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June 14, 2013


Five Superman Publications I Like Better Than The Movies 05: Tales Of The Bizarro World

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This is my favorite DC publication of the last 25 years, a Jaime Hernandez-covered collection of classic "Tales Of The Bizarro World" stories. I buy it every chance I get. I have given away around 30 copies. I like Tales Of The Bizarro World for every reason that I believe it's almost certainly different from the Superman movie opening today -- a film which I hope is good and entertains people. In stark contrast to Man Of Steel, Tales Of The Bizarro World is hopelessly, relentlessly goofy. Despite working within a form that explains everything, it makes little to no sense on a regular basis. One of the things that's great about the Bizarro concept is that there are no rules as to how they conceive of the world and operate within it, because the opposite of an opposite is a 360 degree revolution and therefore it's not too difficult to begin stacking the absurdities. It does not exist as a logic puzzle to satisfy nerds; it exists to be funny.

What I think I like best of all about Tales Of The Bizarro World is that it is magnificently accessible without giving a shit about all the tricks we use these days to make something accessible. Funny is its own on-ramp. It helps that it came out at a time when DC Comics' big gun was a cultural touchstone. The sole context here is other Superman comic books, for pity's sake. In the way that a pop culture phenomenon of today might know it has penetrated into the general consciousness when it is parodied or satirized on one of the topical comedy shows, Tales Of The Bizarro World proves how enduring Superman became: its most vital, necessary parody had to be built from the ground up from spare parts off of the original. The bottom line is that Tales is funny, deeply funny, and strikingly weird, and thus sort of beautiful and odd in all the ways that comics works best as a form of expression. I still laugh every time I see that stupid square earth hanging in space, and I likely always will.

*****

* Tales Of The Bizarro World, Jerry Siegel and John Forte and Curt Swan and Wayne Boring and others, DC Comics, softcover, 192 pages, 9781563896248, 2000, $11.99.

*****

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*****
*****
 
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