Superman #151 (August, 1959)
“The Menace of Mr. Mxyzptlk!”
“Superman’s Future Wife!”
“The Unknown Super-Deeds!”
Writers – Jerry Coleman, Robert Bernstein & Otto Binder
Artists – Al Plastino & Kurt Schaffenberger
Cover Price: $0.10
Happy Easter, folks!
We’re going way back today… so far back that I had to consult with our friends at the Grand Comics Database for creator credits! I also learned that this issue features the first “modern” spelling of Mr. Mxyzptlk! How ’bout dat?
When I first picked this issue up, I thought the little square over
Lois’ Superman’s Future Wife’s face was the remnants of a half-century old price sticker. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case! There is that awful “618” scribbled at the bottom though…
I’m excited to find out who’s under that square… and I’m betting you are too! Let’s crack this bugger open…
Our first story opens as Superman is preparing to give a super-powered exhibition to the kids at the Metropolis Orphanage. He plans to crash head-first with a giant steel block… because, well… that’s definitely what orphans wanna see. Anyhoo, before he can… the steel block is transformed into a stack of alphabet blocks… which Superman slams into, causing them to form a very telling message!
Who could have caused such a thing to happen? Well, if the title didn’t tip you off already, it’s our old friend Mxy. He tells Superman that he has a foolproof plan to hinder Superman’s ability to make him say his name backwards (and send him away for 90 days). He thumbs his nose at the Man of Steel and flies off. Superman gives chase, and flashes back to earlier encounters with the imp. And boy howdy… they be silly. The first one concerns Superman hurling an asteroid at the Earth… posing as an astronomer… naming the phony comet “Kltpyxm”, and having Mxy read it to Lois Lane. Oy.
Our next flashback has to do with a restaurant that gives one week’s worth of meals for free if you, get this… find your name in a bowl of alphabet soup. And so, Clark Kent uses his microscopic vision to grab the noodles he needs. He sits next to Mxy, who is also enjoying a bowl of soup… and, before taking his first slurp, asks if he can read what’s on his spoon. You’ll never guess what it said…
Back in the present, Superman thinks he has concocted the perfect way to get Mxy to say his name backwards… and so, he uses his super-speed to make it seem as though Mxy is seeing double. It gets rather elaborate… he even makes a statue out of molten iron to use as a prop. Anyhoo, Mxy decides to visit the eye doctor to see what’s up… and the doctor in question is, well… Superman reusing his astronomer disguise. He asks Mxy to read the “eye chart”… which cause him to start saying his name backwards. Once he hits the “P”, an alarm goes off. Ya see, he’s got an anti-say-my-name-backwards alarm under his little hat! Uh-oh.
And so, Mxy runs a muck while Superman continues to brainstorm. His next plan concerns Lois Lane donning a blonde wig and a phony accent. He takes her out for a date at the Kit-Kat Club so that Mxy can see them. Later on, Mxy begs Superman to introduce him to the “bewitching enchantress”… and so, he does. Only problem for Mxy is that the Kit-Kat Club requires gentlemen remove their hats! It’s all for naught, however… as standing in the inclement weather caused the imp to lose his voice!
The story wraps up with Mxy being lured into a movie house by a sign advertising the newsreel of Mr. Mxyzptlk Running for Mayor of Metropolis. He enters and watches the film… during which, Superman has reversed the audio track to make it so celluloid-Mxy says his name backwards. Somehow this causes the real-deal to be sent back. Whatta cop out!
Our second story opens with Lois Lane arriving in the town of Wicksville, where 300 years earlier witches were rumored to have lived. Her supernatural guide book leads her to the Enchanted Cottage, inside which is the Witch’s magical rocking chair… which, if legend is to be believed, allows whoever sits in it to see the future. The last time anyone sat there was exactly 100 years ago today (today, if you’re wondering… is April 27, 1959). Lois sits down and sees… the wedding of Superman! Though, as the cover indicates, the bride’s face is obscured.
The scene advances to show some domestic bliss between Mr. and Mrs. Superman… again, we cannot see the face of Supes’ better half. Next up we see Superman’s children… and they’re pretty rotten.
So rotten, Superman has to try (in vain) to discipline them.
We get a few more near-misses, each sillier than the last… before going into further into the future, where a costumed Superman and his wife are about to go to a masquerade party. Mrs. Superman wears a cape which reads “L.L.”… Lois is sure it’s her… until future Superman refers to her as “Lady Luck”. Wonk wonk. In the present, Superman arrives to fly Lois back to Metropolis… and gets a mighty slap for his troubles.
Our final tale is a story of Superman… when he was a boy! It’s a boring Smallville day, and young Clark Kent has nothing to do. His telescopic vision shows a fire in Paris… and we know it’s Paris because the Eiffel Tower is in the background. Before CK can even unbutton his shirt, firefighters arrive on the scene. Hours later, Clark uses his super-vision to witness a young red-haired boy falling down an abandoned well.
He hops into action, saving the tiny tot and filling the well with the quickness. After this heroic act, he plays it off like it was just a trivial occurrence of no import… but, was it?
Next stop on our telescopic tour features Clark seeing a man accidentally drop his monogrammed briefcase (it reads P.W.) into the drink. It sinks and looks to be swallowed by a whale!
Superboy uses the mast from a sunken ship to… tickle the great beast, causing it to… giggle… and the briefcase to float out. The Boy of Steel then uses a… volcano to dry the papers inside it. Ay yai yai. Clark is bummed out to see that the man that dropped the case was “just” a reporter. Such a trivial occurrence… or, was it?
Next (and last) stop, a group of kids playing a “guessing game”. They sit around wearing masks and have to figure out who is who. Looks like we’ve got three dudes and one young lady… which kinda seems unfair, right?
Anyhoo, the young lady winds up not being able to remove her mask… and so, it’s Superboy to the rescue. He grabs a piece of scrap metal, and with the power of super-speed, fashions it into a pitch-pipe. He gives it a toot, which causes the mask to split. The faceless brunette underneath seems pleased… but, boy… what a trivial occurrence… or, was it?
Okay… ready to have your minds blown? Get this… the little red-haired boy who fell down the well was… Jimmy Olsen (and him falling down a well really explains so much, don’t it?). The reporter with the initials P.W. was… Perry White, and the brunette who got her head stuck was… Lois Lane!
Wow… what a trip! My Silver-Age Superman game is pretty weak… especially this early in the Silver-Age, but… dang, this was a ton of fun. Silly as all hell, but, fun!
These feel like the kind of stories that a kid would tell… and there is a certain charm in that. It feels as though the “world” of Superman is a small one at this point. Everything that happens in the world… happens to him, his city, and/or his friends.
The three tales we get this issue were… middling. That is not to say I didn’t have an absolute blast with these silly stories… because I did… but, I could certainly see how they could wear on a regular reader if you read a short-stack of ’em. It’s ridiculous to judge these stories almost sixty years later, because… I’d figure back in 1959, kids were supposed to, ya know… grow out of these things. It ain’t like nowadays. I doubt very highly anyone ever thought a numbskull in his mid-thirties would be analyzing them more than a half-century later.
Let’s start with the Mxy story… which I probably enjoyed the most, until the cop-out ending, that is. I liked seeing all of the ways in which Superman tricked Mxy into saying his name backwards. How insane is it to see the imp bellied up to the bar with a bowl of soup? That’s just too much fun. But, the way Superman sent him “home” this time… ehh, kinda feels like cheating, no? I know, I know, I’m thinking way too hard about this.
The Mrs. Superman story was silly… and a bit less fun than the opener. I was a bit confused reading it, as I assumed that if you were to sit in the enchanted rocking chair, the future you’d see would be your own… right? So, even if we don’t see the face of Superman’s brunette spouse… it’s gotta be Lois, if Lois is seeing it… right? I dunno…
The Superboy story was neat in that it did more of that awesome comic book thing where everything and everyone is somehow tied together. Sure, it’s a bit contrived and convenient, but I am a total sucker for it. Also, seeing Jimmy Olsen fall down a well is always worth it.
Not story-related, but… we get some great old timey ads in this one (you can see them below). It’s always interesting to see things like guns being advertised… here we get a gun in an ad for Disneyland! That’s pretty nuts! Also, an ad for Religious (and Patriotic) sayings… certainly not something we’d see today.
If you’re interested in checking this issue out for yourself… it actually has been collected in the first volume of SHOWCASE Presents Superman… and if you’re able to locate a first-printing of that, it’s only ten bucks… for like 500 pages of Silver-Age Supes. I’ve got that volume kicking around here somewhere… and I’m thinking it’s high time I spend some time with it.