It’s actually surprising that DC has taken this long to create a comedy series in this vein. Heath Corson and Gustavo Duarte’s “Bizarro” #2 continues the buddy-comedy road trip that Jimmy Olsen and Bizarro embark upon, somehow taking the longest route from Metropolis to Canada that has ever been. The duo take down a hypnotic used car salesman and visit some superhero hotspots before finding themselves in a figurative and literal ghost town.
Corson keeps things light and lively using an improv-based plotting technique, where anyone at any moment could have the key to solving a mystery. It’s fun and never takes itself too seriously; in fact, it goes out of its way to thumb its nose at characters with more serious books, along with the help of creators associated with those characters. Gustavo Duarte gives a signature look to the book, cartoony while still recognizable. In fact, it reads like a “Cartoon Network” pitch, which is intended as a compliment.
In its second issue, what’s interesting about the book is that it’s clear the team isn’t worried about breaking up the story in proper chapters. Much like Bizarro himself, the story isn’t concerned that it takes up the first half of the book wrapping up the story from last issue before starting the new story, only to leave it at the midpoint. It’s a gamble on the creative team and the characters to trust that readers will return based on them and not a shocking plot development as a cliffhanger. This is punch line storytelling versus soap operatic plotting and it works well.
Corson’s script is funny and accessible. In monthly format, it takes a page or two to readjust to Bizarro’s opposite speech patterns but — once the reader is back in rhythm — Corson uses the toughest part of the book to great effect. Bizarro is just as frustrating to those around him as he is to readers. His childlike enthusiasm and broken worldview make him a bull in a china shop.
During their trip, Jimmy and Bizarro visit Gotham and Central Cities, with the twisted Superman accidentally knocking out the Flash along the way in a very funny single page cameo co-illustrated by Francis Manupal. Duarte’s world is all about fun, with readable clean page layouts, an important aspect of storytelling when dealing with such an unusual protagonist. Eventually, the artist can expand the visual palette and really experiment, but — for now — he’s the grounding force needed to keep the story accessible and guides readers into this insane world.
Another way the story stays grounded is the relatable relationship between Bizarro and Jimmy. It’s a simple back-and-forth that draws in readers and establishes a base reality around which Corson can wrap the more absurd elements of the book. By keeping these elements simple, it allows the team to expand outwards in a way that lets readers accept stuff like Bizarro cosplaying as the Man With No Name at the end of the issue.
Overall, the second issue of this series continues the tone established in the first one. It doesn’t feel as exciting, since the element of surprise and newness is no longer here, but the creative team continues to create fun, entertaining stories with a fresh perspective.