William Henderson

Another recurring character who debuted in Black Lightning first episode The Resurrection is Inspector Bill Henderson, a Freeland detective who’s a very close friend of Jefferson Pierce, but a sworn enemy to Black Lightning. This is the third live action appearance of the character: he first appeared in Adventures of Superman, portrayed by Robert Shayne, as a policeman who works in Metropolis and is good friends with the reporters from the Daily Planet. He appeared again in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, where Mel Winkler, Brent Jennings and Richard Belzer passed the role one to the other during the entire first season (first case of in-series race swapping). The character, born in radio but moved to the comics soon after, has a long story in the comics as well: let’s see together.

William Henderson was born and raised in Metropolis, in years during which the city wasn’t yet the beacon of social and technological achievement it came to be. Not much is known about his private life, apart from the fact that he had a sister, Muriel, who eventually got married with a man named Henry Rabinovitch. Apparently, Bill himself was married at least once, as he had a son, Andrew (sometimes referred to as Ray, depending on continuity). Wanting to bring some order in a city dominated by criminality, Bill entered Metropolis Police Department, and started to work to become an officer. Honest and capable, he rose through ranks, but he realized pretty soon that police alone wasn’t prepared nor capable to control the amount of criminals that a city like Metropolis attracted or generated. As some vigilantes like Guardian started appearing around, Henderson, contrarily to some of his colleagues, supported them, as he believed that the work they did could be useful, as long as they were properly monitored by police itself. When he was still Detective-Sergeant, Henderson learnt that in Smallville, a rural town not far from Metropolis, there was a young hero more powerful than anyone seen before, Superboy. Realizing how much Metropolis could use his help, Henderson traveled all the way to Smallville, where he actually met the extraordinary teenager, and tried to convince him to move to Metropolis. His pleads apparently were in vain, as Superboy decided to remain in Smallville. A few years later, however, as the hero had grown up and become Superman, he did eventually moved to Metropolis, where he was greeted by Henderson himself, who was now Inspector.

True to his word, Inspector Henderson became Superman’s police contact, and he aided him in a number of his early adventures in Metropolis. He helped the hero come back to his senses when a Brain-Beam sent him nuts and made him build an ark in open space, right during one of the worst criminal waves Metropolis ever experienced, and he also teamed up with him and Morgan Edge to find Professor Jasper Pepperwinkle‘s latest and apparently stolen invention, a Tri-Dimensional Silhouette Projector, that was creating “ghosts” all over the city. The relationship between Inspector and superhero grew strong over the years, even if, with the birth of a unit specialized in superhumans and counting experienced agents like Dan Turpin and Maggie Sawyer, Henderson was increasingly less directly involved with Superman’s adventures. It came the day, however, that Superman died in battle against the monstrous Doomsday, and Inspector Henderson was among the ones who spoke during the hero’s funeral. To replace the fallen hero, however, four other “Supermen” (the Eradicator, Superboy, Steel and Cyborg Superman) appeared, all claiming to be the original one. What could be a solution actually started a new crisis, with MPD totally unprepared for it. Because of his experience with Superman, Bill Henderson got promoted to the rank of Commissioner, leading the entire department in dealing with an unprecedented mystery. Alerted by reporter Lois Lane, Henderson aided her in exhuming Superman’s coffin, only to find it empty. Apparently at least one of the pretenders was the real deal, and truth had to be discovered: Henderson promoted Maggie Sawyer to Investigator, and entrusted her with the case. It was time to shed some light on this alleged resurrection…

Bill Henderson is a tough, no-nonsense policeman, an old school detective who does everything by the book, as long as the book proves to be useful. Smart and resourceful, with remarkable investigative abilities and great leading skills, Henderson was the first in Metropolis to see the potential of enlisting the aid of superheroes, and also the one people look to in moments of crisis. A point of reference for many, Bill Henderson leads the police department of one of the biggest and most important cities in the world, a task that only a man like him can be fit for.

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Morgan Edge

The ComicCon provided us also with trailers for the upcoming tv-series, and DC dominated the scene with an ever-expanding tv universe. In Supergirl Season 3 trailer we got a first look at a new antagonist, Morgan Edge, portrayed by Adrian Pasdar, a media mogul from L-Corp who’ll become quite a rival to Lena Luthor. The character already had three live action appearances, albeit two of them were different versions of him: in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace the corrupted David Warfield portrayed by Sam Wanamaker, who takes over Daily Planet transforming it in a second-rate newspaper, is clearly based on Edge, while in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Bruce Campbell‘s Bill Church Jr. is an amalgamation of Edge (he even possesses a tv station with a nearly identical name to Edge’s, Multiworld Communications) and Bruno Mannheim. Edge directly appeared only in Smallville, portrayed by Rutger Hauer and Patrick Bergin, as a crime lord from Metropolis who has a past with Lionel Luthor, and acts as quite a foe for both Lex and Clark during whole Season 3. In the comics, Edge has a much more sinister partner than Lionel: let’s see together.

Morgan Edge was born in Metropolis, the son of the wealthy media mogul Vincent Edge. Vincent wasn’t exactly a nominee to the “father of the year award”, as he constantly abused his son, teaching discipline in the most violent and brutal way. Morgan found tenderness and comfort only in his mother, but even that safe harbor was eventually taken away from him: one day, while the entire family was walking down a street in Metropolis, Vicent got angry at his son as usual, and started disciplining him as he always did: slapping and shouting. Morgan’s mother, not standing her son being publicly humiliated and beaten for the umpteenth time, tried to intervene, with the only effect of Vincent turning on her in front of Morgan’s terrified eyes. During the fight, Vincent pushed his wife with too much strength, and the woman ended in the middle of the traffic, being run over and killed by a bus. When the police arrived, Vincent forced his son to testify that his mother had slipped, and the woman’s death was dismissed as a tragic accident. This marked a turning point in Morgan’s life, as his hatred for his father grew to unbearable levels, but he was so afraid of him that he could do nothing against him. Eventually, one night, he climbed on his house’s roof during a storm, and shouted his anger and hatred to the sky in a mute prayer…a prayer that was listened not by the god he was thinking about, but by a god nevertheless: Darkseid, the cruel tyrant of Apokolips. The New God promised the boy he would have made him strong, fearless, able to stand up to his father and to get his revenge on him, if he only consecrated his entire life to him. Full of hatred for his father, Morgan Edge “sold his soul” to Darkseid, and from that very moment his humanity was lost forever.

Darkseid kept his promise, and he was for Morgan the father figure he never had, molding him into a ruthless man, who could channel his anger and hatred into a sharp intellect. As an adult, the first thing that Morgan did was to exclude his father from the media company he himself had founded, Galaxy Communications, forcing him to an early retirement and making even his public name disappear: for a man like Vincent, who had based all his power on media exposure, anonymity was worse than death. As the new CEO of Galaxy Communications, Edge became one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Metropolis, but he of course had to do the bidding of his master, Darkseid: using his connections, he created a criminal empire in the underworld of Metropolis, and he even provided street criminals with futuristic weapons from Apokolips. The result was the origin of Intergang, one of the most dangerous and vicious criminal groups Metropolis had ever seen, hellbent on creating chaos in the city without an apparent purpose. Edge always maneuvred Intergang from behind the curtains, sure that nobody would have ever connected the gang to him. Eventually, however, Edge discovered he had been deceived from the very beginning: the one he believed to be Darkseid was actually DeSaad, another New God, who had pretended to be his master to create random havoc on Earth, using Edge as a puppet and making him promises he would have never been able to keep. If this wasn’t enough, two journalists from the Daily Planet were on Edge’s trails: Clark Kent and Cat Grant, who were following unexpected leads to connect Galaxy Communications to Intergang (the latter as an insider). Edge was exposed and imprisoned, and even Vincent came back to resume control over GC: Morgan, however, was a master of the power of the media, and a prison wasn’t able to keep him from using what he had learnt to destroy his enemies, even from afar…

Morgan Edge is an unscrupolous and ruthless man, a highly intelligent businessman created by his father’s abuses and DeSaad’s lies. A media mogul who knows how to twist facts in order to manipulate the public opinion, Edge is one of the most dangerous men alive as long as he has access to a computer or a camera, using his intellect and his charisma to shape the world into a distorted version of it, also managing to appear a hero at the eyes of people as he does it…usually making the true heroes appear as criminals, of course.

Bruno Mannheim

With no new characters to speak about (at the moment, at least), let’s resume Lucy W.‘s request, and meet another villain: Bruno “Ugly” Mannheim, one of the DC Universe’s most renowned gangsters. He first appeared in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, with his name changed to Bill Church Jr.: portrayed by Bruce Campbell, he is the son of the leader of Intergang, and an old friend of Perry White; he manages to corrupt Superman with Red Kryptonite, but he’s eventually arrested along with his father, both of them tricked by the same woman. He then appeared in Smallville, portrayed by Dominic Zamprogna: with his original name this time, he debuts as a thug who kills his boss Ron Milano and takes control of his criminal empire, declaring an all-out war on Metropolis‘ vigilantes starting with Stiletto…who’s actually Lois Lane in disguise. More disturbing and cruel than his live action counterparts, Bruno is quite a monster in the comics: let’s see together.

Bruno Mannheim was born in Metropolis, the son of Moxie “Boss” Mannheim, the undisputed leader of Intergang, an infamous and powerful group of gangsters. When he was still a kid, Boss Moxie was arrested by the Newsboy Legion, and Intergang was left without a leader, since Bruno was the intended heir, but still too young. During this period, the corrupted businessman Morgan Edge took control of Intergang, with Bruno being held as a figurehead for reassuring the old gangsters loyal to the Mannheim family. It was under Edge’s leadership that Intergang started employing superhumans as agents and having business with some dangerous third parties, most notably the New Gods from Apokolips. While Edge was making deals with the one he believed to be Darkseid, getting advanced weapons from him, it was Bruno who discovered the first one’s true identity: DeSaad, Darkseid’s advisor, who was enjoying playing with the humans. DeSaad was intrigued by the young Mannheim, and had him transported on Apokolips, where he was trained by Granny Goodness. Bruno became and extremely ruthless and pitiless man under Goodness’ training, a living nightmare even for men like his father. He came back to Metropolis when Morgan Edge had a heart attack, and he took control of Intergang from him. He started directing some ambitious criminal activities, such as financing a war against the independent state of Kahndaq with Apokoliptian weapons and Egg-Fu‘s research. Bruno kept following Apokolips’ directive, but this kind of operations ended up attracting a lot of unwanted attention, and eventually two reporters, Clark Kent and Cat Grant, managed to collect enough evidence against him and Intergang to put the entire country’s police against him. Exposed as the leader of the gangsters, Bruno Mannheim was arrested, but he managed to use a Boom-Tube to escape. He came back to Apokolips, where Darkseid himself oversaw the end of his training.

Darkseid made Bruno Mannheim know the one book that would have changed his life forever: the Crime Bible, a religious book worshipping crime itself, whose original copy written on the very stone Cain used to kill Abel. A man reborn, now considering himself a religious messiah, Bruno came back to Earth, where he reformed Intergang into a crime-worshipping cult. Even his character had changed quite a lot, as he was now even more ruthless and violent than before: a cannibalistic psychopath, now Bruno killed and ate anyone who didn’t submit to him, thus inspiring a sacred fear from his subordinates. He started recruiting mad scientists from all around the world, and he even “converted” supercriminals to his cause: if many at first were reluctant, they all changed their mind after Mannheim killed Mirage with his bare hands and had him cooked for dinner immediately after. This way, he thickened Intergang’s ranks with the likes of Magpie, the VentriloquistKite ManSquid, Sewer King, Rawson, LamelleWhisper A’Daire and many other minor villains from all around the world. Using everybody’s unique talents, Intergang expanded outside the United States, conquering first Oolong Island, then countries like Yemen and Bialya, in an expansion that would have soon aimed to the US as well. It was at this point of his expansion that he set his sight on Gotham City, albeit his operations were spotted by The Question; while the vigilante gained the help of Renee Montoya and Nightwing, however, Mannheim had found somebody worthy to be a propitiatory human sacrifice, the new Batwoman, who also happened to be Montoya’s lover. The ceremony had already begun, with Mannheim slowly piercing Batwoman’s chest with a cerimonial knife, when the trio arrived. Montoya managed to save Batwoman, who ripped the knife from her torso and stabbed Bruno in the back with it. Apparently, the deranged criminal met his end, but alien forces were always at work around him, and he was rescued by an unknown third party, who sent him back to Metropolis soon after with new technology. This time, Bruno was powerful enough to challenge Superman head on…

Bruno Mannheim is a cunning and brutal individual, a leader born who’s been taught to serve pure evil since his childhood. A natural born tactician, trained in combat by Granny Goodness in person, he has at disposal a vast amount of alien technology, granting him a range of abilities (in one occasion he turned himself into a giant as tall as Metropolis’ tallest skyscrapers). One of the most dangerous men alive, Bruno Mannheim unites in himself the evil of two worlds, a cruel gangster who grew to be a deranged cannibal who worships crime itself.

Alexander Luthor Jr.

alexanderluthorjrfilmTaking advantage of a small break, let’s expand our Luthor family tree thanks to Lucy W.‘s request, and let’s meet Alexander Luthor Jr., the son of Lex Luthor from an alternate reality. This Luthor from Earth-Three had two live action iterations, albeit very different from the original and one from the other: in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanKeith Brunsmann portrayed the mysterious Mr. Smith, who turned out to be the disfigured secret biological son of Lex Luthor, aiming to rebuild the empire of his deceased father; he had a good-looking pawn, Leslie Luckabee, who appeared in public in his stead, and he acted as the villain behind the curtains until he was exposed and died in an explosion after kidnapping Lois Lane. In Smallville, there were two Alexander(s): the first was portrayed by Nico Ghisi, and was the son Lex has from Lana Lang in a possible reality, one that Lex refused because of the pain Lana’s death would have brought to him; the other was the clone we already met, the one who became Superboy as a teenager, who began his life calling himself “Lex Luthor Jr.”. The original guy is something else entirely, and is quite an ambiguous figure, first being one of the universe’s greatest heroes, then one of its most dangerous villains.

Alexander Luthor Jr. was born on an alternate Earth (known as Earth-Three) where Lex Luthor (here Alexander Luthor Sr.) was the world’s only superhero, succesfully defending his people from the Crime Syndicate, an evil counterpart to the Justice League of America. Alexander was the son of Lex and of his wife, Lois Lane…and he was born in the worst possible moment. The Anti-Monitor, the living embodiment of anti-matter, had declared war to his brother, The Monitor, and wanted to destroy the latter’s positive matter universe to rebuild it in his own image; in order to do so, he started to annihilate entire realities…Earth-Three included. Alexander Sr. knew that his universe had come to an end, but he wanted to save his son: a genius inventor, he designed and built a special inter-dimensional capsule, which he put his son in; the set destination was a reality he had previously visited, Earth-One, alexanderluthorjrcomics1where the number of heroes and villains was reversed compared to Earth-Three. Infant Alexander was sent beyond the borders of his reality, and succesfully landed in Earth-One, in the abandoned Justice League Satellite. Sensing the inter-dimensional travel, The Monitor sent his agent, Harbinger, to investigate, and the heroine retrieved the infant, bringing him to her master. It was soon evident that crossing dimensions had granted the baby special powers, as well as accelerate his aging to an extreme rate: in a matter of weeks, Alexander was a young adult, and displayed power over both matter and anti-matter, being able to create portals between universes and to allow positive-matter beings to travel to the anti-matter universe. The Monitor saw in him a great potential, and trained him to become one of his top agents in the incoming war against the Anti-Monitor. When the latter possessed Harbinger and used her against her master, The Monitor was killed (actually he let himself be killed in a cosmic plan to save the remaining realities), thus triggering the last phase of the conflict…one in which Alexander had to take an active role, doing what he was ordered by The Monitor: gather heroes and villains from different dimensions and guide them against the Anti-Monitor and his forces.

Along with Monitor’s other agents, Harbinger and Pariah, Alexander Luthor Jr. took the lead of the impressive army the positive-matter universe had gathered, and he collected powerful heroes and villains from six different realities to line up, bringing them directly to the anti-matter universe where the Anti-Monitor resided. Since one of his most powerful allies was Kal-L, the Superman from Earth-Two, Alex decided to save his wife, Eart-Two Lois Lane, just before that universe was annihilated by the Anti-Monitor, but he chose not to say anything about it, not wanting to distract the hero from the task at hand. Luthor’s powers proved to be vital to the mission, as he acted as a living vessel between universes, letting the army invade the anti-matter universe; at the height of the battle, he even allowed Darkseid to shoot his deadly Omega Effect right through him, hitting the Anti-Monitor and weakening alexanderluthorjrcomics2him enough to allow Kal-L to punch him to submission. The battle was won…but the multiverse was now reduced to a universe, New Earth, with all the other realities erased from existence. Alexander Luthor Jr. was the sole survivor of Earth-Three, and along with him there were Kal-L and Lois from Earth-Two (finally reunited) and yet another version of the Kryptonian, Superboy from Earth-Prime, he was an alien to the new reality; using the last of his burned-out dimensional power, Alex opened a portal to a “paradise dimension” of his creation, where the foursome could have lived forever, with their earned rest granted. Years passed, and nobody in the universe even remembered Alex’s and the others’ existence, but they could see everything going on in New Earth. The “paradise” soon showed its flaws, as Lois started to die of old age, despite Kal-L’s best efforts to “fix” her in the pocket reality he could shape with his will, while Superboy was growing weary for his “imprisonment”; Alex, on his side, envied the childhood Superboy knew and he never did, and Superman’s marriage that he would have never experienced. Convinced that New Earth was flawed as well and that it needed to be repaired by restoring the multiverse, Alexander Luthor started plotting from beyond reality to reshape the universe as he saw fit…

Alexander Luthor Jr. is a genius born, a man (actually a baby, grown up at incredible speed) whose intellect is able to comprehend a multi-dimensional reality; deeply committed to the safety of all living creatures, Luthor uses his many skills to selflessly fight for everybody’s existence. A true Luthor, he’s a genius mastermind, an unpredictable tactician and a skilled inventor and engineer; he also possesses superhuman powers due to some side-effects of the inter-dimensional travel he experienced as a newborn, and he can now manipulate matter itself, opening portals from a place to another and even from a universe to antoher, absorb energy, concentrate it in powerful blasts and even distributing it among other people, fly and modify his own appearance to look like an alternate version of himself; his powers can exhaust if used too much, but they slowly recharge. After fighting for the whole universe just to be forgotten, and years and years of confinement in a pocket dimension, Alexander Luthor Jr. is now tired of watching life happen before his very eyes, and he’s now determined to step in once more to “save” reality…but this time on his own terms.

Mister Mxyzptlk

mr-mxyzptlkfilmAnother big character coming from Brick89‘s list, which is almost at its end: Mr. Mxyzptlk, one of the most annoying DC “villains” (as a villain he can be considered) ever. The pesky Imp never appeared in a movie, but tv apparently loves him: he first appeared in Superboy, portrayed by Michael J. Pollard, in a version that was practically identical to his comicbook counterpart, even graphically, with bowler hat and everything. In Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHowie Mandel portrayed a much more malicious version of the character, this time human-sized and with no trademark: he trapped LoisClark and the rest of the world in a time loop leading to the planet’s destruction, but the two protagonists managed to trick him into spelling his name backwards, thus sending him back to his dimension for good. In Smallville a completely different version appeared: in Season 4 Trent Ford portrayed Mikhail Mxyzptlk, a foreigner student from the Balcans with the ability to influence anybody’s body (Clark’s included) into doing anything he says; Chloe manages to strip him of his powers with a particular sound frequency, but Lex Luthor offers to restore them in his labs. Last but not least, we’ll soon see the Imp in Supergirl as well, portrayed by Peter Gadiot, and apparently also this time he’ll look like a regular guy. Now, let’s take a look at one of the most peculiar characters in the DC Comics.

It’s quite difficult to summarize a bio of someone like Mister Mxyzptlk, considering that he’s a native from the Fifth Dimension (called a Zrfffian), not bound by limits of space, time or even logical consistency. Apparently, in New Earth, the first time he came to Earth was as a serious and uptight student who wanted to learn as much as he could of the alien dimension. During his study trip he met the three young heroes from Young JusticeRobin, Impulse and Superboy, who recognised him as the interdimensional prankster who had been tormenting for years Earth’s greatest hero, Superman. The young Mxyzptlk was simply outraged, as he didn’t recognize himself in the description, quite the opposite: he swore he would have never become that person. This, unfortunately, badly affected the timeline, creating a major paradox: as a result, the world itself risked to be destroyed thanks to the three heroes’ intervention. Trying to save the universe, Robin, Impulse and Superboy decided to put Mxyzptlk under a “prankster therapy”, and they made him watch a video of the Three Stooges, until the young Imp fell in love mr-mxyzptlkcomics1with the stupid jokes and pranks of the comedians, triggering the evolution into the well-known trickster everybody loved to hate. If this was the actual origin of the pesky Imp, or just an elaborate ruse from Mxyzptlk to mock the young heroes, remains a mystery. Being it a way or the other, when Mister Mxyzptlk came back to Earth, he was a full grown adult, and he was an immortal being growing constantly bored of his eventless existence. When he first met Superman, he found in the invincible hero a great way to spend his time, and made him the constant target of tricks and challenges, involving him in a series of ridiculous and impossible misadventures the Man of Steel usually emerged from by tricking the Imp into spelling his name backwards (the nearly unpronounceable Kltpzyxm), thus forcing him to come back to the Fifth Dimension for ninety days at least. This game was the one thing that kept Mxyzptlk happy, despite his many failures, and he took quite some joy into mocking the most powerful hero of the three-dimensional world. Then, the Chrisis on Infinite Earths happened.

When the multiverse became a universe, Mr. Mxyzptlk emerged from the cosmic cataclysm pretty much unchanged and unscathed, with his pesky and annoying nature being exactly the same. He resurfaced in Metropolis posing as a human, Ben Deroy (or DeRoy); just to mess with Superman, he seduced his love interest Lois Lane, and convinced her to marry him, but he was exposed as an Imp by the hero just in time. As usual, to be sent back home he challenged Superman into making him spell his name backwards, and among all his aliases he chose the impossible “Mxyzptlk”, spelling it on a giant typewriter, believing it to be impossible for the hero to make him say something like “Kltpzyxm”. Superman actually managed to do it by taking away the first paper with the name written on it and challenging the Imp into writing it again…in the meanwhile rewiring the typewriter, so that when Mxyzptlk used his magic to type again the exact same keys, his name appeared spelled backwards. In the new universe, however, this trick could only work once, as each time Mxyzptlk appeared the conditions to send him back mr-mxyzptlkcomics2home changed, even if the urgency of interrupting his absurd games before he hurt someone was always the same (once, for example, he animated the Daily Planet building just for fun…but all the people inside it weren’t having as much fun as he was, obviously): from painting his face blue to finding him in a world-wide hide and seek game, Superman found himself forced to fulfill a number of conditions for winning the Imp’s games. The only constant in the challenges was the honesty showed by Mxyzptlk in respecting his own rules…but that changed as well. On Earth during Superman’s absence, the Imp found a substitute to annoy in the hero’s nemesis, Lex Luthor, but with the mogul the game turned out to be much more different that the usual one, as Luthor easily exploited Mxyzptlk’s honesty to trick him faster than Superman ever could…thus, however, teaching him what a lie was. The following time, Mxyzptlk forced Superman to have a race around the world with The Flash, telling the latter he would have left only if Superman (the slowest among the two) won…while the rule he magically casted told the exact opposite. Not bound to truth anymore, there was a whole new universe of fun to explore for the Imp…

Mr. Mxyzptlk (real name unknown, but even more unprononceable than the one he chose on Earth) is not exactly an evil being, rather being simply annoying, an immortal Imp who just wants to have fun, especially if at someone else’s expenses. Despite his puckish attitude, he’s actually one of the most powerful beings in the universe, an interdimensional sorcerer able to bend reality itself, who ignores and manipulates space and time, who can subvert any known physical law; he’s also aware of his nature as a comicbook, and sometimes he talks directly to the authors to modify the stories involving him. Luckily enough, Mxyzptlk is childish and immature, and is not interested into killing his adversaries or even causing serious damage…that wouldn’t be fun. If he acted seriosuly just for a moment, without limiting his own powers with rules of his invention, the universe itself would be in dire danger.

Bibbo Bibbowski

And finally we’re at the last character from casualgamer‘s list (if you have any other, you only have to ask). We meet now another supporting character, Bibbo Bibbowski, who’s had so far three live action appearances (albeit the last one’s not exactly official). First he appeared in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, portrayed by Troy Evans, as the owner of his unmistakable bar the Ace O’ Clubs. He then appeared in Superman Returns, portrayed by Jack Larson, in a much older version: nicknamed simply “Bo“, he’s the one who speaks with Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent, always at the Ace O’ Clubs. Last but not least, he also appeared in Man of Steel, portrayed by Bruce Bohne, albeit he’s named only in the movie’s novelization: he’s the one who pours Lois Lane a drink while she meets her source, Glenn Woodburn, while investigating on the mysterious Joe from Ellesmere Island. Now, the only trait in common between the live action Bibbo and the comics’ one so far has been the ownership of the Ace O’ Clubs: let’s see what else there is to say about him.

Not much is known about Bibbo Bibbowski’s early life, not even where he was born. He had a brother, a very smart guy who was an egghead since he was a child: while Bibbo pretty much enjoyed brawls and often fought with the other kids, his brother abhorred any form of violence, and dedicated himself to his studies. The first one grew up to become a professional boxer, while the second one became famous as Professor Bibbowski. As a boxer, Bibbo could make good use of his great strenght on the ring, and at least for a while he had success and earned some money. Then, at a certain point, something changed, at least in his attitude, and he quit with boxing, moving to Metropolis and becoming a longshoreman. In the nearby Suicide Slum Bibbo found the place that would have become his second home, the ill-famed bar Ace O’Clubs, which he became a loyal costumer of. Bibbo spent most of his time at the bar, and he only left it to work, so it was pretty easy to find him there. One day, a guy dressed as Superman entered the Ace O’ Clubs, looking for informations on a guy he was pursuing. Believing him to be some bibbobibbowskicomics1sort of clown looking for troubles, Bibbo punched him…with the only result of nearly crushing his own hand: that guy was the real deal. Oddly enough, this was the beginning of the friendship between Bibbo Bibbowski and Superman: the ex boxer had learnt to respect strength, and there was nobody tougher than Superman out there. After that brief confrontation, Bibbo elected Superman as “his favourite hero”, and he even helped him in his ongoing investigation. An admiration based on pure physical strength wasn’t exactly meant to last long, as there were guys out there who were even tougher than Superman, one of them being the infamous bounty hunter Lobo.

Lobo was in Metropolis with a helper of his, the teleporter Raof, because a group of unspecified aliens had tasked him with killing Superman: during their first confrontation, Lobo emerged victorious, and Superman escaped…thus leaving Bibbo with a brand new idol. The Czarnian bounty hunter, somehow flattered by Bibbo’s admiration, decided to make him his sidekick, and entrusted him with a vital task: he had to film him with a pair of special recording goggles during his fight with the Man of Steel, so that he could present an evidence to his employers and thus be paid. What seemed to be an easy job turned out to be quite a mess: during the fight, Bibbo, Lobo and Raof ended up completely drunk with Okaranna Liquor, and they lost their memory of a fight that, somehow, Superman had won (actually, thanks to a cheat from the Eradicator); plus, Bibbo had mounted the goggles backwards, so the only thing recorded was the back of his head, and his comments on a battle nobody could see nor remember. With such “evidence”, Lobo got fired from his contractors and gave up on taking Superman’s head, leaving the planet. After that weird misadventure, Bibbo resumed his admiration for the Man of Steel, and even started “defending his honor” from anyone criticizing him (even random bystanders). Bibbo’s life changed the moment he literally won the lottery…with a ticket he didn’t even buy (it was lost by Gangbuster). With all that bibbobibbowskicomics2money suddenly in his possession, Bibbo could fulfill his life’s dream…and he bought the Ace O’ Clubs, becoming the new owner of the bar. From his bar, he helped all the people in need from the Slums, and he kept aiding his hero anytime he needed it (or, much like, anytime Bibbo believed he needed it). He even got involved in Superman’s fight with Doomsday, as he allied with Professor Hamilton and tried to stop the monster with an experimental gun, with no effect. Despite the effort proved to be useless, it was the least anyone could expect: he just couldn’t twiddle his thumbs while his favourite hero got beaten by a monster!

Bibbo Bibbowski is a brute with a heart of gold, a good man at heart, who’s however not exactly smart. He’s a very strong and accomplished boxer, but he doesn’t have any other particular talent besides that. He has a true adoration for Superman, to the point that for some time he went around dressed like him calling himself “Superdood“, and adopted a white cub calling him “Krypto“. Albeit in his rough and clumsy way, it’s positive that Bibbo will always do the right thing and lend a hand…or at least, he’ll do his best to do both.

Bizarro

bizarrofilmToday we start with the DC side of casualgamer‘s request, and we begin with one of Superman‘s most iconic villains: Bizarro, the perfectly imperfect duplicate of the Man of Steel. He first appeared in the Superboy tv series, portrayed by Barry Meyers: in this version, he was born from an experimental duplicating ray that hit Superboy, fell in love with Lana Lang and kidnapped her; after allying with Lex Luthor, he eventually became a good guy and even saved Superboy’s life a couple of times. He appeared again in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, portrayed by Dean Cain: this version wasn’t monstrous as the previous one, being a perfect copy of Superman, but he surely turned out to be much dumber than the original Man of Steel. The last live action version so far appeared in Smallville, portrayed by Tom Welling as a failed Kryptonian experiment who escapes from the Phantom Zone, steals Clark Kent‘s DNA and becomes a malicious and evil doppelganger who, aside from conquering the world, even tries to seduce Lana Lang, and who’s able to absorb energy from Kryptonite. It’s likely he’ll eventually make an appearance in the DC Extended Universe, but in the meanwhile let’s take a look at the originals…yes, because there are more than one, even considering just the New Earth continuity.

The first Bizarro was born when Lex Luthor, unable to convince Superman to work for him, decided to create “his own Superman”. He managed to obtain the services of Chinese biologist Doctor Teng, who was put in charge of Project: Changeling, aimed to create a perfect duplicate of Superman with his powers and memories, but imbued with a blind loyalty to Luthor. Teng, as everyone else, believed Superman to be a mutated human rather than an alien, and this proved to be the cause of his failure: the creature that emerged from the cloning process was a mute, monstrous being that looked like a parody of the real Man of Steel; disgusted by his creation, Luthor ordered it to be destroyed, but the clone escaped Lexcorp, starting to act like his heroic counterpart (even saving the life of a blind girl, Lucy Lane, who was trying to commit suicide). Upon meeting the true Superman, however, Bizarro reacted violently, and punched him through the Daily Planet building; inheriting part of the Man of Steel’s memories and bizarrocomics1even feelings, he kidnapped Lois Lane and escaped, followed by Superman. Lucy’s presence managed to calm down the artificial being for a while, but when Superman appeared again to save Lois, he charged at his “genetic father” with all his superhuman speed: with his body worn out by the use of his powers, Bizarro’s body exploded when he hit the hero’s body: even dying, he managed to perform one last good deed, as the powder produced by his destroyed body healed Lucy’s blindness. Even the second Bizarro was created for Lex Luthor, this time to heal him from a genetic plague: engineered by Sydney Happerson, this Bizarro was able to speak, and was slightly more intelligent than the previous one. After rebelling against Happerson and seriously injuring him, he escaped and built a fake Metropolis, which he started “protecting” from threats he himself created. Also the second Bizarro had the original’s feelings for Lois Lane, and he kidnapped her, repeatedly exposing her to lethal threats he later saved her from. After battling Superman in Smallville, he was captured by Luthorcorp, that resumed researching on him…but with the last of his strength, Bizarro used his Heat Vision to destroy the lab, dying a hero while dismantling Luthor’s illegal facility for human experimentation.

The third and definitive Bizarro was created when The Joker managed to steal Mr. Mxyzptlk‘s reality-bending powers. He created a twisted world he was the emperor of, inhabited also by an insane and twisted version of Superman, who had Superman’s powers, but reversed, who had a childish personality, and who had a complicated speech pattern according to which everything meant its opposite (for example, “I love you” meant for him “I hate you”). When Joker’s empire fell, the twisted creature was captured by Avruiskin of Pokolistan, the dictator who had named himself after General Zod, and who kept him to torture and beat somebody resembling Superman. The real Superman intervened, and saved Bizarro from Pokolistan: the doppelganger built for himself a refuge, the Graveyard of Solitude, and made it his home, from which, from time to time, he came back to Metropolis, either to help or to challenge Superman depending on his mood (and causing a remarkable destruction either way). One of the most powerful beings on Earth, he was also contacted by Zoom to join his Secret Society of Supervillains, but he told the speedster he would have challenged him in a race around the planet first. Due to his bizarrocomics2unique way of speaking, Zoom didn’t quite understand if Bizarro would have joined after winning or losing the race, but agreed to run nevertheless. Bizarro’s pattern was so erratic and nonesensical that Zoom grew exasperated by him, and started to insult him…so that Bizarro grew flattered with all his “compliments”, decided they were friends and agreed to join. Bizarro stayed with the Society until he grew tired of it and left, only to be captured by Lex Luthor and studied and experimented upon for thirteen months (this wasn’t such a bad experience for Bizarro, since he spent all his time watching television and considered this period as some sort of vacation). He was freed by the original General Zod, and followed him in his migration from Earth…but only to move on his own and create his homeworld, the cubic Bizarro World. The blue sun his world orbited around gave Bizarro a new power, and he was able to populate the planet with Bizarro-copies of people from Earth, starting with Lois Lane. Thanks to Superman’s and Jonathan Kent‘s help and suggestions, with time, he became Bizarro World’s greatest hero, finally finding his place in the universe…always acting and thinking in his own, unique and twisted way, of course.

Bizarro is a living paradox, a “perfectly imperfect” duplicate of Superman who’s the exact opposite of the hero in any way. The first two Bizarros were little more than mindless monsters who displayed the same powers of the Man of Steel, but the third one is something else entirely: with the mind of a baby and the power of a god, he’s an unpredictable creature who acts on his obscure logic and speaks in a language only he can truly understand. Apart from flight, invulnerability and superhuman strength, speed, stamina and durability, Bizarro has the opposite version of Superman’s powers, such as the Arctic Vision in place of the Heat Vision and the Flame-Breath instead of the Freezing Breath; albeit Blue Kryptonite is lethal for him, the radiations of a blue sun gives him the power to create new lifeforms from his body mass. Just as dangerous as he is unpredictable (he accidentally killed the hero Human Bomb while “playing” with him), Bizarro is like a big baby toying with a nuclear device, with him being both the baby and the bomb. It’s quite hard to tell if he causes more damage by being a villain or by trying to be a hero…