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Life on Bizarro World

Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely have come out with another excellent issue of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. For anyone who’s read the previous seven issues, that should come as no surprise. The real surprise is that Grant’s story wasn’t about Bizarro world at all.

A couple days ago, I saw Michael Moore’s new film, SICKO. While I don’t agree with all of his tactics, it’s impossible to deny the power of the film. If you live in America, this is an issue which effects you. You’ve either been hurt by it or know someone who has. I have.

My mother found out that she had lung cancer about a year ago. I know that the chances of survival from something like that are incredibly low. But I also know that she knew something was wrong for a long time before she was diagnosed. And that she was shuffled from one test to another for lesser things because it would have been cheaper to treat her for those. I do not blame the health industry for killing her, but their constant attempt to pay as little as possible probably took months, if not years off of her life. And anyone who’s lost someone close to them will know how much they would give for even one more day with them.

This is not an uncommon story. I’m sure you either have one like it or know someone who does. This does not make it any less of a tragedy. It only compounds it. Death after death. The blood is on our hands because we’ve allowed this to happen.

But why?

Us hate beauty. Us love ugliness.

The latest ALL-STAR SUPERMAN tells the tale of Zibarro, an imperfect Bizarro. And what exactly is an imperfect Bizarro? One who can see beauty and hope in a world that does its best to reject both. And anyone who can see that is doomed to pain and rejection on Bizarro World.

If you’re at all paying attention to what’s going on right now, it’s very
difficult to not feel like Zibarro. Well, that’s not entirely true. It
“is” possible, but first we have to take a detour through Jack Kirby’s
Fourth World.

Around 1970, Kirby had come to a realization. He felt that he had been cheated by someone he considered a friend, and as good of a person as he was, he couldn’t understand why. It was in his desire to make sense of what happened that he discovered the Anti-Life Equation. What this was wouldn’t be stated plainly until Morrison’s SEVEN SOLDIERS: MISTER MIRACLE 30-some years later, but it was there in the original works.

Kirby (and Morrison) understood something essential about humanity. There is only so much pain we can take before we die inside. And that there’s a lot more people out there who have sacrificed their very souls than we’d like to admit. If you haven’t fallen victim to the forces of Anti-Life, it’s hard to believe that anyone else could. But they can. And they do.

Philip K. Dick called these people Androids, and declared them a separate
species from Humans. And while that’s comforting on some levels, it’s
ultimately unhelpful. That kind of thinking creates enemies and promotes
dehumanization. Our enemies, the rulers of Bizarro World, came into life with all the potential of every human being. To quote Grant Morrison, it’s what we are when the world gets through with us that counts. They are victims too. It’s just hard to sympathize with the victims when they make life worse for the rest of us.

And that’s part of how the Anti-Life equation works. It separates and
compartmentalizes us. We can’t trust Them because They are working against us.
And They can’t trust Us because… Well, We know what They are doing, no
matter how much We try to put it out of our minds. Us and Them. That’s the central failure of the human mind. Failing to realize that it’s just us.

So, is it hopeless? If I truly believed that, I’d be dead already. Call me a
hope fiend, but I can’t allow myself to believe that. And you shouldn’t
either. Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World. But laws can change. One good person can make a difference. We don’t have to live on Bizarro World if we don’t want to. If anyone ever tells you that that’s just the way the world is, don’t believe them. Try to change their minds. And if that doesn’t work and they’re too far gone, move on. “You” can change the world, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. No matter what They say, don’t let Them make you believe you can’t.

And if you do keep fighting, know that you will be shunned. Your life will not be easy. But it will have meant something. Don’t let Anti-Life win over Life. Don’t let Them tell you what you cannot do. One good person “can” make a difference. No matter what you’re told.

And maybe, just maybe, we can all escape Bizarro World together.

Until the End of the World,
-Neal Bohl