Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Give us Ultimate Mxyzptlk

While DC is rebooting (sorta) the DC Universe from the events in Infinite Crisis, I would like a return of one of the best portrayals of that 5th dimensional imp, Mxyzptlk, to the new DCU. While I liked the version as penned by Alan Moore in Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow? (that of a bored amoral extra-dimensional sorcerer), I really appreciated the Steve Gerber depictions of Dark Mxy. That guy was scary on so many levels. Gerber-Mxy was the type of guy who would turn your lungs into a yummy dessert treat just to watch you cough up Vanilla-Chocolate Swirls pudding. It isn't too much of a stretch to bring in the Gerber version from a vanished reality into the mainstream DCU, since they already paved the way with World's Funnest and Power Girl.

Steve Gerber wrote (in what one could call a "Marvelization" of DC) one of the better Pre-Crisis stories of the Superman mythos in the 1982 Phantom Zone mini-series. Basically, the mini was the Superman 2 movie done right. In that 4-issue run drawn by Comic Art God Gene Colan, while battling escaped PZ villains Superman learns that the Phantom Zone is not what he believed it was. What Superman assumed was a harmless limbo dimension that served as a "humane" prison first discovered by Kryptonians was actually a defensive barrier generated around an other-dimensional xenophobic entity named Aethyr.

It's a cool and actually mature story chock full of Gerbery goodness (not to mention a Gene Colan JLA). Gerber even tosses in a bit of comic continuity with a scene on that world with the donut-shaped sun that was in one of those Superman vs. Flash race stories back in the day.

Four years later it's Post-Crisis in the DCU, and in a Pre-Crisis story about the Zone prisoners, Steve Gerber and Rick Vietch revisit the concepts of the mini in the 1986 DC Comics Presents #97. This issue is horrifying and cruel in content. The Zone villains escape when Aethyr is manipulated by a Kryptonian magician and they attack Earth with a viciousness that rivals the destruction seen later in Byrne's Superman run, when the pocket-universe Kryptonians commit genocide. In this story Mxyzptlk merges with Aethyr as a way to escape his own prison and goes right around the bend.

His first act is to "tease" Superman by transporting the star-lost ghost-city of Argo to Earth directly over Metropolis...And then lets it fall. Superman smashes the asteroid even as he succumbs to radiation poisoning, scattering tons of Kryptonite and radioactive corpses over the entire cityscape. Since it's Mxy, Superman probably thinks he is just dealing with an unusually cruel prank that will magically repair itself once the imp leaves for other parts. Not this time.

The Mxy and Aethyr entity are insane. Rampant xenophobia, frustration and unlimited power makes for a wicked and unstable combo. After Superman heals a bit he gets into final battle with the escaped Zone villains. During the fight Superman is surprised when Mxy/Aethyr aids him by absorbing the villains into his consciousness not out of altruism, but to personally torture them just for kicks.
Interestingly, something similar also happened in Gerber's back-up story in the Bloodstone finale written years prior in Marvel's 1978 Rampaging Hulk magazine.

Too bad for readers that it was all erased as this version of the imp had lots of promise (and as an added bonus Gerber also reintroduced kryptonite and free for the black market Kryptonian technology in the form of the contents of the smashed Argo City back into the DCU). There are very few Mxy stories that are anything short of annoying and a waste of precious page space. Mxyzptlk is a character that is as poorly handled nearly as much as the Joker. Writers just don't know what to do with him because of his power levels. The introduction of a flawed god of chaos could have been good for years of tales and maybe even a great big cross-over event.

2 comments:

  1. LOL, "slxdrds". I haven't called anyone that in a long, long time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What do you mean by powergirl? When was he evil in that? Did you mean supergirl cosmic adventures? if not than you need to see that aswell as trust me that versions up there too. Aswell as possibly the silver surfer crossover version who is contrasted strongly against the more innocent impossible man. He also nearly wreaks the timestream in the looney toons crossover simply cause his toon counter part the do do thought of it first.

    ReplyDelete

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