Superman: The Man of Steel #75 (1998)

Superman: The Man of Steel #75 (January, 1998)
“The Death of Mr. Mxyzptlk”
Story & Pencils – Jon Bogdanove
Script – Louise Simonson
Inker – Dennis Janke
Letterer – Ken Lopez
Colorist – Glenn Whitmore
Computer Separations – Digital Chameleon
Assistant Editor – Maureen McTigue
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $1.95

I was thinking about saving this one for April Fool’s Day, considering the subject matter.  That just feels like a “Mxy kinda day” to me… but, I’m also sorta-kinda in a Mxy mood now (go figure, right?).  Plus with hundreds of Mxyzptlk appearances throughout the better part of the last century… I’m sure I’ll be able to dig an appropriate one up for April 1.

We open with Lois and Clark arriving at a surprisingly crowded funeral.  Of note, they haven’t been sent to cover it by the Planet, they just happened to be passing by and decided such a crowd might warrant something newsworthy.  As they approach the casket they hear somebody crying… bawling, actually.  Must’ve been really close to the deceased, right?  Well, no… it’s Mxy!

Lois and Clark grab the imp, and try to inform him as to the gravity of a funeral… his explosive and cartoonish bawling might be taken as somewhat rude by those who are actually grieving.  Mxy doesn’t quite get it, however is all ears for the Kent’s explanation… he even whips up a tub of popcorn to enjoy while they speak.  Clark impresses upon the imp that death is… ya know, final.  When someone dies… they do not come back.  Mxy ain’t buyin’ it… after all, didn’t Superman come back from the dead?  Hmph… he’s gotcha there, Clark.  What he’s also got is six platinum copies of Superman (vol.2) #75… unopened!

This next bit is really funny.  Clark “supes” up, changing into his electric-blue duds.  Mxy can’t stop laughing at the new costume… and even asks if the sh– er, suit comes in red too.  I can’t be the only one that had to read that a couple of times to make sure it it didn’t say SH–… er, said “SUIT“, right?

Mxy continues pondering the importance of death… and goes a bit meta on us.  He mentions that before Superman died he was an afterthought… taken for granted.  It wasn’t until he was “offed” that the world took notice of him again.  Hmph… can’t really argue with that.  And so, Mxy decides that if he wants to be a bigger deal, he too… must die!  Sounds legit…

While Mxy prepares to… well, die… Superman is alerted to an emergency he has to attend to.  Lois is left to deal with the menace from the fifth dimension… and she ain’t buying his newfound death wish.  She plays along, suggesting that he get rid of all his powers if he’s truly serious.  He considers it… but then has a better idea!  He constructs his own killing machine… Bada-Bing-Bada-Boomsday!  Yep.  Covers’em in bony protrusions too… and boy, do I mean “covers”.

Superman returns and is shocked to see a reanimated Doomsday lurking about.  Even more surprisingly, Mxy challenges the beast to a fight… Doomsday doesn’t seem to wanna waste his time with an imp where there’s a Superman around!

And so, for the next few pages… Boomsday battles Superman while Mxy tries to get into the mix.  While he whines that he’s being ignored, Lois suggests that the monster isn’t paying him any mind because Mxy surely wouldn’t create the instrument of his own demise, right?  Everybody’s got a sense of self-preservation… even a seemingly-suicidal imp from the fifth dimension.  Mxy calls her bluff, and renounces his powers!  He then hands her his bucket of popcorn, complaining of a slight bellyache from his binge.  That’s a call-forward, by the way…

With renewed ambition, Mxy hops into the fray… and wouldn’tcha know it, he’s still being ignored.  He falls back and asks Lois for his popcorn back.  Unfortunately, she dropped it… meaning, it’s gone forever… kinda like people who die.  Ohhhh… now he gets it!

Moments later, walking “Expositional Plot Device” Emil Hamilton (Hey, Mxy’s words… not mine) arrives on the scene to… well, deliver a bit of juicy exposition.  He posits that the only way to stop Bada-Bing-Bada-Boomsday is for Superman to release 100% of his energy!  Mxy doesn’t like the sound of that…

… and so, he heads back into battle… and, remember two paragraphs ago I mentioned a call-forward?  Well, his belly is’a gurgling.  He attempts to get Boomsday’s attention, and when that doesn’t work… he, um… breaks wind.

This offends Boomsday’s sensibilities… something fierce.  Mxy finally gets his wish, when the monster slams him into the pavement!

Our imp then proceeds through the darkness into a white light… before arriving on editor, Mike Carlin’s desk!  Whoops.

We wrap up with a call-back to the closing pages of Superman (vol.2) #75… fold-out and all!  Don’t worry yourselves none, Mxy still lives!

Welp… that was a ton of fun, wasn’t it?

I think I can safely say that this is the kind of Mxy that I dig the most.  I like him more as a thorn in the side and annoyance than an actual threat… though, I am open to the possibility that my mind may change.  I should admit that have precious little experience with pre-Crisis Mxy, so my frame of reference might be considered a tad narrow.

This was a silly little story, which as luck would have it… is something I was totally in the mood for.  I’m not sure I’d be so gushy and glowing if I were looking for something a bit more serious.  Though, one look at the (absolutely awesome) cover would give you a pretty good idea of what’s underneath.  You know what you’re in for when you crack this one open.  While on the subject, I really can’t say it enough… this is one helluva cover.  Bog does incredible work all throughout this issue (story and pencils), but dammit… this cover needs to be blown up, framed, and on my wall ASAP.

The interaction between Mxy and the Kents was great… like, all of it.  You gotta figure that Clark is breaking out something akin to a “teacher’s voice” trying to explain mortality to the imp… while trying his hardest not to just lose it!  Lois being a bit of an agitator, convincing Mxy to actually renounce his powers was an entertaining bit too!

The ending… while low-brow, isn’t totally offensive.  I’m not much of a fan of toilet humor… especially in my comics, but when an issue builds up to… what it built up to, I can hardly fault it for crossing the finish line.  I will say, they managed to take a pretty crude subject and actually make it organically fit into a Superman book.  I certainly wasn’t expecting it!

Overall… great little issue.  One that Superman fans really owe it to themselves to check out if they haven’t already.  In light of current events, Rebirth-Supes fans might wanna see the softer-sillier side of Mr. Mxyzptlk.  As luck would have it, this issue (and series) has been made available digitally.

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