Mister Mxyzptlk (pronounced Miks-yez-pittle-ik) is a fictional supervillain who appears in DC Comics' Superman comic books. He was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and first appeared in Superman (Vol. 1) #30 (September 1944).
"Mister Mxyztplk" [məksɪtzpʌlk] (as his name was originally spelled, originally pronounced mux-ITZ-pulk [məksɪtzpəlk] according to the title Superman Family) was introduced as an imp from the fifth dimension. Not being bound by our physical laws, he could do things that seemed to be magical. In his first appearance, Mxyztplk wreaked havoc across Metropolis by using his powers to pull all manner of pranks. What's more, he destroyed Superman's worldview of himself. Mxyztlpk jumped out a window, causing Superman to think Mxyztlpk was committing suicide. Mxyztplk was not. An astonished Superman exclaimed "I — I thought I was the only man who could fly!!" Mxyztplk soon told Superman that he was a jester in his home dimension, explaining why he used his powers to play practical jokes.
Originally, Mxyzptlk had designs on conquering the planet for himself, but soon settled for tormenting Superman whenever he got the opportunity. His only weaknesses were that he could not stand being ridiculed and if he said or spelled his name backwards, Kltpzyxm (kil-tip-zee-zim [kɪltɪpzizɪm]), he was involuntarily sent back to his home dimension for a minimum of 90 days. Mxyzptlk would often look for ways to counter the latter weakness, but he always proved gullible enough for Superman to trick him time and time again. In the Golden Age, saying "Kltpzyxm" would not only bring Mxy back to the fifth dimension, but would bring anyone else saying it to the fifth dimension.
Mxyztplk appeared originally as a small bald man in a purple suit, green bow tie and purple derby hat. This was changed to a futuristic looking orange outfit with purple trim in the mid-1950s, although the hat remained. At around this time the spelling of Mxyztplk's name changed (by mistake) to "Mxyzptlk".
After the establishment of DC Comics' multiverse in the 1960s, it was later explained that the purple-suited Mxyztplk lived in the fifth dimension connected to Earth-Two and the orange-costumed Mxyzptlk in the fifth dimension connected to Earth-One. The Earth-One version was also retconned into Superboy stories as Master Mxyzptlk.
A 30th-century descendant of Mxyzptlk appeared in Adventure Comics #310 (July 1963) with similar abilities. Much crueler than his ancestor, this version killed most of the Legion of Super-Heroes until Superboy tricked him into falling victim to the same "Kltpzyxm" weakness, reversing the effects of his magic.
Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
Mister Mxyzptlk continued to be a thorn in Superman's side for many years. Alan Moore offered a radically different interpretation of the character in "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?". Mr. Mxyzptlk (appearing in darker colors, and looking more sinister than in the past) explained that the big problem with immortality is finding ways to spend the time. He spent his first 2,000 years without moving, the next 2,000 years doing only good deeds, and the following 2,000 years being the mischievous character that he is normally portrayed as. He has now decided to try being evil, and is responsible for all of the nightmarish events in the story. Before attacking Superman, he remarks, "Did you honestly believe a fifth-dimensional sorcerer would resemble a funny little man in a derby hat?" His true form is described by Lois Lane as having "height, width, breadth, and a couple of other things". He was killed by Superman who sent him to the Phantom Zone at the same time that Mr. Mxyzpltlk tried to escape to the Fifth dimension. The remorse of this act of killing led Superman to drain his powers with gold kryptonite.
Despite his odd story, Mxyzptlk made it through the Crisis on Infinite Earths relatively unchanged, although the unpleasant nature of his pranks and the psychological effects they had on others were played up more, at least initially. In early post-Crisis stories the "condition" that would send him back to the fifth dimension was anything he wanted it to be, but since Lex Luthor taught him how to lie, making this meaningless, the stories have reverted to Mxyzptlk saying his name backwards. Many of Mxyzptlk's later stories have a post-modern feel to them, similar to Ambush Bug, as he comments on editorial decisions, cliches of the genre, etc. This was most obvious in Superman: The Man of Steel #75, a pastiche of Superman's death in Superman volume 2 #75, which culminates with Mxyzptlk meeting the Supreme Being who turns out to be Mike Carlin, the then-editor of the Superman titles, who promptly brings him back to life.
Although Mxyzptlk does not appear in Grant Morrison's JLA, Morrison took advantage of certain similarities to tie Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt and Aquaman's character Qwsp to the fifth dimension, implying the dimension may be the origin for legends of djinn. This story also saw the first (and so far only) post-Crisis appearance of Mxyzptlk's Earth-One girlfriend, Ms. Gsptlsnz (described as his "quinto-partner").
In Young Justice #3, Peter David showed Mxyzptlk's origins as a serious-minded researcher, who traveled in time to investigate the behavior of teenagers. He chose to examine a Halloween party in Happy Harbor. What Mxyzptlk didn't know was that Robin, Superboy, and Impulse were hired by the town's adults to chaperone the party. When the boys confronted Mxyzptlk, they realized that this was not the same Mxyzptlk whom Superman had regularly faced; indeed, he appears to not have even assumed the name 'Mxyzptlk' at this point, regarding it as sounding like somebody randomly typed. Upon discovering the chaotic future that awaited him, Mxyzptlk declared that he would dedicate his life to learning and knowledge. However, those words led to a shift in time, creating an apocalyptic world because Mxyzptlk was not left to annoy Superman. In order to avoid this, Robin, Superboy, and Impulse realized that they needed to instill Mxyzptlk with his trademark wacky sense of humor by forcing him to watch hours of Three Stooges films. This led Mxyzptlk to become the wacky imp that he was destined to be, and him leaving the boys with the promise that when it was time, he would do good on his duty to become Superman's nemesis.
However it appears that Mxyzptlk has forgotten this incident as the years have passed. When confronted by Superboy later on, the imp declared that he had no knowledge of his adventure with Young Justice.Template:Fact Whether or not this is true, or Mxyzptlk merely playing a trick on the Boy of Steel was never revealed.
Improper use of power
In Emperor Joker, a multipart story throughout the Superman titles, he had his powers temporarily stolen by the Joker; interested in seeing how somebody else would do at his job, Mxyzptlk intended to give the Joker only 1% of his power, but the Joker tricked Mxyzptlk into revealing his secret imp name and thus acquired 99% of Mxyzptlk's power. Fortunately, Mxyzptlk was able to reveal the truth about the world to Superman, who, despite his current lack of faith in himself- caused mainly by the fact that not even Lois Lane believed in him in this world- managed to find the power to defeat the Joker; realizing that, for all his power, the Joker still couldn't erase Batman, as he defined himself by his constant opposition to the Dark Knight, Superman managed to shatter the Joker's control of reality.
It has also been implied that Mxyzptlk sees himself as serving an important purpose, in teaching Superman not to take everything seriously.
He has also encountered Batman's imp-like tormentor Bat-Mite twice. The first was in Karl Kesel's World's Finest book, in which they forced the heroes to compete against each other. The second was in the World's Funnest one shot, in which they travel to various parallel Earths, including the worlds of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew and Alex Ross's Kingdom Come, killing heroes and destroying worlds.
In Adventures of Superman #617 (2003), Mxyzptlk was reinvented as different-sex twins with an intense hatred for Superman. Amongst other things, they claimed responsibility for the creation of the present-day Persuader. A year later, in Superman Secret Files and Origins 2004 (2004), he returned to his usual self. The reasons for this remain unclear.
Mxyzptlk formed a significant part of Greg Rucka's "Ruin" storyline in Adventures of Superman. His appearance here was similar to his Golden Age look, with the addition of a single lock of hair, resembling Superman's spit curl. This version of Mxyzptlk was less abrasive than he had been previously, and was portrayed as basically on Superman's side. The metafictional aspects of the character were also played up, as he visited the DC Comics offices in the real world, presented as fumetti.
At the same time, Mxyzptlk appeared in Superman/Batman #23. During this time, his appearance and costume were different from his most recent adventures with Superman. His appearance was similar to the more typical "modern" version of the character. He was trying to prepare Batman and Superman for the upcoming Infinite Crisis (while chronologically taking place before Infinite Crisis, the issues itself came out afterwards).
After the fallout of the events of Day of Vengeance (and, while not mentioned, the corruption of the Fifth Dimension as seen in JSA), the removal of magic from the Earth left Mxyzptlk nearly powerless, wandering the streets of Metropolis and unable to remember how to pronounce the inverse of his name to return him home. Superman attempted to help him, but the two were then attacked by the villain Ruin. Ruin attempted to assassinate Superman with Kryptonite-based weaponry, but Mxyzptlk pushed Superman out of the way, taking a Kryptonite spear to the heart and vanishing. Right before he vanishes, he seems to whisper 'kltpzyxm'.
One Year Later
Action Comics Annual #10 states that Mister Mxyzptlk was last seen 190 days ago and that the pronunciation of his name as Mix-Yez-Pittle-Ik.
Powers and abilities
Mr. Mxyzptlk has access to fifth-dimensional technology that to third-dimensional beings may as well be magic. He can perform any feat imaginable. If he wished he could turn Superman into dust by snapping his fingers, it would happen, but he's not actually malevolent like most villains, so he uses his powers doing things that are more annoying than anything else. The only real limit to his power is his own imagination.
Though the exact limits of Mr. Mxyzptlk's powers are unknown, he's notable for being vastly more powerful than cosmic beings; indeed, during the Emperor Joker storyline, Mxyzptlk revealed that he could potentially possess unlimited power, but he never uses it because he would risk destroying reality and have nothing to do the next day. Even the neigh-omnipotent Spectre could not match him.
The exact reason that Mxyzptlk is sent back to the fifth dimension when he says his name backwards is unknown, but it's his only weakness beyond being easy to trick. It is possible that is a rule he made himself in order to keep things interesting. Any damage caused by him will be reversed if he is sent back to his home dimension, though he can make effects permanent if he so wished. Being bored is one thing he cannot abide which is how his 'four fantastic friends' from another dimension were able to make him go away by not 'playing with him any more.'
An impossible alias?
Marvel Comics' Impossible Man seems to have been modeled after Mxyzptlk, and writers at DC have suggested that the two characters are one and the same: in Superman vol. 2, #50, Mxyzptlk mentions that he's been "having fun with my new fantastic friends" and later mentions getting "back to my four new friends", referring presumably to the Fantastic Four; he also uses the expression "it's blubbering time" (a play on the Thing's standard battle-cry "it's clobbering time"), and says that he's been having "a backlog of mayhem in another dimension", probably referring to the Marvel Universe. Mxyzptlk keeps altering his form constantly in this issue, and also changes into a form similar to that of the Impossible Man, and says "Sometimes it's just impossible to remember what I look like from world to world."
Later on, in 1996, the Impossible Man and Mxyzptlk teamed up in the DC/Marvel crossover story Silver Surfer vs. Superman, in which the two imps combined their powers to swap universes for the Silver Surfer and Superman. Here the power of Impossible Man was more like Mxyzptlk's own reality warping powers, rather than just shapeshifting. In this comic, Mxyzptlk and Impossible Man have a fight where they keep changing into various characters from their respective universe, for instance The Incredible Hulk and Doomsday. The differences were profoundly displayed between the two characters - chiefly, in that Impossible Man's motive is pure fun and abhorred true violence, while Mxyzptlk was darker and more interested in destructive chaos, and to Impossible Man's astonishment and anger, is prone to lying.
In other media
- Mxyzptlk first appeared in animated form in the Filmation series The Adventures of Superman in 1967, matching his comics depiction. Filmation also used the official DC Comics pronunciation of his name.
- Mr. Mxyzptlk appeared in the Superfriends animated series, voiced by Frank Welker. In that series, Mxyzptlk's name was pronounced as Miks-ill-plik (backwards, Klip-ill-skim) and he took to tormenting all the members of the team, even when Superman was absent. In one episode, Mr. Kltpzyxm, a Bizarro Mxyzptlk was created, who promptly sped off to turn Bizarro world into a beautiful planet like Earth.
- Michael J. Pollard played Mxyzptlk in the late 1980s and early 1990s live-action series Superboy.
- In the 1990s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, Mr. Mxyzptlk briefly appeared as a silent, animatronic toy created by Dr. Karl Rossum in the 3rd season episode "Deep Freeze". Bat-Mite, Streaky the Supercat and Krypto the Superdog can also be seen.
- Howie Mandel played Mxyzptlk in the 1990s live-action series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman episode "Twas the Night Before Mxymas". Mxyzptlk was said to have a long history of earlier pre-Superman visits to Earth, being the source of stories regarding imps, genies, and leprechauns. This version of Mr. Mxyzptlk was very similar to the comics version; he was a native of the fifth dimension and the only way to get rid of him was to get him to say his name backwards.
- In the 1990s animated series, Superman: The Animated Series, Mr. Mxyzptlk (pronounced in this version "mix-yes-spit-lick") was voiced by comedian Gilbert Gottfried and his design was closer to the Golden Age version. In a nod to "Lois & Clark", Mxyzptlk at one point tells Superman that he is responsible for Earth legends about imps, genies and leprechauns. In this incarnation he appeared as a comical annoyance rather than a threatening villain, and at one point teamed up with Bizarro. This series also featured Sandra Bernhard as his girlfriend Ms. Gsptlsnz. They only appeared in episodes "Mxyzpixilated" and "Little Big Head Man". According to the commentary for "Mxyzpixilated", there were plans for him to star in a Justice League episode, but neither writer Paul Dini (a huge fan of the character, who wrote "Mxyzpixilated") nor series creator Bruce Timm could figure out a story that would be suitable. He did make a "cameo" as a cardboard cutout used in a training exercise in the episode "Secret Society - Part 1,", however.
- In the 2000s television series Smallville, a character named "Mikail Mxyzptlk" was seen in the episode "Jinx" in Season 4. Mxyzptlk, played by Trent Ford, was a young foreign exchange student sponsored by LuthorCorp who started an underground gambling ring at Smallville High School. In this series, Mxyzptlk was from a line of people that lived near the Balkans and possessed the power to influence the mind of anyone he could see. Thus he was able to control the outcome of sports events by making players on the field fumble or trip at pivotal moments without them realizing he was the cause (A boon to anyone running a gambling ring). His power was apparently permanently nullified by a high frequency sound assault arranged by Chloe Sullivan, although Lex Luthor implied that he would be able to restore the power Mikail had lost. It was revealed in Smallville: The Visual Guide that Mikhail Mxyzptlk's powers eventually returned, he escaped at his first opportunity and his current location is unknown.
- At the end of the animated movie Superman: Brainiac Attacks, Mxyzptlk is briefly mentioned by Perry White, who has difficulty pronouncing his name.
- Mr. Mxyzptlk appears in the Superman Returns video game as a narrator to the minigames menu.
- The Legion of Super Heroes episode "Child's Play" features a trouble making Zerokian child named Zyx who was probably based on Mxyzptlk, including a similar outfit.
- In the 1987 cartoon series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, an entity inspired by Mr. Mxyzptlk appears in episode 60, "Mr. Ogg Goes to Town" (originally aired on November 1, 1989). Called by the much simpler name of Mr. Ogg, he is (supposedly) an inhabitant of Dimension Z. Like Mr. Mxyzptlk, he is capable of transforming things around him, with his pranks including shrinking Bebop and Rocksteady to the height of two inches, turning the Technodrome into a giant pumpkin on tracks and turning the Statue of Liberty into a cheap souvenir. Mr. Ogg's one weakness is a craving for porcelain, considering ancient antiques the best tasting. Mr. Ogg makes a weird trilling sound whenever he uses his power. After he eats Shredder's collection of 1000-year-old Hu-Yoo dynasty vases, Krang tricks him into giving them a chemical that transforms crude oil into liquid hydrogen (which turns out to be a fake) and sets him upon the surface with tales of how the surface-dwellers — especially the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — persecuted them and drove them underground. Mr. Ogg's laugh sounds like that of Pee Wee Herman's (aka Paul Reubens). Mr. Ogg was voiced by Rob Paulsen.
- In the 2004 episode of the Teen Titans cartoon, "Fractured", an impish, other-dimensional, Robin fanboy named Larry the Titan (resembling Bat-Mite more than Mr. Mxyzptlk) shows up after Robin breaks his arm, in an attempt to use his magic to fix Robin's ailments. Of course, his reality altering powers result in various problems, thus setting up much of the action for the rest of story.
- Mxyzptlk was a possible inspiration for The Great Gazoo of The Flintstones.
- Alan Moore's Supreme includes a version of Mxyzptlk called Szasz, the Sprite Supreme from the 19th dimension.
- In a 1980s Spider-Man comic, Peter Parker mumbled "Mxjzptlk" in his sleep. Similarly, his daughter from the MC2 Universe, Spider-Girl mutters "Kltpzyxm" as she's roused from her sleep in the 14th issue of her series.
- A joke reference on sending Mxyzptlk home by saying his name backwards is made in the Marvel Comics Nightcrawler mini-series, in which the hero is whipped from one weird dimension to another.
- The Mask animated series featured a parody named Skillit, also partially based on Peter Pan (hence the name), who was much more malevolent in nature.
- The superhero-focused resource magazine Wizard, in a Superman special, gave Mxyzptlk the dubious title "pain in the ass of Superman."
- A magical elf named Rumplestilkin appears in "King's Quest" who disappears after he gives Sir Graham a valuable object when he says his name backwards.
- In The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror X", the Comic Book Guy tells Lucy Lawless (TV's Xena) that on their wedding night she may refer to him as "Obi Wan, Iron Man, Mr. Mxyzptlk, and of course, Big Papa Smurf"
- In the Family Guy episode "I Take Thee Quagmire", Adam West tricks Alex Trebek into saying his own name backwards, sending him back to the fifth dimension.
- In the novel Superfolks by Robert Mayer, the imp from the 5th dimension is named Pxyzsyzygy, foe of the novel's Superman analogue, David Brinkley. His face is revealed to be that of the smiley face.
- In the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series, Sonic has several encounters with a pair reality bending imps named Horizont-Al and Verti-Cal, who are likely parodies of Mxyzptlk.
- Detroit Techno artist Der Zyklus released an EP entitled Mxyzptlk, with vocoder vocals spoken as the character: "I am Mix-ul-plik, coming from the black hole, on the other side of the gamma quadrant.."
- Brooklyn-based band, Mixel Pixel, often credits Mxyzptlk as the source of their name.
- In the Homestar Runner internet cartoon series, there was a Strong Bad E-Mail in which Strong Bad tricked Bubs into saying his name backwards, minus the first 'b': "Sbu". Bubs told him that doing this made him lose his superpower (allegedly being able to fly). He then told Strong Bad that he didn't use it much, since he couldn't get very far from the ground with all the weight he'd put on.
Due to the phonetic difficulties in pronouncing a name such as Mxyzptlk, it has been pronounced in various ways by various sources. On the Super Friends cartoon, produced by Hanna-Barbera, it was approximated as Mix-Ill-Plick. Miks-yez-pit-lik is actually a general translation and other variations have included mix-yez-PIT-lek, mix-yez-PIT-ul-ick, and mix-yez-pittle-ik. To further complicate matters his name has been pronounced Mxyzptlk says himself, in the 1990s animated series of Superman, that his name is pronounced the same as saying the words "mix, yes, spit, lick," even transforming himself into the appropriate illustrations for the words. Clark had pronounced his name as Mix-Ill-Plick before Mxyzptlk popped out of the comic and proceeded to correct him. Miks-il-piti-lik (with the i 's pronounced only lightly) was used on Smallville, all while the original spelling of his name was pronounced mix-pit-tulk. This has created great confusion and even debate as to how his name is actually to be spoken. In his appearance in Superman Returns (video game), Mxyzptlk proudly refers to himself as "the one and only Mr. Mix-yiz-SPIT-Lik!, straight from the fifth dimension!"
In the recently released Action Comics Annual #10 (2007), "Superman's Top 10 Most Wanted" describes Mr. Mxyzptlk and provides the pronunciation as mix-yez-pittle-ik.