"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.
Creation of Bizarro
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 â€œis composed of nuclear matter and isnâ€™t really â€˜alive,â€™ but it can move and talk and has all [Supermanâ€™s] powers and memories!â€ (Apr 1960: â€œThe World of Bizarros!â€). 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-IIIâ€”â€The Son of Bizarro!â€; â€œThe â€˜Orphanâ€™ Bizarro!â€; â€œThe Bizarro Supergirl!â€) and by February 1961 the couple have acquired a daughter (S No. 143/3: â€œBizarro Meets Frankenstein!â€).
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"
The History of the Bizzaros
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, "...me not creature...me 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...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.
"Well, what is difference?" exclaims he new Bizarro to Lois. "Me still handsome! You lucky girl if you marry me!"
"Never, you...you conceited thing!" fumes Lois. "As a matter of fact, I like the first Bizarro better than you!"
"Fool girl!" exclaims the new Bizarro. "Even I better than ugly monster like him!"
A furious battle ensues between the two Bizarros, but since both possess all of Superman's mighty super-powers, both combatants remain unharmed. Superman is ultimately rescued from the effects of the paralyzing kryptonite meteor when Bizarro smashes it into powder in hopes of persuading Superman to help him destroy his handsome Bizarro creation creation, and the so-called "new Bizarro" is finally destroyed, although not by either Superman or Bizarro, when airborne dust particles from the pulverized kryptonite meteor fill its lungs and cause it to disintegrate into nothingness. Apparently, explains Superman, the new Bizarro "was such a perfect imitation of me, physically if not mentally, that he, too, was vulnerable to kryptonite!"
Not long afterward, back in Metropolis, Bizarro renews his pathetic attempts to woo Lois Lane, but Lois continues to spurn his affections. Entraged finally by Lois's repeated refusals to marry him, Bizarro carries her away again to his uninhabited island, vowing that "If me can't have you, Superman not marry you either! Me hold you prisoner at island and fight off Superman!"
The impasse is finally resolved, however, by the quick-witted Loiz Lane, who shrewdly makes use of Lex Luthor's duplicator ray in order to create an imperfect duplicate of himself-- a so-called Bizarro-Lois-- as a fitting mate for Bizarro. Indeed, Bizarro falls in love with Bizarro-Lois the moment he sees her.
"Come, dear!" he coos happily, scooping Bizarro-Lois up in his arms and flying off into space with her. "We not be happy on Earth where people fear us! Me take you to live by ourselves on other world in faraway solar system!" (Act No. 255, Aug '59: "The Bride of Bizarro!").
Bizarros in Love
By April 1960, Bizarro and Bizarro-Lois have arrived on a world in a far-off solar system and stumbled upon the ruins of an ancient city whose alien population was "wiped out" by some unknown calamity sometime in the distant past. The two Bizarros decide to make their home there, but as time passes Bizarro-Lois becomes lonely for "friends to talk to," and so, to fulfill his mate's need for companionship, Bizarro uses the super-scientific apparatus in the ruins of an ancient laboratory to construct an ingenious "imitator machine" with which he soon creates hundreds of Bizarro-Loises in the exact image of his mate.
Bizarro-Lois's joy at her new-found friendships quickly turns to jealousy, however, as the newly created female Bizarros begin to covet the affections of Bizarro, the only male on the planet. At the insistence of the original Bizarro-Lois, Bizarro focuses the amazing imitator machine on himself, thereby creating a host of Bizarros like himself, one for every Bizarro-Lois. Together the male and female Bizarros-- all of them imperfect duplicates of Superman and Lois Lane-- set about dismantling the crumbling ruins of an ancient alien city and transforming them into "a crude copy of Metropolis" which "looks like something a mad architect would design" (see Bizarro City). The Bizarros christened their planet Htrae, which is Earth spelled backwards. The original Bizarro became "the tribe's leader," and the original Bizarro-Lois, his consort. Together they rule their Bizarro world from atop stone thrones in a ramshackle "palace" in Bizarro City.
Birth of the Square World
When Superman visits the planet Htrae in April 1960 and attempts to improve the lot of its people by neatening and straightening their dilapidated homes, he is promptly arrested by a Bizarro policeman and thrown in jail on the charge of having violated the Bizarro Code, which makes it a "big crime to make anything perfect on [the] Bizarro world!" Most, if not all, of the other inmates in the prison are "freak Bizarros" whose minds were somehow not affected by the imitator machine and who therefore have the physical appearance of Bizarros but think and speak normally. Convict labor consists of smashing the beautiful works of statuary found among the ruins of Htrae's vanished ancient civilization. Escape from the prison is virtually impossible, for each guard wields a rifle-like weapon called a "non-super ray" capable of permanently sapping Superman of his mighty super-powers.
As he sits in his cell awaiting trial for his "crimes," the Man of Steel receives a visit from Bizarro-Lois, who offers to persuade the jury to find him innocent if he will agree to give her his hand in marriage. Superman, however,declines the offer: "Sorry, Lois!" he snaps. "I'll take my chances in court!"
"You...you beast!" cries Bizarro-Lois angrily as she stalks out of the prison cell. "You turn me down, eh? Then me will get jury to convict you...wait and see!"
Indeed, when Superman finally comes to trial in the Bizarro courtroom, charged with such heinous Bizarro offenses as "fixing houses," being handsome, and speaking "good English," his outlook seems bleak: not only is he denied an attorney and the right to defend himself, but the spurned Bizarro-Lois vindictively incites her fellow jurors into a frenzy against him, making a verdict of guilty a foregone conclusion. Indeed, affter having been lambasted by the Bizarro prosecutor for his "terrible crimes" and found guilty on all counts by the prejudiced jury, Superman is sentenced by the court to pay the Bizarros' "supreme penalty": transformation into a Bizarro by means of an awesome "Bizarro ray" (Act No. 263: The World of Bizarros!").
Returned to his prison cell to await his punishment, Superman falls asleep and suffers through a long and torturous nightmare. In it, the sentence of the Bizarro-court is carried out and Superman returns to Earth after having been transformed into a Bizarro; after fashioning a special "headmask and gloves made of plastic asbestos" designed to duplicate his former, handsome appearance and conceal from the world that he is now a Bizarro, Superman resumes his customary functions as Earth's greatest super-hero, only to have an accidental explosion rip his mask and gloves to shreds soon afterwards, exposing his hideous Bizarro features and inspiring panic and revulsion in all who see him. And as the terrrifying nightmare continues, its horrific aspects escalate: Superman's closest friends-- Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White-- refuse to believe that the grotesque creature in their midst is realy Superman; they accuse him of having murdered the real Superman and of conspiring to impersonate him; Superman is charged with murder and thrown into prison, and the only way he can save himself and establish his innocence is by producing the "real" Superman alive in open court.
Then, mercifully, "the bad dream's twisted ending shocks Superman awake," and the Man of Steel realizes that he is still imprisoned in a jail cell on the planet Htrae. Soon afterward, one of the so-called freak Bizarros, a friendly Bizarro-Lois sympathetic to Superman's plight, offers to help SUperman escape the prison by posing as the original Bizarro-Lois, the co-ruler of Htrae, and engaging the watchtower guard in conversation while the Man of Steel makes a dash for freedom. The escape plan is thwarted, however, by the unexpected arrival of the real Bizarro-Lois, and before long Superman finds himself being marched into the prison courtyard to have his court-decreed sentence carried out.
At the last possible instant, however, just as the awesome Bizarro ray is about to be used to transform him into a Bizarro, Superman hits upon and ingenious stratagem: after requesting, and being granted, an opportunity to present new evidence in his behalf, Superman tells the Bizarro court that every Bizarro on Htrae is as guilty of violating the Bizarro Code as he is, since every Bizarro has "one perfect thing." To prove his thesis, Superman hastily constructs a TV (continued...)
satellite and hurls it into orbit around the Bizarro planet, so that it can begin transmitting back outer-space views of the Bizarro world. Using these satellite views of Htrae as his evidence, the Man of Steel argues that every Bizarro on Htrae is guilty of living on a perfect, round world and is therefore in violation of the Bizarro Code. On the basis of this argument, Superman is acquitted of the charges against him and released from custody, along with the freak Bizarro-Lois who tried to help him break out of prison. Before returning to Earth, Superman constructs a "super-large bulldozer" and, to the great delight of the Bizarro population, transforms their planet from a round world into a cube-shaped one so that each and every Bizarro can feel happier, knowing that he lives on an imperfect world (Act No. 264, May '60: "The Superman Bizarro!").