Who's Bizarro?

Who's This? The reverse Superman.
The facts: Technically, the first Bizarro was an imperfect SuperBOY clone, created by writer Otto Binder and artist George Papp in Superboy #68 (1958) and he is destroyed by the end of the story, but it wasn't long before they decided to make him an ongoing concern in the adult Superman books. Well, actually, an adult Bizarro appeared around the same time as the Superboy story in the Superman comic strip, but again, this is not considered the first appearance of "Bizarro #1". Strip Bizarro had a B on his chest instead of a reverse S. The canon Bizarro first appears in Action Comics #254 (1959), and from antagonist fairly quickly evolved into a comic foil for Superman, especially once the absurdity of Bizarro World was established and Tales of the Bizarro World started appearing at the back of Adventure Comics (in 1961-62). He made some 40 appearances before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and John Byrne's reimagining only included him as a confused Frankenstein's Monster type character, quickly destroyed. He would be recreated on occasion, but it wasn't until the 2000s when writers decided to use him in silly ways, either in humor projects or even in standard continuity, where I think "freeze vision" and "flame breath" is rather silly "opposite" logic akin to the old Silver Age stories.
How you could have heard of him: He's still around, and even had his own mini-series in the New52 era (under the DCYou imprint), but I think most people will know him from alternate media. He was one of the members of the Legion of Doom in Challenge of the Super-Friends, appeared in the '90s Superman Animated Series, they did Bizarro Supergirl stories in the current TV series, and thanks to a famous Seinfeld episode, cemented his place in popular culture, his name now meaning any reverso-version of a person or thing.
Example story: Superman #379 (January 1983) "The Bizarro-Buster Is Loose" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Dave Hunt
Spoiler: I picked a Silver Age story for the Bizarro World entry (come back next week), so I dedided to go Bronze Age with this one. As a kid, I was a fan of DC Comics Presents, and its team-up between Superman and Bizarro (as a kind of anti-hero) vs. Bizarro-Amazo (reviewed HERE). It also featured a useless Bizarro Justice League and I wondered if they'd appeared before. Now the story can be told...

Of course it begins with the Bizarro Justice League blowing up. Oops!
Ok, let's get some of the ground rules out of the way. In the Silver Age, they made a big deal of Bizarro stuff being "opposite", and of course, none of that survived scrutiny. It all felt stupid and/or contradictory. The truth is, whatever "opposite" was appropriate, was for whatever joke they wanted to make. By the Bronze Age, there's certainly still some of that, but they don't lean into it too hard. It would be more accurate to simply say Bizarros are "distorted" copies of the people we know. So the Biz-JLA WOULD team up with Bizarro-Superman #1 (not opposite), but they're just too stupid and incompetent (opposite) to accept there's something wrong, even as they blow up just like Bizarro says has been happening all over the planet. You do still get some opposite jokes, of course:
This scene takes place at the Molekule Narrowcasting Building, opposite for the Galaxy Broadcasting Building. But note how Bizarro am sad that his entire supporting cast has exploded, not happy, which would be opposite. So we good with the whole it's not really opposite thing? Ok, bad--I mean, good. Personally, I'm more bothered by Cary Bates repeatedly saying the Bizarros are "unliving" as if he's setting them up to be massacred, but that's me. Anyway, pretty clear WHAT is causing the spontaneous explosions, if not the how. It's gotta be that cloud monster that follows him to Earth, right?
Let's skip over the waste of pages that is a kid visiting WGBS and Superman flying to the Fortress of Solitude because there's been an intruder alert, played as if we didn't know who was that intruder. Bizarro just wants access to the Duplicator Ray so he can repopulate his world. The duplicator ray being turned on various people is a big part of Bizarro stories whatever age we are in. Bizarro explains the situation, Big Brother Superman tells him it won't be over unless they catch whatever's behind the extinction of the Bizarro race, and then the Biz feels weak. The Bizarro-killer has found them!
But somehow, coming near #1 was enough, and seconds later, he is turned into energy and sucked into the creature. Consuming Bizarros allows it to pupate or whatever:
The creature flies back to Bizarro World, Superman in tow, hoping to save what remaining Bizarros might still be "alive". When they get there, there's an entirely different alien threat rampaging across the planet, no Bizarros are ledt, and the creature starts attacking the jellyfish-like invaders. They gang up on it, so Superman switches sides to the underest of the dogs in the fight. The jellies are routed. Now what? Now the creature is about to BLOW!
So yeah, everything is restored, not the Last Bizarro Story despite its late pubication date. It was all a scheme by... Bizarro-Luthor?!
This heroic Luthor (opposite) saw the alien threat coming, decided to make a machine that turned him into a different kind of synthetic creature that could then absorb all other Bizarros into itself to fight off the jellies as a gestalt being. He just didn't have time to tell anyone about it, much less the heroic Bizarro #1 (not opposite).

Yeah. Not the greatest story, but pretty typical of early-80s Superman. Bring on the Crisis, I say. As for there not being much Bizarro in it, I think we can fix that next week...

Who's Next? A planet with eight corners.



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