WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Red Hood & the Outlaws #20 by Scott Lobdell, Dexter Soy, and Veronica Gandini.
Bizarro has more often than not been portrayed as a rather goofy or silly character. It’s always been a part of his charm; what would Superman be like if everything about him, from his powers and costume, were the complete opposite of what they normally are?
But despite the mayhem and chaos he sometimes causes, the one thing that’s always held him back the most is his limited intelligence.
Of course, there are two Bizarros currently running around the DC Universe. One is from another universe and hanging around in Superman’s solo book, with his own son having just met Superboy, and the other is a clone that’s been a member of Red Hood’s Outlaws in their titular book. Between the two of them, the latter is the more dangerous one, especially now that he’s received a hefty upgrade.
In the early arcs of the book, Bizarro was struck with an illness that caused his cells to deteriorate on a rapid level, eventually leading to his death. Lex Luthor, on the condition that the clone later becomes Lexcorp property, offers to resurrect the fallen anti-hero, but in the process not only allows him to speak in complete sentences — it turns him extremely smart.
Since receiving his new lease on life, he’s been doing some strange things, even by Bizarro standards. He’s created a predictive analysis so the team can stop crime quicker, allowed Red Hood and Artemis to get beaten down by the Gotham Knights, called out Batwoman, and aligned the Outlaws with the Suicide Squad like it was no big deal. These are all things both Artemis and Jason have noticed, though they’re experiencing different degrees of paranoid and worried about their friend’s behavior.
Lobdell has never been shy about showing just how off Bizarro’s been now that he’s got a high IQ. In the previous issue, he was shown actively spying on Jason and Artemis’ date and hallucinating that his Superman doll was talking and mocking him. In a fit of rage, he smashed the tub full of the synthetic Kryptonite that has been keeping him mentally sharp before desperately licking the floor. He later met with someone known only as “Solitary,” whose face is blurry and undefined. Solitary admits to Bizarro’s face that he brought the three misfits together for a reason, and that the brute’s newfound intelligence is throwing a monkey wrench into his schemes.
In this issue, both Jason and Artemis take their own approaches to figuring out Bizarro’s endgame. Jason decides the best way is simply tail his friend to learn how he goes about his day. As it turns out, Bizarro has assembled a meeting of henchmen to various Gotham supervillains in a hotel ballroom, all of whom share stories and warnings about their former employers to one another. As soon as they’re gathered, the ballroom doors shut and gas begins to pump through the vents, slowly killing them all.
In Bizarro’s words, they’re all the “diseased limbs” doing the work of Gotham’s various villains, and eliminating them will make those villains weak enough to be dealt with — permanently. As he watches them die, Bizarro realizes that he can’t really be a good guy if he’s doing bad things, even for a good reason. At the last second, he uses his vacuum breath to suck the toxin into his own body, offering a warning to henchmen in lieu of their deaths: “Do better.”
Artemis, meanwhile, takes a more direct approach, which is to say that she goes into Bizarro’s room and snoops around. She quickly discovers a small chamber underneath his room and goes down to investigate, where she finds… something that we don’t fully get a look at. Before we can get any more answers, the issue ends as Bizarro walks into the chamber, brandishing Artemis’ axe and ominously declaring, “I wish you had not done that, Lady Artemis.”
What is Bizarro’s secret, and how does it affect the Outlaws? Those answers will have to wait until next month’s Red Hood & the Outlaws #21, but the answers are sure to divide the team over what to do if their large and powerful friend truly does break bad.
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