Taking a leaf out of Daniel Keyes’ book, Christos Gage grants Bizzaro access to a higher form of intelligence in the latest print edition of “Adventures of Superman.” With Eduardo Francisco on pencils, this one-shot issue tackles Bizzaro’s characterization with empathy and pathos, squeezing in a nice reflection of Superman’s background and experience in the meantime. Stepping outside of New 52 continuity, “Adventures of Superman” #9 deftly recaptures Silver Age Superman in both voice and costume while providing Bizzaro with his own, distinct voice in a fresh turn of events that will leave readers with a clearer understanding of and deeper respect for both characters.
With a younger, brooding Superman dominating many of DC’s current books, Gage’s return to Superman as a “Boy Scout” will undoubtedly please fans unhappy with the character’s recent developments. Gage places Superman in the role of mentor as Bizzaro struggles with his new awareness, providing a platform for Superman to discuss how he became a hero. Though this is familiar territory for many fans, Gage executes it in a clear and easy way that doesn’t feel exhaustive or overdone. What’s more, watching Superman struggle to help Bizzaro is fascinating, highlighting his own feelings of alienation and his gratitude for his own upbringing.
Although Superman’s name is in the title, Gage focuses equal attention on Bizzaro. With his newfound intelligence, Bizzaro has the opportunity to express himself in a clear and efficient way, for the first time in a long time expressing the fact that he never meant to harm anyone and that he only ever looked up to Superman. For all the plot’s reliance on “Flowers for Algernon” for inspiration, this take on the character can’t help but be fascinating, if only to see Superman and Bizzaro working in tandem for the greater good. Like the original tale, Bizzaro’s willful decent to his original state is particularly poignant from his first slip, not only for what drove him to it but for Superman’s reaction to it. In this, Gage does a fantastic job in creating a new, relatable version of Bizzaro; it’s hard not to get too attached!
Eduardo Francisco swoops in on art with a lovely homage to the overarching Superman franchise, from the restoration of Superman’s red shorts to the square plants of Bizarro World. He has a subtle, tasteful way of infusing humor into the story by way of carefully placed visual cues, as when Bizzaro keeps himself entertained in his journey through space. His figure work is believable and well-executed; his faces, expressive. Stefani Rennee further brightens the world with brilliant, vivid colors for an overall lighthearted tone.
“Adventures of Superman” #9 really gets back to the fun, upbeat Superman of past comics. With classic allusions in the form of plane crashes and quip-infused banter, this issue is fun for fans of all ages, new and old alike. Christos Gage and Eduardo Francisco have created a sweet, heartfelt story that — though not entirely original — will certainly resonate with readers.