Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Review: Action Comics #291
The news came out recently that everyone's favorite 5th dimensional imp, Mr. Mxyzptlk, is coming to the Supergirl show!
While the show does seem to be leaning on Superman's rogues gallery for the villains of the episodes, I don't have too much to complain about here. Mr. Mxyzptlk has a relatively deep history with Supergirl, especially in the Silver Age. He was responsible for giving Kara her powers back (and a temporary immunity to Kryptonite!) early in her Action Comics run. But Supergirl hadn't been revealed at that point; Mxy thought she was just a 'normal girl'. He bothered her in the Adventure Comics run. And he was the big bad in Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade.
But I thought it would be appropriate to review his first true battle with Supergirl, Action Comics #291!
And it opens up with this fantastic splash page. There is Mxyzptlk, looking dapper in his day tuxedo (while maintaining the purple derby and gloves), waiting outside the Justice of the Peace. And there is Kara, in a veil, being brought to the celebration by her Kryptonian parents. Say, aren't they dead? Despite Kara's protests, they are forcing her to marry the 5th dimensional trickster.
Whew ... there is a lot to digest in this one picture! But does the story hold up to this opening hook?
But I said, her happiness is often fleeting. We see Mr. Mxyzptlk looking on from his home dimension. He decides that Supergirl will be a great new target for his silliness.
Remember, Supergirl has only recently been revealed to the world, just 6 issues earlier. So it makes sense that he might eye her as a new foe to pester.
And he starts out with a wild premise. Mxyzptlk comes across a military plane about to perform a nuclear bomb test run. Supergirl is present to fly beside them to make sure everything goes well. Mxy turns the pilots into Bizarros requiring Supergirl to backwards talk them into not dropping the bomb on someplace populated. (Ah, the carefree days of atomic bomb testing!)
Flying back, she finds that New York City has been turning into Bizarro City. We get classic Silver Age Bizarro panels - a man eating a cereal box, a postman biting a dog. The UN Peace Council declares war on everyone. The whole thing is perplexing.
I love the Bizarro lying in the middle of the street reading a newspaper.
Finally, Mr. Mxyzptlk reveals that he is behind the 'hilarious hocus-pocus'.
Kara knows who he is but his magic makes him a tough character to grab hold of. And he is thrilled with how much he is bugging her.
I like the second panel showing both Kara and Mxy's speed with after images and action lines.
And so Kara begins trying to trick him into saying his name backwards. First she tries by leading a football game cheer, throwing letter cards in the air and asking the crowd to cheer the word they make. Mxyzptlk is taken by this game, smiling and playing along.
But when she tosses up 'Kltpzyxm' he turns the cards to snakes. He isn't that gullible.
And he continues his nonsensical pranks. He makes a swarm of bees huge, hoping they will frighten people at a policeman's picnic. Luckily, Supergirl is nearby to create a giant vat of nectar to distract the giant insects.
Check out that second panel showing an exasperated Supergirl calling Mxy the greatest creep there ever was.
I absolutely love it!
But Mxyzptlk doesn't quite get the message. Instead, we learn he has fallen in love with Kara. He is all a-tingle when in here presence. On one knee, he proposes! Disgusted, Kara rejects him.
In hopes of proving his love for her and hoping to win her heart, he uses his magic to bring back Zor-El and Alura, Supergirl's birth parents.
The return of Zor-El and Alura gives Siegel and Mooney the opportunity to retell Kara's origins. We once again see the sad story of Argo City.
But these are truly her parents. Kara brings them to the Danvers so both sets of her parents can meet each other. In what would become a recurring story later, the parents seem to vie for Kara's love and attention. Zor-El thanks the Danvers but it is time for him and Alura to raise their daughter. The Danvers are crushed.
And Kara? She is devastated. She loves both of her families. She doesn't want to be a problem. She sobs.
As I said, Kara being truly happy is usually shortlived in the Silver Age.
Living with her parents, Kara sees Zor-El tinkering in a lab. But then, surprisingly, he and Alura tell Kara it is time to meet back up with Mxy. He would be proud to have the imp as a son-in-law.
It makes no sense. Zor knows Kara doesn't love him. But both parents are forcing her into this wedding.
Suddenly we are at the justice of the peace. There is Mxy in his tux. And there is Kara with the veil and flowers. But before the vows can be exchanged, Zor brings out some punch.
Is this the first time we saw Zor-El acting like a jerk??
Claiming it is a Kryptonian custom to toast before the wedding, Zor has everyone drink up. Look at how happy Mxyzptlk looks! He says his zillions of pranks will make sure Supergirl doesn't get bored! That doesn't sound like a recipe for a happy marriage.
But Zor-El turns the tables. The experiment he was working on in the lab was a Kryptonian truth serum (!!) which he slipped into Mxy's punch. Compelled to answer by Zor-El's question, Mxy says 'Kltpzyxm' and returns to the 5th dimension.
Hurray! Zor-El isn't really the kind of dad who would force his daughter into an unwanted magic.
With Mxy gone, everything returns to normal. In fact, no one effected by Mxy's magic even remembers what happened (outside of the Kryptonians because of their super-minds). So the Danvers don't recall meeting Zor-El and Alura.
The last panel is filled with portents. Supergirl wonders what would happen if her parents were alive. The writer asks the readers if they would want to see that more.
The answer ends up being 'yes'. Zor-El and Alura turn up alive in the Safety Zone. They return. The Danvers and the Els compete for Supergirl's love. The Danvers move to Kandor. They meet a lookalike named Dar-Lin. Edna goes kind of crazy. But I guess more on that later.
Overall I loved this story. These early Mxy stories are brilliantly goofy. And having him fall for Supergirl is fantastic. Who hasn't fallen for her like that?
What I do wonder is how will the show portray him? Silly imp? Evil magician? Somewhere in between? Can't wait to find out!
Overall grade: A