Most comic fans have a at least a passing knowledge of Bizarro. Bizarro has, for many years and in almost all his incarnations, been a flawed copy of Superman created by Lex Luthor. As Bizarro’s creator, Lex often referred to him as “Bizarro #1”. My introduction to Bizarro came through episodes of the Saturday morning cartoon Super Friends. He was a staple villain throughout the series– even if he was one of the sillier ones. The character was showcased again as a creation of Lex Luthor in the sixth episode of Superman The Animated Series entitled “Identity Crisis” and again in season two’s “Bizarro’s World”.
The character of Bizarro was not originally created by Lex Luthor. Yes, Lex Luthor created what we now refer to as Bizarro using a technology called the Duplicator Ray. Unknown to many, Lex did not invent the ray he simply improved upon the original designs. The ray was originally invented and used to create a “Bizarro” by Professor Dalton. Professor Dalton has a rather enigmatic history in DC comics’ lore. He only ever appeared in one issue, Superboy Vol.1 #68 and is actually never given an official first name (but we call him Timothy for fun). The issue was published in November of 1958 and is properly entitled “The Boy of Steel vs. the Thing of Steel”.
Professor Dalton originally created the device that would come to be known as the Duplication Ray. While demonstrating how the ray could duplicate a gem stone to Superboy, he accidentally stumbled and caught the Boy of Steel in the ray’s path. This mishap actually created an imperfect clone of Superboy resulting in the creation of the first Bizarro. This version of Bizarro like many others is good-natured, but prone to unintended disaster. Although possessing the powers and memories of Superboy, Bizarro’s physiological makeup was extremely unstable and he was destroyed when he collided with Superboy reducing him to dust.
The story of the first Bizarro (Bizarro Superboy as he would come to be known as) has a sort of happy ending. As the story unfolded, Bizarro’s good nature is noticed by a blind resident of Smallville named Melissa. When the final battle with Superboy unfolds and Bizarro is destroyed he creates a vibration that runs through everyone present, including Melissa. This vibration actually restores Melissa’s sight giving his death a very redemptive quality.
Nearly a year later, Bizarro appears again in the DC Universe. Lex Luthor recovers the Duplication Ray and being the evil genius he is improves its design. This version of the ray was used to create what we know and love today as Bizarro . A tougher, mostly complete, but rather screwy copy of Superman.