Hailing from the 5th dimension, a being of godlike power travels through realities to find a worthy one to prank. Who is this creature of unbridled power that finds his way in the third dimension only to taunt one single man, even if that man is super? How do you get rid of someone who is effectively a trickster god? Kal-El of the House of El, the last son of Krypton now called Clark Kent of Smallville, Kansas, and reporter of the Daily Planet in Metropolis as his secret identity of the hero called Superman, knows how to handle such an imp of power. How do you do it and who is he? Let’s find out!
Mr. Mxyzptlk (Pronounced a myriad of ways, I don’t think you can really be wrong with how often it’s changed throughout his history. Heck, it wasn’t even spelled that way originally.) is a creature from the 5th dimension whose abilities might as well be magic to three-dimensional beings. He has lived for millenia, and often tries to find something to do with his immortality.
In the past, he and his kind were the source of stories of genies and other such creatures that could perform magic for good or ill. Presently, he is often a thorn in Superman’s side, sometimes just for fun and other times to remind Superman of a very important lesson – don’t take life too seriously. This can be accomplished by giving the mayor a donkey voice, or by taking away Superman’s powers. Mxy had a wide variety of tricks to pull on Superman, and he was also capable of breaking the 4th wall and talking with the audience or meeting the writers of his stories.
Most of the time Mxyzptlk is there to just see what kind of nonsense and chaos he can conjure up for his own amusement. So how do you get rid of someone whose entire purpose is to mess with you and everyone around you, and wields magic powers that can warp reality? Get the guy to say his name backwards, naturally. Getting Mxy to pronounce his name in reverse will send him packing and lock him out of the 3rd dimension for at least 90 days. (I guess the 5th dimension follows our progression of time?)
For a creature such as Mxy, it makes perfect sense that his history isn’t always the same. In some versions he was originally a boring old imp from the 5th dimension who studied humanity in curiosity. (This Mxy was also out of time, so maybe it’s just closer to our time, because Mxy wants to be closer to our dimension.) He’d cross the paths of Superboy, Robin, and Impulse, and they learned that if Mxy never messed with Superman, the world can go to chaos. The boys make sure that Mxy is persuaded by the power of the Three Stooges, and he promises to become the prankster we know.
To see what others would do with his power, Mxy decides that the Joker would be the best person for this. As expected, the Joker tricks the trickster and ends up with most of his power instead of just small portion. Joker becomes Emperor of all and recreates the world in his image. Superman helps Mxy stop Joker by using his need for Batman to break his control of reality. Back and in full power, Mxy remakes Earth to its old form, but does leave behind some of Joker’s more interesting creations such as the new Bizarro.
During the attacks of Superboy-Prime, Mxy becomes a major target to Prime. Mxy is one of the few people who could stop Prime, so he uses the Earth-3 version of Zatanna Zatara, Annataz Arataz, to keep him prisoner. Able to talk Annataz into letting him return home, Mxy is able to seal off the 5th dimension from Prime, never being able to go back to the 3rd dimension.
The New 52 actually made a really interesting version of Mxyzptlk. In this reality he starts off as the 5th dimensional being, but he was also a court wizard to a great king. He created many three-dimensional worlds, and thrilled the king and his court with challenging their heroes. The greatest hero was the one who could send Mxy packing, Superman. He’d fall in love with the princess Gsptlnz (she was his girlfriend throughout his other incarnations). Becoming the court wizard and winning the love of Gsptlnz led the former court wizard, Vyndktvx, to try and kill Mxy, but he killed the King instead. Vyndktvx would put the blame on Mxy, causing the two lovers to flee the 5th dimension and hide in three-dimensional forms.
Mxy would become a human mortal man that would use the stage name of the Mystic Mr. Triple X as a stage magician, and Gsp would become Mrs. Nxly, his lovely assistant and wife. The two would have a child named Ferlin, which Mxy dubbed “His greatest trick of all.” As time went on, Mxy would die of old age, leaving Gsp to live alone. She’d become a secret aide to Superman at the start of his career before she was killed.
So there you have it, a magical imp from another dimension who has many versions of himself, and some are quite heart wrenching while others are just silly. Either way, a trickster through and through, he claims to have gone by names such as Loki, Coyote, and Anansi, to name a few. So while he may be gone for now, I guess we shouldn’t count out the old imp yet.
Young Justice #3
Action Comics #15