I toyed with the idea of doing this whole review in Bizarro-speak, but then I realized that I don't hate you all.
One of the most enduring parts of the Superman mythos is the concept of Bizarro - every time DC tries to retcon everything away and start Superman fresh, eventually Bizarro re-emerges. What is it about this white-skinned spaz that is so appealing?
Though he was often portrayed as little more than a retarded version of Superman, Bizarro was crafted with loftier goals. He was created by Alvin Schwartz for the Superman daily newspaper strip, but long production leads meant that the character would actually debut in an issue of Superboy. Schwartz, a man with a pleasantly philosophical mind, decided that the best way to create a foe for Superman was to apply Jungian archetypes - in this case, the shadow.
In Jung's theories, the shadow is everything inside us that's repressed, unconscious or denied. Look at Superman through that filter, and what do you get?
Superman is disciplined and controlled; Bizarro is wild and reckless. Superman is calm and distant; Bizarro is hectic and confrontational. Perhaps most of all, Superman is clever and intelligent; Bizarro, of course, is easily confused and misled. It's not that he's the anti-Superman (that would be an exceedingly weak, nearly vegetative imbecile), but that he's Superman with a different psychological make-up.
And yet, most times? It's just "Goodbye! Me Bizarro am not have to go now. Hello!" Oi.
DC Direct has produced a Bizarro figure before, but it was a lot more cartoony than this one. But that's to be expected, since this whole line is based on Alex Ross's photo-realistic interpretations of the Justice League. Tim Bruckner first showed off his ability to sculpt a particular artist's style into three dimensions with the Kingdome Come line, and these new figures are even better.
The nicest improvement is that we've finally got some articulation - no more immobile lumps of Ross-inspired plastic. Bizarro moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees.
Just like the previous figure, this Bizarro shares the great majority of his mold with the Superman in the same line, which is fine. His exposed skin has the crumbling, chalky texture we expect for the character. Instead of the goofy look the last one had, this Bizarro has a wild, wide-eyed look that speaks of dangerous rage. Again, Superman is cerebral, Bizarro is emotional.
To help further set him apart from Supes, Bizarro's head is a different shape. Maybe it's just that his hair is so thin and flat, but the guy's forehead is really more of a five-head, if you know what I'm saying.
A theme with these Justice League figures is that the paint on the production models looks better than the prototypes, a real rarity. When the figures were unveiled last year at SDCC, Bizarro was in the same red and blue costume as Superman, rather than the two-tone purple he usually wears. However, that's been fixed for the real toys. It's hard to see when he's by himself, but stand Bizarro next to Superman and you can tell that at least his suit is different. Too bad the cape, trunks and boots are still red.
Sadly, another theme with this set is crappy copy editing and poor design. You may have noticed that this review lacks the usual bio text we put near the top. Well, here's why (as taken directly from the box):
An imperfect duplicate of Superman, set on imitating his actions leads to disastrous results.
Uh, what? Did Bizarro write that copy himself? Because it am teh s uck. Of course, on the other side of the box, the text declares "from the pages of Justice," cutting off the small "League" that should be under it. That's not just a problem with Bizarro's packaging, but with every character in the first series. Hope DC Direct gets this worked out by the time Series 2 ships.
Who the hell is in charge of copyediting over at DCD? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge