THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Villain’s Month begins with many big titles getting attention, Superman being one of them. Superman #23.1 brings us a story about Bizarro Superman, though the focus is really more on Lex Luthor. The issue is told from Lex’s perspective as he goes through the process of trying to create a new superman in his own image. However, the issue is a bit of a letdown for Bizarro fans, and the story doesn’t tell us anything about Luthor that we don’t already know, making Bizarro #1 interesting, but stale.
The insight into the creation of Bizarro is obviously interesting to fans of the villain. While the test subject in the issue is not the Bizarro fans know and love, readers still get mayhem, some cryovision, and some fire breath to fill the gap. Luthor’s mentality in making the superman clone that would end up being Bizarro is not hard to figure out, but the comic does lay it out nicely.
For new readers who don’t know Lex Luthor very well, this issue does a good job of summing him up. The issue touches on Luthor’s desire to shape the world in his image, his talent for self preservation, his ability to hurt others to meet his needs, his logical and detached outlook, and his hatred for Superman. For an issue that is supposed to be about Bizarro, it’s a surprisingly great character study of Luthor.
Though the comic is not exactly expanding anything, Sholly Fish and Jeff Johnson do a good job of dialogue and art, respectively. The intro is nice, though maybe a little overdramatic, especially considering the lack of payoff in the comic.
For those who aren’t new to Luthor, the comic is rather predictable. Certain circumstances make it obvious that the superman clone in the comic isn’t Bizarro, and the trail of events following is rather obvious. While it is impressive how much they were able to cover about Luthor in this issue, Luthor stealing the show from Bizarro is pretty disappointing in a comic called Bizarro #1.
While the creation of Bizarro is detailed, the big man himself makes no appearance other than as a tease on the last panel. An interesting choice for a one-shot, but really the focus of this comic should have been on characterizing Bizarro, or doing something that showed a side of Bizarro readers haven’t seen. Sure, the big guy isn’t the smartest tool in the shed, but the comic could have been an opportunity for comedy or development, but instead is just another origin story. Another origin story that really doesn’t tell us that much we didn’t already know.
The comic itself is written well enough and the art is rather good, but without any development, I can’t rate it higher than a 3— standard comic fare. Nothing changes, no alternate takes are presented, and really, the comic just keeps moving forward. The issue is solid for a one-shot, but it doesn’t deliver much considering its potential. The lack of Bizarro is a real disappointment, but re-establishing the characterization of Luthor is a tolerable substitute.