SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Superman #42 by Patrick Gleason, Peter J. Tomasi, Alejandro Sanchez and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
Bizarro is a strange character, not just for who he is in the DC Universe, but for how he exists as a fictional character. It seems that no-one can ever quite understand what they want to do with Bizarro and there’s two main schools of thought as to who Bizarro should be.
This week’s installment of Superman introduces a Bizarro with a family, living happily — for Bizarros — on Bizarro World, but he’s not the only Bizarro floating around the DC Universe right now. So how does DC juggle the two Bizarros and which one is more real.
Bizarro was first introduced in 1958’s Superboy #68 by Otto Binder and George Papp, the result of a scientist using a “duplicating ray” which created the less-than-perfect copy of Superboy. An adult Bizarro later showed up in the pages of Action Comics after Lex Luthor rebuilt the duplicating ray with the hopes of controlling the creature, but instead Bizarro used the machine on Lois Lane to create a Bizarro Lois and together they left Earth to find somewhere they could live in peace. Together they founded the cube-shaped planet Htrae — “Earth, spelled backwards —- and created a whole world of Bizarros which was basically his status quo up until Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Following DC's reality-altering event, John Byrne took over the Superman franchise and went about reinventing a lot of its core concepts, including Bizarro. In the Byrne-crafted post-Crisis continuity, Lex Luthor ordered a team of scientists to clone Superman, but believing him to be human with powers as opposed to an alien, the process was flawed and created a chalky white clone who was mute. Thinking himself Superman, he attempts to help the people of Metropolis but doesn’t have the faculties to do so safely. He ultimately sacrifices himself to cure Lucy Lane’s blindness after initial contact with him partially brought back her vision.
The incarnation of Bizarro that most people might be familiar with was actually created by The Joker, during the “Emperor Joker” event in which he stole Mr. Mxyzptlk’s powers. Similar to his Silver Age origins, Bizarro traveled into space to create his own world and in the presence of a blue sun he gained “Bizarro Vision” which allowed him to create Bizarros to populate this world, including a full Justice League roster. He kidnapped Superman’s father and took him to Bizarro World, forcing Superman to travel there to save him and ultimately help Bizarro become the greatest hero of his own planet where he could live in peace.