This am not article about history of Bizarro, Bizarro am not one of the most classic foes of Superman. He am not good. Bizarro am bad character and this history am not interesting. In fact, Bizarro is #1 worst villain of all and has starred in many boring stories.
You know, I’m kind of tempted to write the whole article like this, but I want you to read the whole thing and not curse Den of Geek‘s good name all over social media, so while the temptation to write this thing in Bizarro speak am strong, let us take a higher road as we discuss the history of Bizarro, Superman’s imperfect duplicate, like rational human beings.
Hey, what would the Bizarro World version of Den of Geek be anyway? Den of Suave Sophistication?
Anyway, Bizarro is coming to the Supergirl TV series in an episode appropriately titled, well, “Bizarro.” One of the coolest things about Bizarro is that the character is just as effective as a goofball comic relief character as it is a terrifying monster. For decades, clever writers have done some awesome story gymnastics with the Bizarro concept, gifting fans with a buffoon or a blood curdling super monster.
Let’s take a look…
The Imperfect Duplicate of Superboy?
Surprisingly, Bizarro did not start his long and strange legend as a foe to Superman. When Bizarro first appeared in Superboy #68 (Oct. 1958) creators Otto Binder and George Papp first had this craggy-faced creature go up against Superboy. With all the humor and zany comedy that historically surrounds Bizarro; it’s rather ironic that the original Bizarro was a tragic character. Like really tragic. Like tug on the heartstrings in the Silver Age tragic. Like, those tear stains will muck up CGC gradings years later tragic.
It’s obvious that Bizarro was originally supposed to be a Frankenstein inspired creation to go up against Superboy. The story goes that a scientist used a duplicator ray on Superboy as part of an experiment (as one does). This ray created a chalky, hideous duplicate of the Boy of Steel. The creature was shunned by the residents of Smallville who did everything but whip out the torches and pitchforks.
In his debut story, Bizarro befriended a young blind girl and after it was rejected by everyone around it, including Superboy (what a dick), Bizarro forced the duplicating ray to blow up, destroying the creature in the process. The blind girl was cured thanks to the explosion so Bizarro went out a hero. Boy, would that all change…and soon.
A Super Return
During the bygone days of the Silver Age, both Superman and Superboy faced countless strange menaces. Between the two versions of Clark Kent, both Man and Boy starred in something like 80 books, so DC had to come up with an endless string of age-appropriate aliens, monsters, imps, and villains for its heroes to face.
But something about Bizarro had staying power, so in Action Comics #254-255 (1959), Bizarro returned. This time it was an adult Superman who had to face his imperfect duplicate and this time, this once dangerous monster was played more for laughs. The whole mess began when Lex Luthor duplicated the duplication ray (whoah!) and recreated Bizarro. This new adult Bizarro was more of a nuisance than a menace and became a craggy pain in the balls to Superman and his friends.
This Bizarro meant well but it was way more Lenny from Of Mice and Men than the Monster from Frankenstein. Longing for a date (they didn’t have Tinder in the Silver Age…Baezarro?), Bizarro fell in love with Lois Lane. In fact, it was Lois who managed to defeat Bizarro by creating a Bizarro duplicate of herself. Soon, Bizarro variants and recreations would become a huge theme for the character moving forward. Bizarro and Bizarro Lois left Earth but not for long.
In Action Comics (vol. 1) #263-264, Bizarro and his Lois returned and this time, they weren’t alone. Now calling himself Bizarro #1, the Bizarro Luthor created had used the duplication ray to make an imperfect double of Earth. He and Lois populated this square world (because awesome) with duplicates of themselves.
Now, you might ask wouldn’t an imperfect duplicate of Bizarro just be Superman? Not the case, because Silver Age logic does what Silver Age logic wants!
So now there was a world of Bizarros and Bizarro #1 and Bizarro Lois even had a baby! There was also a Bizarro Supergirl and all sorts of duplication shenanigans happening. The classic monster version of Bizarro was gone as DC now used the character to satire its own Super Family of characters. There were now Bizarro versions of just about every major and minor Superman supporting character populating the square Bizarro World, including a Bizarro version of Titano the Super Ape! An imperfect, chalk white, craggy Bizarro ape might be the coolest thing ever.
At this time, DC began to build a mythology for the Bizarros, inventing such concepts as Blue Kryptonite (which, of course, could only hurt Bizarros) and a Bizarro Justice League. The whole wonderful mess proved so popular that Bizarro World became a beloved back up feature in Adventure Comics running from issue 285 to issue 299 (June 1961-Aug. 1962) Pretty much all the pop culture Bizarro references (remember all this, Seinfeld fans?) came from this age of Bizarro wackiness.
We are Legion
Bizarro was replaced in his own feature by the Legion of Super Heroes but it would not be the last time Bizarro that popped up in Adventure Comics. In Adventure Comics #329 (1965), Bizarro tried to join the futuristic Legion. When the Legion rejected it (now wait a minute, the Legion accepted Bouncing Boy and Matter Eater Lad but they didn’t want a being with the powers of Superman? Legion of Super Dicks is more like it), Bizarro created his own Legion of Super Bizarros. Superboy eventually convinced Bizarro to disband its Legion, but the fact that a Legion of Bizarros once existed makes us very happy.
A Villain Once Again
The Bizarro that appeared in the Adventure Comics backups and throughout the Silver Age was more a buffoon than a menace, but in Superman #306 (1976), Bizarro would take on a more villainous role. In this issue, Bizarro’s powers became altered. It now had the opposite powers of Superman such as ice vision instead of heat vision and this, of course, made him much more of a threat. Bizarro tried to kidnap Lois Lane and instead of annoying the Man of Steel, Bizarro tried to kill his perfect doppelganger.
At this time, Bizarro also joined The Secret Society of Super Villains. Now, instead of being a cartoony bit of comic relief, Bizarro was a true villain and menace, a role he would fill until the end of the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths era.
What Ever Happened to the Imperfect Duplicate of the Man of Tomorrow?
For a character that brought laughs to so many in the Silver Age, the pre-Crisis Bizarro met a tragic demise. In the pages of Alan Moore’s “final” Superman story, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Bizarro is driven mad by Mister Mxyzptlk. Under the now violent imp’s power, Bizarro #1 destroys Bizarro World and commits suicide. The violent and tragic death of Bizarro and its world can be seen as a razing of the Silver Age as one of the more whimsical concepts of yesteryear met a very brutal and very modern end.
Return of the Monster
The first appearance of Bizarro in the post-Crisis DCU took place in the pages of Man of Steel, writer/artist John Byrne’s classic reboot of the Superman mythos. In the pages of the fifth issue of Man of Steel (1986), Byrne returned to the classic Bizarro origin in order to modernize Superman’s strangest foe. This new Bizarro tale cast Lex Luthor in the role of Dr. Frankenstein as the creator of a chalk white monstrosity. Byrne stripped all the humor away from Bizarro and presented a true force of nature. Luthor wanted his own Superman clone, but when he saw the unstable, mute monstrosity he brought into the world, he rejected his creation.
This Bizarro had a rudimentary connection to Clark Kent and tried to live a semblance of Kent’s life. The whole time, Bizarro was breaking down, leaving a chalky white substance behind. In an homage to the original Superboy Bizarro story, Lucy Lane’s blindness was cured by the Bizarro residue. It was pretty cool how Byrne deconstructed the Bizarro concept to find a tale of pure tragedy and terror.
Bizarro #1 Am Back
Byrne’s Bizarro remained dead; a pile of dust, but DC brought back a few other Bizarros. None of them were particularly memorable until the Emperor Joker storyline of 2000. In this story, the Joker gained the powers of Mr. Mxyzptlk and used them to recreate reality in his twisted image. One of his insane creations was a childlike, brutish version of Superman.
This Bizarro was more like the classic Bizarro #1 and even lived on a square Earth also created by the Joker. There was just something appropriate that a new, wacky version of Bizarro, backwards speak and all, was created by the Joker. When the Joker was defeated his version of Bizarro remained in the restored reality.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Batzarro. Created by Jeff Loeb in Superman/Batman #20 (2005), Batzarro is, say it with us now, the imperfect duplicate of Batman. He is the world’s worst detective and has a habit of verbally repeating his own first person narration.
Batzarro also killed his own parents and if that isn’t the most twisted thing you’ve heard today, I don’t know what is.
Everything Old Am New Again
The Joker created Bizarro grew very lonely on Earth so in Action Comics #844-846 (2006- 2007) by the stunningly awesome creative team of Eric Powell, Geoff Johns, and Richard freakin’ Donner (!), Bizarro heads of into deep space to find a world of its own. There it discovers a square world with a blue sun and also discovers a power no one knew it had.
It seems that this Bizarro had Bizarro Vision which allowed it to create duplicates of whatever he desired. With this power, Bizarro began to populate its world with different Bizarros and the concept of Bizarro World was reborn. This was an awesome story and allowed Richard Donner to play with a character he never got to touch in any of the Superman films. It also cast Bizarro in the role of a well meaning nuisance as Superman was more than happy to leave his duplicate in the far reaches of space as the hero of its own imperfect world.
Her Name Am Supergirl
Supergirl #53-56 (2010), saw an imperfect duplicate of Supergirl arrive on Earth. In an echo of Supergirl’s arrival on Earth, Bizarro sent Bizarro Supergirl to Earth after the newly formed Bizarro World was attacked by a powerful alien Godship. The real Supergirl returned Bizarro Supergirl to its home and stopped the invasion, reuniting all the Bizarros on their home world.
Like all Bizarros, Bizarro Supergirl was a dangerous nuisance, and like her cousin did so many times, Supergirl helped her duplicate find its place in a universe that rejects it.
The Old 25, erm, I Mean the New 52
After DC rebooted its reality, it wasn’t long before the backwards stylings of Bizarro made things strange for this brave new world. During the Forever Evil event (2013-2014), Lex Luthor began construction of an army made up of clones of Superman. When the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 invaded, Luthor unleashed one of his clones too early. This clone wasn’t fully formed and, you guessed it, was like a imperfect version of Lex’s arch nemesis.
The twist on this Bizarro is that Lex actually grew fond of his creation and began treating the twisted, backwards thing sort of like a son. When Bizarro fell to the Crime Syndicate, Lex is devastated and goes on a mission of vengeance against the other dimensional villains. This reversal of the Frankenstein legend was a potent way to introduce a very new Bizarro into the New 52. There hasn’t been an appearance of this Bizarro since his demise but that does not mean that the legend of Bizarro ended here.
After the brutal demise of Bizarro in Forever Evil, it was time to bring back some backwards levity. In the great Bizarro mini-series of 2015, writer Heath Corson and artist Gustavo Duarte presented the most unlikely buddy road trip story of all time. In this series, Bizarro and Jimmy Olsen take a driving tour of the DC Universe and run into some of DC’s greatest (and some not so greatest) characters.
Heck, the pair even runs into the New 52 version of 1966 Batman foe King Tut! How are you not buying this right now? Hell man, just introduce a Bizarro on CBS’ Supergirl and have take a half a season road trip with TV’s James Olsen. I would watch the crap out of that. This series is not only worth it for the constant yucks, it also shows what a malleable concept Bizarro truly can be.
Outside of DC’s main continuity we have Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman. This whole series was a stirring, heartfelt, imaginative tribute to all things Superman and you know Bizarro got in on the act. Yes, it is Grant Morrison writing Bizarro, and it lived up to the mind altering potential that pairing promises.
In All-Star Superman #7-8 (2007), Morrison and Quitely introduce a version of Bizarro with the power to turn normal humans into twisted Bizarro replicates. And you just know Morrison had a whole new special twist on the Bizarro legend, right? Morrison and Quitely also introduced Zibarro, a being with normal human intellect. So essentially, they introduced a Bizarro version of Bizarro and with Quitely, crafted one of the most moving, frightening, and intensely imaginative Bizarro tales of all time.
What do you think Bizarro Grant Morrison would be like? He probably writes for the Financial Times or something and has lots of hair. And never smoked anything funny.
Media has not been immune to Bizarro’s backwards charms. A very villainous version of Bizarro was a member in bad standing of the Legion of Doom on Challenge of the Super Friends (MEANWHILE…!). A near visually perfect Bizarro appeared on several episodes of The Adventures of Superboy TV series. Seriously, this, the very first live action version of Bizarro ever looks like a Curt Swan version come to life.
A very twisted version of Bizarro appeared in a number of episodes of Smallville played by Clark Kent himself Tom Welling. This version represented the Bizarro’s more maniacal side as there was nothing funny about this twisted version of Clark Kent’s imperfect duplicate. This also marked the first time the same actor played a version of Superman and a version of Bizarro.
Which begs the question, how the heck was the evil Superman featured in Superman III (1983) not a Bizarro? I mean, that was just low hanging fruit and they missed it! Seriously, what would you give to see Christopher Reeve play his version of Bizarro? How did they miss that? C’mon, they had Superman’s evil double right freakin’ there and it wasn’t Bizarro? Come on, Rick Baker could have done the makeup! One of the biggest missed opportunities in comic book film history, says I!
Leaving things on a happy note, Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000) featured a number of great Bizarro tales where the villain walked the line between goofy monster and true apocalyptic threat.
So with so much DC TV and film coming our way, who knows where this legendary backwards monstrosity will turn up after a Bizarro is featured on Supergirl. Henry Cavill Bizarro? Yes, please.