Countdown Breakdown #23 & #22
By John Hays
It’s the holiday season! That means, of course, that I was making merry last week and was nowhere near my comic shop. Therefore…I’m going to raise your salary! Oops…watching a bit too much Scrooge, I guess. Thus (that’s better), I missed my last "Breakdown," and will simply have to cover two weeks in one, allowing me to speak on a certain impish character who I just KNEW was going to show up again and bail me out of a slow week!
Mr. Mxyzptlk. I like how SM Prime keeps using Mxy’s old pronunciation, since that’s the one I still use. Mxy is a 5th dimensional imp who first appeared WAY back in 1944. In the Golden Age days, one could actually travel to the 5th dimension themselves simply by saying Mxy’s name backwards. To come home, they would simply have to say their own name backwards!
Mxy originally looked like a small man in a purple derby, green tie, and purple suit. This eventually changed to an orange outfit. In Alan Moore’s "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow," Mxy revealed himself as an antimatter type being. When the multiverse came around, both the purple suited and orange outfitted versions were said to exist, one in the 5th dimension of Earth 2, and the other in the 5th dimension of Earth 1!
In post-Crisis times, Lex Luthor taught Mxy how to lie, making him even more devious. Mxy returned the favor by providing Lex with mysterious red kryptonite that removed Superman’s powers as long as Lex didn’t reveal the truth to Superman. Lex decided to tell Clark Kent, which of course removed the effect.
Mxy’s powers often seem up for debate. They’ve been referred to as magic, since they affect Superman, but also as advanced technology that seems magical. As you can see in this latest issue of Countdown, Mxy refers to himself as a trickster god, even claiming the identity of Loki, among others. In a JLA story in recent years, Johnny Thunder’s thunderbolt and Aquaman’s enemy Qwsp were linked to the 5th dimension, furthering the magical ties. At one point the Joker acquired Mxy’s powers, creating his own reality where he could torture Superman and Batman. Aftereffects of this reality are still being felt.
Mr. Miracle. Scott Free first appeared back in 1971. He was inspired by Jim Steranko, a comic artist who had previously been an illusionist. Scott was the son of Highfather, ruler of New Genesis. He was traded as a baby for Orion, son of Darkseid (ruler of Apokolips), in a peace agreement. Scott fled Apokolips years later to Earth, where he became the protégé of Thadeus Brown, an escape artist who went by the name Mister Miracle. When Thaddeus was murdered, Scott adopted Thadeus’s ward Shilo Norman and hired Thadeus’s assistant Oberon. Scott married Big Barda, a native of Apokolips who had also fled.
In 1987, I had my first encounter with Scott Free when he appeared in Justice League International. Scott joined the group, helping upgrade their security systems as well as going on missions with them. They even had a cookout at his house, with Barda fixing hot dogs. The whole thing turned into a mess when the Joker tried to ruin the proceedings. Batman eventually showed up…but decided against bothering and kept on driving.
Years later, Shilo Norman took on the mantle of Mister Miracle as well, eventually becoming the warden at the Slab prison. He was recently seen in Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers miniseries, facing a strange new interpretation of the New Gods. Scott can currently be seen in the Death of the New Gods mini, searching for the killer of his wife and the other New Gods. He is using the powerful anti-life equation, which he possesses, to help him in his search.
That’s all for now! Have a great week!
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