Mr. Mxyzptlk is one of those odd Superman bad guys who has not only lasted since his first appearance way back in 1944, but has also squirreled away a small amount of real estate within the hearts of many comic book fans. This beloved response likely comes from his stint in animation, especially when he showed up in the 1970’s Super Friends. Almost as odd as his yellow and purple outfit is the fact that his name has been pronounced differently throughout his villainous career. This 5th dimension imp is super powerful, and is constantly giving Superman fits. Things are no different for Superman in the mini-series Superman Reborn.
Superman Reborn is a four issue series that bounces back and forth between Superman #18-19 and Superman Action Comics #975-976. The story begins in Hamilton County, at the quiet home of Clark, Lois, and their son Jon. However, this idyllic scenario takes a turn for the worse when the ‘other’ Clark Kent comes snooping around. When Superman, Lois, and Jon go searching for the ‘other’ Clark, things begin to change. Jon slowly starts to disappear. As Superman tries to save his son, Jon completely disappears not only from their home, but from their photo albums. It’s as if he never existed. As Superman and Lois delve deeper into finding their son, they are transported to a wild world full of candy canes, unicorns, gumballs, and one irritated imp known as Mr. Mxyzptlk. He holds the key to Superman and Lois getting their son back. Unfortunately for the Man of Steel, he’ll have to jump through all Mr. Mxyzptlk’s hoops if he ever wants to see Jon again.
Superman Reborn is a joyous romp. Writers Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Dan Jurgens do a superb job bringing back one of Superman’s most peculiar yet enjoyable villains. The world the writers have created for Mxyzptlk is an incredibly creative tour de force. It exposes readers to a unique, bizarre, and fun dimension, something completely different than Superman’s world. It was a refreshing mini-series, giving a different villainous plot for Superman to navigate through. Lately, it’s been the Last Son of Krypton taking on Doomsday, the Eradicator, and Lex Luthor. It’s good to see Tomasi, Gleason, and Jurgens bringing back one of Superman’s favoured, if not highly used, supervillains.
Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason tackle the illustrations in Superman Reborn. The two excel at bringing to life the world of Mr. Mxyzptlk. They also create an imp who is at times humorous but at other times downright frightening. Mahnke crafts one terrific sequence where Superman goes splash page by splash page through his own rogues gallery—Lex, Bizarro, Brainiac, Mongul, Parasite, Cyborg Superman, and Doomsday. That is until he meets the real culprit of this son’s abduction: Mr. Mxyzptlk.
One of the central themes of Superman Reborn is the idea that Superman is as tied to his villains as he is to his own family. This may not be a connection he wants, but Mxyzptlk’s main act of vengeance against the Man of Steel is because of their connection, or lack thereof. As villains like the Joker and Bane exist because of Batman, so too do Superman’s villains.
The other theme emerging from Superman Reborn is a significant act between the past and present—The New 52 and Rebirth. While writing anything more would give away too many spoilers, let’s just say Superman will have to connect with someone he never would have believed from the past.