DCAU #157: Identity Crisis

IN THIS ONE... Luthor clones Superman and fails; he gets Bizarro instead.

CREDITS: Written by Robert Goodman and Joe R. Lansdale; directed by Curt Geda.

REVIEW: There are several ways to use Bizarro, completely silly and monstrously evil among them, but misunderstood creature - somewhere between Frankenstein's Monster and King Kong - is probably the most acceptable, if wholly predictable, direction to take for a cartoon set in a realistic world. Not that the science makes any sense. Bizarro starts out as a perfectly normal clone of Superman acting like Christopher Reeve, no doubt because Luthor thinks Superman is a cheeseball, but he goes from shedding skin to a warped hunchback in a different uniform in a matter of seconds. If he'd made his own suit, all crooked like, then sure, but it's an off sequence.

And not the last. Luthor is really, really showing his hand in this episode. Yes, Superman knows, even if he can't definitively prove, that Lex is committing crimes, but here he's brazenly threatening a reporter's life... and there are no consequences? Just because the cloning facility blows up doesn't mean Lois can't lead people back there. Or are there loopholes about cloning aliens and breeding an army of Supermen? The episode just doesn't want to address any of this, so if we're going to be unrealistic, why not go full-comedy with this puppy and let Bizarro be silly Bizarro?

Still some fun set pieces though. We get some wrecking ball mayhem that almost disrupts a wedding. We get the Daily Planet globe falling off its perch. Clark meeting the cheesy Superman is kind of fun. And cliché though it may be, the creature's final sacrifice is well played, with everyone involved accepting that Bizarro IS Superman, deep down, and that the Kryptonian's innate nobility will prevail. At the end, the two Supermen work together to save Lois, as it should be.

IN THE COMICS: In the Silver Age, Bizarros were created through the use of a faulty duplication ray, but the episode's version is based on the post-Crisis version, which was just such a cloning experiment by Lex Luthor. The story, from Man of Steel #5 (1986), had a similarly confused Bizarro drawn to Lois, and ended with the creature's definitive destruction, though another copy would eventually surface. Luthor's cloning experiments continued into the 90s and resulted in the Superboy now known as Kon-El/Connor. Thankfully, the title of this episode has nothing to do with the terrible DC event of the early 2000s of the same name; the DCU's slide into the darkness that has enveloped it since was still some years ahead.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The action and the finale are good, but the derivative script glosses over too many details.


Anonymous said...

There is yet another, less heralded "Identity Crisis" in DC Comics that preceded the rapey killy one, and we hear of it only in a Flash annual probably written by Grant Morrison. As with Marvel, the DC Comics universe contains a company that publishes comics about the heroes that populate its world; but since most heroes' identities were secret for the longest time, the comics had to invent alter egos and lives for the heroes. Thus, the black Green Lantern was given the name "Washington Lincoln" (or some other amalgamation of legendary US presidents), and Kid Flash was given the name "Johnny Zipper". So when the heroes started unmasking, that left the comics company with the problem of how to fix the names, thus they had an "Identity Crisis" crossover. While I can't say with absolute certainty, it was probably better than the "Identity Crisis" we got.


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