DC Comics Presents #71 (July, 1984)
“The Mark of Bizarro!”
Writer – E. Nelson Bridwell
Penciller – Curt Swan
Inker – Dave Hunt
Letterer – Ben Oda
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.75
Superman and Bizarro?! Me am not interested. Please don’t enjoy!
We open on Bizarro Earth where Bizarro Number One has just beaten up the Bizarro Justice League… and in only one sentence I have a pretty good idea how many times I’m about to type “Bizarro”… I’ll try and rein it in. Anyhoo, from here we get some expositional chatter to fill us in on what Bizarro World is all about… which is followed by a bored Bizarro Number One creating a new “arch-villain” for the B-League… Bizarro-Amazo!
This Amazo proves to be different from the original by stealing super-powers from the Bizarro-Heroes and giving them to the unpowered. Kind of like a Bizarro Robin Hood. He starts by giving Bizarro-Aquaman’s powers to the cowardly and powerless Yellow Lantern.
He bursts through the wall of the Bizarro-League’s “satellite”, which is naturally, a submarine. He continues his path of power-sharing by giving Bizarro-Lois Lane some superpowers.
This gives Bizarro Number One an idea. He decides to change into his Clark Kent duds, so Amazo will again endow him with superpowers… and it works! Amazo is pretty ticked by the subterfuge, and decides to fly to non-Bizarro Earth where there is only one Superman he can take the powers of. Number One gives chase.
We now shift to the “real” world, where it’s business as usual at the Daily Planet. Jimmy’s being annoying… Perry’s being annoy-ed, and Lois tries to keep the peace. We learn that Superman and his long-time childhood friend Clark Kent are in Smallville dealing with a broken bridge. Jimmy is told to keep an eye out for Clark’s return, which leads to him immediately finding… Bizarro Clark Kent! This totally proves to Jimmy that the real Clark Kent couldn’t possibly be Superman. O-kayyy.
Number One explains the situation to Jimmy, who in turn alerts the real steel deal via signal watch. Moments later, Superman arrives and is filled in on the Amazo threat. To further punctuate the potential of the power-thief, Jimmy is suddenly endowed with great power (though the jury’s still out on if they came with “great responsibility”).
At the same time, Morgan Edge is given super strength, and Lana Lang (who is in her annoying “luv” phase) appears to have gained a bit of telekinesis.
Superman, Number One and Jimmy find Bizarro-Amazo flying over Metropolis, and decide to engage. Well, Jimmy’s told to hang back, but the “Supers” look to pounce. They are both easily swatted away by Amazo… knocked through a nearby building. They then redouble their efforts… which also proves to be rather futile.
The blue and red clad pair fall back and hide behind a cluster of clouds. Superman knows they cannot beat Amazo head on, and will need to trick him. Before you can say “plot convenience” Superman has devised a plan! The first step of which includes hurling a(n abandoned) building toward the baddie. The pair immediately follow the throw with some super-speed shenanigans to make it appear as though Bizarro-Amazo might have lost a step.
Superman then goads Amazo into taking a swing at him. As the punch is about to make contact, he uses his super-breath to halt it. This makes it appear as though Amazo’s punches no longer have any “oomph”.
The third step is especially odd. As Number One starts punching Amazo, Superman uses his heat vision to hit Amazo’s sensory centers to make it feel as though it’s experiencing extreme pain. I mean, why not just start with that? Anyhoo, this convinces Bizarro-Amazo that by giving powers to civilians, his own powers have become weakened.
Bizarro-Amazo learns the error of his its ways, and proceeds to depower all the folks he had just moments earlier empowered. This includes Jimmy Olsen, who is flying right next to him. Fortunately (?) Superman is able to save the lad before he becomes an irritating pile of street pizza.
Bizarro-Amazo then heads back to the cubic Bizarro-Earth, where he makes everything right (wrong?) at least as it pertains to powers. He does refuse to depower Yellow Lantern, however… which vexes the faux-Jordan immensely.
Bizarro-Amazo proclaims himself to be the greatest villain in the history of Bizarro-Earth. Number One tells him that the biggest villains, Lex Luthor and the Joker have no superpowers… and so, Amazo decides to one-up them by… putting himself into suspended animation. Cute.
Now… I like the Bizarro concept. Think it’s a fun little diversion every now and again, and one that sometimes brings a real feeling of danger. I mean, it’s a broken backwards version of Superman, what’s not to like? With that said… an entire issue of “Me am” dialogue? That’s a bit rough.
I got about four pages into this… and had to kinda push the rest of the way through it. It wasn’t a bad issue by any stretch… I just felt like the gimmick wore itself out pretty early. I don’t think I’d ever be able to read more than one Bizarro story in a row.
The way Superman outsmarted the Bizarro-Amazo was pretty creative… though, as I mentioned above, if you could access his sensory centers… why wouldn’t you just lead with that? I mean, even if you’re not inflicting “real” pain or damage… the feeling of pain might just be enough to take down a threat. I suppose he had to make sure Amazo would make things right, power-wise… so fooling him might be more advantageous. I don’t see Superman “torturing” Amazo into doing what’s right.
The cover is pretty striking… and lets us all know that sticking the Joker on a cover regardless of how involved he is with the story within has always been a “thing”. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t get my attention… so, I guess I’m part of the problem!
Overall, if you’re a fan of Bizarro… and can deal with “Me am” dialogue for 22 pages, you’ll probably dig this. The art is great, and we get a whole slew of Bizarro cameos.