Action Comics #975 was labeled a super-sized anniversary issue and certainly delivered a bombshell of a story, revealing at last who the 'new' Clark Kent actually was. I would have never thought this person could be Clark but he was on DC's short list of suspects in an ad from last week and, sadly, the identity was leaked a day before the issue dropped.
Still, even forearmed with the knowledge that Clark turned out to be Mr. Mxyzptlk, the issue read very well. The book is split into two sections. The first story is written by Dan Jurgens with art by Doug Mahnke and show how Clark and Lois learn that Mxy is Clark and has kidnapped Jon. The second half is written by Paul Dini with art by Ian Churchill and gives us Jon and Mxy interacting in some other dimension. The halves read as separate stories but both build on one another. The reveals of Mxy's escape in the second story inform some of what happens in the first and vice versa.
As a fan of Mxy, I liked how Dini really does a good job showing all the manifestations of Mxy as if he is bigger than any universal reboot. He certainly feels a bit more malevolent in this issue. But we see all the stuff Mxy fans want to see and more. We also get him impersonating all sorts of people in Superman's past, one of whom has me scratching my chin.
So we are halfway through Superman Reborn. We know who Clark is. But how does all this roll into the Super-men and who the Man of Steel really is? I have no idea yet.
One last intro comment. I wonder if Clark being Mxy makes my guess that Oz is Vyndktvyx have better odds. On to the book:
Superman and Lois are in Clark's apartment looking for clues. But there doesn't seem to be anything in the place except sugar cereals and a refrigerator filled with soda, ice cream, and other sundae toppings. Whoever Clark is, he likes sweets.
Suddenly Clark appears despite Superman not hearing any other heartbeat. And Clark isn't happy. He keeps complaining about Superman not saving him from a cell. And Clark can stand up against Superman's powers.
It is interesting to hear Clark talk about how he even helped Superman when he arrived. The appearance of Clark made the reveal of The Truth suddenly disappear. Not that anyone wants to remember The Truth ... do we? And I am certainly glad that this Clark did that.
But it was all a trick ... a spell ... hmmm ...
And with that proclamation we get a bunch of splash pages where Clark morphs into other villains, screaming at Superman to say his name. From Luthor to Bizarro to Brainiac to Mongul to Parasite ... he keeps yelling at Superman.
He even becomes the Cyborg Superman ... the Henshaw one! Even Superman is befuddle by this. How could this Cyborg be in the 'New 52 universe' where a different Cyborg existed.
This first half is predominantly these splashes and Mahnke does a great job with them.
But all the 'say my name' stuff gives Superman the answer.I
It's Mr. Mxyzptlk.
Boy, this two page splash gives him a very dark countenance. This isn't a whimsical imp. This is an angry god.
I don't recall Mxy being so obsessed with candy, toys, and nonsense. He might be sophomoric in his humor but I don't think him childish. Is this a new aspect to him? Or am I not remembering this correctly.
But despite the Candyland environment, Mxy is hardly sweet.
He keeps hitting on this idea that Superman forgot him. Superman didn't remember him. So as a result, Mxy will take Jon away so no one will remember him.
Everyone seems to love Jon and he has his own book. But if part of Superman Reborn is to streamline things, putting the two Supermen/two Loises multiple histories to bed, than Jon could be a casualty.
Since at this point we don't know why Mxy is so angry, this seems out of character. He usually isn't this evil.
But he means it.
Lois suddenly doesn't remember Jon, her son.
Now that's scary. This is a great cliffhanger. Both for next issue and this half issue. What could Superman have done to warrant this??
The second story is 'The Man in the Purple Hat' where Mxy tells Jon why he abducted the young hero.
We learn Clark's bedtime stories to Jon were his adventures and that Jon called Mxy 'Mr. Ruppletat'. Mxyzptlk was too tough to say. Ain't that the truth!!
But what I like about this is we see that this Mxy seems to exist throughout all of DC's times. We see a shot pulled right from his first appearance. And we see a more modern story when he turned the Daily Planet building into a living thing.
Multiple prior universes, one Mxyzptlk.
But the last time Mxyzptlk tried to head to Earth to bug Superman, he was teleported away by the blue energy that has been seen throughout Rebirth.
Mr. Oz kidnapped him! And in this 'negative space', Mxy's powers are nullified.
So where is this Negative Space? Is it like the Ghost Zone Prometheus utilized? Is Oz Prometheus??
Oz has plans for Superman and Mxyzptlk is too much of a wild card to be free. Oz had to jail him to keep him off the board.
Mxy assumed Superman would rescue him. But Superman never showed.
And he felt unloved and unwanted when Superman didn't show. Mxy had interacted with all the Supermen on all the worlds. From the animated series (we even saw his girlfriend from STAS here) to Super Powers to Lego, from cartoons to comics, Mxy had seen it all.
I guess in some weird way, he assumed Superman was his friend.
As I said before, I love this idea that as a 5th dimensional imp, he has been part of it all.
It doesn't seem lik Oz tortured Mxy. He just left him there. And when Mxy got crestfallen from being forgotten, he said Klptzyxm. That energy popped him back on Earth.
Fearing Oz would just recapture him, Mxy turned himself into Clark. And to make sure he didn't slip up, he brainwashed himself into playing the part.
Even Mxy has to admit he got confused at some parts. The history of these Supermen is a little confusing at time. Mxy is all of us ... there are some things that just don't fit together but he just rolled with it.
That is until he saw Clark and Lois together. Then it all snapped back. He remembered. And he's not happy.
I love how Jon rationalizes his father's lack of a rescue. Maybe he assumed Mxy grew up. For some reason, I love that wisdom from youth. It is perfect.
But I keep wondering when the kidnapping took place. Should this be a complaint against the dead New 52 Superman? Does the current Man of Steel even know there is a Mxy in this universe?
Even that wisdom doesn't change Mxy mind. He will stay with Jon in this place for eternity. This is what you get when you cross a god.
I can't help but see that first panel and see a riff on the Comedian's button.
Okay, what did I think. I think Mxy is a powerful and frightening menace. He is a threat to Superman. His powers could be used to explain all the things Clark has done. But this seems like a bit of an overreaction. There is a lot of anger here.
And how does this all lead to the origins of the Supermen? And who is Oz? Does Mxyzptlk being here make my guess of Vyndktyvx more likely? Will Mxy be the villain for the rest of this arc?
Good stuff all around. I liked the art throughout. Churchill doesn't seem as precise here but he does a good job aping others takes on Mxy.