Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Today’s featured villain– though perhaps we shouldn’t call him that– is going to anger my spell checker greatly. (Archive.)
292. Mr. Mxyzptlk
Mxyzptlk– originally spelled Mxyztplk– or just “Mxy” for short– is a magical imp from the fifth dimension whose sole purpose in life is to come over to the third dimension to have fun and wreak havoc in the life of Superman. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (probably with the help of some in-studio artists), he first appeared way back in 1944 and has been bugging Supes every 90 days since then. To our puny human minds, he comes across as some kind of magic being, but he’s just your average jokester from another dimension with an undying love for tiny hats.
I’d hesitate to call Mxy a “villain,” however. He’s more of a pest, if anything. His motives are usually not evil. He’s a playful scamp who happens to occasionally cause massive carnage– the classic trickster figure. While some writers have portrayed Mxyzptlk as more malevolent than usual– I’m thinking of Alan Moore and John Byrne here– he’s usually used as a wacky spot of fun, an excuse for a breather between more serious stories. Some of the best modern Mxyzptlk has been from the minds and pens of Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove in the pages of Superman: Man of Steel. The 75th issue of that title is probably the best Mxy story ever, for it’s– “The Death of Mxyzptlk!”
I’ve always liked Mxy, and he’s probably my favorite Superman villain. Whether he’s in the purple suit or the orange outfit, whether he’s bald or pointy-haired, whatever. In the old days, he was always brought in to inflict some weird transformation upon Superman or his world. Mxy’s complete disdain for the fourth wall is another favorite bit of mine– he knows he’s in a comic book, and isn’t afraid of speaking to the creators themselves! He’s a charming, whimsical character, and loads of fun. (They killed him off, didn’t they?)
Because of his limitless potential, Mxy is a perfect character for comics. Strangely enough, however, he’s appeared multiple times in other media. For God’s sake, Howie Mandel played him on Lois & Clark! He’s shown up in numerous live action and animated productions, but it’s Gilbert Gottfried’s portrayal in the Superman Animated Series that’s my favorite. One crazed imp playing another– perfect!
For more on Mxy, hie thyself to the Wiki.
Well, this column’s come to an end, so I guess it’s time to vamoose. Mxy would say “Kltpzyxm,” So I guess I’ve gotta blurt out “Deer Llib!”
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