Mister Mxyzptlk

mr-mxyzptlkfilmAnother big character coming from Brick89‘s list, which is almost at its end: Mr. Mxyzptlk, one of the most annoying DC “villains” (as a villain he can be considered) ever. The pesky Imp never appeared in a movie, but tv apparently loves him: he first appeared in Superboy, portrayed by Michael J. Pollard, in a version that was practically identical to his comicbook counterpart, even graphically, with bowler hat and everything. In Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of SupermanHowie Mandel portrayed a much more malicious version of the character, this time human-sized and with no trademark: he trapped LoisClark and the rest of the world in a time loop leading to the planet’s destruction, but the two protagonists managed to trick him into spelling his name backwards, thus sending him back to his dimension for good. In Smallville a completely different version appeared: in Season 4 Trent Ford portrayed Mikhail Mxyzptlk, a foreigner student from the Balcans with the ability to influence anybody’s body (Clark’s included) into doing anything he says; Chloe manages to strip him of his powers with a particular sound frequency, but Lex Luthor offers to restore them in his labs. Last but not least, we’ll soon see the Imp in Supergirl as well, portrayed by Peter Gadiot, and apparently also this time he’ll look like a regular guy. Now, let’s take a look at one of the most peculiar characters in the DC Comics.

It’s quite difficult to summarize a bio of someone like Mister Mxyzptlk, considering that he’s a native from the Fifth Dimension (called a Zrfffian), not bound by limits of space, time or even logical consistency. Apparently, in New Earth, the first time he came to Earth was as a serious and uptight student who wanted to learn as much as he could of the alien dimension. During his study trip he met the three young heroes from Young JusticeRobin, Impulse and Superboy, who recognized him as the interdimensional prankster who had been tormenting for years Earth’s greatest hero, Superman. The young Mxyzptlk was simply outraged, as he didn’t recognize himself in the description, quite the opposite: he swore he would have never become that person. This, unfortunately, badly affected the timeline, creating a major paradox: as a result, the world itself risked to be destroyed thanks to the three heroes’ intervention. Trying to save the universe, Robin, Impulse and Superboy decided to put Mxyzptlk under a “prankster therapy”, and they made him watch a video of the Three Stooges, until the young Imp fell in love mr-mxyzptlkcomics1with the stupid jokes and pranks of the comedians, triggering the evolution into the well-known trickster everybody loved to hate. If this was the actual origin of the pesky Imp, or just an elaborate ruse from Mxyzptlk to mock the young heroes, remains a mystery. Being it a way or the other, when Mister Mxyzptlk came back to Earth, he was a full grown adult, and he was an immortal being growing constantly bored of his eventless existence. When he first met Superman, he found in the invincible hero a great way to spend his time, and made him the constant target of tricks and challenges, involving him in a series of ridiculous and impossible misadventures the Man of Steel usually emerged from by tricking the Imp into spelling his name backwards (the nearly unpronounceable Kltpzyxm), thus forcing him to come back to the Fifth Dimension for ninety days at least. This game was the one thing that kept Mxyzptlk happy, despite his many failures, and he took quite some joy into mocking the most powerful hero of the three-dimensional world. Then, the Crisis on Infinite Earths happened.

When the multiverse became a universe, Mr. Mxyzptlk emerged from the cosmic cataclysm pretty much unchanged and unscathed, with his pesky and annoying nature being exactly the same. He resurfaced in Metropolis posing as a human, Ben Deroy (or DeRoy); just to mess with Superman, he seduced his love interest Lois Lane, and convinced her to marry him, but he was exposed as an Imp by the hero just in time. As usual, to be sent back home he challenged Superman into making him spell his name backwards, and among all his aliases he chose the impossible “Mxyzptlk”, spelling it on a giant typewriter, believing it to be impossible for the hero to make him say something like “Kltpzyxm”. Superman actually managed to do it by taking away the first paper with the name written on it and challenging the Imp into writing it again… in the meanwhile rewiring the typewriter, so that when Mxyzptlk used his magic to type again the exact same keys, his name appeared spelled backwards. In the new universe, however, this trick could only work once, as each time Mxyzptlk appeared the conditions to send him back mr-mxyzptlkcomics2home changed, even if the urgency of interrupting his absurd games before he hurt someone was always the same (once, for example, he animated the Daily Planet building just for fun… but all the people inside it weren’t having as much fun as he was, obviously): from painting his face blue to finding him in a world-wide hide and seek game, Superman found himself forced to fulfill a number of conditions for winning the Imp’s games. The only constant in the challenges was the honesty showed by Mxyzptlk in respecting his own rules… but that changed as well. On Earth during Superman’s absence, the Imp found a substitute to annoy in the hero’s nemesis, Lex Luthor, but with the mogul the game turned out to be much more different that the usual one, as Luthor easily exploited Mxyzptlk’s honesty to trick him faster than Superman ever could… thus, however, teaching him what a lie was. The following time, Mxyzptlk forced Superman to have a race around the world with The Flash, telling the latter he would have left only if Superman (the slowest among the two) won… while the rule he magically cast told the exact opposite. Not bound to truth anymore, there was a whole new universe of fun to explore for the Imp…

Mr. Mxyzptlk (real name unknown, but even more unpronounceable than the one he chose on Earth) is not exactly an evil being, rather being simply annoying, an immortal Imp who just wants to have fun, especially if at someone else’s expenses. Despite his puckish attitude, he’s actually one of the most powerful beings in the universe, an interdimensional sorcerer able to bend reality itself, who ignores and manipulates space and time, who can subvert any known physical law; he’s also aware of his nature as a comicbook, and sometimes he talks directly to the authors to modify the stories involving him. Luckily enough, Mxyzptlk is childish and immature, and is not interested into killing his adversaries or even causing serious damage… that wouldn’t be fun. If he acted seriously just for a moment, without limiting his own powers with rules of his invention, the universe itself would be in dire danger.


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