NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Red Hood and The Outlaws #3
It wasn't what DC Comics fans expected, but with months under its belt, the company's "Rebirth" initiative has turned into a fairly Superman-centric nostalgia trip. While the Man of Steel has dealt with old villains like Doomsday and Eradicator, his other foes have shown up elsewhere (including a certain Kryptonian general taking on the Suicide Squad). Now, it seems even Scott Lobdell and Dexter Soy's "Red Hood and the Outlaws" is getting in on the fun, thanks to the comic's newest addition.
With Jason Todd accepting his mission into the heart of Gotham's underworld, the first steps had been taken to forming a 'Dark Trinity' to rival DC's biggest heroes. With Batman's protege and a renegade Amazon covered, there remained just one piece left: a Man of Steel. Although the literal clone of Superman joining Jason and Artemis isn't quite the powerhouse partner a crimefighter would hope for - because he definitely "am not Superman."
Bizarro is Born
The arrival of the Superman clone actually closed out Issue #2 of the series, with Jason Todd working to steal a weapon for his new (and unsuspecting) boss, Black Mask. After running into Artemis along the way, the pair combined their strengths - again, making sure to keep Jason's cover story intact - to uncover just what kind of weaponry could be so important to the crime boss. The answer was a clone of Superman himself, and Issue #3 picks up right where things left off: this unconscious clone being brought into Black Mask's operation, ready to awaken as the kingpin's secret weapon.
Lobdell is clearly after more than just a little sci-fi spectacle, as evidenced by the reaction the sudden awakening of the clone has on Jason. Juxtaposing his own involuntary resurrection (via Lazarus Pit) at the hands of Talia al Ghul with this clone's "birth," the two share something else in common when the operation doesn't go according to plan.
As far as Black Mask knew, the clone engineered by Lex Luthor was on its way to be destroyed, possibly due to Lex's genuine commitment to superheroics in the fallout of "Superman: Rebirth". But when the clone's tank is emptied, and the outside environment begins to whiten his skin and amplify muscle and bone, everyone present has to ask if this failed experiment would have been better off destroyed. Obviously, Jason sees things differently, cradling the pained creature as Talia did him.
He Am Not Superman
It's not entirely clear what causes the reactions in this Superman clone, but the appearance immediately reminds Jason of the other copy of the Man of Steel Lex Luthor had created during the "Forever Evil" onslaught of the Crime Syndicate in the early days of the New 52. Recalling his name - "Bizarro" - Jason shows a soft spot for the childlike creation, requesting permission from Black Mask to do things his own way for a while. That means purchasing a plushie for the big bruiser just in time for him to realize that he is not the superpowered alien Black Mask may want him to be... and he may not even be out of his childhood years.
The bond between Bizarro and Jason is forged already, which raises the question of Red Hood's next move. Comic readers, and Jason himself know just how much can be accomplished by a Gotham vigilante, a warrior princess and a superpowered alien. The missing detail is just where this story is going to head next - ending on a single image of Bizarro stating his very own name, stuffed Superman in hand.
What story do you think Lobdell and Soy have in mind? Would you want to see Bizarro remain in the DC Rebirth story on the side of the heroes, or is it a team-up of all three 'outlaws' that you're hoping for?.
Red Hood and The Outlaw #3 is available now.