Foolish Screen Rant readers think Superman am awesome? Bizarro am so much more awesome, Superman beat him all the time!
Or so Bizarro might put it if he wrote for Screen Rant. The Man of Steel’s defective, dimwitted duplicate has been providing comic-book comic relief for more than 50 years, even though his creator imagined him as a straight man. Alvin Schwartz, the writer who came up with Bizarro, conceived him as Superman without radiance, the superhuman equivalent of a burned-out bulb. No light. No ideals. No nobility.
Later writers realized Bizarro didn’t have to spread light to spread laughs. Luthor and Brainiac might be smarter — okay, they’re definitely smarter — but they aren’t very funny. Bizarro, with his tortured syntax and mangled logic, had enough potential to get his own Silver Age backup series and a more recent miniseries in DC’s New 52.
There’s a freedom in unfettered stupidity, and Bizarro makes the most of it. Here are sixteen examples of the Moron of Might doing what Superman never could.
16. Bizarro is free to screw up. In fact, the law says he has to
With lives riding on everything Superman does, he tries never to make a mistake. Bizarro, by contrast, is not only free to make mistakes, it’s a legal requirement.
When he founded and populated the planet Htrae (see #14), Bizarro drew up the equivalent of the U.S. Constitution, the Bizarro Code. That includes a clause that nothing on Htrae should be perfect. For Bizarro, getting things right would be like Superman fighting for lying, injustice, and the un-American way.
Just look at Bizarro’s track record in the “Tales of the Bizarro World” backup series: getting exiled from Htrae, unleashing a monster, framing Bizarro-Jimmy Olsen for murder, and helping John Wilkes Booth assassinate George Washington (don’t ask). As Bizarro-Lois once told her hubby, being a “stupid, rotten failure” is what makes him Htrae’s greatest champion.
15. Bizarro can terrify people just by showing his face
Bizarro has a face only a mother could love. And he didn’t have a mother.
His powers are intimidating to start with, but even when he stands there not using them, the white stoneface freaks people out.
When the first Bizarro faced Superboy, he was written as a tragic, Frankensteinian outcast. The second, better-known Bizarro relishes the fact that he’s terrifying. In Superman #143, a new TV show touts its monster as the most terrifying of all time. An outraged Bizarro flies to Earth to prove he’s still the scariest, but due to various misunderstandings, he can’t frighten anyone. He’s on the brink of going berserk when Superman convinces him the world is trembling at his chalky white feet. Bizarro then flies home a happy man.
14. Bizarro can clone himself to infinity
Moving to an empty, abandoned world is great for colonization, lousy if you want to throw a party. That was the problem Bizarro and Bizarro-Lois faced when they arrived on the planet of ruins they’d later name Htrae.
After realizing they had nobody else to talk to, Bizarro used his distorted version of Superman’s super-intellect to cannibalize the former inhabitants’ tech and build himself an imitator ray (which is totally different from the duplicator ray that created him and Bizarro-Lois. Don’t be confused!). He created countless copies of himself and his lady love, enough to rebuild the ruins into Bizarro City (we can all be glad they didn’t pick Siloportem). A later version of Bizarro — the character’s been rebooted several times — had bizarro-vision that gave him the duplicating power without any tech.
Superman though? That loser never managed anything beyond a few silly robots.
13. Bizarro can eat green kryptonite
Just to make it clear, Screen Rant has not found any stories where Bizarro actually did eat green kryptonite. The point is, he could if he wanted to and Superman can’t. And yes, that goes for red and gold kryptonite too.
Being kryptonite-proof was Bizarro’s greatest advantage in his early years, when he and Superman were most likely to trade punches. Supes eventually found a solution, turning the duplicator ray that created Bizarro on a pile of green kryptonite. That created a bright blue bizarro-kryptonite that hurts Bizarro (and his male Htrae duplicates) like the green stuff hurts Superman. The balance of power was restored.
A later story established that blue kryptonite affects Bizarro, even through lead. Then Bizarros figured out how to create duplicate bizarro-lead that does block blue-k rays. It’s sort of like the nuclear arms race, only silly.
12. Bizarro can tell one bizarro from the other
With the exception of special characters such as Bizarro-Batman or Bizarro-Jimmy Olsen, all Bizarro men look identical. All the women are dead ringers for Bizarro-Lois. Their kids are all little Bizarros or pint-sized Loises. Yet neither Bizarro #1 nor any of his people have trouble telling each other apart.
Dimwitted though they are, there are no stories of, say, a Bizarro-Lois mistaking the wrong Bizarro for her boyfriend or husband. It seems impossible, like Rocket Raccoon being able to divine 5,700 different meanings from “I am Groot.” But like Rocket Raccoon, they do it.
Is it clothes? When Bizarro-Lois #1 gets superpowers in one story, nobody recognizes her in her Stupor-Woman outfit — but most Loises and Bizarros dress exactly alike. Body odor, then? Some subtle angles in their rocky faces too subtle for human eyes to discern? To date, DC has yet to provide an answer. As Earth-29 in DC’s current multiverse is a planet of Bizarros – perhaps we’ll someday find out.
11. Bizarro doesn’t have to hide his identity
Next to protecting innocent lives and giving Luthor the smackdown, Superman’s prime directive is to keep his secret identity secret. If that requires that everyone, even Lois, think Clark is a wimp and a weakling, that’s a fair sacrifice to make. Clark Kent has to remain secret.
Bizarro? He don’t need no stinking secrets. The first time he became Bizarro-Clark Kent, his coworkers outed him on the same page. It didn’t take much journalistic skill, seeing as he typed at super-speed and wore his Bizarro #1 medallion outside Bizarro-Clark’s suit. Unfazed, Bizarro bragged he’d once again surpassed Superman, who hadn’t been able to expose himself after years as Clark Kent.
10. Bizarro can get involved in politics
With rare exceptions, Superman keeps his hands off politics. He did run for state senator in Lois Lane #62, but that was only a ruse to outwit Mr. Mxyzptlk. Under normal circumstances, if nominated, Supes would not run, if elected he would not serve, if asked he would not endorse. Not even if you begged.
Bizarro, though? From the first minute he populated Htrae with his duplicates, they’ve accepted him as supreme leader. That has turned out to be a surprisingly good choice. Bizarro #1 submits himself to the laws of Htrae, even when they work against him. He’s willing to share power, allowing other Bizarros to serve as mayor of Bizarro City or as generals of the Bizarro military. And lets face it, his people couldn’t find a dumber, more inept individual to lead them if they tried. On Htrae, that’s a plus.
9. Bizarro freezes things with his eyes and breathes fire
When Bizarro debuted, his physical powers were identical to Superman, save for the latter’s vulnerability to kryptonite. And of course, he didn’t have the Man of Steel’s super-brains, except when the writers thought a flash of intelligence would be useful to the plot.
In Superman #306, things changed. From that point on, instead of heat vision and super-cold breath, Bizarro wielded flame breath and ice vision. Superman guessed correctly that Bizarro X-ray vision had changed too, so that it could see through lead; it turned out later that lead was the only thing Bizarro could now see through.
Presumably, all the regular Bizarro guys on Htrae were still stuck with their original power set. They were undoubtedly jealous that their leader found a new way to be the opposite of all earthly beings.
8. Bizarro doesn’t have a code against killing
The Silver Age Bizarro wasn’t murderous by nature. Most of the time he was a lovable mook, happy with the adulation of his planet, his wife’s horrible cooking and constant nagging, and his son’s F-minus report cards.
But if playing hardball is necessary, nothing stops Bizarro from turning homicidal. In Adventure #287, for instance, he threatens to throw Jimmy Olsen into space unless Jimmy goes to work at Bizarro City’s Daily Htrae paper. Some of the later reboot versions were considerably nastier.
Still, the risk of Bizarro killing or injuring someone through sheer stupidity is probably higher than the chance of him doing it intentionally. In Superman #169, for instance, Bizarro arrives on Earth to destroy Superman’s planet, which turns out to mean the globe on the Daily Planet building. When he smashes it, two guys on the street below get knocked cold, probably with massive concussions. Though as they were crooks holding Lois at gunpoint, we needn’t feel too sorry for them.
7. Bizarro can die permanently
He’s done it quite a lot, in fact.
The first time was in his original Superboy appearance. After befriending a blind Smallville girl, the defective duplicate smashes himself to pieces fighting Superboy, which restores the girl’s sight. The second, adult Bizarro stayed alive until Superman’s mid-1980s reboot. Bizarro and Htrae not only died before the rebooting, they were then retconned out of existence.
Since then, mad science — usually Lexcorp mad science — has recreated several new Bizarros, only to see them die. Only to have a new version recreated. Only to see them die. Circle of Bizarro-life.
Superman, though, has yet to die permanently except in out-of-continuity stories. The New 52’s Superman died, but wound up merged with the previous version of Kal-El, so he’s apparently no better at staying dead than his predecessors. Bizarro’s the clear winner in this particular contest, even if it’s not one many would want to win.
6. Bizarro is immune to weirdiation
In the Lego Justice League vs. Bizarro League direct-to-DVD movie, Bizarro just wants to hang with his “brother” Superman. Supes feels like a cool high-schooler embarrassed by his nerd sibling, so he strands Bizarro on another world with nobody to make friends with but the rocks. When Darkseid starts strip-mining the planet, Bizarro turns to the JLA to save his rock friends. They don’t respond fast enough, so Bizarro creates his own Justice League to save the day.
When the real League finally arrives on Bizarro’s world, they learn the hard way why Darkseid is interested in the local geology: the rocks generate a “weirdiation” that neutralizes super-powers. Fortunately, Darkseid didn’t reckon with the Bizarro League, who retain their powers and smash Darkseid’s plan. In the aftermath, Superman apologizes for being such a jerk to Bizarro.
5. Bizarro can be funny without being mean
While fans often laugh at the absurdities of Silver Age Superman, the man himself isn’t noted as a humorist. When he did play jokes on someone back in the 1960s, they often had a mean-spirited edge, like his willingness to teach Lois Lane a “lesson” about one thing or another. By contrast, when Bizarro’s funny, the joke’s usually on him, or his planet.
A lot of the humor in Bizarro stories came from the clash of cultures between Earth and Htrae. David Mandel, who wrote the “Bizarro Jerry” episode of Seinfeld, has said that even if the main “Tales” story wasn’t good, the absurd details of Htrae life could always get a laugh. Bizarro Jr. brushing his teeth with shoe polish and cleaning his shoes with toothpaste. Bizarro-Lois making a delicious meal of potato peelings and throwing away the potatoes.
4. Bizarro can sleep without worrying about Lex Luthor’s evil schemes
For Superman, the threat from Luthor never goes away. Even when they’re teamed up, there’s a good chance Lex is pulling some kind of double-cross. Bizarro, though, never has to worry about Bizarro-Luthor: the bald genius of Htrae is a good guy. He almost broke the Bizarro code once by turning Htrae round (it’s a cube), but as soon as Lex realized that making the planet perfect would be a crime, he stopped. Instead, he got back to useful research like building a flying submarine (so much more sensible than traveling underwater like the human version!).
This doesn’t really make sense, as other Bizarros don’t reverse their morality. Bizarro-Jimmy, Bizarro-Perry, and Bizarro #1 himself don’t have reverse-ethics. But “Tales” writer Jerry Siegel never let things like logic or consistency get in the way of making readers smile.
3. Bizarro literally laughs in the face of death
For Superman, death is an adversary to be fought; for Bizarro, it’s just one more absurdity in this vale of giggles called life.
Bizarro first demonstrated his absurdist approach in Adventure #290, when an army of living blue-kryptonite creatures burst forth from the center of Htrae. While Bizarro does his er, heroic best to stop the aliens, he also finds it pretty amusing that they’re on the brink of wiping out the planet with their deadly radiation. To him, death is no worse than getting a custard pie in the face.
Twenty-five years later, when DC destroyed Htrae before the big Superman reboot, Bizarro’s still just as happy to see himself and his people annihilated. Although, since they all actually died that time, it came off as more of a creepy black comedy than anything that happened to Htrae in the Silver Age.
2. Bizarro gets to create his own friends
There’s an old saying that you can pick your friends, but not your family. That’s particularly true for Bizarro, because his duplicator ray (which is not the same as the imitator ray. You haven’t forgetten that, right?) lets him pick anyone in the universe to be his Bizarro buddy.
At first, he used the ray to make duplicates of Jimmy, Perry, Lana, and other Superman Family members. By the end of the Silver Age, though, Bizarro had also created his own Justice League. First came Bizarro Batman, then Flash, then other JLA members, ready to fight along beside him.
The idea of a Bizarro League has cropped up on TV, in the Lego movie mentioned above, and it’s part of the new Earth-29 mythos where the Unjustice League hangs out with Bizarro, having unheroic unadventures.
1. Bizarro can crusade for fair trade coffee
When you clone Superman, you get Bizarro. When you clone a regular guy you get — A. Bizarro. That was the tagline for Steve Gerber’s four-issue A. Bizarro series, about a Lexcorp clone of one of its regular employees, Al Beezer.
Al Bizarro had all of Bizarro #1’s muddy thinking and illogical reasoning, but no more superpowers than Beezer, a loser the clone idolized as “perfect Al.” After a picaresque journey that included trips to Apokalips and an indie rock career, Al Bizarro wound up in a Central American coffee-making country, where the farmers were being ground under by Luthor, “El Lexigente” (a joke on a then-current coffee commercial).
Superman doesn’t make a habit of overthrowing governments, but Al Bizarro plays by different rules. Before long, El Lexigente and the equally corrupt El Presidente were out on their ear, thanks to Al (Superman did help by shutting down an illegal Lexcorp weapons factory). Al settles down with a farm of his own, complete with a wife and a baby on the way. It’s a surprisingly happy ending.
If you too forgetful to remember more amazing Bizarro stuff, mention what you forgot in comments.
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