A Tribute to the of

Does anyone remember way, way back in the archives of this feature when we covered the first Bizarro appearance? For those of you who do not recollect, allow me to reveal it was Sueprboy #68, aka Sage #26, written by Otto Binder and illustrated by regular Superboy artist George Papp, making them the co-creators of this new and strange creature. In the end, the Bizarro Superboy ceased to exist, if a lifeless, imperfect duplicate can be said to truly exist in the first place and the year 1958 ended with no Bizarros.

Fast forward now to the next Bizarro appearance, this time as a lifeless, imperfect duplicate of Superman in the pages of Action Comics #254 with a publication date of July of 1959. Otto Binder was again called upon to script “The Battle with Bizarro!” and like the Superboy story from the year prior, the cover was done by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye, but interiors this time were by Al Plastino, still kind of channeling Wayne Boring with the stock Superman flight poses and the barrel-like configuration of Supes’ torso. Mort Wesinger is the editor for this, the first meeting of Bizarro and Superman.

How do we get another Bizarro creature? Leave it to Lex Luthor, who we find in his laboratory with some lackey named Vekko. It seems Lex is working on a duplicator ray, inspired by one he read about in the newspaper files of the Smallville News, where Professor Dalton’s invention made the front page along with a photo of the original Bizarro Superboy. Luthor stole the plans for Dalton’s machine and now it’s time for a test run.

Turning the beam on a diamond, there are soon two diamonds, much to Vekko’s delight, but then the duplicate diamond melts away like a real piece of ice. Non-plussed, Lex tries again with an apple and this time the duplicate is so heavy he cannot lift it and he deems the experiment a success. Now Vekko is vexed and asks how Luthor can be glad about the results. Lex says he’ll soon see and that it will lead to Superman’s downfall, but now it’s time to make some preparations.

Elsewhere, at the Daily Planet, Perry White is informing Clark Kent that a Professor Clyde phoned in and requested that a message be given to Superman to report to his Oak Square laboratory where he has claimed to have perfected a kryptonite antidote. Soon, Clark is shedding his street clothes in a backroom to become the Man of Steel and is off to the laboratory.

Professor Clyde instructs our hero to stand in front of his ray machine and after the red rays bathe the Man of Tomorrow, a puff of smoke appears and quickly dissipates to reveal an imperfect double and he remembers how the name Bizarro came about. As Superboy, he’d proclaimed the original creature “bizarre,” but it had thought that was its name, slightly altered to Bizarro.

Luthor then discards his disguise and orders the Bizarro Superman to fight the real article, but to Lex’s great surprise, Bizarro protests: “Uh..no! Me not do it! You not my master!” Luthor reminds the creatures that he should remember once being a boy Bizarro, which the creature acknowledges. Spotting himself in the mirror, Bizarro proclaims himself as still ugly and smashes it and then grabs Luthor and Vekko and soon both blue and red clad figures are taking them to jail. Bizarro remarks that he doesn’t belong in this world and has no knowledge of good and evil. Superman thinks to himself that at least Bizarro recognizes this important shortcoming and that he’ll have to destroy him later, reasoning that it won’t be like death as Bizarro isn’t truly alive to begin with.

Just then, the Man of Tomorrow is made aware, courtesy of super senses, that a large vessel is about to be hit by a tidal wave. Instructing Bizarro to finish taking the crooks to jail, Superman goes to save the ship.

Bizarro completes his errand and hopes that, unlike his prior experiences in Smallville, he won’t frighten the locals, but the police chief, upon realizing it’s not Superman, responds that it’s a monster, despite Bizarro’s protests that he is like Superman. Trying to prove himself, the lifeless creature spots an aircraft with an engine fire and flies off to save the passengers. Bringing it safely to a landing and using super-breath to extinguish the blaze, he is again greeted with fear by the passengers. Disheartened, he determines to leave the city, but obliviously flies into a smokestack, demolishing it.

The civil defense command is monitoring Bizarro’s movements and note that he also smashed a steeple, but is headed out of town where the Air Force can deal with him. Fighter jets deploy rockets at the creature, but he is as invulnerable as his namesake, but is broken-hearted over events, wondering why he is treated with hatred. The forces even try an atomic bomb (great idea, guys, right outside Metropolis…) with no effect. Bizarro approaches a senior officer and tells them he’s going to try to destroy himself, so they can stop wasting their weapons.

By this time, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane have arrived on the scene in the flying newsroom, otherwise known as a helicopter, that Jimmy just happens to know how to fly. Lois tells Jimmy to follow Bizarro and that her new-fangled instant camera (when did the Polaroid Land Camera come out? Ah, 1948) will allow them to get a scoop. Just then, they spot Bizarro flying at a high rate of speed straight for a nearby cliff face, but not being the brightest bulb, the sympathetic monster’s invulnerability just makes him fly straight through it without a scratch, nullifying his suicide attempt. Lois gets a great shot and exclaims the instant photo is “wonderful—magnificent!” Overhearing, Bizarro mistakes Lois’ accolades for he himself and decides she’s in love with him. The happy creature is now off to prepare a gift to his new lady love.

A little later, Superman returns from his mission, but cannot locate Bizarro, so he decides to return to his Clark Kent persona until something presents itself. Meanwhile, Bizarro has completed his task at a remote island and is scooping up Lois Lane, promising to take her somewhere. His cape has gotten tangled up and conceals his face long enough for the overjoyed Lois to be first confused, then cautious, deciding when she does see Bizarro’s features that she’ll be kind.

Soon they arrive on the island where the creature proudly shows off the “mansion” he’s built for her, but to Lois’ eyes it’s more of a tumbledown shack. She asks what it’s for and he proclaims that it is for Mr. and Mrs. Bizarro and asks when they can be married. Lois explains that Superman is the only man she could ever love and a crestfallen Bizarro again laments his ugliness, but then has an idea and as he flies off, promises Lois, “Me fix everything so you marry handsome one!

Bursting into police HQ, Bizarro lays claim to Luthor’s duplicating machine that has been seized as evidence. Returning to a secluded spot on the island, Bizarro carries out his plan and his logic is nearly irrefutable. An imperfect duplicate of himself will be a perfect Superman…almost. The new creature certainly has Superman’s visage, but still speaks like a Neanderthal and momentarily throws the lady reporter off when he says, “Lois…darling! Me want to marry you!” Overwhelmed with joy, she accepts his embrace and soon the real Superman arrives, but Bizarro is ready with a green kryptonite meteor he happened to find on the island and that leaves Bizarro unaffected.

The weakened Superman tries to melt it with X-ray vision, but is only partially successful while the triumphant Bizarro declares, “You stay here! Now romance of new Bizarro and Lois Lane go on!” In the final panel, Lois and the new and improved Bizarro Superman are sharing a kiss while the original Bizarro looks on approvingly from concealment. “Ah! My plan work, using new Bizarro in my place!” The closing caption states: “What is Bizarro’s plan? For the amazing answer, see the next issue of Action Comics!

Great. A cliff-hanger. Well, if it was good enough for DC back in the day, it’s good enough for me. Next time, please c’mon back and I’ll finish this off with the second part of the story in Action Comics #255 on August 15th.

The rest of this anthology issue, just for the record, includes a Congorilla story and a short Supergirl tale. A pretty good investment for your dime.

And, before I go, I thought I’d share just a little information I found online about Bizarro’s first artist and co-creator, George Papp, who, as I mentioned before, worked for a number of years on the Superboy title.

"George Edward Papp (January 20, 1916 – August 8, 1989) was an American comics artist best known as one of the principal artists on the long-running Superboy feature for DC Comics. Papp also co-created the Green Arrow character with Mort Weisinger and co-created Congo Bill with writer Whitney Ellsworth.

Robert Bernstein and Papp introduced the Phantom Zone and General Zod into the Superman mythos in Adventure Comics #283 (April 1961.)

Sadly, Papp was among the hardy group who had the colossal nerve to ask for health and retirement benefits from DC in 1968 and was summarily fired along with the rest of those rabble rousers. It sounds like he landed on his feet, though, going into commercial art and advertising.

While I’ve been aware of George Papp, I didn’t know much about him and as best as I can tell, he was never interviewed, which is a shame. His work wasn’t flashy, but obviously he was reliable and competent in a field that cranked out product mercilessly and he gave us a few lasting items to remember him by.

So, a little history this time, even though George wasn’t involved in this particular issue and again, we’ll conclude our second Bizarro tale in the next edition of the Silver Age Sage.

Don’t’ forget to write if you have comments, questions or other feedback. My e-mail is available at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

See you in about two weeks and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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