Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Challenge! My theme this year is DC Comics. And that’s mostly because of my undying affection for the comic book characters and stories that I grew up reading in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. So stay tuned all month to (maybe) learn a little something about 26 corners of the DC Multiverse.
B can represent a lot of individuals within the DC Universe. The most obvious and most popular is probably Booster Gold. I’m kidding… It’s Batman. But that guy’s had at least 10 movies made about him. And that’s just the live action stuff. So many, multiple animated films. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. DC and Warner Bros. understand that Batman is their most popular character. Why not milk that cash cow for everything he’s worth?
But you don’t need to know more about Bruce Wayne, right?
So let’s go with Bizarro… the Anti-Superman.
Bizarro is generally considered to be a villain in the DC Universe. However, if you ask me, he’s mostly just misunderstood and actually kind of a sad case.
There have been a number of different versions of Bizarro to show up in the comics throughout the years. I can’t speak much to who Bizarro was back in the Silver Age of comics, but I know he was around. They even had a Bizarro-Lois Lane, a Bizarro-Jimmy Olsen, and, I’m pretty sure, a Bizarro-Perry White. In fact, there may have been an entire Bizarro World with Bizarro versions of everyone. I really don’t know. Before my time.
My first exposure to Bizarro was in the 1986 mini-series that rebooted Superman’s origin for the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity. Man of Steel #5 saw Lex Luthor trying to clone Superman so that he would have his own version of the hero that he could control. However, things didn’t work out so well and the clone got all pasty and dumb. It’s been a while since I read that particular story, but I’m pretty sure in the end, Bizarro disintegrated and the leftover particles somehow cured Lois Lane’s sister, Lucy, of blindness. Man… they can get away with anything in comics.
During the 90s, Bizarro was reintroduced during a storyline that was brought on because Lex Luthor, at the time, was living in his own clone body that was slowly dying. He attempted, once again, to clone an imperfect version of Superman in his efforts to save himself. But, once again, this imperfect clone became a Bizarro version of Superman who built his own Bizarro version of Metropolis and kidnapped Lois at some point. Again… been a while since I read that story. But I know it ended with Bizarro no longer existing somehow.
In both of those stories, the Bizarro Supermen became tragic figures who were really doomed to fail. Almost the way you feel about Frankenstein’s monster in that he can’t really control his actions and you want to feel sorry for him because he didn’t choose to be the way he is.
When I was in college and for several years following, I stopped buying and collecting comics because I just couldn’t afford to make those weekly purchases. Comics got expensive, y’all. When I first bought a Superman comic book, it was only 75-cents. I know… my Dad could get them for a dime in his day. But by the time I gave up collecting, these things were going for three and four bucks a pop. No one can keep up with an entire universe of stories when they all cost that much. I mean… you can… you just have to make a lot more money than I was pulling in during my first jobs out of college.
Anyway, during that time, I’m fairly certain there was a story where the Joker was given magical powers and basically created a new Bizarro that was a lot more like the Bizarro of the Silver Age. The two Bizarros that I read about growing up were mostly silent and only villains because they couldn’t control their super powers. This Bizarro is the kind who spoke strangely, saying things like, “Me am Bizarro,” or “Me will save Superman,” when he really means he’ll kill Superman, or saying “good-bye” when he really means “hello.”
This Bizarro stuck around. He had the S symbol on his chest that was backwards. He had Superman’s strength and speed and flight capability. But instead of heat vision and freeze breath, Bizarro had ice vision and fire breath.
Later in the 2000s, I began collecting comics again and there was one more Bizarro-centric story that appeared in Action Comics. I should have been excited about it because it was written by Geoff Johns, whom I consider one of my favorite DC Comics creators. However, it was kind of disappointing and unmemorable. Pretty sure Bizarro abducts Pa Kent and takes him to the cube-shaped Bizarro World where Superman has to face off against Bizarro versions of the Justice League to save his adopted father. Meh…
Bizarro has appeared in animation on the Superman animated series and I think they tried to do some sort of version of Bizarro on Smallville, but I’m not sure they did it very well. We’ve never seen Bizarro face the Man of Steel on the big screen because the movies always want to dip into the Lex Luthor or General Zod wells. The guy has an incredible rogues gallery but they keep going back to those two. Oh, and Richard Pryor. Sorry, I forgot about Superman III (as one likely should).
One should also likely forget about Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, which featured the closest thing to a Bizarro fight the big screen has ever shown. Or it would have if those scenes had not been cut. See, in the original script, Lex Luthor attempts to create his Nuclear Man once before succeeding with the version we see in the final cut. That first attempt, as seen in deleted footage, is a version that comes out looking a lot like a Bizarro. I’ve seen that footage. It’s probably best it got cut. Although, knowing how bad the final product was, I don’t think it would make or break that film.
So that’s Bizarro. Me am sad you read all this. Hello!
Did I leave anything important about Bizarro out? Have you ever even heard of this guy? Would this kind of character make sense in a big screen Superman film? Or would he fit in better with a Suicide Squad type of movie? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!