Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics
Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Action Comics #80Cover date: January 1945
Writer: Don Cameron
Pencils & Inks: Ira Yarbrough
Cover: Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye
"Mr. Mxyztplk Returns"
The dizziest of days in the life of Clark Kent began much the way any other day would begin, with the alarm going off. "Seven already," yawned Clark Kent. "And I've got to be at the office at 8 sharp for a special assignment." Rushing to work, Kent opens the office door to be greeted by Perry White. "Eleven o'clock! A fine time to come in! shouted White. "I had to send Lois to cover that story for you!" "Eleven," said Kent apologetically. "My watch reads exactly eight, and it's never been wrong before."
Dejectedly, Kent was given another assignment, and begins by taking a story from the local police reporter. Hurriedly, he typed up the story and took it into the editor. "What is this, Kent," yelled Perry White throwing the paper back at Kent. Rather than writing that Lefty Bragg had been arrested for a bank robbery, Kent had typed a story describing how Lefty Bragg had arrested the police commissioner for the crime. The day was not going well.
Later that morning, Kent saw Lois Lane return to the office and thought, "Maybe a good lunch will straighten me out". Walking over to Lois' desk, Kent said, "How about joining me for lunch, Lois?" "Why not?" she replied absently. But then she looked at him exasperated. "...But if you're trying to be funny wearing my hat ..." Reaching up, Kent realized that he was wearing Lois' hat. Slowly, Kent took it from his head, put it back on the hat tree and grabbed his own.
"I found a new place for lunch," bragged Kent leading Lois down the street. But when he opened the door to the "Wanta Pet Shop", Lois slapped him on the arm in disgust telling him that she did not think that was the least bit funny. Again, Kent was embarrassed because the restaurant he intended to go to, "The Dish and Spoon" was only three doors away. "Maybe you should go to the psychiatrist instead," grumbled Lois sweeping past him through the door.
Finally seated in the restaurant, Lois and Clark looked over the menu. "Maybe what I need is a good strong cup of cof---," choked Kent spilling his coffee over the table. "Someone pushed my arm!" he screamed. Having had enough, Lois stormed out in disgust. "Maybe I ought to get the police to lock me up for the rest of the day," thought Kent, dejectedly.
Just then, a high-pitched voice brought Kent back to the present. "You seem sad, my friend," said a small man in a bowler hat. "I've been sad, too, ever since you wrote those uncomplimentary stories about me for your paper. It's turned my whole world upside down." Suddenly Kent realized that Mr. Mxyztplk was sitting next to him at the table and then the whole room turned completely upside-down. "Get us down, you idiot," yelled Kent. "Anything you say," chuckled Mxyztplk, and just as suddenly tables and chairs fell to the floor. Behind an overturned table, Kent quickly changed to Superman and began to chase Mxyztplk. Zipping behind him, Superman made a mighty grasp and thought he had him, but with a "poof", Mxyztplk disappeared and was gone.
Later, back at the office, Kent tried to explain to Lois what he had seen, but Lois thought that was just a handy alibi. "I never really believed in Mxyztplk," she said in a huff not knowing that all the while, Mxyztplk was hiding in the trash watching. With a wave of his fingers, he magically animated a typewriter. Lois thought that somehow Clark had done this. Just as mysteriously, Lois' chair slid out, throwing her to the floor, and a trashcan flew through the air landing over her head. In the next instant, Mxyztplk appeared, hovering in the air. "What fools you mortals be," he laughed. "That's him," screamed Lois, pointing at Mxyztplk, who first whipped through the office creating havoc, then sped out the window with a wicked laugh.
That evening, Kent asked Lois to a movie and to Kent's amazement she agreed. As the movie reached a climax, two of the gangsters in the film began to fight. On the stage, Mxyztplk suddenly appeared. He walked up to the screen and proceeded to yell at the gangsters onscreen to stop fighting. Amazingly, the characters on the screen stopped, and looked down at him. Then, Mxyztplk actually entered the movie and brought the characters out onto the stage, and began walking them outside to continue their fight where they wouldn't upset the people in the theater.
The dumbfounded audience suddenly erupted into a panic. In the confusion, Kent slipped away from Lois and changed to Superman. Flying to the stage, Superman told everyone to remain calm. While the audience began to settle back in their seats, Lois predictably grabbed her notebook and headed out the door. "What a story this will make," she said, rushing out of the theater to file her scoop.
With Lois out of the way, Superman resumed his pursuit of Mr. Mxyztplk, racing into the streets, and searching for any sign of Mxyztplk. The sign came, dramatically, when the elevated train tracks suddenly became twisted and broken. Racing to the tracks, Superman saw a rail car roaring down the tracks. Grabbing the tracks, he prevented a crash, then pushed the cars to safety. With the disaster averted, Superman quickly repaired the damaged tracks and resumed his search for the mischievous imp.
Soaring above the city, Superman heard people screaming on the riverfront. Before him, he saw a tidal wave rising up from the river, surging toward the docks. "Mr. Mxyztplk has gone too far this time," thought Superman. "A flood would cost lives and millions of dollars." Accelerating to a blurring speed, Superman flew directly into the wave. The force of his flight created a vacuum that drew the water back to the river preventing a flood.
Immediately, Superman resumed his flight above the city and finally found Mxyztplk dancing, merrily, atop the spire of the Emperor Building. "I've never had so much fun in my own world," he said gleefully. Looking up Mxyztplk saw Superman approaching. "Fancy meeting you up here, Superman," cackled the little imp. "Want to play tag some more?" Superman landed and placed his hands on his hips looking quite stern. "I'd rather talk sensibly with you. For instance. It isn't sensible to go around making trouble when I come along right behind you and undo it all, is it??" "Who cares!" laughed Mxyztplk. "Look at all the fun I'm having."
Superman had had enough, "I've got to make him say his name backwards," he thought In a fury, Superman began reciting every possible nonsense names. But all this did was to start Mxyztplk laughing hysterically. "QXTLMNZ!" Mxyztplk laughed out loud. "Imagine saying "QXTLMNZ" for "KLPTZYXM"! Oops!" Having said his name backwards, Mxyztplk began his journey back to the Fifth Dimension. "It ain't fair taking advantage of me," he moaned. "I'll get an inferiority complex." And with that, his voice faded into nothingness, and he was gone.
The next morning, Clark Kent approached the Daily Planet office with a smile and a spring in his step. "I ought to get a raise for bringing in this story - or at least a bonus." But, entering the city room, he found that was not the reception he received. Perry White and Lois Lane met him at the door waving a copy of the Morning Globe at him. "Explain this little item," demanded White. Under the heading, "Poet's Corner" was a verse that read, "Lois is homely, White's head is thick, My job at the Planet, Is making me sick." It was signed Clark Kent. "And I hope you won't try to blame this poem on Mr. Mxyztplk, along with everything else," said Lois, tapping her foot indignantly. Clark gulped audibly, and with that Perry and Lois turned and left grumbling to themselves.
"You might think Mr. Mxyztplk is funny but I don't," grumbled Kent. "For two cents, I'd speak the magic word and go after him just to get even."
Story - 2: Comics are like any other medium... if something works, do a sequel. And that was exactly what happened with the case of Mr. Mxyztplk. Mxyztplk first appeared in Superman #30 (Sept-Oct, 1944) in a story called "The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk ". At the end of the story, the editors asked if the readers enjoyed the character and wanted him to appear again. The answer was obviously a resounding, "Yes", because less than three months later Mxyztplk made his second appearance, this time in Action Comics. However, if you think in terms of producing and publishing a comic, this story was probably completed before any letters could ever be returned to the editorial offices. As such, Siegel and Shuster had apparently planned for at least a few more appearances of Mxyztplk before they ever heard from the audience.
Unfortunately for the readers of Action Comics #80, this story was almost identical to the first story. Just as in Superman #30, Mxyztplk arrived on earth, performed a number of ridiculous pranks, with Superman racing behind him to fix the damage. After three or four pranks, Superman tricked (and here, rather easily) Mxyztplk into speaking his name backwards, returning him to the fifth dimension. To me, it appeared that the writer, Don Cameron, realized he had 12 pages of story and found the quickest way to get rid of Mxyztplk and close up the story. I think there was also the assumption that people who read Action Comics, did not necessarily read Superman, and vice versa, so this story would still be novel.
In 1945, Action Comics contained sixty pages. Along with a featured Superman story there were a number of other stories in each issue. Also appearing in Action #80 was a Congo Bill story (The Riddle of the Reservoir), a Vigilante story by the great Mort Meskin (The Pillage of the Parthenon), a Hayfoot Henry story by Al Schwartz (The Hair that Wasn't There), a Zatara story (Tumbling Timber), as well as a Casey the Cop filler and a text story. 'Not bad for ten cents.
Art - 3: This story was drawn by Ira Yarbrough a long-time assistant in Shuster's Studio, who also drew the first Mr. Mxyzptlk story. Yarbrough's style was far more "cartoony" than other members of the Shuster studio but was a perfect choice to take on the story telling of the zany imp from the fifth dimension. For reference, The best way to quickly spot Yarbrough's art style is to look at the Superman figure, which always flies with his arms curled above his head and one leg tucked underneath.
Cover Art -?: The comic I used to do this review was coverless, so I do not actually know what the cover looked like. Several sources list the cover as having been drawn by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye. If anyone has a JPEG of this cover, please forward it to me. I will include it in the review and be sure to thank the person who supplies the image in print.
Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews
- Action Comics #1 (June 1938)
- Action Comics #2 (July 1938)
- Action Comics #3 (August 1938)
- Action Comics #4 (September 1938)
- Action Comics #5 (October 1938)
- Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
- Action Comics #7 (December 1938)
- Superman Archives: Volume 1 (1939)
- Superman #1 (Summer 1939)
- Action Comics #8 (January 1939)
- Action Comics #9 (February 1939)
- Action Comics #10 (March 1939)
- Superman #13 (November/December 1941) - The Archer
- Superman #19 (November/December 1942) - Case of the Funny Paper Crimes
- Action Comics #60 (May 1943) - Lois Lane - Superwoman
- Superman #30 (September/October 1944) - The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk
- Action Comics #80 (January 1945) - Mr. Mxyztplk Returns
- Superman #38 (January/February 1946) - The Battle of the Atoms
- Superman #42 (September/October 1946) - The Death of Clark Kent
- Superman #45 (March/April 1947) - Lois Lane, Superwoman
- Superman #53 (July 1948) - The Origin of Superman
- Action Comics #124 (September 1948) - A Superman of Doom
- Superman #60 (December 1949/January 1950) - The Two Identities of Superman & Superman Fights the Super-Brain
- Superman #76 (May/June 1952) - The Mightiest Team in the World
- Superman #80 (January/February 1953) - Superman's Lost Brother
- Superman 3D (1953) - The Man Who Stole the Sun, Origin of Superman and The Man Who Bossed Superman
- Superman #87 (February 1954) - The Prankster's Greatest Role
- Superman #88 (March 1954) - The Terrible Trio
- Superman #89 (May 1954) - Captain Kent the Terrible, Superman of Skid Row, and One Hour to Doom!
- Superman #91 (August 1954) - The Superman Stamp and Great Caesar's Ghost
- World's Finest #88 (May/June 1957) - Superman and Batman's Greatest Foes
- Superman #115 (August 1957) - The Midget Superman!
- Superboy #65 (May/June 1958) - The Amazing Adventures of Krypto Mouse
- Action Comics #242 (July 1958) - The Super-Duel in Space
- Superman #123 (August 1958) - The Girl of Steel
- Superman #127 (February 1959) - Titano the Super Ape
- Action Comics #252 (May 1959) - The Menace of Metallo and The Supergirl From Krypton
- Superman #129 (May 1959) - The Girl in Superman's Past
- Superman #130 (July 1959) - The Curse of Kryptonite!, The Super-Servant of Crime!, and The Town that Hated Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #40 (October 1959) - Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl's Pal
- Superman #134 (January 1960) - The Super-Menace of Metropolis
- Jimmy Olsen #42 (January 1960) - The Big Superman Movie!, Perry White, Cub Reporter!, and Jimmy the Genie!
- Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960) - The Wolf-Man of Metropolis
- Adventure Comics #271 (April 1960) - How Luthor Met Superboy
- Jimmy Olsen #46 (July 1960) - Jimmy Olsen, Orphan
- Superman #141 (November 1960) - Superman's Return To Krypton
- Superboy #85 (December 1960) - The Impossible Mission
- Jimmy Olsen #51 (March 1961) - The Girl with Green Hair
- Jimmy Olsen #52 (April 1961) - Jimmy Olsen, Wolf-Man
- Superboy #89 (June 1961) - Superboy's Big Brother!
- Action Comics #279 (August 1961) - The Super-Rivals
- Superman #147 (August 1961) - The Legion of Super Villains
- Superman #149 (November 1961) - The Death of Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #57 (December 1961) - Jimmy Olsen Marries Supergirl
- Superman #155 (August 1962) - Superman Under the Green Sun and The Downfall of Superman
- Justice League of America #13 (August 1962) - Riddle of the Robot Justice League
- World's Finest #129 (November 1962) - Joker-Luthor, Incorporated
- Superman #158 (January 1963) - Superman in Kandor
- Superman #160 (April 1963) - The Mortal Superman
- Superman #161 (May 1963) - The Last Days of Ma and Pa Kent
- Superman #162 (July 1963) - The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue
- Superman #163 (August 1963) - Wonder-Man, the New Hero of Metropolis and The Goofy Superman
- Justice League of America #21 & #22 (August/September 1963) - Crisis on Earth-One! and Crisis on Earth-Two!
- Superman #164 (October 1963) - The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman
- Superman #165 (November 1963) - The Sweetheart Superman Forgot
- Superman #166 (January 1964) - The Fantastic Story of Superman's Sons
- Superman #167 (February 1964) - The Team of Luthor and Brainiac
- Superman #168 (April 1964) - Luthor - Super Hero and Lex Luthor, Daily Planet Editor
- Superman #169 (May 1964) - The Man Who Stole Superman's Secret Life
- Action Comics #314 (July 1964) - The Day Superman Became The Flash
- Justice League of America #29 & #30 (August/September 1964) - Crisis on Earth-Three! and The Most Dangerous Earth of All!
- Superman #173 (November 1964) - The Triumph of Luthor and Brainiac
- Action Comics #318 (November 1964) - The Death of Luthor
- Action Comics #319 (December 1964) - The Condemned Superman
- Superman #175 (February 1965) - Clark Kent's Brother
- Superman #181 (November 1965) - The Superman of 2965
- The Legion of Super-Heroes - Archives Volume 4 (1965)
- Superman #184 (February 1966) - The Demon Under the Red Sun
- Action Comics #338 (June 1966) - Muto - Monarch of Menace
- Action Comics #339 (July 1966) - Muto versus The Man of Tomorrow
- Superman #189 (August 1966) - Krypton Lives Again
- Action Comics #346 (February 1967) - The Man Who Sold Insurance to Superman and The Case of the Superman Imposter
- Superman #194 (February 1967) - The Death of Lois Lane
- Superman #196 (May 1967) - The Star of Steel
- Superman #199 (January 1967) - Superman's Race With The Flash
- Superman #200 (October 1967) - Super-Brother Against Super-Brother
- The Flash #175 (December 1967) - Race to the End of the Universe
- Justice League of America #63 (June 1968) - Time Signs a Death Warrant for the Justice League
- Superman #211 (November 1968) - The Name of the Game is Superman!
- Superman #215 (April 1969) - Lois LaneŠ DeadŠ Yet Alive
- Superman #224 (February 1970) - Beware the Super-Genius Baby
- Action Comics #393 (October 1970) - Superman Meets Super-Houdini! and The Day Superboy Became Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #133 (October 1970) - The Newsboy Legion
- Action Comics #394 (November 1970) - Midas of Metropolis and Requiem for a Hot Rod!
- World's Finest #198 (November 1970) - Race to Save the Universe!
- Action Comics #395 (December 1970) - The Secrets of Superman's Fortress and The Credit Card of Catastrophe
- Jimmy Olsen #134 (December 1970) - The Mountain of Judgement!
- World's Finest #199 (December 1970) - A Race to Save Time!
- Superman #233 (January 1971) - Superman Breaks Loose!
- Jimmy Olsen #135 (January 1971) - The Evil Factory!
- Superman #234 (February 1971) - How to Tame a Wild Volcano
- Jimmy Olsen #136 (February 1971) - The Saga of the D.N.Aliens
- Superman #235 (March 1971) - The Sinister Scream of the Devil's Harp
- Superman #236 (April 1971) - Planet of the Angels and The Doomsayer
- Jimmy Olsen #137 (April 1971) - The Four-Armed Terror!
- Superman #237 (May 1971) - The Enemy of Earth
- Superman #238 (June 1971) - Menace at 1000 Degrees
- Jimmy Olsen #138 (June 1971) - The Big Boom!!
- Superman #240 (July 1971) - To Save a Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #139 (July 1971) - The Guardian Fights Again!!!
- Superman #241 (August 1971) - The Shape of Fear
- Superman #242 (September 1971) - The Ultimate Battle
- Jimmy Olsen #141 (September 1971) - Will the Real Don Rickles Panic?!?
- Jimmy Olsen #142 (October 1971) - The Man from Transilvane!
- Jimmy Olsen #143 (November 1971) - Genocide Spray
- Jimmy Olsen #144 (December 1971) - A Big Thing in a Deep Scottish Lake!
- Superman #247 (January 1972) - Must There Be A Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #145 (January 1972) - Brigadoom!
- Jimmy Olsen #146 (February 1972) - Homo-Disastrous!
- Jimmy Olsen #147 (March 1972) - A Superman in Super-Town!
- Jimmy Olsen #148 (April 1972) - Monarch of All He Subdues!
- Superman #292 (October 1975) - The Luthor Nobody Knows!
- Action Comics #458 (April 1976) - Make Me a Super-Hero! and Masquerade of the Nutty Kid!
- Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (Spring 1978)
- Action Comics #484 (June 1978) - Superman Takes a Wife!
- Superman #328 (October 1978) - Attack of the Kryptonoid
- Action Comics #489 (November 1978) - Krypton Dies Again and Where There's a Will... There's a Fray
- Superman #329 (November 1978) - I Have Met The Enemy... And He Is Me! and The Secret of the Talking Car
- Superman #330 (December 1978) - The Master Mesmerizer of Metropolis!
- Action Comics #490 (December 1978) - No Tomorrow For Superman
- Action Comics #491 (January 1979) - A Matter of Light and Death
- Superman #331 (January 1979) - Lockup at 20,000 Feet
- Action Comics #492 (February 1979) - Superman's Secret Afterlife
- Superman #332 (February 1979) - The Eternity Cage
- Action Comics #493 (March 1979) - The Metropolis UFO Connection
- Action Comics #494 (April 1979) - The Secret of the Super S
- Action Comics #495 (May 1979) - Attack of the Ultimate Warrior
- DC Comics Presents #14 (October 1979) - Judge, Jury... and No Justice!
- The Superman Story (1979) - The Life Story of Superman
- DC Comics Presents #57 (May 1983) - Days of Future Past
- DC Comics Presents #67 (March 1984) - 'Twas the Fright Before Christmas
- DC Comics Presents Annual #3 (1984) - With One Magic Word
- Superman: The Secret Years #1 (February 1985) - Dreams and Schemes and Feeling Proud!
- Superman: The Secret Years #2 (March 1985) - Reach Out and Touch
- Superman: The Secret Years #3 (April 1985) - Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #80 (April 1985) - A World Full of Supermen!
- Superman: The Secret Years #4 (May 1985) - Beyond Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #85 (September 1985) - The Jungle Line
- Superman Annual #11 (1985) - For The Man Who Has Everything
- World's Finest #323 (January 1986) - Afraid of the Dark
- DC Comics Presents #97 (September 1986) - Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter
- Superman #423 & Action Comics #583 (September 1986) - Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?
- Showcase Presents: Superman Family - Volume 1 (October 2005)
- Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons (December 2007)
- Not Brand ECHH #7 (April 1967) - The Origin of Stuporman
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