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365 Reasons to Love Comics #292

Today’s featured villain– though perhaps we shouldn’t call him that– is going to anger my spell checker greatly. (Archive.)

10/19/07

292. Mr. Mxyzptlk

Mxy 1.jpg

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.

Mxy 2.JPGMxy 3.JPG

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?)

Mxy 4.JPGMxy 5.JPG

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!”

28 Comments

Now, THAT’S a reason to love comics. He’s a really fun villain and obviously a great idea, as he’s transfered into public consciousness to a degree. Anybody with a little bit of nerd in them knows about the imp with the funny name that you have to say backwards to defeat.

I even really loved his “Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel” more serious incarnation.

Yay Mixy!

I want Batmite too!

Was there ever an explanation for why he picked on Superman out of all the other heroes and regular people on Earth? Or even why focus on Earth instead of another planet?

Obviously, the real reason is that he was created by Superman writers for Superman but what’s Myx’s explanation?

Mxyzptlk is the one word I have never misspelt. True story.

“I want Batmite too! ”

Speaking of the two imps, World’s Funnest Comics, by Evan Dorkin and friends was a classic…

http://www.comicvine.com/comic/superman-and-batman-worlds-funnest/18705/110577/&i=2509

Supposedly, Mxyzptlk actually does appear to other characters, but not necessarily as “himself”. There’s a strong implication (in the never-abbreviate-this-title ‘Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite’) that at least some of the Impossible Man’s appearances in the Fantastic Four are actually Mxy in disguise. (And possibly vice versa, according to ‘Silver Surfer/Superman’.)

And the best Mr. Mxyzptlk story is the one where Superman finds a way into the Fifth Dimension, then goes there and does to Mxy exactly what Mxy does to him, just to teach him a lesson…and tricking him into saying “Namrepus” doesn’t work, because he has to say “Le-Lak” to go home. Awesome stuff.

“Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite.”

Reminds me of the Simpsons episode with “Krusty’s Komedy Klassic” at the Apollo Theater.

Yes! The best reason to love comics that there is! My only top 10 DC character who hasn’t shown up on the Top 100 list yet.

Mxy is an idea that really couldn’t work in any other genre other than superhero comics. He seems like something out of a classic cartoon short, but in cartoon shorts he’d be just another generic character. In live-action, he’d be cheesy. But in Superman comics, he’s a breath of wacky fresh air every time he shows up.

And I have to second the love for “World’s Funnest” and Gilbert Gottfried’s portrayal on Superman: TAS. Both of them are amazing.

Mxy just made an appearence alive and well in Countdown.

So how is that name pronounced?

I’ve always said Mix-al-plik, but that doesn’t make perfect sense from the spelling (and where’d I pick that up from? Is that how they said it on one of the cartoons?)

Has anyone written a story wherein Mxy becomes dyslexic and can’t read his name backwards?

Ian – Yes, as a matter of fact. From the most-recent Johns/Donner issue, it seems Bizarro Mxy can’t read. :)

sgt pepper – In one of the Super Friends cartoons, they pronounced it something like “Mix-yez-pittle-ick”, and that seems to be the dominant pronunciation.

Yea!

The only other creature I can compare Mxy to is the Flintstone’s Great Gazoo. I suppose I’d like Gazoo better if Gottfried voiced him instead of Harvey Korman. It would be better still if Mxy was in a Flintstones cartoon. On Adult Swim. Alternately directed by John K. or early David Lynch. That would rock, so to speak.

Also the only of my top ten not in yet.

John,

I remember reading that story where Superman went to the 5th dimension and haunted Mxy. One of my favourite Pre-Crisis stories ever. Anyone remember which issue of which comic had it? Was it one of the Superman Family books?

About pronunciation, in his first S:TAS episode, Mxy says phonetically that it’s pronounced “Mix-Yez-Spit-Lick”, so I’d say that’s probably it.

Loved every incarnation except Howie Mandel. I can still laugh just thinking about the Impossible Man bit. World’s Funnest was great, as was the framing story in the first volume of Bizarro Comics.

After Byrne modernized most of the traditional Superman villains, making them ostensibly more realistic but often more boring, it was a breath of fresh air when he used Mxy and got some classic Super-whimsy back into the books.

Yes, he got killed at the end of the (annoying endless) Ruin story, but that was pre-IC, and anyway I’m perfectly happy to believe that Mxy can’t be killed while in the 3rd dimension (with the “ripped in half between the Phantom Zone and the 5th dimension” being a special kind of exception). Whether it’s innate to Mxy or because Superboy punched stuff or because Mr. Mind ate stuff, he’s back from the dead and that’s all to the good.

There have been multiple pronunciations for Mxyzptlk: “Mixle-plik” in Superfriends, “Mix-Yez-Pittle-Ick” from Byrne, and “Mix-Yez-Spit-Lick” in the animated series. I think, currently, they’re going with the one with the “pittle,” which was the primary pronunciation dating back to 1967.

I don’t remember which issue the “Superman taunts Mxy” story was in offhand, but I know I read it in ‘Showcase Presents: Superman’…I don’t have those volumes handy at the moment, but the story’s in there somewhere.

I’ve never seen the Howie Mandel Mxy. Was it really that much worse than Michael J. Pollard on Superboy?

I just adore the concept – really, the only way to seriously get to the invincible Superman is to get under his skin. That his writers got that, and brought it to life so amazingly well, is definitely a Reason.

Sgt Pepper said:

So how is that name pronounced?

If you can believe Julie Schwartz (via Jonni DC, Continuity Cop), Mxyzptlk is pronounced “Mix-yez-Pitel-ick” (emphasis on the P); Mxyztplk is pronounced “Mux-izt-pulk.” From Ambush Bug #2, July ’85.

As for “why pick on Superman?” – my hypothosis is that he does pick on other characters, both super and civilian, but those characters don’t have their own books so we don’t see it happening. There’s gotta be something going on in the fourth dimension we don’t know about.

That Man of Steel issue by Louise Simonson & Jon Bogdanove is one of my all time favorite Mxyzptlk stories.

I believe that most people pronounce it Mix-Eeee-Pit-Lick, but I’m sure there are several other ways. If Mxyzptlk was real, he’d probably be delighted at how frustrated he made everyone trying to figure out how to say his name :)

I liked Byrne’s innovation (as I liked most of Byrne’s innovations on Superman, child of the ’80s that I am) where Mxyzptlk no longer had to say his name backward to return to the fifth dimension but Superman had to make Mxyzptlk do something which Mxyzptlk devised, like paint Mxyzpltk’s face blue or whatever. But, like just about everything Byrne did with his revamp, it’s been completely ignored by writers who want the Superman mythos to be just like it was when they were kids reading it in the silver age. A great shame.

Wasn’t there an issue during Superman’s exile from earth storyline where, since Supes wasn’t on Earth, Mxy decided to bedevil Lex Luthor? And Lex had to get him to shave his head bald as lex’s to make him disappear.

Wasn’t there an issue during Superman’s exile from earth storyline where, since Supes wasn’t on Earth, Mxy decided to bedevil Lex Luthor? And Lex had to get him to shave his head bald as lex’s to make him disappear.

Yes, and Luthor taught Mxyzptlk about lying through that experience.

The next time Mxyzptlk was back, Superman had to beat the Flash in a race around the world. Only the Flash won. But it turns out Mxyzptlk was lying and had to go back.

I loved that Mxy story during the exile. The way Lex basically said, “Screw this,” and tried to simply dispose of Mxy by shooting him was perfect.
Also, the episode of S: TAS in which he appears is one of my favorite things ever.

[quote]About pronunciation, in his first S:TAS episode, Mxy says phonetically that it’s pronounced “Mix-Yez-Spit-Lick”, so I’d say that’s probably it.[/quote]
I loved how Paul Dini had him demonstrate the proper pronounciation; “Mix-” turns his head into a blender, “Yes-” pulls a Yes album cover out of his sleeve, “Spit-” spits in Clark’s eye, “Lick.” Turns into a dog and licks him.

My favorite appearances of Mxy lately were just before Infinite Crisis. First, he stopped time while Superman was dealing with a hostage situation to warn him about the upcoming Crisis(and also referred directly to S:TAS), and a few months later he showed Clark and Lois how they might do as parents(pretty well, as it turns out). The art parodied Sin City and Calvin and Hobbes at various points.

I’ll admit to having a soft spot for Emperor Joker, just because it was so damn weird! A look at what would happen if someone truly dangerous was given Mxy’s powers.

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