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Bizarro #1 and Htrae

"A grotesque imitation of Superman" (Act No. 263, Apr '60: "The World of Bizarros!") "fashioned out of lifeless matter" (Act No. 254, Jul '59: "The Battle with Bizarro!"). "Clad in an invulnerable costume just like Superman's" (Act No. 255, Aug '59: "The Bride of Bizarro!") and endowed with all of his mighty super-powers, (Act No. 254, Jul '59: "The Battle with Bizarro!") Bizarro possesses a dim copy of Superman's super-keen mind. (S No. 140, Oct '60: pts. I-III--"The Son of Bizarro!"; "The Orphan' Bizarro!"; "The Bizarro Supergirl!").

His flesh is white, the color of chalk, and his face appears faceted, as though it had been chiseled out of rock. His black hair is matted and unkempt. He is well-meaning but witless, super-powerful but pathetic. His speech is illiterate and ungrammatical. Because Bizarro's mind is an imperfect imitation of Superman's (Act No. 254254, Jul '59: "The Battle with Bizarro!"), however, he is capable of flights of occasional super-genius. Because he possesses dim duplicate memories of all that Superman knows, he is well aware that Clark Kent is secretly Superman.

Unlike Superman, Bizarro is immune to Green Kryptonite, but like all Bizarro creatures, he is vulnerable to Blue Kryptonite.

Brought into being by an ingenious duplicator ray built by Lex Luthor, the renegade scientist who is Superman's bitterest enemy, Bizarro is only lifeless matter in human form—a thing composed of unliving matter. "Me not human... me not creature," moans Bizarro pathetically in July 1959, "... me not even animal!"

Lex Luthor hoped to use the duplicate to attack Superman. However, this Bizarro did not cooperate and instead tried to emulate Superman. Unfortunately, his attempts to match the original's heroics were clumsy and destructive, and he kidnapped Lois. Superman resolved this situation by creating a Bizarro Lois for Bizarro. Feeling rejected by the people of Earth, he moved to the world of Htrae, which had ancient advanced technology which was used to populate the planet with other Bizarros created in the same manner. Almost everyone on Htrae looked like an ugly Superman (and possessed super powers) or an ugly Lois Lane. When Superman visited he was arrested for being normal, but he plea bargained a proposal to change the shape of the world into a cube for his release.

Action Comics No. 263 observes that Bizarro “is composed of nuclear matter and isn’t really ‘alive,’ but it can move and talk and has all [Superman’s] powers and memories!” (Apr 1960: “The World of Bizarros!”). Bizarro can also think and feel and engage in reproduction: his mate, Bizarro-Lois, gives birth to a baby boy Bizarro in October 1960 ((S No. 140: pts. I-III—”The Son of Bizarro!”; “The ‘Orphan’ Bizarro!”; “The Bizarro Supergirl!”) and by February 1961 the couple have acquired a daughter (S No. 143/3: “Bizarro Meets Frankenstein!”).

Together with Bizarro-Lois, Bizarro rules the far-distant planet Htrae, a wacky, cockeyed world where all the men are imperfect imitations of Superman and all the women are distorted doubles of Lois Lane. It is to distinguish himself from all these other male Bizarros that the original Bizarro has taken to wearing a large medallion around his neck plainly identifying himself as "Bizarro No. 1"

Indeed, although the name Bizarro is used as a proper noun, designating Bizarro himself, it is also employed in the texts as a general term to designate any Bizarro creature. All Bizarros are imperfect duplicates of other living things; all are illiterate and ungramatical; and all share the grotesque physical characteristics—including the chalk-white, faceted faces—peculiar to Bizarros. The first Bizarro, in fact, was an imperfect double of Superboy created by a scientist in Smallville while Superman was growing up there. When Superboy first saw the grotesque duplicate of himself, he exclaimed that it was "bizarre"; the witless creature heard him and adopted Bizarro as its name. It is by stealing the plans for the Smallville scientist's original duplicator ray that Lex Luthor is able to reconstruct the apparatus and create his own Bizarro—this one a grotesque imitation of the adult Superman—in July 1959. It is this Bizarro that is the subject of this article.

In the texts, Bizarro is often referred to as the Thing of Steel. Other texts call him "a blundering menace," "a grotesque, imperfect double" of Superman, a "pathetic, grotesque creature," and "an artificial imitation of the Man of Steel that came out imperfect!" Superman No. 174 describes him as "the imperfect, unliving duplicate of Superman who does things in a crazily mixed-up manner."

Bizarro, however, thinks of himself somewhat more generously, as the "most famous monster in history," the all-time "champion monster," the "most famous monster of all," and the "scariest monster" of all time. However, he sometimes sees himself as others do: "Me unhappy!" he declares sadly in July 1959, "Me don't belong in world of living people! Me don't know difference between right and wrong—good and evil!" (Act No. 254: "The Battle with Bizarro!")

In July 1959, working from the plans for the original apparatus used to create a Bizarro-Superboy in Smallville many years ago, renegade scientist Lex Luthor constructs an ingenious duplicator ray, which, "when it is trained on any object," either animate or inanimate, "can create a molecular duplicate" of that object, although the duplicate is alwas somehow imperfect, as when it creates a diamond that melts away like ice, or produces an apple weighing hundreds of pounds. "This duplicator ray," gloats Luthor to his henchman, Vekko, "is going to mean the downfall of Superman!"

Soon afterward, after donning a disguise to conceal his identity and adopting the pseudonym "Professor Clyde," Luthor lures Superman to his laboratory on the pretext of having created a device capable of immunizing him against kryptonite, and then bathes the Man of Steel in the ray of his duplicator. Instantly there is a puff of smoke, and when it clears, Superman finds himself confronted by Bizarro, an imperfect duplicate of himself composed of lifeless matter. For Superman, the shock of discovery has barely worn off when "Profesor Clyde" rips away his disguise to reveal the vengeful face of Luthor. "Obey your master, Bizarro," shrieks the renegade scientist at his newly created monstrosity, "--fight Superman!"

But Bizarro does not acknowledge Luthor as his master. Sickened at the ugly countenance he sees staring back at him from the laboratory mirror-- "Me not human," he moans pathetically, " not not even animal!" --and enraged at Luthor for having brought him to life, Bizarro shatters the mirror with a mighty blow of his fist and then seizes Luthor and Vekko as they try to escape.

"Me unhappy!" confides Bizarro to Superman as they fly their captives toward the nearest police station. "Me don't belong in world of living people! Me don't know difference between right and wrong--good and evil!"

"I'm glad he recognizes that fact!" thinks Superman to himself. "I'll have to destroy him later! It won't be like 'death' since he's only lifeless matter in human form!"

Moments later, when Superman races off to rescue a ship trapped in the path of a tidal wave, Bizarro carries Luthor and Vekko the rest of the way to the police station by himself. Pained and saddened by the fear and horror on the policemen's faces when they glimpse his ugly, monstrous face, Bizarro races off, eager to perform some good deed that will persuade people to accept him as a friend and convince them that, at heart, he is not really a monster. He rescues an airliner that has caught fire in midair and helps it land safely, but despite the fact that his selfless heroism has just saved the lives of both passengers and cres, the people on board flee from him in terror when they see that their savior is a horrifying monster.

Saddened by this cruel rebuff from the very people he tried to help, "the friendless, imitation Superman flees in blind sorrow, not watching where he is flying...." When, in his reverie, Bizarro accidentally knocks over a smokestack and a steeple, aircraft of the Metropolis Civil Defense Command attempt to shoot him out of the sky, but their "rocket-bombs"-- and even an atomic bomb-- have no effect on his invulnerable body. Finally, realizing how much he is hated and reviled, Bizarro hurls himself against a rocky cliff at awesome super-speed in an attempt at self-annihilation, but all he succeeds in doing is boring through the solid rock like an invulnerable human drill.

Further complications arise when an unfortunate misunderstanding leads Bizarro to the wholly erroneous conclusion that Lois Lane has fallen in love with him. Overjoyed at having at last come in contact with a person who loves him, Bizarro scoops Lois up in his arms and flies her out over the ocean to a remote, uninhabited island, where he has constructed a ramshackle, tumbledown shack for her in the pathetic belief that he has built her a beautiful "palace." When Lois delicately spurns Bizarro's urgent proposal of marriage on the ground that "Superman is the only man I could ever love," Bizarro's grotesque mind conceives a bizarre inspiration: flying swiftly to Metropolis and then returning to a remote corner of his island and returning with Lex Luthor's duplicator, Bizarro bathes himself in its eerie rays, taking care to remain unseen by the still-waiting Lois Lane. "Me figure out simple thing!" thinks Bizarro to himself. "If machine made imperfect duplicate like me, out of perfect Superman, then it also work backwards and...make perfect Superman duplicate out of imperfect Bizarro!"

Indeed, as the duplicator ray works its electronic magic, Bizarro can see that his bizarre scheme has succeeded: by focusing the duplicator on himself, Bizarro has succeeded in creating an "exact double of Superman, although the new creation"still has the thinking mentality of Bizarro" as well as Bizarro's illiterate, ungrammatical mode of self-expression. "Me new Bizarro...handsome!" proclaims the newly created Bizarro. "You old Bizarro...ugly!"

When the so-called "new Bizarro" --which is endowed with the handsome features of Superman-- returns to Bizarro's ramshackle "palace" and alights beside Lois, the attractive journalist believes that the real Superman has arrived to rescue her and eagerly accepts his proposal of marriage. "Oh, Superman! she sighs. "At last my happiest hour has come! My years of waiting for you are over!"

Meanwhile, however, the real Superman has arrived on the island in time to witness the astounding spectacle of the new Bizarrro proclaiming his love for Lois. He is about to show himself and intervene, when suddenly the so-called "old Bizarro" sneaks up behind him and reduces him to a state of helpless near-paralysis with a kryptonite meteor. "Now," says Bizarro with evident satisfaction, "romance of new Bizarro and Lois Lane go one!" (Act No. 254: "The Battle with Bizarro!")

From a place of concealment, with the pain-wracked Superman lying helpless on the ground beside him, Bizarro looks on happily as, not far away, his Bizarro creation, the so-called "new Bizarro," lovingly embraces the unwitting Lois Lane. "If me can't marry Lois, you not marry her either!" snaps Bizarro to Superman. And to himself he thinks, "Good! She become wife of new Bizarro before she discover I trapped real Superman!"

Suddenly, however, Lois becomes aware of the oddly illiterate speech of the man holding her in his arms and realizes that he could not possibly be Superman. And at that moment, Bizarro steps out from his place of hiding, apparently having undergone a change of heart about his plan to trick Lois into marrying the new Bizarro. "Him not real Superman!" cries Bizarro.

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