Superman’s defective duplicate, Bizarro, has been around almost 60 years. The first Bizarro, an imperfect copy of Superboy created by a faulty duplicator ray, debuted in Superboy #68 way back in 1958. The original adult Bizarro began his career the following year and appeared throughout the Silver Age. Although DC later retconned him out of Superman’s history, new versions of Bizarro have kept popping up over the years. All of them share the original’s trademark qualities: messed-up-looking, usually chalk-like skin, distorted logic, and really bad grammar (“Me like you so much, me going to kill you!”). In addition to countless guest appearances, Bizarro has had a backup series in Adventure Comics from #285-299, the New 52 Bizarro Comics, and a couple of anthologies to his credit. He’s also been in the spotlight lately thanks to DC’s Rebirth initiative, in which he’s one-third of their new ‘Dark Trinity’, along with Red Hood and Artemis.
Part of what’s kept him popular is his flexibility. Depending on the story, Bizarro can be a good guy or a bad guy; a misunderstood, lonely freak or a goofy comic foil. Here are 17 facts you probably didn’t know about the Dolt of Steel.
17. An Army Of Bizarros Ran Away From A Sparrow
Despite his tremendous power and imposing appearance, Bizarro’s bark can be worse than his bite. In Superman #169, for example, Bizarro leads an army of his people to Earth to show how much they like Superman. To prove it, he explains to the Man of Steel, they’re going to smash his planet. No sooner does Bizarro share this news than a sparrow flies up, so he and his people turn tail and run away. “Beat it fast Bizarro Legion!” “Right! That harmless sparrow am not able to harm invulnerable us, so we better run away!”
Superman decides they’re no real threat, which leaves the Bizarros free to do what they think are good deeds: fixing the crack in the Liberty Bell, straightening the Leaning Tower of Pisa and putting arms on the Venus de Milo. At the climax, Bizarro does smash the Planet, but it turns out he means the big globe on top of the Daily Planet building.
16. Bizarro Is A Happily Married Man
In Action Comics #254, the villainous Lex Luthor creates the adult Bizarro with a new duplicator ray. Instead of serving Luthor, Bizarro attempts to prove he’s a hero by doing good deeds. Even though he genuinely helps people without screwing up, humans still see him as a monster. That includes Lois, but Bizarro mistakenly thinks she’s fallen for him and sets out to marry her. When that doesn’t work, he uses the duplicate ray to create a bizarro of himself — one that thinks like him, looks like Superman — and incapacitates Superman with green kryptonite so the New Bizarro can flirt with Lois. That doesn’t work either, and “New Bizarro” ends up getting destroyed.
Finally, in Action Comics #255, Lois has the bright idea of using the duplicator to create a Bizarro-Lois. Both Bizarros take one look at each other and decide they’re way sexier than the originals. They fly off into space together, find an abandoned planet, and settle down. We never actually see them go through a wedding ceremony, but they later refer to themselves as husband and wife.
15. Bizarro Had His Own World, Then His Own Universe
After Bizarro and Bizarro-Lois settled on their new homeworld, Htrae, they got lonely. Bizarro (cleverly?) fixed that by building an imitator ray that populated the entire planet with duplicates of themselves. He and his wife became the new society’s leaders: Bizarro #1, and Bizarro-Lois #1. In the post-Crisis DC Universe, one of the later Bizarros even founded and colonized another Htrae.
In the New 52 multiverse, Bizarro has even more room to play. According to DC’s multiversal guide, Earth-29 is a stictly-bizarro universe. The space where Earth-1 sits is occupied by a planet called Htrae, a square world with a shattered moon forming a ring around it. The Bizarros not only occupy Htrae, the entire universe — Thanagar, Mars, Rann — has been replaced by Bizarro versions of our world. Likewise, the superheroes include Bizarro-Batman, Manhawk and Sramian Snitch (the Bizarro version of the Martian Manhunter…for some reason). Earth-29 hasn’t played much of a role in DC yet, but who knows what the future will hold?
14. Bizarro Am Big, Big, Big Star On TV!
Well, he’s not quite a big star, but he has made quite a few appearances. As one of the members of the villainous Legion of Doom, he had a regular gig on Challenge of the Super Friends. In the 1980s series Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, Bizarro shows up in one episode to create Bizarro duplicates of Cyborg, Wonder Woman and Firestorm. As Bizarro’s invulnerable, by his twisted logic, he needs more superheroes to protect him.
It was in the 1990s Superman: The Animated Series that Bizarro truly got a chance to shine, of course, as he starred in several episodes. A teenage Bizarro appears in multiple episodes of The New Adventures of Superboy as well, marrying Bizarro-Lana Lang but later losing her. Smallville, meanwhile, used a variant Bizarro, a disembodied Kryptonian wraith who’d been trapped in the Phantom Zone. When he escapes the zone, he creates a clone of Clark Kent to give him a body, but eventually, his human appearance fades and he reverts to the usual Bizarro skin tones. It wasn’t a popular iteration of the character.
13. Bizarro Babies Look Human
With Bizarro and Bizarro-Lois married off, a little bundle of Bizarro-joy was inevitable. In Superman #140, the couple get the baby, but not the joy — because their son looks human! In their eyes, the baby is hideously ugly; worse, creating a child who looks “perfect” violates the Bizarro way. Bizarro and his wife go from being leaders of Htrae to pariahs, but they refuse to give up their beloved child. (We can think of more than a few Marvel mutants that would probably give anything for parents like that.)
Finally, the couple decide to leave with Junior and settle on another world, but things go wrong and the baby ends up on Earth, in Supergirl’s care. When the baby suddenly turns into a Bizarro, Supes’ cousin assumes she made it happen. Nope; it turns out that looking human is just what bizarro babies do for the first few months, before they inevitably transform into their true Bizarro selves (the issue’s cover unfortunately gave away the twist). Bizarro Jr. #1, as he’s eventually called, goes home to Htrae with his folks and life gets back to Bizarro-normal.
12. Both Lex Luthor And The Joker Have Created Bizarros
The original Bizarro-Superboy was a lab accident created by a Professor Dalton. Lex Luthor then stole Dalton’s notes, built a second duplicator ray, and created the adult Bizarro. In the years since, Crisis on Infinite Earths has erased all that history, and Superman’s arch nemesis and his Lexcorp hench-scientists have created multiple new Bizarros, starting in Man of Steel #5 (1986). Most of the post-Crisis versions came about through defective cloning, like the B-Zero clone in the New 52, for example. These Bizarros have all lived brief lives, dying tragically for one reason or another.
In 2000, during the infamous Emperor Joker story arc, the Joker created the longest-lasting post-Crisis Bizarro to date. Having acquired reality-warping powers, the Clown Prince of Crime creates a distorted world where, among other changes, Bizarro fills Superman’s role. The Man of Steel puts things back to normal eventually, but this Bizarro survived. He lasted until the Flashpoint reboot, then came B-Zero. Yet another Bizarro has shown up as part of the Rebirth event, as it appears DC just can’t seem to settle on what they want to do with the character.
11. Bizarro Has His Own Justice League — a few of them, actually
Using the duplicator ray Luthor made, Bizarro is able to create Bizarro duplicates of anyone he wants. In World’s Finest #156, he creates Bizarro-Batman, who teams up with him to unintentionally wreak havoc back on Earth. Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #74 (yep, they really named a comic that) introduced the next member, but it wasn’t immediately obvious. The amnesiac hero appeared to be an ordinary superhuman romancing Lois, but it turns out that he’s the Bizarro-Flash. The skin just took a while to turn chalky.
Later stories introduced us to Yellow Lantern, Bizarro-Hawkman and Bizarro-Wonder Woman. Bizarro leads the JLA in the Joker’s alternate universe, and on Earth-29, he leads the Unjustice League of Unamerica. According to DC, “they don’t save the day so much as chase their own tails” in futile adventures that accomplish nothing. Over in the Lego DC universe — you know, the one that’s kind of doing well right now — we have yet another Bizarro JLA in Justice League vs. Bizarro League, which you can check out in all its weirdness in the picture above.
10. Bizarro Has Powers That Superman Does Not
When Bizarro debuted, his powers were identical to Superman’s, except for one big advantage: as a synthetic lifeform, he was completely unaffected by green kryptonite (and presumably red or gold kryptonite, had he encountered them). But that changed in Superman #305. Bizarro, due to a freak accident, now possessed flame breath and ice vision, the inverse of the Man of Steel’s heat vision and chilling breath. The Bizarro-Supergirl from the CW Supergirl had the same reverse abilities.
Some post-Crisis versions of Bizarro have added other twists on Supes’ regular powers, such as Bizarro’s x-ray vision seeing through lead…and nothing else. Meanwhile, the Joker-created Bizarro actually manifested a unique ability of his own: bizarro-vision. After making his home on Htrae, now a planet under a blue sun, Bizarro discovered blue solar energy charged up his new power. Using bizarro-vision enables Bizarro to create more bizarros. He was able to populate the new version of Htrae and was no longer a loner as a result.
9. Bizarro Inspired A Music Trend “Beyond Punk”
The Phantom Zone was a 1982 miniseries by Steve Gerber and Gene Colan in which Zod and the other Phantom Zone prisoners escape and terrorize Earth. The fourth and final issue opens in a nightclub devoted to bizarro, a “musical-cultural movement” born in Metropolis. The bizarros claim that “everyone born after 1961 is an imperfect duplicate of a human being.” Gerber describes their music as beyond punk, beyond new wave; their attitude to life is contempt and disdain, rejecting pleasure and pain, logic and emotion.
Despite this, it turns out that bizarros don’t reject ego, taking pride in being more bizarro than anyone else. During a concert by the bizarro musicians Wendy Y. Bother and the Nouns, an escaped Phantom Zoner upstages one of the bizarros in the audience. That provokes a riot, which ends with the Kryptonian burning everyone in the club to death. It seems that this may have killed off the bizarro movement, as it hasn’t been mentioned since.
8. Bizarro Has His Own Fortress Of Solitude
The Fortress of Bizarro — or more accurately, Fourtriss uv Bizarro — debuted in Superman #140. After using the duplicator ray to populate the world with lookalikes of himself and Lois, Bizarro #1 got fed up with seeing the same faces everywhere (later, he’d duplicate most of Superman’s friends to liven things up). Seeking privacy, he built his Fortress, but of course, he made his to be the opposite of Superman’s.
Instead of being in the Arctic, it’s in the desert; instead of being hidden, it’s easily visible with a sign identifying it; instead of Silver Age Superman’s giant door, Bizarro just smashes a whole in the wall to get in. The “trophies” are mostly junk, like empty bottles or broken statues of Bizarro. They do, however, include mementos of his past adventures, such as an image of Superman being placed in handcuffs during one of his visits to Htrae. The Fortress also holds the duplicator machine and other technology Bizarro #1 doesn’t want being used by just anyone. It’s not quite as nice as the above pictured stronghold that inspired it, but it’s not without its charms.
7. Bizarro Has A Secret Identity
He’s actually had more than one. In Adventure #288, Bizarro-Kltpzyxm gave Bizarro Lois #1 superpowers, after which she adopted the identity of Stupor-Woman. Hilarity ensued until the real Mxyzptlk ended the story by eliminating her powers, erasing everyone’s memory of Stupor-Woman, and making Bizarro #1 help people as Stupor-Man. Brilliantly disguised by a fake nose, his real identity went unsuspected until he decided to become Bizarro-Clark Kent as well.
No sooner did he go to work at the Daily Htrae that everyone figured out he was #1, mostly due to him wearing his Bizarro #1 medallion outside his suit. Bizarro-Perry White, displaying unusual levels of intelligence for his kind, figured Bizarro must be Stupor-Man too. #1 chortles that unlike that loser Superman, “Me am so terrific, my identity was found out in my first case.”
6. Bizarros Have A Written Code Of Ethics
After Bizarro populated Htrae and became the leader, he also became his people’s chief lawmaker. The core of the law is the simple set of principles known as the Bizarro Code: “Us do opposite of all Earthly beings! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on the Bizarro world!” The Silver Age Adventure Comics Bizarro series devoted a lot of pages to showing how “opposite” Bizarros could be; for example, they used alarm clocks to set the time for going to bed, and they’d take a child to the movie to punish him for being bad.
During his first visit to Htrae (Superman #263), Superman broke the law by fixing up some ramshackle homes. He meant to be helpful, obviously, but the owners were horrified that their homes were now “perfect.” At his trial, Superman proved that all Bizarros were guilty of breaking the code, because Htrae is perfectly round, just like Earth. The court found for Superman, after which he generously used his powers to fashion the world into a cube instead.
5. Bizarro’s Weakness Is Bizarro Kryptonite
Bizarro’s immunity to kryptonite gave him the edge whenever he tangled with his slightly better-looking counterpart. In Superman #140, a Bizarro Supergirl kidnaps Bizarro’s son; convinced this is a plot by Superman, Bizarro assembles an army of his super-powered people to attack the Earth and dole out some harsh justice on the Man of Steel. Superman’s solution was to turn the same kind of duplicator ray that created bizarro on a pile of green kryptonite meteors. (Because he’s one of the brighter bulbs in the comic book world, Supes shielded himself in lead while he worked at this.) As a result of his efforts, blue kryptonite was born, a kind of bizarro-green k that had no effect on Superman. Its radiation was, however, painful and potentially lethal to Bizarros. That bought the Man of Tomorrow time to fix everything and get baby Bizarro back to his folks. Later on, the Bizarro-Supergirl (unfortunately?) unwittingly exposed herself to blue kryptonite and died.
The original Bizarro-Superboy had a different weakness. Radiation from the broken duplicator machine itself weakened and eventually destroyed him. This kryptonite stuff really is a roll of the dice, isn’t it?
4. When Htrae Died, Bizarro Made Sure His Son Died First
Having Crisis on Infinite Earths erase Bizarro and Htrae from DC continuity wasn’t enough for Steve Gerber. Instead, he elected to kill off the entire Bizarro world in DC Comics Presents #97, set right before the Crisis (he just couldn’t wait). The story employed a concept Gerber introduced in The Phantom Zone, that the zone was part of a cosmic entity’s mind. The Kryptonian wizard Thul-Kar is trapped at another level of the mindscape, but in this story, he finally breaks out into the Earth-One universe. In the process, he turns Htrae into a white hole.
When the Bizarros realize their world is falling apart, they elect to celebrate (“Us am luckiest Bizarros in whole universe! Us all die!”). Bizarro #1 admits he never expected this to happen, so of course, he’s prepared for it, just like his non-existent father, Bizarro-Jor-El was. In Bizarro’s skewed logic, this means tossing Junior into a drill ship and sending it burrowing to the heart of Htrae, so he can die before anyone else. It’s probably the least funny Bizarro moment ever.
3. Bizarro Is A Team Player
Even though Bizarro’s the leader of his planet and of several Justice Leagues, he’s no prima donna. His history shows he’s just as happy being one of the team as he is being a leader. In Challenge of the Super Friends, for instance, he’s a subordinate to Luthor, who runs the show. In the comics, he’s worked on villainous teams under both Gorilla Grodd and Alexander Luthor.
The Secret Society of Supervillains was a Bronze Age team that went through multiple different leaders and agendas in its 17 issue run. In #10, Gorilla Grodd took over and recruited several new members, including Bizarro. The new team successfully overcame the Justice League — Bizarro took out Superman, of course — but Grodd decided to delay killing the heroes until the very end. Why yes, that proved to be a big mistake, how’d you guess?
In Infinite Crisis, Bizarro was part of Alexander Luthor’s Society of villains. In one of his darker moments, Bizarro beats the Human Bomb to death, laughing at the way the Bomb explodes. Bizarro is also on the team of villains fighting the JLA in Alex Ross’s Justice, so clearly, he works pretty well with others.
2. The First Time We See A Bizarro, He Talks Normally
If there am one thing nobody know about Bizarro, it am that he talk good, not dumb like Superman — at least that’s how he’d probably explain it. Watching him say the distorted opposite of what he means or watching other characters try to make sense of it is a staple of Bizarro stories.
In Otto Binder’s original Superboy story, “The Thing of Steel” spoke just as brokenly as all the later versions, though it’s more to mark him as a tragic freak outsider than an attempt humor. On Curt Swan’s cover (inked by Stan Kaye), however, “the super-creature of steel” is speaking perfectly good English. It’s possible that someone got confused, or the cover idea came before Binder wrote the story. Still, the image does capture Bizarro’s dilemma as a lonely Frankenstein monster misunderstood by the villagers. In the story, he did ultimately make one friend, a blind girl who doesn’t realize he’s a freak. He ended up sacrificing himself in battle with Superboy to restore her vision.
1. Bizarro Versions Of Villains Are Good Guys
Along with Superman’s friends — Bizarro Jimmy, Bizarro-Lana, Bizarro-Krypto — the wacky duplicator machine created a couple of Bizarro-villains too. In Adventure #286, Bizarro Junior #1 accidentally created Bizarro-Kltzyxm, Mxyzptlk’s counterpart. In #293, Bizarro had been exiled for breaking his own code, so he created a Bizarro-Luthor to figure out how to fix things.
All the other Silver Age duplicates showed the personalities of their prototypes. Bizarro #1 and Bizarro-Batman were heroic at heart, Bizarro-Perry was gruff, and Bizarro-Jimmy was a goofball. Both Bizarro-villains, however, were nice, kind people, quite unlike their role models. Kltpzyxm was so helpful he unwittingly caused trouble by making things on Htrae more perfect. When he learned this broke the law, he happily went to jail. Bizarro-Luthor demanded four good deeds from Bizarro #1 before agreeing to fix his problem, and the Joker-created Bizarro later creates another Bizarro-Luthor, but this one’s as villainous as the original.
What other fun facts should Bizarro fans know? Sound off in the comments.