Action Comics #975 (May, 2017)
“Superman Reborn, Part Two”
“The Man in the Purple Hat”
Writers – Dan Jurgens & Paul Dini
Pencils – Doug Mahnke & Ian Churchill
Inks – Jaime Mendoza
Colors – Wil Quintana & Mike Atiyeh
Letters – Rob Leigh
Associate Editor – Paul Kaminski
Editor – Mike Cotton
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Special Thanks – Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason
Cover Price: $3.99
Alrighty, it’s Part Two… otherwise known as that issue where we find out who the fake Clark Kent has been! A plot point, which was unfortunately spoiled by a litany of comic reviewers on Twitter (and I’d assume other social networks) the day before the issue hit the stands.
Ya know, I get annoyed when Marvel and DC spoil their stuff… but I’ve come to almost expect it, because they’re absolutely starving for any “mainstream” attention they can get. It lets them feel like they’re famous for a few minutes if USA Today decides to darken their doors and yawn their way through an interview.
But the fans/reviewers? I expect better of us. We should be above spoiling things… especially things that have been built to for a number of months.
The thing about this issue is that there was an embargo on the comps… they weren’t released until Tuesday (we usually get them the Friday before they ship)… this was done to limit spoilers as best as possible.
But, it didn’t stop a whole lotta “professional” reviewers from tweeting out four-panels of Mr. Mxyzptlk with a an adorable “Just Because, tee-hee…” as the message before the book hit the shelves. Not technically spoiling anything, but I mean, c’mon… if you open up a social media site a day before a big reveal… and a bunch of people you follow are coyly poking each other’s ribs about Mxy… that’s going to spoil the surprise. I know it did for me!
So, hey… professional reviewers, quit being jerks. I’ll letcha keep rating everything a 10/10, but please don’t go out of your way to spoil-not-spoil the books. I get that it’s cool to have “privileged information”, but c’mon, you’ve also got a responsibility.
We open with Lois and Superman, having just lost their son, heading to the Metropolis apartment of the fake Clark Kent. After some expositional catch-up, they arrive to find that nobodies home. The do some digging and, for whatever reason, check the fridge. Inside they find a whole bunch of sweet goodies… certainly not the fridge of a grown man (unless that grown man is me). Just then… fake-Clark shows up!
Superman asks where Jon is… to which, Clark plays off as not knowing what he’s talking about. Clark drops the pretense pretty quickly, and the conversation becomes more intense… he asks Superman if he likes Jon more than him… he asks why he was “left behind”.
They have a little test of strength… and Superman is shocked by just how strong this phony Kent is. In a pretty clunky bit of dialogue, he refers to Clark as an “enemy”… which facilitates the faker referring to himself as a “friend”…
… but a friend, who likes to play games! He shape-shifts into… Lex Luthor!
But, that’s just for starters. He then shifts into the forms of Bizarro… then Brainiac. Worth noting, the background is candy… like literally, candy canes and all sorts of sweets.
Next, he’s Mongul… then Parasite! As Superman is staring down the latter, Lois becomes distracted by a nearby snow globe.
As Lois gazes into the globe, the phony shape-shifts a couple more times… first to Cyborg Superman, Hank Henshaw… then into Doomsday! Inside the globe are some familiar-looking impish characters… which sorta tips the whole thing off.
Bada-bing, bada-boom… it’s Mxy! Which… would’ve been a better reveal had it not been spoiled on social media!
Mxy reveals his plan. Since Superman had forgotten about him… he’s going to make Superman (and the entire world) forget about Jon Kent! It’ll be as though the boy never existed at all… which is a damn fine indictment on just how scarily powerful Mr. Mxyzptlk can be. Also, how useful he can be when we’re trying to cherry-pick continuity!
Mxy blinks away, leaving Lois and Clark standing alone in Clark’s old apartment. Superman tells Lois they’ve gotta find Jon… to which, Lois asks “Jon who?”…
What a strong cliffhanger… well, it would be… but we’re not done yet. This is a milestone issue (#975) and so, we gotta cram s’more graham into it. So hey, were you wondering about how Mxy got tied up in this mess? No? Well, we’re going to find out anyway! It begins with Jon telling Mxy how his father would tell him stories of Mxyzptlk, only referring to him as “The Man with the Purple Hat”, Ruppletat.
Mxy thinks the story is adorable… but has one of his own to tell. Ya see, one time when he returned to “play with” his pal Superman, he found himself caught up in a transdimensional somethin’ or another… and right into the grasp of the enigmatic Mr. Oz! After a little back and forth, Oz is able to secure him in his Negative Space Prison.
Mxy doesn’t mind so much… he knows his friends will come looking for him when he doesn’t show back up soon. Oz tells him that time works a little differently where they are, and it’ll be as though two-thousands years have passed before anyone even realizes he’s missing.
Mxy’s undeterred. He’s sure his pal Superman will find him quicker than that… only, he doesn’t! The imp takes this as a sign that the Man of Steel doesn’t actually care about him.
He tells Jon about how closely associated he’s always been with Superman… even on different Earths where he’s just in Superman comics and cartoon shows. This is an especially neat little bit.
Anyhoo, Mxyzptlk was finally able to escape from Oz’s prison (which we saw at the open of the previous chapter), and what’s more… he found Superman! How would he be able to get back into his life though? Well, that’s why he chose to come back as Clark Kent. This would certainly get Superman’s attention… and also, help put the secret identity genie back in the bottle.
It was only after visiting the “Smith” farm, that everything came back to him… he understood the changes made to reality, including the fact that he’d been written out of it! Only now… he’s back!
Back to, wherever he and Jon are, Jon suggests that maybe Superman didn’t come looking for Mxy because he assumed he’d “grown up”. This gives the imp a nice belly laugh, and he decides to offer the boy a sporting chance to return home. If Jon can say the one magic word… he’ll be free to go.
Jon goes to say Kltpzyxm… but stops himself. Instead, he says Tatelppur (Ruppletat backwards, natch). Turns out, that was the ticket! An imp of his word, Mxy sets Jon’s free to return to reality.
Well… not really. Ya see, Jon was allowed to go home… just not stay there. Wonk wonk wonkkkk.
So yeah… here’s the reveal! The fake Clark Kent has been Mr. Mxyzptlk… you heard it here last!
And while that’s pretty cool… the first half of the issue leaves me a little bit cold. I’m not sure if it’s just my peanut brain expecting more of a story when there are so many pages remaining… but, the “stop” felt rather sudden. It was just… the big reveal… then, rather than digesting the information, we shift into an overlong back-up story.
Let’s talk about the choice of Mxy. I know I was a bit deflated when I first read this (or, rather, had it spoiled online). I was hopeful that perhaps the Super-team was going to use someone a bit more obscure. Really, the sky was the limit here… and theories were poppin’… I think I was hopeful that fake-Clark was going to be Superboy-Prime. I mean, who betta to “fix” reality, right?
However, in retrospect, Mxy was as fine a choice as any. Maybe that just means that I was so much more disappointed by the Mr. Oz reveal that I’ve softened on this one. Who knows?
I mentioned above that Mxy removing Jon from memory is a real sign of just how insanely powerful the imp can be. In “fixing” the secret identity snafu… I mean, it puts things back where they “belong”, but… I dunno… I feel like that’s a genie you can’t truly ever put back in the bottle.
I mean, sure, we can make it so nobody knows… but, part of the fun/magic of the secret identity is the anxiety we readers potentially have when it’s put in jeopardy. Now, however, we already know what will happen… ya know? Sure, it’s just the New-52! Superman… but, still. It takes a bit of the urgency away from subsequent situations.
The backup managed to fill in some blanks, and let us know where Jon is hanging out… but, I feel like it overstayed its welcome. I mean, we really didn’t need 3-4 pages of Mxy being locked up in Oz’s prison. Those pages would have been better spent fleshing out the “feature” story… even if it was just 3-4 different indulgent full-page shape-shifts!
Overall… just like I said yesterday… the “feature” took (maybe) five minutes to read… but, it was an enjoyable five minutes. I do recommend checking this out, however, don’t exert the effort of seeking out the singles… just grab the trade.