Superman just turned one of his strongest antagonists upside down, proving why he can be just as infuriating as any of his villains.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Superman’s “Namrepus” story: Red & Blue # 4, by Mark Waid, Audrey Mok, Jordie Bellaire and Dave Sharpe, out now.
One of Superman’s oldest enemies, the reality warping Mister Mxyzptlk is one of the most difficult challenges Superman has ever had to overcome. The omnipotent reality warper is often one of its most deceptive foes, and someone even the Man of Steel cannot easily defeat.
But in their most recent confrontation in Superman: red and blue # 4, Superman got some revenge by using the same strategies that Mxyzptlk has long used against him.
Mister Mxyzptlk is one of the most powerful figures in DC. He first appeared in a 1944 Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster story in Superman # 30 As one of the Man of Steel’s first antagonists, Mxyzptlk is a prankster foe from the Fifth Dimension who is effectively a near-unstoppable reality warp. It is one of the only forces so powerful that Superman’s abilities are basically useless, forcing him to the imp and finding a way to force him back to the reality of his home. Although he has caused an incalculable amount of chaos and destruction over the years, Mxyzptlk is forced to contain himself according to specific rules that limit his pranks on Earth. But during a period when he was trapped in the fifth dimension, Mxyzptlk finds himself facing Superman once again in “Namrepus.”
This time, Superman has decided to wage a prank war in the Fifth Dimension. He substitutes paper snakes in a brittle peanut can for real brittle peanuts, embarrassing the imp as he proposes to his longtime love, Mrs. Gsptlsnz. He burns all his meals with his heat vision, slides Mxyzptlk on frozen ice sheets, and generally causes chaos in his life. As he says it, Superman will only come back if Mxyzptlk can trick him into saying his name backwards. However, Superman never falls in love with any of his ideas and ignores it when he finally manages to record it. Superman tries to explain that he just wanted to give Mxyzptlk a sample of his own medicine and forces the imp to finally realize how much his “pranks” only cause misery and trouble for his targets.
By saying Clark Kent backwards, Superman disappears back into his world, exhausted that Mxyzptlk didn’t even seem to realize why he had actually come. Mxyzptlk even considers it a triumph, proof that Superman is ultimately as petty as he is. But when he discovers that Superman actually convinced Gsptlsnz that Mxyzptlk’s latest prank wasn’t playing pranks on him (fixing the problem in their relationship), an enraged Mxyzptlk vows revenge the next time he returns to Earth.
Despite the trouble he has caused, Mxyzptlk has also been a surprisingly helpful figure at times and has expressed his affection for his old enemy. He’s too powerful to contain, and it makes sense for Superman to try to reason out of the situation, all so that he can become a friendlier figure. But after decades of the imp laughing at the expense of others, it’s good to see him finally get some level of merit for his actions. He’s even been left screaming in useless rage, the kind of attitude that would cheer up and make fun of someone else. Given his history of causing trouble for others, it’s a fun way for Superman to get over him at least once.
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