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Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials

Countdown 23

Countdown to Final Crisis 23

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 21, 2007

Cover date: November 21, 2007

"The Bottled Imp"

Writer: Paul Dini (head writer) with Keith Giffen
Penciller: Tom Derenick
Inker: Wayne Faucher

Back-Up Story: "The Origin of Mxyzptlk"
Write: Scott Beatty
Penciller: Kyle Baker
Inker: Kyle Baker

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Superman Prime monologues about the Source Wall before revealing that he has Mxyzptlk captive with the help of Annataz, the Zatanna of Earth-3. He then tells Mxyzptlk the story of Infinite Crisis and his role in it.

Mxyzptlk mocks Superman Prime, so he slams Mxyzptlk to the floor trying to kill him and uses heat vision to burn an S into his face before beating him until he vomits. He then pulls a stalagmite off the cave and tells Annataz to stab Mxyzptlk while he watches.

Mary Marvel and Eclipso talk about why she ran from Darkseid. Mary indicates she might not want to get mixed up with that kind of evil.

The asteroid they are on (I think, it's unclear) is vaporized by an attack by Lord Havok as he attacks a Dominion fleet, annihilating it.

Superman Prime finds out that Mxyzptlk is fine, and playing the trickster role. Annataz restores Mxyzptlk's power.

Feeling regretful as to her past on Earth-3, she lets Superman Prime annihilate her as Mxyzptlk flies away. Mxyzptlk says he would stop Superman Prime, but he's not up to full power.

1Story - 1: Giffen's impact in the series is obvious. It's trying to get back on track. The problem is, it's so insanely off the rails that it's pretty much impossible.

I can imagine this issue in the DC offices.

Paul Dini: "Okay. Okay okay. Here's my pitch for 23."

Dan DiDio: "I'm ready!"

Paul: "Okay, get this. Superman Prime, trying to find a way to his perfect Earth, takes Mxyzptlk and TORTURES THE HELL OUT OF HIM! Then he killes Annataz, who atones for her crimes."

Dan: "Cut! Print! Genius!"

Me: But, uh, Mxy is a cute old man! And Superman can't even begin to subdue him. And...

So you're an intergalactic bad@$$ who can hurt anyone, and you want to find the perfect Earth. Do you look for an interdimensional telescope, or a toothbrush?

Mxy's a toothbrush, for those of you still paying attention.

There is, by my count, a good five pages wasted explaining who Superman Prime is, how he came to be in this situation, and then recapping the Infinite Crisis.

Note to DC:


Who is Superman Prime talking to about the Source Wall? Seriously. Mxy? He's explaining to Mxy when he kidnapped Mxy to learn more? He's just explaining to... us?

Beyond that, in those summation pages, already awful, he describes the Source Wall, which is WHAT THE #$@%ING PICTURES ARE ALREADY DOING in this, our beloved visual medium.

So, is this the Mxy of New Earth? Or another Earth? Or does this mean that Mxy exists outside of the multiverse? You'll re-hash Infinite Crisis, but you won't even tell us which Mxy this is or how he got there?

Oh yeah. I forgot. Annataz stole his powers and brought him there. But... Zatanna is not as powerful as Mxy, right?

But this isn't Mxy! That's right! It's Loki. Anansi. The Trickster God.


You know what I needed to make my day better? I needed to see Superman beating Mr. Mxyzptlk, breaking all his fingers, making him vomit, stabbing him in the chest, and using heat vision to put an S on his face. Boy, that's wholesome.

Beyond that, the fundamental premise of this comic is retarded. Superman's doppleganger, a being whose three vulnerabilities are (count 'em) red suns, Kryptonite, and MAGIC, is beating the holy hell out of THE STRONGEST MAGICAL BEING IN THE DCU.

I suppose this is "justified" by his "increased power" from his "encounter" in the Sinestro Corp War, which has been utterly spoiled by Countdown. But my guess is that no matter how physically strong you are, you can't beat magic. It's like trying to stop electricity with a conductor.

But get this... AFTER Superman Prime explains that Mxy was brought there by Annataz, he says to Mxy, "Her magic is not as powerful as yours."


And then, the ending, which is just... gah. First, Mxy gets the jump on Prime, saying that because he was a Trickster God, he was never hurt in the first place. Okay, so why isn't he handing Prime his butt?

Then Zatanna returns Mxy's powers, which she doesn't have the power to take away in the first place, but they STILL FEEL THE NEED TO FLEE?

So Mxy does, with his FULL POWER. But Annataz? She feels regret at her life of EVIL on Earth-3, and decides to let herself be killed in remorse.

Uh, writers... she's from Earth-3. You know, like you established earlier? SHE'S SUPPOSED TO BE EVIL! It would cause NO remorse! There, being evil is the best you can be! REVERSE WORLD! Hello?

So Mxy flies off, saying that because he's not at full power (AFTER ANNATAZ RETURNED HIS POWER TO HIM) he can't stop Superman Prime.

But hey, he can't pass a message on to New Earth Supes? What a D$CK!

There's also the scene where Mary Marvel, who was killing indiscriminately a few issues back, suddenly doesn't want to get mixed up with evil like Darkseid. Because, you know, murdering innocent soldiers and aging prisoners to death, that's low-level evil. But DARKSEID, phew. That'll make a bad girl question herself before getting in another low-cut dress and stereotypically saying, "NYAH!"

Add in Lord Havok and Ultraman explaining what they're doing (IN THIS, OUR BELOVED VISUAL MEDIUM WHERE THIS CAN BE SHOWN AND HAS BEEN) while referring to each other by full names, something no sane person ever does in flowing conversation, and I am like Mxy, puking from torture.

The story has gone from multiple completely disingenuous and ridiculous plots to one focal one. The crap level is still at 11.

4Art - 4: Decent, actually, conveying all of the information well save the asteroid explosion, but that's the writing, not the art. Superman Prime's lair is pretty well done, and Mxy is a bit larger than I usually picture him, but it works.

5Back-Up Story - 5: One of the more creative origins so far. And it doesn't mention a single thing about being a Trickster God or losing in a physical fight to Superman. The writer actually realizes and elucidates the character's simple, genius premise.

3Back-Up Art - 3: A bit plain and bare-bones, but it gets the job done.

3Cover Art - 3: Good image, 5 on the image, but 1 for banking on the concept that the idea of torturing Mxyzptlk is something enjoyable or that grabs the eye. I meet in the middle.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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