In other words: Hate this 65th Anniversary Condemnation of Bizarro…
By PETER BOSCH
August 21, 2023, marks the 65th anniversary of the newsstand debut of a tragic figure who went on to become one of DC’s funniest characters — Bizarro!
Created by Otto Binder in his script for Superboy #68 (cover date Oct. 1958), Bizarro was generated accidentally by a scientist who stumbled and knocked into his imperfect molecular duplicating machine, which caused the ray to focus on Superboy. The machine crashed and exploded… and when the smoke cleared, laying on the floor was a similar costumed figure to Superboy — but with a pale-skinned and twisted face, a creature made up of non-living matter. The inventor and Superboy cleared out the lab of the broken machine parts and then came back to discover the creature was gone.
As Superboy handled an emergency, Bizarro explored Smallville, wanting to emulate the Boy of Steel so people would like him, but everywhere he went people were aghast at his appearance. He was brought to tears until a young woman showed him kindness. What he didn’t know at that moment was she was blind.
When he learned the truth, Bizarro hurried to his own demise — but he still managed to do something good at last:
In Action Comics #254 (July 1959), in present day Metropolis, Lex Luthor revealed to a henchman that he stole the scientist’s plans for the duplicator ray and rebuilt it himself, knowing it would still cause a Bizarro effect. Luthor disguised himself as a professor pretending to have a cure for kryptonite and got Superman to stand in front of the machine. An instant later, an imperfect adult version of Superman appeared, but instead of obeying Luthor, Bizarro was horrified at being reborn and turned on the criminal and took him to jail. But upon reaching the police station, the police chief said, “That’s not Superman, but — but a monster in his form!” And so the emotional pain started all over again for poor Bizarro.
In the following issue of Action Comics (#255, Aug. 1959), the plot became more convoluted, with Bizarro stepping in front of the duplicator machine and creating a normal-looking Superman, but one with Bizarro’s brain. Bizarro sends him to propose to Lois but she recognizes from his way of talking (“Us be married right away, Lois! Me fly you to Metropolis!”) that he was not the real Superman. She rejects him and says she likes the first Bizarro better, which makes Bizarro think she loves him. Needless to say, Bizarro fights off the duplicate Superman, and when that creature is eliminated, he starts courting Lois. He and the real Superman have a huge battle that’s resolved by Lois creating a Bizarro-Lois with the machine. Bizarro flies off with his new mate and they head away to “live by ourselves on other world in faraway solar system!”
But in Action Comics #263 (Apr. 1960), Bizarro created an “Imitator Machine” that copied him and Bizarro-Lois and populated their world.
In the same issue, they captured Superman and threatened to turn him into a Bizarro because nothing perfect could be allowed to exist under their Bizarro World code: “Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!” The story continued into the next issue and Superman got the case against him dismissed by proving there was something already perfect there they were unaware of…
Bizarro made subsequent appearances after that, but DC truly hit the potential of the character by starting a very light-hearted “Tales of the Bizarro World” back-up feature in Adventure Comics, beginning with #285 (June 1961) and running through #299 (Aug. 1962) with scripts by Jerry Siegel and the majority of the art on the series by John Forte.
Below are some of my favorite Bizarro covers from the Silver Age:
— The Best SUPERMAN Comic Never Published by DC. Click here.
— SUPERMAN and BATMAN Give You a Hilarious Blast of Summer. Click here.
13th Dimension contributor-at-large PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Page, was published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.