Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Recap: Superman: TAS "Mxyzpixilated"

I’d like to take this opportunity to analyze the beautiful creations of the greatest artist of all time: Rob Liefeld.

I mean, the man is an absolute genius who has given us more and better characters and classic artwork than any other person working in the industry. The man graces paper with his pencils, and he smells like freshly baked cookies. He can count to infinity backwards, and can turn pollution into rainbows. And the man looks darn spiffy in some Levi jeans.

Jack Kirby was a hack compared to this god of artistry.
Also, I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but…

April Fools!

Today, we’re really going to venture into Superman: the Animated Series. Like the time I reviewed an episode of Batman: TAS, I don’t feel the need to go into much background of the show. This show is pure, unadulterated Superman. This is the Superman everyone knows. So let’s see how Superman deals with someone who seems to celebrate April Fools’ Day all year ‘round.

Don't mess with the "S"!
The episode begins with Superman flying over Metropolis, as per usual. Unusually, a “crazy little man” seems to have wandered out into the middle of traffic yelling for a “McGuirk.”
Who, this guy?
Suddenly, just as it looks like this three-foot-tall, purple-suited man is going to be run over by an armored car, Superman swoops down to grab the car and slow it down. But before it comes to a stop, it suddenly vanishes in a burst of bubbles. Said bubbles float over to Superman, and reform into a transparent version of the little man.

???: “Confusing, ain’t it?”

Superman quickly brushes off this random oddness, and flies away.

Later, we see Clark Kent working at the Daily Planet. Photographer Jimmy Olsen is near Clark’s desk, laughing at the comic page. Apparently, there’s something really funny today. Jimmy hands Clark the paper, and if you pause the episode, you can see that all the strips are parodies of Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, and other strips, except for one.

Wow, the comics were printed so much bigger back in the 90's.
Clark takes a look at the odd one out and attempts to figure out the title.

Clark: “Mister… Mix-il-plick?”

Suddenly, the little man pops out of the newspaper and proceeds to mime out the pronunciation by transforming into various things.

Mr. Mxyzptlk: “No! Repeat after me, bright boy: Mix. Yes. Spit. Lick.”

Having completed the lesson, Mxy jumps onto Clark’s desk and resumes the search for McGuirk, before disappearing. He asks a passing Lois Lane if she saw the little guy, but she teases him and reminds him that they have an art exhibit opening to cover. At the opening, Mxyzptlk shows up again, yelling for McGuirk. But this time, he finds him. “McGuirk” is Rodin’s sculpture of the Thinker. Like, the actual bronze statue.

Mxyzptlk: “Finish yer business and let’s get going!”
McGuirk: “Huh? Oh, sorry, Mx.”

Was that an implication that the statue’s actually been using that rock for a toilet this whole time? Well, I can never look at this masterpiece the same way again.

The Thinker gets up and accompanies Mxyzptlk. But before they can leave, Superman stops them and demands answers. Superman and the Thinker get into a fight, which ends with Superman knocking his head off. In a sudden flash, everything is undone. The Thinker is back on his rock, and it seems that Mr. Mxyzptlk never actually showed up. Except it seems that Superman just randomly decided to knock the head off of a priceless work of art. Whoops. Superman awkwardly apologizes before flying off, no doubt grateful that the piece on display was most likely one of the many bronze replicas, and not the original statue. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

When we next see Clark Kent, he’s visiting his parents on their Kansas farm, B.J. Hunnicutt and Mary Stone. I mean, Jonathan and Martha Kent, voiced by real life married couple Mike Farrell and Shelly Fabares. He explains about the little man that only he can see, and his parents assure him that there’s a perfectly logical explanation.

Ma Kent: “It’s obvious a brilliant, godlike lifeform from a dimension twice removed from ours is testing your powers!”

Suddenly, his parents start acting like chickens, before actually turning into chickens. Dropping corn onto the poultrificated parents is, you guessed it, Mxyzptlk. He changes the chickens into ducks and ostriches, before deciding on fanged, alien beasts. Clark pins them to a wall, and grabs the little man, demanding that he change them back. Mxyzptlk changes them into a painting, and formally introduces the situation.

Mr. Mxyxptlk: “Like mummy said, I’m a superior being from the 5th Dimension.”
Clark: “What do you want with me?”
Mr. Mxyzptlk: “Laughs!”

Is that why you dress like a clown, then?
He goes on to explain that every myth of genies, imps, leprechauns, etc. is inspired by him. Throughout the centuries, he’s used his magic to play tricks on people throughout the ages, and now he wants the ultimate challenge: Superman. And he can’t wait to start playing his games.

Superman: “A game has rules. Your stunts are just random idiocy.”

Yeah, if I wanted to see that, I’d go watch “Mission: Impossible Man.”

Mxy comes up with the one rule of the game: If Superman can get Mr. Mxyzptlk to sing, say, spell, or otherwise reveal his name backwards (Kltpzyxm, pronounced “Kil-Tip-See-Zim”), then Mxyzptlk is banished to the 5th dimension until the 3rd and 5th Dimensions align again (90 days).

Superman: “I can’t even say your name forward; how am I supposed to say it backward?”
Mr. Mxyzptlk: “No, dope! You don’t have to say it backward. You have to get me to say it!”
Superman: “Say what?”
Mr. Mxyzptlk: “Kltpzyxm! Gosh, you’re thick! Now, for the last time… aw, nuts.”

And he poofs away in a puff of logic.

Superman: 1
Mr. Mxyzptlk: 0

Everything goes back to normal, and Clark asks his parents what’s for dinner. Three months later, Clark is shaving his face in the mirror with his heat vision, when Mr. Mxyzptlk returns through the mirror.

So that's why his face always smells like burning hair.
Clark: “Oh, it’s you again, Mr. Kltpzyxm.”
Mr. Mxyzptlk: “Not Kltpzyxm! Mxyzptlk! Now, the first thing I’m gonna do- aw, nuts.”

And he poofs away in a puff of logic, as Clark goes back to his morning routine.

Superman: 2
Mr. Mxyzptlk: 0

Three months after that, Clark is at the Daily Planet, typing up a report when… yep, Mxy’s back. And this time, he’s determined not to say Kltpzyxm. But Clark just wants to finish up his work before they get down to business this time. So Mxy grabs the report, and crosses out the typo in each misspelled word before disappearing in a puff of logic. As it turns out, all the crossed out letters spell K-L-T-P-Z-Y-X-M.

Superman: 3
Mr. Mxyzptlk: 0

Back in the 5th Dimension, we see Mxy’s apartment. Or at least, that’s how out puny, 3-D minds perceive it, I guess. Lounging on the couch is Mxy’s gorgeous, monotone girlfriend, Ms. Gsptlsnz. Apparently, she wore a new outfit just for him, but all Mxy can think about is getting Superman. She suggests that he just destroy him before he can trick him, and Mxyzptlk goes off to spend the next three months building an anti-Superman, robotic, death suit. He stays focused on this task, despite his girlfriend trying to attract his 5-D gaze with pretty much every fetish outfit imaginable.

You think she's hot in two dimensions? You should see her in five.
After a busy montage, Mxy heads off to Metropolis to destroy Superman once and for all! Only to return literally five seconds later.

Superman: 4
Mr. Mxyzptlk: 0

Three more months later, a gloomy Clark Kent sits at his desk.

Lois: “Oh, you look happy. What’s wrong, bad news?”
Clark: “You could say that. I’m expecting a visitor from out of town.”
Lois: “Guy’s kind of a pest, is he?”
Clark: “The worst.”
Lois: “I hear ya; every time my sister visits, she just moves right on in and stays and stays and… was that a penguin?”
Clark: “I’m afraid so.”

Suddenly, Lois turns into a horse, and the rest of the Daily Planet staff turns into assorted barnyard animals. Except for Jimmy, who becomes a turtle. Mr. Mxyzptlk shows up, and demands that Superman now has to get him to say his name backwards twice in a row. This one’s for all the marbles. If Supes wins, Mxy leaves Superman alone forever. If Mxy wins, Superman becomes his plaything until the end of time. Faced with these poor odds and insurmountable pressure… Superman quits, and nothing Mxyzptlk says will convince him otherwise.

Mr. Myzptlk: “You can’t just walk out! If you do, your friends will stay mindless beasts!”
Superman: “They don’t seem to mind.”
Mr. Mxyzptlk: “Don’t get tough with me, little boy blue. If you don’t cooperate, I’ll tell the world your secret!”
Superman: “Blab your head off. I’ll find another disguise.”

Mxy chases Superman through the city as an airplane, firing at the Man of Steel. When Superman thwarts that by reflecting his bullets, Mxy goes for broke. He turns into a guided missile with a Kryptonite warhead.
Superman flies as fast as he can from the Mr. Missile-ptlk, and they weave up, around, and over Metropolis, leaving a billowing smoke trail in their wake. The Kryptonite eventually weakens Supes to the point where he collapses on a building, and Mxy celebrates his victory… before Superman turns him around. Remember that smoke? Yeah, Superman led Mxy around the city in a certain pattern that skywrote Kltpzyxm through the sky. Twice.

Superman: 5
Mr. Mxyzptlk: 0

Like a boss.

Mxyzptlk slowly disappears, and everything goes back to normal. Well, except that Clark’s in a much better mood, and Lois is eating a carrot.

Clark: “I was expecting a visitor from out of town. Can’t make it.”
Lois: “Guy’s kind of a pest, is he?”
Clark: “Not anymore.”
Lois: “Guests are the worst; every time my sister visits, she just moves right on in and stays and stays and… why am I eating this?”

Back in the 5th Dimension, Mxyzptlk wants revenge, but Gsptlsnz has other, more makey-outy ideas. But even in the midst of such ideas, Mxyzptlk can’t help but zap a nearby Superman figurine. And with that, the episode ends. Let’s review!

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