Action Comics #263: The “World of Bizarros!”

Action Comics #263
April 1960

The "World of Bizarros!"
Script: Otto Binder
Art: Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye
Editor: Mort Weisinger

Reviewed by Tom Orzechowski

The self-destructing Bizarro in Superboy #68 (Oct `58) must have inspired a
flood of letters, because in Action #254, only nine months later, the concept
popped up again. There, Lex Luthor used a faulty duplicator ray to create the
lifeless but thinking and animate Superman-Bizarro. The next month, Bizarro
Lois was introduced. These stories must have been equally well-received, as
amother eight months later the Bizarros were implanted firmly into the legend.

Action #254-5 are now recapped briefly, to the concluding scene of the
Bizarro couple leaving Earth to find a world of their own. This issue opens in
another solar system as they stumble upon a world of ancient ruined cities,
and claim it for their own. Bizarro-Lois wishes for friends, so Bizarro, with his
imperfect but nonetheless super brain, cobbles parts from an ancient
laboratory into another imitator machine! To Lois' request, he makes
hundreds of her, so she can have lots of friends. When they immediately
cluster around him, checking out his big muscles, she insists he step inside
the duplicator for the same treament. "Me want you for myself! So me make
enough Bizarros for every Lois Lane! Stay there till me through." she
demands. "Uh... y-yes, dear," he replies. Wow! I guess, without criminality or a
secret identity to occupy him, the big guy needs to be told what to do... and
knows it! He then leads his cohort to dissamble the ruins for their own needs.

Meanwhile, Superman himself is towing an asteroid that suddenly turned
radioactive into space and into a distant star. On is way back to Earth, his
curiosity is aroused as he spies a city that seems to be a crude copy of
Metropolis! As he zips through the place he sees nutty skyscrapers with odd
protruding flanges, a clock with its numerals in no particular order, leftover
building material and rubble everywhere. He goes into a restaurant to find a
clue, orders a meal, and finds himself increasingly disoriented on this world of

When it comes time to pay the bill, he's relieved at his luck in finding a lump of
coal on the floor. This he compresses into a diamond, to cover the costs plus
a fat tip. The Bizarro waiter is disgusted, though: "Bah! Diamond worthless on
our world! You must pay in coal like the others do!" ...which explains how it
was that he found the coal, which someone must have accidentally dropped.
But, the waitress has taken a shine to him. She pays his bill, and tells him to
wait outside, as she'll be off duty soon, and they can have a date! Instead,
Supes flees to a nearby movie theatre. His x-ray vision alters the molecular
pattern of the diamond to turn it back into coal, which pays his admission. The
film itself is shown in negative. Afterward, Superman has had enough of their
crazy sense of values and decides to show them how it's done right.
Borrowing someody's carpenter tools, he has the suburban tract all
straightened out and looking neat in a jiffy. He also manages somehow to
create growing lawns, and inspire leaves on the trees. Wotta guy! But, the
homeowners scream their disgust with the changes, and a Bizarro cop flies in
to arrest him for making things perfect.

As Bizarro-cop drags Superman away, our man offers that the problem can be
settled quickly if he's taken to the original Bizarro and Lois from Earth. They're
no help, though, as we get our first look at the Bizarro Code: `Us do opposite
of all earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to  make
anything perfect on Bizarro world!" Trial is set for the following week. Since
he's broken the local laws, Superman submits to imprisonment. The next
morning, he's led off with a work gang. Surprisingly, it's composed of other
Bizarros. It seems the imitator ray didn't affect their minds, so they think and
speak normally... like good, decent folks, Superman muses.

Soon, the crew is put to work demolishing some graceful ancient statuary.
Later, while a guard dozes, one of the brain-normal Bizarros makes a break
for freedom. He warns Superman not to follow, as, if he doesn't succeed, the
penalty is severe. And, moments later, an alert tower guard shoots the
prisoner with a non-super ray! Superman catches him just before he hits the
ground. The prisoner resumes work, but is unable to do much in his
weakened state, so Superman assists unobtrusively  with his longer-distance
powers. The hot sun brings another problem. The prisoner's costume itself is
no longer super and is being torn by stray flying rubble, leaving the poor guy
to face sunstroke. Since no guards are in sight, Superman uses his x-ray
vision at half power to give the Bizarro a "coat of tan" all over his bare skin,
which does the trick.

The next day, back in his cell, Superman is surprised to receive a visitor. It's
Bizarro-Lois #1, in what may be the first appearance of the "Lois Bizarro #1"
medallion. She will be on his jury, and will take his side and make them vote
that he is innocent... if he will marry her! She then lunges in for a kiss! There's
something about Big Blue that's irresistible to Bizarro gals!... and to think that
this is the one who was jealous when other Lois'es were leaning on her man!
Anyway Superman says sorry, but he'll take his chances in court. She tells
him he's a beast, and that she'll get the jury to convict him. His super-vision
confirms that Bizarro guards are vigilant, and that his Clark Kent robot is
holding down his job at the Planet.

Finally, it's the trial. The evidence against him is damning... the improved
houses, the coal-into-diamond affair. Also, he's handsome and speaks good
English. In summation, the prosecutor demands the supreme penalty! And as
for the defense counsel, well, Bizarros courts don't run the same as on Earth,
so there's no defense. Superman rises to plead his own case, but the judge
declares, "Defendant would only tell lies! Don't listen!" Superman uses his x-
ray vision to peek into the jury room, and finds that Bizarro-Lois #1 is making
good her threat. They soon return and report the guilty verdict. Superman is
shackled with Kryptonite cuffs and positioned before what he assumes is the
non-super ray device. But no! The cuffs weaken his system enough so that the
Bizarro ray will change him into one of them!

Continued next issue!... which I will review as soon as I find a ratty copy for six
bucks or so! Unfortunately, it's never been reprinted.

Otto Binder wrote all these early Bizarro stories. There's an unmentioned
irony in this one, that Bizaro's duplicator ray was imperfect, so it created (for
the most part) perect copies of its subjects.

A scripting kink peculiar to Weisinger's editorial preferences is that Superman
stammers when confronted with something new. When he isn't mired in those
"uh..." and "er..." hesitations, that is. It shows up in the Supergirl and Jimmy
Olsen scripts too.

I admire Wayne Boring's artwork no end. His depiction of Superman's flying
(as running) makes as much sense as the conventional apporoach. I'd go so
far as to say it actually appears more powerful in the way it shows momentum.
The insane Bizarro architecture he gives us here is as imaginative and
appropriate as the graceful spires and arches he gave to Krypton.

After all the buildup, it's a sad thing that the final panel was the cover scene.

Coming... Super-Attractions! In Jimmy Olsen, he becomes "The Wolf-Man of
Metropolis! In Superboy, the Boy of Steel meets Supergirl! And in Adventure,
we see how Superboy first met Luthor!

"Supergirl's Darkest Day!"
Script: Otto Binder
Art: Jim Mooney

At this point, it's still less than a year since Supergirl arrived from Kandor. She
was still Superman's secret weapon, and living as Linda Lee in the Midvale

One day, Linda notices the orphanage's cook is disracted while the meal is
beng overcooked, so she super-speeds into the kitchen and saves the day.
Later, as she listens to the radio while doing her homework: "Flash! A violent
storm is raging at sea! Superman isn't there patrolling for trouble! He's away
on a scientific space mission!" Attention criminals! The coast is clear for a few
more days!... well,  I guess since the announcer didn't actually say that, no
criminals thought of it, so the only crisis in the world is at sea. Her telescopic
vision catches sight of a boy in that area clinging to a piece of driftwood. She
quickly doffs her pigtailed wig and flies out of a window in her brightly colored
costume, while fretting that she mustn't be seen. At sea, she flies under a
convenient whale, punches his lights out, then pushes him to scoop up the
shipwrecked lad and carry him to the nearest ship! The kid is rescued as the
whale recovers and takes his leave.

Onboard, it becomes apparent that the boy speaks only a language no one
recognizes. The medallion he wears seems to be a model of an atom, with a
nucleus and electrons, so perhaps he was a scientist's son. And, perhaps he
lost his parents in a shipwreck, so when the ship docks he is sent to nearby
Midvale Orphanage. There, the headmaster names him Johnny Blank. As he
shows the boy their fire safety equipment, he wonders if even this simple
information is getting through. So, Linda finds herself assigned to tutor Johnny
in rudimentary English. She finds him a quick study.

That night after bedtime, Linda is still reading when a wind storm howls
around the orphanage, causing a big tree to crack and fall toward the
building. Deciding nobody would see her fly out of her room into the
darkness, she skips the change into her Supergirl outfit and diverts the tree
while in her jammies. The next day, while on her way to tutor Johnny, Linda
catches a cry from another girl's room, and x-ray vision shows that a fire has
broken out behind the girl's locked door! No time to waste! Linda crashes
through the door! The girl was already overcome by the smoke and sees
nothing, so Linda is free to blow the smoke out the window whle extinguishing
the fire at the same time. Well, no one saw the super-action but others heard
the yell and are on the way. How can she explain the broken door and
missing fire? Fortunately, the first one on the scene is Johnny, carrying the fire
axe and fire extinguisher and haltingly telling her not to worry. The
headmaster arrives in moments and congratulates Johnny for the job. Linda is
relieved that the boy's arrival covers her part in the situation. She has to
wonder, though, if Johnny actually did cover for her. There's no way to
question him until he learns a good variety of words.

Some time later, on Visitor's Day, Johnny tells a pair of potential foster parents
that he'd like to live in America and not return to his former country. She's glad
for his opportunity to gain a family but needs to solve her own questions
before he leaves. That night, in the rec room, Linda demonstrates a kid's
archery set and challenges Johnny to a game off skill. He makes a bad shot,
though... Linda thinks the arrow has sailed over her head when it's actually
knocked her wig off! He quickly grabs a bottle of soda, shakes it, and squirts a
stream onto an exposed light builb, shattering it and darkening the room. He
then bends and retrieves her wig, telling her to put it on so the others won't
know she's wearing a disguise... and that he knows she had super-powers!
As he crouches, though, she catches sight of his medallion and realizes it
offers a clue to his origins. Before she can share the insight, though, the
headmaster arrives with news that Mr. and Mrs. Trent are on their way over to
make arrangements for the adoption! Linda decides to slip away and create a
diversion to buy herself some time. So, racing across town, she lifts the rear of
the Trent car from the ground so that the drive train is apparently not
responding to the engine. They arrange to have it towed to a garage.

But, flying past the headmaster's office, Supergirl overhears him talking with a
matron regarding the phone call he's about to make. Apparently, the
Peabodys have arranged to adopt Johnny if the Trents fail to arrive. In order to
block that call, Supergirl slips past a nightwatchman and stops the dynamo
that supplies electricity to all the telephones! When her x-ray vision shows that
Mrs. Peabody has hung up, she starts it running again!

Flying back to the orphanage, Supergirl prepares to tell Johnny she knows his
secret! It's long past lights-out, but her x-ray vision shows he's awake and
reading a book! He can see in the dark, which is how he found out about her
dual identity. He saw her pushing the tree aside during the windstorm. He is
from another world, and this fact prompted her to block the adoption attempts.
Sooner or later, she reasoned, he would return to his native world and leave
the poor foster parents heartbroken. The clue was the medallion, which her x-
ray vision showed to be of an element unknown on Earth. The boy confirms
that he is Valzorr the prince of a world called Korvia! His aunt and uncle were
the king and queen! He had left home one day to find a civilized world, but a
storm at sea wrecked his space ship! He dove out and clung to some
driftwood, and the crashing waves tore his native clothing to shreds.
Validated, she flies off to find his wrecked ship, which she quickly repairs.

They take the ship fo his home world and land on the floating city where his
family lives. Upon landing, they are met by Prime Minister Zoxxo. He has the
boy arrested in preparation for his exectuion. The crime: murdering the king
and queen! Grabbing the manacles from a magestrate, and ripping them
apart, Supergirl demands he receive a trial first.

At the trial, the Prime Minister makes his case using a beast (caged) that
breathes poisonous fumes. Their Atom Transporter Cabinet broadcasts its
now-scattered atoms into thin air. Using the principle that each person or
creature has his own wavelength, they use it to travel from place to place.
Stepping across the room, the Prime Minister tunes the Receiver Cabinet to
the wrong wavelength, and the beast doesn't rematerialize. The accusation is
that Prince Valzorr mudered the king and queen in this manner. Nobody
knows their private wavelengths, so the charge is that when they were
returning from a trip, the prince changed the Receiver Cabinet's wavelength
to prevent them from materializing. Their atoms are therefore now drifting in
space! Supergirl muses that it wouldn't have been murder if the king and
queen arrived back alive, so she steps forward to attempt to find the correct
push-button combination. The Prime Minister calls her a fool, as there are
millions of wavelengths and she has no chance of finding the right
combination of buttons. However, at super-speed, it takes only a little over two
million tries before she hits the right one! The king and queen materialize!

As they exit the Cabinet, Supergirl asks if Valzorr had done the deed on them,
and  kindly queen says no, that it was the Prime Minister, in a power grab!
With all matters settled, the prince decides it's safe to stay on his world after
all, and Supergirl returns to Earth. She carries a note written by "Johnny,"
explaining that his amnesia suddenly ended, leading him to remember a
relative, with whom he has gone to live. The Linda Lee robot, which had
covered for Supergirl's absence, then dutifully returns to its storage area (a
fake tree) and all's well. The end.

The story was sure all over the place. The mundane enforced life of minor feats
at the orphanage must have been frustrating to a being who could repair alien
technology, learn an alien language and solve a political crisis, all before
bedtime. Out of courtesy, we won't address the concept that, only a year prior,
she'd been an ordinary hormone-ridden teenager who had never left the
asteroid of her birth.

Mooney was drawing Supergirl with a young teenager's trim figure, an
effective contrast to Wayne Boring's bulky Superman in the lead feature.
Mooney would have done well to have kept the young physiques in mind when he was drawing the Legion a few years later.

For this story, Supergirl's skirt was red. Was the color scheme going back and forth in the early stories? I thought the red worked better.

Supergirl's hair was drawn short, similar to the way Curt Swan was always drawing it on the covers. I preferred this look to the longer hair style Mooney gave her not many issues later, if only because the shorter hair could be shown effectively windblown. Her longer hair, like Superman's, was never mussed. Perhaps, as her hair grew, he presented her with a jar of Kandorian hair gel.