy thinks it’s Superman that’s pulled his fat skin and bones out of the fire drink.  He flies him past the Daily Planet building and winds up dropping him into… an open grave.  That’s not too morbid, right?  The tombstone reveals the grave to be the secret entrance for Jimmy Olsen… Gravedigger Lad!  Beats the hell out of Turtle Boy!

We then cut to Lois and Clark’s apartment… and an unwelcome shift in art.  Normally I really dig Carlo Barberi’s style… really liked his work on Impulse, but… c’mon, we just had Ed McGuinness.  Anyhoo, Lois and Clark are visited upon by Batman… who is concerned about the pending Presidential Election.  Brainiac’s B13 virus wiped away all records concerning Lex Luthor’s criminal activity… and to the layman, he’s nothing more than a successful businessman and a model citizen.  Batman suggests digging up some dirt on the man, but Superman ain’t feeling it.  He doesn’t believe that it is their place to get involved with the democratic process.  He still believes that the American people will do what’s right in the end.  ‘fraid I got some bad news, pal.

We rejoin Jimmy who is hanging out with a couple of his pals.  They’re about to take in a movie, and as they walk they discuss the election and whether or not it’s important to vote.  Before they can go inside, a gravely voice calls to Jimmy from an alley… why it’s Bizarro again.  This time, he’s got a golden shovel that he tosses to his sidekick/pal Gravedigger Lad.  He then scoops the boy up and prepares to take him to the JLA Headquarters on the Moon.

Speaking of the JLA HQ… Superman is there watching several video screens, all predicting a decent outcome for Lex Luthor in the election.  Martian Manhunter briefly pops his head in, and cracks Superman up with a comment about Luthor’s really having the best interests of the people in mind.

Back with Jimbo, he doesn’t quite get into orbit as Supergirl arrives on the scene and saves his bacon.  For some sick reason, Supergirl decides to swap spit with Superman’s pal… ay yai yai.  Thankfully Bizarro is there to stop the madness!

A battle rages on over the next several pages.  Supergirl and Bizarro exchange blows… and Jimmy smacks the ground with his golden shovel… which does bugger all.


Suddenly Superman arrives on the scene… and man, he is not the man to mess with today.  He sternly tells Bizarro to stand down.  It’s clear that this is a very different Superman… not one who will be reasoned with… Jimmy even comments that he feared Superman might actually kill Bizarro if he sticks around.

Without throwing a single punch, he causes Bizarro to leave… and run right into a big fella promising that the Great Darkness is on it’s way.

We wrap up as the polls are closing.  Our regular cast is hanging about at the Daily Planet… looking at the two potential front pages for the following morning.

This was a pretty decent issue.  Not great or anything… but I suppose I enjoyed my time with it.  It’s probably been… hmm, 15 years since I last read this, and I’d totally forgotten the Bizarro bits to this issue.  I really expected it to be completely Lex-lection centric… and I gotta say, I’m disappointed that it wasn’t.  Not really sure what Bizarro added to all of this… though, perhaps they were just filling pages in order to get to the Superman: Lex 2000 Special where we find out the news.  Maybe they just wanted Jimmy to notice that Superman might’ve killed Bizarro had he not left.  I dunno…

I appreciate seeing Superman being really on edge here… while at the same time, maintaining his faith in the American people making the “right choice”.  There’s something deeper here as well… Superman knows that it isn’t his place to sway the hearts and minds of the voters… he’s not running for (nor is he eligible to hold) office.  It would be imprudent for him to stump for any political candidate.  That’s another thing I really dig about this era.  While he knows what Lex is all about… knows how dangerous he can be… he still allows the democratic process to commence.

Looking back at this… it’s interesting how tightly plotted this whole storyline was.  I mean, we start in No Man’s Land… and go through Our World’s At War… and ultimately conclude during the opening arc of Superman/Batman.  I know the “Berganza” era sometimes gets a bad wrap, but this was good stuff… if you ask me.  This (and Ed McGuinness’ art) was what ultimately brought me back into the Super-books.

I’m guessing by now most folks know what the outcome of the DCU’s 2000 Election was… and hell, time travelers will know the outcome of the 2016 United States Election by now.  Lex wins… I dig it… not sure if I’m going to cover the Lex 2000 special at this point.  We’ll see…

For more electoral fun, check out one’a my best bloggy buddies and fellow Super Blogger Mike Carlyle’s piece today where he covers Prez #1.  Mike’s site is always a good time, do give him a peek!

Morning Edit:  Great (or addled) minds think alike.  Another one’a my best bloggy pals Walt Kneeland covered this same issue of Superman this morning.  Give it a gander!

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