This week sees the release of DC Comics' Bizarro #4, as the miniseries starts making its way toward a conclusion that many readers will be very sad to see.
A funny, fresh take on Jimmy Olsen and Bizarro coming just at a time when the Superman titles could use a little heart and humor, Bizarro has taken Superman's evil, mixed-up doppelganger and sent him on a cross-country trip with the Man of Steel's best pal.
We recently had a few minutes to speak with Bizarro writer Heath Corson about the project.
Bizarro is a great title, and one that my wife likes to read, which isn't common. Is that refreshing, knowing you're writing a book that non-fans can pick up and enjoy?
Absolutely, and that was always the intention. It was meant to be an all-ages book, but all-ages in the sense that The Incredibles is an all-ages movie. I'm not trying to talk down to kids, I'm not trying to talk down to anybody. The idea is, you can get the jokes, you can get the relationship, you have a great time. So that's absolutely intentional.
I've been re-reading the old John Byrne-era Superman comics and you know, when you had a mummy in Smallville, I half-expected him to have the rocket boots, like Host...! Are we going to see more of the Tuts?
Well, I will say that Queen Tut is very upset with Bizarro and what Bizarro did, so it would totally make sense for her to show up somewhere and try to take her revenge on Bizarro.
I like the idea of giving Bizarro his own rogues' gallery, of people he's pissed off. I just think that's a funny idea.
Not even necessarily evil people.
No, just people that he's pissed off.
What are your favorite Bizarro stories from the past? He's such a weird character...
Such a weird character! I always point to the Superboy where he first appeared, which, if you read it, it's only one story. There's this whole thing about the guy who makes the machine and it knocks over and hits Superboy and makes the imperfect duplicate, and by the end, Bizarro dies. He blows up, and the snowflakes that he blows up -- he actually knows he's going to die, he commits suicide so that Lucy Lane can see.
Which they did again in The Man of Steel.
Which they did again in Man of Steel, that's right. I think in issue #4 or #5, which I went back and read: interesting. Yeah.
There was a whole Emperor Joker storyline and he did that very iconic purple Bizarro that I think was a lot of what I was pulling from, and also Grant Morrison on All-Star Superman, who did a killer Bizarro story, which I love.
I think one of the things you haven't had a chance to take advantage of yet is the running joke where Bizarro briefly imagines himself to be Clark Kent, and then there's secret identity hijinks. Do you feel a little bummed out that there's no secret identity at the moment, so you can't put your spin on that?
Um...I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll say yes and no. Bizarro doesn't really need a secret identity becuase he wants everyone to love him as Bizarro. He doesn't think that he needs to pass as somebody else for them to like him. He's like, "Why wouldn't they like me? Me am Bizarro." So I think that's really a part of the character that I tapped into. Bizarro is me in middle school; I feel awkward and clumsy and weird and an outsider and I desperately want everyone to love me, and I put my heart on my sleeve. So that's something that I really connected with the character.
But in terms of some identity stuff, he's clearly wrestling with who he is with Jimmy and how to be a friend and how to be a good guy, and that's just not landing with the people of Earth. And that's just so heartbreaking and frustrating and lovely to play with this character, so in that sense, I think I am getting a chance to tweak it, but maybe there will be some secret identity stuff down the road that I can do.
You've also got a chupacabra called Colin. Why a chupacabra?
I loved the idea that Bizarro found something and hugged it until it loved him. [Laughs]
I thought that made a lot of sense to me. I can tell you that is loosely based on my wife, who hugs our animals until they finally love it. And I thought, "What is the most unlikely, oddest thing that Bizarro could find and stumble upon?" And the notion that he finds this chupacabra in the desert sucking goat brains and hugs this horrible, nasty thing until it loves him, made a lot of sense to me.
Also, he's sort of inspired by Lockheed from the X-Men. I love the idea of those animal pets that are always in frames, and Gustavo [Duarte] just has a ball doing stuff with Colin, like making him fall of his shoulder or climb back up. We're having a great Colin time.
Do you just let him have his fun with that, or is some of it scripted?
Oh, we riff all the time. We're riffing and e-mailing each other back and forth because it's really hard to write comedy in a vacuum. So to have Gustavo as a partner, it's just nice to bounce something off somebody. I can't say enough nice things about him, he's been a joy to work with and we're having a great time.
Is there ever any concern, or is it just part of the deal, that by making him so humorous, you could be watering down what they could do with him in a Superman book later?0comments
Not for me, obviously. Maybe for the powers that be. I don't think I'm diminishing anything for the character, I think I'm adding, but also, we have our own sort of pocket of continuity, so they can always go back and do something cool. Remember, the first story was in Superboy and he died. And then in The Man of Steel he was the Frankenstein oaf, so they've done that and reinvented. I think the characters who don't get reinvented wither and die on the vine. So it's nice that in ten years somebody else will come back and make him something else and they'll get some great stories out of that.
That's what's so fun about the elasticity of these characters and what's so fun to get to pick up and play with them and put your spin on it, and then give them back.