Ever since he showed up for the first time in 1944, Mister Mxyzptlk (although for the first 15 years he was around, he went by the almost identical name of Mister Mxyztplk) has been a thorn in Superman’s side. His fifth-dimensional powers allow him to do virtually anything he wants to on Earth, leading to him causing all sorts of havoc with “pranks” that he pulls to amuse himself. The only way that Superman can get rid of him is to trick him into saying his name backwards, “Kltpzyxm.” When that happens, Mxyzptlk has to then stay away from Earth for at least 90 days.
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Since he has been around for over seven decades now, Mxyzptlk has had to constantly try to up the ante with how crazy his “pranks” are. Here, then, are the 15 craziest things that Mister Mxyzptlk has done to Superman in the comics over the years.
15. THE MXYZTPLK-SUSIE ALLIANCE
One of the most forgotten supporting characters in the history of “Superman” comics has to be Susie Tompkins, the niece of Lois Lane that was introduced in “Action Comics” #59. Susie liked to tell tale tales and she also liked to get into mischief. Thus, Superman would often get caught up in various capers based on Susie’s lies and then hilarity would ensue. She was pretty much erased out of continuity in 1955, but Grant Morrison then worked her into his “Action Comics” run because ignored Golden and Silver Age characters like her are like catnip to Morrison.
Things got kicked up a notch with Susie, though, when she entered into a partnership with Mister Mxyztplk in “Superman” #40 (by Don Cameron, Ira Yarbrough and Stan Kaye) where Mxyztplk made every lie that Susie told turn out to be true, no matter how over-the-top the lie was, like creating the opera “Faust” out of clouds in the sky (references for kid’s comics were oddly literate back in the day).
14. THE PERIL OF THE PASS-ALONG POWERS
In “Superman” #407 (by Gerry and Carla Conway, Irv Novick and Dave Hunt), Mister Mxyzptlk had an odd little twist on his typical spell, as this time he actually cast a rhyming spell on Superman. That wasn’t something that he had ever done in the past, so it stood out as particularly peculiar. In any event, the spell was that whoever touched Superman next would gain 3/4 of Superman’s powers and then the next person who would touch that person would get half of the purloined powers and so on and so forth.
Superman is busy taking on an indestructible mechanical worm that was designed to replace hardworking miners when Jimmy Olsen is almost killed by a cave-in caused by the worm. Superman saves him, but Jimmy gains most of Superman’s powers. Jimmy then passes them along to Perry White and Perry passes them along to Lois Lane. The three of them must then save Superman from the worm before the now suddenly weak Man Of Steel is killed. Mxyzptlk at least seemed to feel bad about almost killing Superman.
13. MXY BRINGS A BUNDLE OF JOY
Greg Rucka began a run on “Adventures of Superman” in 2004 and in his first year, every fourth issue would involve Mister Mxyzptlk somehow as a sort of pause in the overall story, which was about Superman taking on a villain named Ruin who was secretly (but clearly to the reader) someone close to Superman (SPOILER! It was Emil Hamilton). Most of the time it was just Mxyzptlk warning Superman about some event, which we would eventually learn was “Infinite Crisis.”
In “Adventures of Superman” #638 (by Rucka, Matthew Clark and Andy Lanning), Clark and Lois were debating whether they should have a kid when Mxyzptlk shows up and magics a daughter for them into existence. He then shows them a possible future (including parodies of both “Sin City” and “Calvin and Hobbes”) which ends up proving that Clark was not yet ready to have a kid, as he was still too worried about the possibilities in the future. The magical baby (Lara Lane-Kent) then disappeared.
12. THE UNEMPLOYED SUPERMAN
In “Superman” #82, by artist Al Plastino and a writer lost to history, Mister Mxyzptlk ended up putting Superman out of a job! The mischievous imp (sporting for the first time his new, more futuristic outfit that soon became his standard look, albeit colored green instead of the more common orange) had invented a “Good Machine” that made it so that Metropolis was totally safe without any crime or anything of the sorts happening in it. Naturally, the citizens of Metropolis then told Superman to get lost since they didn’t need him any more (oldschool DC Comics characters were such jerks).
Mxyztplk offered Superman a deal: he would keep having the Good Machine there to help out Metropolis, but only if Superman left town after first revealing his secret identity. Superman begrudgingly accepted the offer. However, after telling everyone of his upcoming big announcement, Superman discovered that, while crime and disasters were missing in Metropolis, they had spiked in every other city! That’s how the Good Machine worked – it transferred the bad to elsewhere! Therefore, Superman changed his mind and instead tricked Mxyztplk into reading the announcement himself, which included his name backwards, sending Mzyztplk back home!
11. THE INCREDIBLE TEAM OF BAT-MITE AND MISTER MXYZPTLK
Years after Mister Mxyzptlk first showed up to hound Superman, Batman soon gained his own mischievous imp from another dimension called Bat-Mite (seriously, back in the day, Batman used to copy pretty much everything Superman did, which made sense since “Superman” was by far the most popular superhero comic book of the day). The two imps then met each other and had a bit of a battle over whose hero was better. They quickly settled their differences.
However, as seen in “World’s Finest Comics” #123 (by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Sheldon Moldoff), that was not necessarily good news for our heroes, since when both pests showed up on the same time to bother their respective heroes, they inadvertently combined their powers to cause a magical creature so powerful that neither of them could stop it, either! Batman, though, luckily figured out the absurd logic in their magic and came up with a plan where they would create an exact duplicate of the same monster. The monsters ended up absorbing each other because…well…um…hey, Batman’s really smart and he knew it would work, so why question him?
10. SILVER SURFER/SUPERMAN
One of Mister Mxyzptlk’s most sweeping stunts took place in one of the lesser-known Marvel/DC crossover events, “Silver Surfer/Superman” (by George Perez, Ron Lim and Terry Austin). Just like the mischief that he got up to when he teamed up with Bat-Mite, here, Mister Mxyzptlk teams up with a being similar to himself. Only this time, it was the Impossible Man from the Marvel Universe.
Mxyzptlk and Impossible Man had a bet that involved having Silver Surfer and Superman swap universes, with Superman seemingly landing on Krypton being attacked by the Super-Skrull and Silver Surfer stuck inside of a miniaturized Metropolis. However, while Impossible Man was just doing it as a fun game, Mxyzptlk didn’t care if anyone got hurt, so Impossible Man had to fight Mxyzptlk, which led to an amazing sequence in which they each shape-shifted into superheroes from their respective universes. In the end, working with Superman and Silver Surfer, the Impossible Man is able to fix everything.
9. THE CURSE OF MAGIC
In “Superman” #171 (by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and Stan Kaye), Mister Mxyzptlk played dirty pool on Superman, as this time he managed to hit Superman with a curse. However, this was not a curse from Mxyzptlk himself, so unlike the other times that he pestered Superman, the effects of the magic wouldn’t disappear as soon as Mxyzptlk returned home, but rather this time the curse would remain! In fact, Mxyzptlk even said his own name just to make sure Superman couldn’t use him to fix things.
The curse made it so that everything Superman said came true, even if what he said was just nonsense. For instance, while in his Clark Kent identity, he told Lois Lane that he felt like he was “walking on air” after winning a prize. He then began to actually levitate! Things got crazier when he got caught up in a movie filming where he kept causing problems, like reading the child star of the film the nursery rhyme “Twinkle twinkle little star.” That made the little child actress turn into a literal star! Luckily, Superman figured out that the way to fix the curse was to say his name backwards, which he did.
8. THE CROSS-COUNTRY CHESS CRIMES
In “Action Comics” #112 (drawn by John Sikela and written by an unknown writer), Mister Mxyztplk began to become bored with committing random acts of mischief, like turning all of the signs in Metropolis upside down. Superman told him that his problem was that he was just wasting his intelligence with all of these dumb pursuits. Superman suggests that he try something like playing chess instead. That sounded like a good idea at the time, but instead, Mxyztlpk took things to a whole other level!
He kidnapped two of the greatest chess Grandmasters and then challenged them to a game of chess. The catch was that Mxyzptlk created a chessboard out of the world itself! Literal castles were turned into rooks, statues of generals on horses were used as knights, and so on and so forth. However, as castles were being moved all across the “board,” this caused havoc around the globe. Superman convinced him to move the board to the Sahara desert and challenged him to a game. Superman then pulled what seemed to be an illegal move, so he showed Mxyztplk the rules where it was allowed. When Mxy read it, though, the rules had his name written backwards hidden among them.
7. KRISIS OF THE KRIMSON KRYPTONITE
Seemingly the instant that the “Superman” mythos were rebooted with “Man of Steel,” the various writers of the “Superman” titles seemed intent on bringing back certain aspects of the “Superman” books from before “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Even John Byrne, who came up with all of the changes, got in the act a bit by introducing a brand-new Supergirl (who turned out to be a shapeshifting alien, but still).
In a crossover of the three “Superman” titles in 1990, Mister Mxyzptlk was used by Lex Luthor to create, for the first time in the Post-Crisis DC Universe, red kryptonite! It ended up taking away Superman’s powers. As a result, Superman had to enlist the help of Professor Emil Hamilton to create a suit of armor in order to keep fighting crime. In the end, Mxyzptlk ended up fixing things (we also briefly seemed to see him bothering the Fantastic Four as the Impossible Man). This same crossover led to Clark Kent proposing to Lois Lane!
6. WHEN THE WORLD FORGOT SUPERMAN
In “Superman” #150 (by a rare treat, three of the most important creators of the history of Superman – Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and Wayne Boring – Boring rarely inked Swan, so this quite the rarity), Superman returned to Earth and found that no one knew who he was. Not only that, but all records of his past deeds had been erased. On top of that, every time he tried to prove that he was super, it would turn out that he was just using a jet pack to fly or using springs to jump high in the air, even though the jet pack and springs weren’t there when he started!
He soon realized that this was all due to Mister Mxyzptlk. He tricked him this time by using so many different combinations of Mxyzptlk’s name in reverse that Mxyzptlk got so confused that not even he could recall which one was the correct name and ended up saying it by mistake. This story was an update of a previous story by Alvin Schwartz, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye in “Superman” #59. We chose this one because it had the extra bit of Mxy erasing the past deeds from newspapers.
5. THE TRIO OF STEEL
This one is a bit confusing since the hook of the issue (three different versions of Superman) really wasn’t part of Mister Mxyzptlk’s prank, but instead were part of what he wanted in return for stopping his prank. You see, in “Superman” #135 (by Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino), Mister Mxyzptlk used his powers to hypnotize Superman into doing whatever he wanted. And what he wanted was to make Superman just act like a super-jerk (don’t worry, Mxy, Superman has plenty of experience with doing messed-up stuff).
Besides evaporating the watering pond of a bunch of youngsters, Superman’s pranks got super mean, like making Lois Lane think that he was going to propose to her only then introducing his new girlfriend instead and then laughing in her face. As it turned out, this was all a plot by Mxyzptlk to get Superman to give him a Superman robot as a gift to his girlfriend. Superman sent three choices, including an adult version, a teen version and a toddler one. The toddler one started playing with bricks and Mxyzptlk read what he was spelling which was, of course, Mxy’s name backwards!
4. THE TURNABOUT TRAP
After returning from a mission in outer space, Superman returned to earth in “Superman” #349 (by Martin Pasko, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte) only to discover that everything was very different! All the men and women had switched genders! Superman figured he had to have ended up on an alternate Earth. However, he soon found himself in trouble when Superwoman and the rest of the Justice League were now hunting him down, including Wonder Warrior and his lasso of truth!
Superman eventually figured out that this was not a parallel Earth, but rather just Mister Mxyzptlk pulling another one of his major pranks (the Man of Steel figured it out when he saw a list of Superwoman’s enemies and saw that Mxyzptlk was the only one who wasn’t gender-swapped). Superman managed to use Wonder Warrior’s lasso to force Mxyzptlk to change thing back to the way that they were before.
3. EMPEROR JOKER
The events of the “Superman” titles crossover, “Emperor Joker,” is a bit of a tricky one for this list, since it was not a case of Mister Mxyzptlk actively doing anything to Superman. However, since it was still all due to him, we figure it belongs on the list. The story revolved around the idea of the Joker tricking Mister Mxyzptlk into giving the Joker his powers. Joker used those powers to recreate the world in his image, which was not an image that anyone would ever want to see.
The person who got things the worst was Batman, who was tortured to death every day, only to be revived the next day, complete with the memories of what happened to him the previous day. Eventually, Superman was able to stump the Joker by taunting him with the fact that his life revolved around Batman. Even with ultimate power, he couldn’t erase Batman from everyone’s memory, as Superman knew that the mere act of doing so would mean he remembered Batman. This stymied the Joker long enough for Mxy to get his powers back and turn everything back to normal (Superman absorbed Batman’s memories of the event).
2. SUPERMAN’S SECRET PAST
In “Superman” #218 (by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan and Jack Abel), Superman met Larissa Lenox and her son, Carl, who, shockingly enough for everyone involved, were Superman’s secret wife and child! Of course, they were both created by Mister Mxyzptlk, but in a clever twist, the imp had Larissa reference Mxyzptlk by suggesting that he was responsible for erasing Superman’s memory of his wife and child!
In the end, though, Mxyzptlk couldn’t fully replicate Superman’s powers in his “son” (the boy was making expertly jewel-cut diamonds by squeezing coal, so he was obviously just using magic), so Superman realized that the son was really Mxyzptlk messing with him. He got him to say his name by hiding it in a Kryptonian “oath” he had his son take. However, when Mxyzptlk went back home and his magic faded, Larissa actually got to speak as she was melting into non-existence and told Superman how she wished she was his wife! It was super-disturbing.
1. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW?
The king of “disturbing” Mxyzptlk stories, though, is the famous “farewell to the Pre-Crisis Superman!” story “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” where Lois Lane tells a reporter about the final days of Superman in a two-parter by Alan Moore, Curt Swan, George Perez and Kurt Schaffenberger. The gist of the story is that suddenly, for no reason, Superman’s enemies all changed their Modus operandi and began to viciously murder people instead of just doing their more typical crimes.
This led to Superman having to take his surviving friends to the Fortress of Solitude as he was being besieged by an army of his villains, all of whom were out of for blood. He managed to fight them all off, until he realized that it was all the act of Mister Mxyzptlk, who had decided to stop being mischievous and wanted to try out being evil now. Superman caught him in the Phantom Zone projector, and as Mxyzptlk then said his own name to teleport home, the competing forces tore him apart.
What’s your favorite Mister Mxyzptlk/Superman story? Let us know in the comments section!
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