Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (

Superman #30

Superman #30

Cover date: Sept/Oct 1944

Writter: Jerry Siegel
Penciller: Ira Yarborough
Inker: Ira Yarborough
Cover: Joe Shuster Studio

"The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk"

At a busy intersection in Metropolis, a small, strange man reading a newspaper walks nonchalantly into the street without looking. Brakes squeal, but the curious man is hit by an oncoming truck. Ambulance workers work feverishly on the man, but cannot find a pulse. "This man is dead!" Putting him on a stretcher, they try to lift him into the ambulance, but try as they might, he is too heavy. More and more men come to help, and suddenly the little man just sits up. "Confusing, aren't I?" he giggles, then flies to the ambulance, starts the engine, drives it up the side of a building, and into space where it explodes in a burst of color. Picking up the newspaper the man was reading, the policemen are amazed because all of the words are backwards.

At the Metropolis Museum, the curator is about to unveil a statue when this same, curious man walks in. "Has anyone here seen McGirk?" he screams. The curator tries to proceed, but the small man keeps interrupting. "Hey McGirk! Where the Dickens are you." "How do you like that McGirk standing me up like this?" When the curator pulls the drape off of the statue of a man seated in a chair, the little man points up and says, "That's him! That's my pal McGirk! Hey you lug, cut the daydreaming and let's get goin'." Coming to life, the statue stands and, apologizing to his impish friend, follows him out of the museum.

Later, at the Metropolis pool, a small man appears to be drowning in the deep end. Several lifeguards dive in to save him but the man keeps appearing in different areas of the pool, even floating above the pool. An instant later, all of the water in the pool is gone.

And still later, Clark Kent and Lois Lane are covering the Metropolis city council meeting, when a debate erupts over city streets. The Mayor attempts to talk his way out of a bad situation when he suddenly begins braying like a donkey. Leaping up, a small man runs to the front of the chamber demanding bandages, then spinning around the mayor until he looks like a mummy. "What kind of doctor are you?" asks an aid. "Tee-Hee! Who said I was a doctor!" squeals the little man who begins racing around the room. Slipping away, Kent becomes Superman and chases the man out the window, and flies away. "I thought I was the only man that could fly," says Superman. "But I am no ordinary man. I am Mr. Mxyztplk!"

Chasing the small man through the skies of Metropolis, the imp begins to wreak havoc. First, he builds a road out into the lake which Superman moves back to its correct place. Then the little man starts a wind which blows piles of waste paper over the city. As a final touch, the little man stops all engines, paralyzing Metropolis' cars, busses and trains. Putting all of the streetcars in a long line, Superman orders everyone inside and pushes the cars along their route. As suddenly as they stopped, motors begin functioning again, and Superman heads out to survey the damage.

On Main Street, the Mayor is leading a circus parade. Superman streaks down to the parade, hoping to convince the Mayor that he should postpone the event. "Nonsense," says the Mayor. "He wouldn't dare annoy me again." Wrong! At that very moment, invisible fingers lift the mayor up and flip him from animal to animal, and cage doors swing magically open. Superman's speed is all that stops the deadly animals from being released into the streets. And at the same moment through the city, pranks are appearing out of the blue: water comes pouring out of radios, music from refrigerators, and sparks from water faucets.

High above the city, Superman spots the sprite sitting on a bridge and confronts him to quit these shenanigans. "Why should I?" he asks. "I haven't had this much fun in years!" Mxyztplk explains to Superman that he is from another dimension where he had worked as a court jester. Also being somewhat of a scholar, Mxyztplk discovered two magic words: one that would transport him to earth and the other which would send him back. "This three-dimensional world is so backward that I can easily conquer and rule it. Think of that! A court jester could become a king," giggles the imp.

"So what's the second magic word," asks Superman. "That is funny! With your meager three-dimensional intelligence you thought that you could trick me into saying the magic words "KLPTZYXM"! Good Grief!Š I just said the magic word!! You tricked me! It ain't funny," screams the imp as he fades back to his dimension.

Back at the Planet, Lois is infuriated, and slaps Clark smartly on the face. "Instead of writing a story about the mayor losing his voice, you published a story ridiculing my lovely new hat. And don't try to deny it because the article is signed with your name," screams Lois. "But Lois, I never wrote such a story. It must have been the work of the Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk," says Kent winking at the audience.

3Story - 3: This story is important in the Superman mythos because it is the first appearance of Mr. Mxyztplk (spelled Mxyzptlk in most every other appearance) and opened a completely new weakness for the Superman characterŠ magic. However, the story itself was nothing special. Primarily, the story revolved around five vignettes of Mxyzptlk's mischief with Superman appearing at the end to show Mxyzptlk that three-dimensional beings weren't as dumb as he thought. While those vignettes were amusing, the story itself was rather straightforward and uncomplicated. This story did, however, provide much of the inspiration for the first appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk in the animated version of Warner Brother's Superman cartoon.

4Art - 4: Following the success of Superman, Joe Shuster was swamped with work and hired many assistants to help with the load. Among those artists were Wayne Boring, John Sikela, and Ira Yarborough. Since Mxzytplk was a "imp" character, Shuster chose Yarborough, whose style was a bit more "cartoony" than the other artists to illustrate this story. Even though Yarborough's style was not as realistic as others in the studio, his pacing and story telling were quite good. The splash for this story could easily have been the cover for the book, showing Superman flying above a beautifully drawn Metropolis with Mxyztplk floating just in front of himŠ a classic first image for Mxyztplk.

2Cover Art - 2: Like many covers done for Superman comics in the mid-1940's, the image on the cover of Superman #30 had very little to do with the story inside that has become a classic, The Mystery of Mr. Mxyztplk. This may have been because the studio was producing so many stories that they weren't always sure which story would appear in what issue and a generic cover would be easier to produce. The cover to Superman #30 was done by the Joe Shuster studio and featured Lois walking arm-in-arm with Clark Kent while ignoring Superman.

Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews



  • 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”




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