Posts tagged ‘Mr Mxyzptlk’

Action 583 – “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” concludes

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Action 583 (Sept. 86) brings to a close the era of the Pre-Crisis Superman, with the concluding half of an Imaginary Story by Alan Moore, Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger.

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The entire story is one of dark foreboding, and is related by Lois Lane, now married and with a son, to a reporter, writing a story about the last days of Superman.  Many of Superman’s friends and enemies appeared in the first half of the story, and most of the villains have died.  Superman has brought Lois, Lana, Jimmy, Perry White and his wife to the Fortress of Solitude.  Cosmic King, Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen have come from the future, knowing that this was the end of Superman, to join in the fun.  They find the Kryptonite Man, as well as a disturbing union of Luthor and Brainiac.

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Many of Superman’s friends are shown throughout the issue, trying to get through the force-field surrounding the Fortress.  Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Captain Marvel and the Martian Manhunter are shown, along with Vartox, and pre-Crisis Superwoman.

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The story is filled with heart-wrenching sequences.  Jimmy takes his Elastic Lad serum, and Lana bathes in the pool that gives her super-powers, so they can join the fight against the assembling villains.  Her super-hearing allows Lana to hear Superman explain to Perry White that it is Lois that he truly loves, but he cared too much for Lana to ever let her know.

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Lana and Jimmy both fall to the Legion of Super-Villains, while Krypto sacrifices himself to take out the Kryptonite Man.

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This is all turning far too bloody and dangerous for the villains from the future, and they flee in their time bubble.  Luthor and Brainiac are the last, but perish in the snow.

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Who was the villain that brought this all about?  Mr. Mxyzptlk, the most powerful adversary Superman has, who chose to be a pest, but has now chosen to be a destroyer.

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Superman winds up using the Phantom Zone projector to rip the 5th dimensional being in half, but he has knowingly, and willingly killed.

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Though Lois gives him all manner of justifications, Superman has violated his own code.  He enters a chamber of gold kryptonite, which permanently removes his powers, and is never seen again.

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The reporter leaves.  I was teary eyed and emotionally drained by this point when I read this the first time, but so thrilled at the end, as the baby turns a lump of coal into a diamond.  And then I really looked at the face of Lois’ husband.

I believe Alan Moore has now dismissed this story as garbage, as he is wont to do.

I don’t care what he thinks.  This is the crowning gem of the first 50 years of the character.

 

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Action 563 – Ambush Bug loses his suit, Mr. Mxyzptlk wants his own show, and Jimmy Olsen becomes a blob

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Three stories in Action 563 (Jan.85), all represented in Giffen’s great cover.

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Ambush Bug gets the lead story in the issue, by Giffen, Fleming and Oskner.  Clark Kent is around, in his newscaster guise, and as Superman, but Bethany Snow, from New Teen Titans, and Jack Ryder, better known as the Creeper, also cameo on the first page.  Ted Baxter, from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show, almost appears.

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There is some degree of story in this one, as Ambush Bug works on his suit, and shorts it out.

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A running gag with the character is the origin story, which always involves a person named Irwin Schwab, but otherwise is a pastiche of other heroes origins.  Ambush Bug relates one of these absurd stories to Superman.

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Superman dismisses it as nonsense, until he realizes Ambush Bug just told him his own origin.

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E. Nelson Bridwell, Alex Saviuk and Dennis Jensen give Mr. Mxyzptlk a yen for the boob tube in the second story in this issue.  The 5th dimensional imp demands his own television show on WGBS, but Morgan Edge refuses.

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So Mr. Mxyzptlk wreaks havoc with the networks programming.  Although the story posits this as a bad thing, in reality I’m sure the ratings went through the roof, as everyone tuned in to see what crazy shit was going to happen.  Anyway, Mxyzptlk has made saying, or even writing, his name backwards impossible for anyone.

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Superman gets around this by thinking of his Bizarro World counterpart, Kltpzyxm, when setting up his trap.

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The issue is rounded out by a Jimmy Olsen adventure, by Craig Boldman, Howard Bender and Pablo Marcos.

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Hoping to save a falling girl, Jimmy drinks from an old vial of his Elastic Lad serum, but it turns him into a big blob instead.

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He is unable to speak, and is treated as a monster, even by his date for the evening.  Superman figures out what has happened, the serum was corrupted by a radioactive substance it sat next to.  He cures Jimmy in time to still have his planned date, but the girl’s reaction, freaking out just because he metamorphosized, makes it clear this woman is not up to Jimmy Olsen’s speed.

Action 467 – Superman goes boom, and Krypto vs Mr Mxyzptlk

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An unappealing cover on Action 467 (Jan. 77), and the Superman story inside isn’t great, either.

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Superman’s sonic booms are the key element to this story by Conway, Swan and Blaisdel, as two men in an orbiting capsule plan to steal the energy from them.

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The best scene in the story has Clark getting an alert while giving a live broadcast, and how he manages to get out of the studio without disrupting the show.  There is a mention of Black Lightning battling the 100, a subtle plug for the new book.

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When Superman tries to use a sonic boom to weaken a tidal wave, he discovers that they are not “functioning,” and follows the energy trail up to the capsule.

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It was all a plot to rule the world.  And it must have cost a lot to put into operation, what with the space capsule and all.  Millions.  Stupid guy probably could have lived happily for the rest of his life on the money he spent trying to conquer the Earth.

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The back-up story, by Rozakis, Swan and Blaisdel, which pits Krypto against Mr. Mxyzptlk, is far more entertaining.

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With Superman not around, and the 5th dimensional imp erasing Metropolis, it is up to Krypto to stop him.  He does this in canine fashion, nipping at Mxyzptlk.

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It’s really Mr. Mxyzptlk’s bad choice of a hiding place that does him in – disguising himself as a dog biscuit.

Action 460 – Steve Lombard is Superman?, and a Mr. Mxyzptlk tale

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Action 460 (June 1976) was the third issue of the series that I bought.  It is the beginning of a four-part story, which made me buy the next three issues, and got me buying the series regularly.

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The story, by Bates, Swan and Blaisdel, begins in a very low-key manner, with Clark Kent riding the bus to work.  Steve Lombard winds up in the same coach, his sports car in the shop.  But neither man is prepared when a glowing alien being suddenly shows up in the back of the bus.

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This creature is clearly none too find of Superman, and appears almost equally matched in strength.  He vanishes in the middle of the fight, and Superman is pretty sure that he turned back into whatever human guise he had been using on the bus, before he transformed.

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Superman is dead on about that.  This is Karb-Brak, from a planet in the Andromeda galaxy.  He is fatally allergic to all of his people, and was sent to live on Earth, just in order to survive.  His human guise is a construction worker, Andrew Meda.  Superman evokes the same allergic reaction that Andromedans did, so Brak decides he must kill Superman to save himself.

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He tracks the energy, and sees Clark Kent and Steve Lombard working out together in the WGBS gym.  He starts to transform, but does not notice Clark take off and become Superman.  Assuming Lombad must be Superman, he breaks in to kill him.

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Though this is billed as a Mr. Mxyzptlk story, the real star of it is the recently introduced Jon Ross, whom Mxyzptlk chooses to pester.

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Jon has heard about the imp.  After Mxyzptlk turns Pete Ross into a statue, Jon decides to play along with him, pretending to enjoy it all, and bide his time.

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Mr. Mxyzptlk genuinely enjoys having a partner in his lunacy, and is unprepared when Jon traps him in a creation of his own making, which he cannot escape from, short of returning to his home dimension.

So this is kind of like a “private life of Jon Ross.”

Action 388 – Sgt. Rock fights Superman over Lois Lane

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Bates, Swan and Roussos attempt to re-capture the joyous insanity of the early 60s Superman stories in Action 388 (May 1970).

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The story, such as it is, has Superman come back to Earth after a mission in space, and find that everything has turned crazy.  Sgt. Rock is his romantic rival for Lois Lane.  Every panel holds bizarre details, which are occasionally humourous.  There are also a few cameos – note Enemy Ace flying by in the last panel above.

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Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bizarro all appear in the tale, though none are the villain of the story.

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The Legion make a cameo, in probably the most serious couple of panels, as Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl warn Superman that Lois Lane is an idiot.

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There is an explanation, of sorts. Superman has wound up on a weird mirror-world, thanks to a bumbling scientist.  They both return to the real Earth at story’s end.

It’s not a bad story. It’s not as funny as they would have liked.  If anything, it shows what an achievement the early 60s Superman stories were.

Action 368 – Superman is bored, and Supergirl needs help

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Superman finds himself out of work in Action 368 (Oct. 68), in a story by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Jack Abel.

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Superman has been off in space, on a replica world of Krypton, bemoaning how Earth makes so many demands on him.  But when he comes back to Earth, he finds it a different situation entirely. There is no crime, no emergencies.  Superman flies around trying to help, but there is nothing for him to do.

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When Mr. Mxyzptlk shows up, Clark is convinced the imp is at the root of all this peace and goodwill.  But Mxyzptlk has been changed as well, and now wants only to spread fun and happiness.

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Even Jax-Ur, no longer in the Phantom Zone, has reformed, and spends his time in space protecting the planet from meteors.

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Superman is approached by a glowing giant molecule thing, which calls itself a Sentinel.  They have brought peace and stability to the planet, but Superman threatens to undo their good works, with his propensity towards violence.  The Sentinel convinces Superman to leave Earth and head to a planet that orbits a red sun.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Supergirl finishes her battle with Alpha and Beta in this Bates and Schaffenberger story.

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Those googly eye things in the first part of the story really were the best thing about this tale, which comes to a really simple conclusion.  The boy Supergirl is protecting takes a look at the bomb keeping everyone out of Stanhope, and realizes its a fake.  Sueprgirl had managed to flag away Superman before he broke the dome, but now realizes that was not necessary.

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Some future cops come to round up Alpha and Beta.  Supergirl discovers that she still has her powers, as the future cops also shielded her from the gold kryptonite exposure.

Probably shouldn’t have fallen for the eyes and just skipped this three-parter.

Action 362 – the Head of Hate, and Supergirl on trial in the future

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Leo Dorfman is joined by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, as a long-running story sets off in Action 362 (April 1968).  It is amazing that, even with Neal Adams doing the cover, that huge head still looks awful.

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The villain in this tale is a ventriloquist. His brother was captured by Superman but died in prison.  He has a dummy of his dead brother carried around by his men, and refuses to acknowledge that he is dead.

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The Ventriloquist’s plan is to use one of Superman’s friend to kill him – and has Clark Kent kidnapped.  He has built a hypnosis machine out of a broken Superman robot – the huge head.

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To further induce Clark to kill Superman, he shows him the supposed corpses of Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White, and claims that Superman killed them.  Of course, these are just more dummies.  But Clark behaves, as the story reaches its ending, as if he is ready and willing to kill.

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Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger have Linda become an exchange student in this story.

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To Linda’s surprise, she winds up being sent to the 40th century. I wish the story followed the 40th century resident who was exchanged for her, but it doesn’t.

Supergirl is considered a great villain in this era, and she winds up arrested and put on trial.  Robin shows up to act as her defense, with a really lame explanation of how he got there.

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But that’s ok, it’s not really Robin.  It’s a descendant of Mr. Mxyzptlk, who drew Linda to his century, and made everyone think she was a villain, all for his own amusement. But Linda had caught on, when he flew as Robin.  Exactly how that convinced her that this was a descendant of Mr. Mxyzptlk is not clear, but she does trick him into saying his name backwards.

 

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