Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Episode #67 Parts I & II: April Fool's, Bizarro!

Bizarro is one of the Superman characters most appropriate for an April Fool's Day episode. He first appeared in Superboy #68, October 1958 issue, published around August 21, 1958. The cover, featuring the Bizarro story, was drawn by Curt Swan and inked by Stan Kaye. Otto Binder wrote the first Bizarro story, The Boy Of Steel Versus The Thing Of Steel, which was drawn by George Papp. A Professor Dalton demonstrated his newest invention, a duplicating machine, which could duplicate any solid object. It was not perfected yet, as any duplicate was an inert imitation of the real object. Prof. Dalton accidentally exposed Superboy to the duplicating ray when he tripped over the machine and knocked it over. The machine exploded when it hit the floor, and Superboy shielded Prof. Dalton with his own body. A lifeless, supposedly, copy of Superboy lay on the ground next to them. After dispoosing of the pieces of the destroyed machine, Superboy planned to also dispose of the lifeless copy of himself, only to find thatit had disappeared. It wandered the streets of Smallville, scaring the people with its crude features. Bizarro's only friend was a blind girl named Melissa. Superboy and Bizarro battle each other until Superboy discovered Bizarro's only weakness was the proximity of the metallic scraps of the duplicating machine that created him. At the conclusion of the story Superboy flew toward Bizarro with a piece of the duplicating machine. Bizarro flew toward Superboy in a collision course and disintegrated when the two collided. Something about the shockwave restored Melissa's sight. This story was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (1987).

The adult Bizarro first appeared in Action Comics #254, the July 1959 issue, published around May 28, 1959. The cover of the story The Battle With Bizarro was also pencilled by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. Otto Binder also wrote this story, illustrated this time by Al Plastino. Lex Luthor found the old plans from Professor Dalton's duplicating machine and built his own device. Disguising his identity, Luthor was able to contact Superman, who came to his lab. Luthor used the device on Superman, creating a Bizarro Superman. His intention was to use Bizarro as a super powered henchman. Bizarro had other ideas , imprisoning Luthor himself. This adult Bizarro also created terror among Metropolis' citizens with his crude appearance. Bizarro fell in love with Lois Lane, who rejected him. Bizarro used the duplicating machine on himself, creating a handsome version of himself who was as dumb as himself. Lois was tricked for a short time by this handsome imposter. The story ended with Bizarro using kryptonite to keep the real Superman at bay while the handsome imposter wooed Lois. This story was reprinted in the trade paperbacks Superman In The Fifties and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I, and the hardcover edition Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archive vol. II.

The story continued in Action Comics #255, August 1959, published on June 30o, 1959. The Bride Of Bizarro was also created by the team of writer Otto Binder and artist Al Plastino. Lois eventually realized the Superman who wooed her was a fake when his lack of intelligence became apparent, and refused his proposal. Bizarro and the handsome Bizarro battled until the handsome Bizarro was destroyed. The original Bizarro battled Superman to impress Lois. To stop the battle between two evenly matched opponents, Lois used the duplicating machine on herself to create a Bizarro Lois. The Bizarro couple feel in love and left Earth to find a place to live where they would not be feared. This story was reprinted in Superman In The Fifties and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

Action Comics #263 continued the saga of the Bizarro couple. The cover featuring the story The World Of Bizarros was also drawn by the team of Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. Once again Otto Binder wrote the story, but this time the art was done by penciller Wayne Boring and inker Stan Kaye. Bizarro Superman and Bizarro Lois found an uninhabited planet with the ruins of a civilization. He used the abandoned technology to create his own duplicating machine, with which he repopulated the world with Bizarro Supermen and Loises. In time Superman discovered the planet, which the inhabitants called Htrae, which is Earth spelled backwards. In fact, the inhabitants did everything backwards, such as serving dessert first, lumps of coal were more valuable than diamonds, they watched the negatives of films, their welcome mats said "scram", their cars had square wheels, and they filled their tubs with dirt for baths. When Superman repaired some rundown homes, he was arrested for breaking the Bizarro Code. It stated, "Us do opposite of all earthly things. Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!" Superman was jailed with Bizarros who were imprisoned for thinking and speaking as normal Earthlings, even though they had the same crude facial features as other Bizarros. Bizarro Lois #1, who would be on the jury at Superman's trial, said she could convince the jury to find Superman not guilty if he married her. Superman of course refused, and he was found guilty at his trial. His punishment was to be physically changed into a Bizarro himself, even though he would still think and talk as normal. This story concluded at this point, and was also reprinted in the trade paperback Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II.

Superman's tale on Bizarro World continued in Action Comics #264, May 1960, published on May 31, 1960. The story The Superman Bizarro was once again written by Otto Binder and drawn by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. In a dream Superman was transformed into a Bizarro and returned to Earth. He wore a disguise to hide his transformation, which was destroyed when he saved a town from an malfunctioning jet, which exploded as Superman carried it at a high altitude. Everyone was afraid of him and thought he had killed the real Superman and was jailed until he could produce the real Superman. After he awoke Superman was taken from his cell to receive his punishment. At the last moment Superman convinced the judge to grant him a repreive so that he could prove his innocence. Superman built a small rocket carrying a satellite, which, once in orbit, returned a picture of a round Bizarro world. When shown proof that they were breaking their own code by living on a round world, the judge released Superman and tore up the anti-perfection law. Not being one to just leave the Bizarros behind, Superman constructed a giant scoop and terraformed the Bizarro World into a cubed shape. This story appeared in the reprint edition Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II.

Since the saga of Bizarro Superman seemed to follow the plot of a Frankenstein movie, after Bizarro Superman and Bride of Bizarro, the next story would have to be The Son Of Bizarro. It appeared in Superman #140, October 1960, published on August 4, 1960. The cover illustrating the story was drawn by the team of Curt Swan and Stan Kaye. The story was once again created by writer Otto Binder and the art team of Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. Bizarro Superman #1 and Bizarro Lois #1 had a child, but unfortunately for them, he looked like a normal human baby. They tried to keep him secret, but when the citizens of Bizarro World found out, they demanded the baby be destroyed. Bizarro Superman #1 secretly built a satellite and hid his son in orbit, and told the citizens of Bizarro World that the child flew into outer space, which appeased them. But when Bizarro Superman flew into space to retreive his son the satellite had vanished. It had wandered into space and landed on Earth. The boy was found by a couple and turned in to Midvale Orphanage, home of Linda Lee, secretly Supergirl. She recognized the baby's powers and contacted Superman. He built a robot couple who adopted the boy and returned him to the Fortress of Solitude. Superman and Supergirl became foster parents. While doing some chemistry homework for her Linda Lee identity, Supergirl's project exploded. The boy was close by, and when Supergirl checked on him, he had transformed into a Bizarro. Supergirl felt responsible. The baby accidentally exposed Supergirl to the duplicating machine, creating a Bizarro Supergirl. Bizarro Superman #1 discovered his son was on Earth, but Bizarro Supergirl refused to give him the boy. Bizarro returned to Bizarro World and raised an army to invade Earth and retreive his son. To stop the invasion Superman donned a lead suit of armor and used the duplication machine on green kryptonite, creating blue kryptonite. He duplicated enough blue k to keep the Bizarro army at bay. He also used a small piece of blue k on Bizarro Supergirl so he could retreive the boy from her and return him to his parents. All of them discovered another Bizarro couple who lived alone because their baby also appeared normal. In front of everyone this infant suddenly transformed into a Bizarro baby, teaching everyone that Bizarro babies are born looking like normal Earth babies, but in time change to their "normal" Bizarro appearance. At the end of the story Supergirl dies when she accidentally comes too near blue k in space. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. II, Showcase Presents: Supergirl vol. I trade paperbacks and the hardcover Superman: Escape From Bizarro World.

Bizarro Superman and Bizarro World would appear in many light hearted story, supplying many humorous Superman stories during the silver age. Bizarro Superman #1 would make his final pre-crisis appearance in Superman #423, September 1986, published on June 12, 1986. This issue contained part one of the story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow. At the beginning of the story Superman was returning from a deep space mission for the U. S. government. He returned to Metropolis to find much death and destruction caused by the previously harmless Bizarro Superman #1. When Superman confronted Bizarro, he told Superman that he realized that he was not Superman's perfect imperfect duplicate and decided to remedy the situation. Since Superman came to Earth in a rocket after Krypton exploded by accident, Bizarro came to Earth after destroying Bizarro World on purpose. While Superman never killed, Bizarro killed many people. And since Superman was alive, then Bizarro must be dead. Then Bizarro collapsed because of the piece of blue kryptonite in his hand. Bizarros's last words were, "Hello, Superman, hello." Both parts of the story were reprinted in the trade paperback Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, which is out of print, but the hardcover version is scheduled to be published on Wednesday, July 8, 2009. It was also reprinted in the trade paperback DC Universe: The Stories Of Alan Moore.

The first post-crisis Bizarro Superman appeared in Man Of Steel #5, the mini-series that restarted Superman from the beginning. Issue #5 was published on September 11, 1986. The cover, story and art were created by John Byrne, inked by Dick Giordano, lettered by John Costanza, colored by Tom Ziuko and edited by Andy Helfer. The story, titled The Mirror, Crack'd carried the note "With special acknowledgement to the work of Otto Binder." This story follows elements of the original Superboy story, except the blind girl in this story was Lois Lane's sister Lucy, who was a flight attendant who had been blinded by some unknown chemical during a highjacking attempt. Lex Luthor used a flunkie in a LexCorp battle suit to lure Superman to his Hong Kong headquarters. A Chineses scientist named Dr. Teng used hidden equipment to scan Superman's body down to the DNA level. He used the information gathered to insert into a "bio-matrix" in order to create a Superman clone under Luthor's control. Dr. Teng's analysis of the information gathered led him to theorize that Superman probably came from an alien world. He feared that fact would cause the clone to be unstable. His fears were realized when the Superman clone collapsed moments after emerging from its womb. Luthor ordered the failure disposed of. His employees did not dispose of it well enough, because the bizzare creature flew to Metropolis, where it eventually battled Superman. when he analyzed the dust from Bizarro on his knuckles from his punches, with his microscopic vision, Superman learned that the cells imitated life but were not organic. So Superman and Bizarro flew at top speed toward each other on a collision course. bizarro disintegrated into dust in the impact, and somehow Lucy's sight was restored because of it. This story is available in the Man Of Steel mini-series.

The next post-crisis Bizarro appeared in the storyline Bizarro's World, told in the issues Superman #87, Adventures Of Superman #510, Action Comics #697, the March 1994 issues, and Superman"The Man Of Tomorrow #32 and Superman #88, the April 1994 issues. In these issues Luthor used his top scientist, Dr. Happersen, to recreate Dr. Teng's work to create another Superman clone. This time the purpose was to use it as a test subject to find a cure for a clone disease that afflicted Luthor's own cloned body (the subject of a later episode). This Bizarro escaped and kidnapped Lois, creating his own Bizarro World in an abandoned warehouse. There he purposefully exposed Lois to danger in order to rescue her. Superman rescued her and battled Bizarro, who was eventually recaptured by Luthor's security forces to continue the experiments. superman and Lois attempted to rescue Bizarro from Luthor. While they foiled Luthor, Bizarro died in Lois's arms. This storyline was collected in the trade paperback Bizarro's World.

The current Bizarro, as far as I know, made his first appearance in Superman #160. The Joker stole most of Mr. Mxyzptlk's powers and created a Bizarro Superman and a cubed Bizarro World to live on. The planet boasted a Joker's face on each side. Mxyzptlk rescued Bizarro from that world after he regained his powers from the Joker. On Earth, Bizarro was invited to join the Secret Society Of Super Villains. He challenged Zoom to a race in a funhouse mirror version of the Superman / Flash races. The villains weren't sure which result would convince Bizarro to join their Society, not understanding Bizarro logic. When Zoom became irritated at Bizarro's jagged path and insulted and threatened him, Bizarro agreed to join. Zoom had made a Bizarro friend for life. The trade paperback Emperor Joker collected Superman #160 and #161, Adventures Of Superman #582 and #583, Superman: Man Of Steel #104 and #105, Action Comics #769 and #770 and Emperor Joker #1.

This Bizarro next appeared in Action Comics #855-#857, co-written by Goeff Johns and Richard Donner and art by Eric Powell. Bizarro kidnapped Jonathan Kent and, in a spaceship, took him to a Bizarro World he had created out of asteroids orbiting a blue star. There he imprisoned Pa Kent in a Bizarro version of Superman's Fortress of Solitude, to serve the same purpose to him as Jor-El's memories serve Superman in his Fortress of Solitude. The blue sun had given Bizarro what could only be called Bizarro vision. When he zapped himself or another living creature with the Bizarro vision, Bizarros would emerge from their bodies. He had used his vision power on himself to populate Bizarro World, but they all feared him. Superman foolowed in his own spacecraft and, after battling Bizarro, freed Pa Kent. Pa found that the blue sun gave him super powers, including invulnerability, which came in handy later in the story. When Superman began to repair some of the ruins the people of Bizarro World lived in, Bizarro stopped him, making Bizarro a hero to the people of Bizarro World. In gratitude Bizarro gave Pa Kent a crude Superman costume he had made, and allowed Superman and Pa Kent to return to Earth. This story was reprinted in the Escape From Bizarro World trade paperback and hardcover.

Bizarro returned in Superman #682, issue #6 of the current New Krypton storyline. Clark and Ma Kent find him at Pa Kent's grave. Bizarro's only words are, "Me am happy." He then flies away. Later in the issue Kryptonians would kidnap all of Superman's rogues, including Bizarro, and banish them to the Phantom Zone. In issue #683 Superman would retreive his enemies from the Phantom Zone, to be held at Belle Reeve prison. Bizarro, however, had escaped and has not yet appeared again.

There have been other versions of Bizarro, too many to be mentioned here. I do want to mention several Bizarros from the mini-series All-Star Superman. In issue #4, Bizarro clones were workers at P.R.O.J.E.C.T., an organization similar to Project Cadmus that explored human DNA. In issues #7 and #8, a Bizarro World that had risen from the Underverse, a dimension that exists in extreme gravity, invaded Earth. Bizarros came to Earth like an infection, converting anyone they touched into another Bizarro. When Superman traveled to this Bizarro World to stop this invasion he met Zibarro, a one in a billion Bizarro who thought and acted like a normal human. He had no super powers but did write poetry. He sacrificed his own chances of escaping Bizarro World to help Superman return to Earth before Bizarro World sank back into the Underverse. Superman promised somehow to return to the Bizarro Workd to retreive Zibarro one day. In the Fortress Of Solitude Superman preserved some of Zibarro's poetry.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at http:supermanfanpodcast.mypodcast.com . Send e-mail to supermanfanpodcast@gmail.com .

The theme of Superman Fan Podcast is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royaltry free music library found at http://incompetech.com .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at http://mypulllist.blogspot.com . Send e-mail about this blog to mypulllist@gmail.com .

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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