Action Comics #975: "Tell Me Where He Is!"
The first week of March kicked off the Superman Reborn storyline that crosses over between SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS. If you're looking to get up to speed, make sure you take a look at our Superman #18 coverage before reading on.
Caution: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD
ACTION COMICS #975 starts off with Superman and Lois Lane frantically looking for their son, Jonathan, who has recently disappeared. Flying off to Metropolis to investigate the apartment of Clark Kent for clues they discover the place is empty, with the exception of the refrigerator and cupboards. Strangely they're stocked full of junk food.
When Clark Kent enters the scene, Superman immediately begins threatening him. But Clark turns it around and begins telling Superman that all of this could've been avoided if he hadn't forgotten about him. When Superman tries punching him only to have his fist caught. This Clark has some power over Superman, demonstrated when he tosses the man of steel aside.
Clark Kent then begins to monologue about how after he realized Superman had a secret identity problem, he took it upon himself and 'fixed' everything. Thus begins a game of 'Guess Who' during which Clark takes the form of many of Superman's greatest foes. With each change he demands that Superman say his name.
Luthor, Bizzaro Superman, Brainiac, Mongul, Parasite, Cyborg Superman and finally Doomsday! With each attempt, Superman continues to be confused as to who could be playing this sick game with him until finally he realizes...
After escaping imprisonment by Mr. Oz, Mr. Mxyzptlk grew angry that Superman didn't come for him. That Superman, 'forgot' about him. So he reveals that he's keeping Jonathan until Superman forgets about his son. Superman is helpless and can't lay a hand on the magical imp from the 5th dimension, despite his best efforts. Mxyzptlk says his goodbyes and disappears leaving Superman alone with Lois, who suddenly can't remember why she's there or who Jon is.
I love that they've decided to bring Mr. Mxyzptlk back as a way to explain the return of the Superman/Clark Kent dichotomy. When Lois Lane outed Superman as Clark Kent during the New 52, DC was going to have to be extra creative to find a way to get that back. Now that some time has gone by with Superman and Clark Kent being in the same place and spotted in different places at the same time, once this story is over with the secret identity can resume.
ACTION COMICS #975 also gave us a 'back-up' story titled: "The Man in the Purple Hat" in which we see what happened when Jonathan disappeared. Now that we know Mr. Mxyzptlk was behind it all, we get to explore what happened on the other side. With the majority of the back-up being exposition, we learn more about how and why Mxy disappeared in the first place. This ties in with Mr. Oz's plan for the man of steel and he can't afford any deviation from that plan. Because Mxy is too upredictable, he couldn't allow the imp to roam free and do as he pleases, in fear that he may 'derail what has been put into play.
Mr. Oz has essentially taken Mxy 'off the table' for an undetermined amount of time. While he was angry at his imprisonment, Mxy was confident that Superman would come looking for him. He insisted that when Superman realizes he didn't return for their 'tri-monthly romp', Superman would realize something was up. Fast forward as Mxy discovers that Superman isn't coming for him, he sits alone in his banished state wondering why.
Back to his conversation with Jonathan, there's a nice bit of dialogue where Mxy talks about comics, toys and how he was even on the cartoon show. Shredding the 'fourth wall', Mxy explains to Jonathan that his adventures with Superman spans across dimensions. The artwork beautifully illustrates everything from SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES to Lego Superman!
That's right, Lego Superman is now canonized due to Mxy's admission of existence from an alternate dimension.
After Mxy discovered how to escape his imprisonment he needed a disguise to hide from Mr. Oz. He disguised himself as Clark Kent and restored the secret identity of his 'friend', as he so affectionately refers to Superman. He admits there were some 'gaps' that he couldn't fit together. The spell on himself made him forget who HE really was until he tried to figure out who he was and how he had been forgotten.
After his story was told, Jonathan was given a chance to return home but in order to do it he needed to say the 'magic word'. He does so with success, remembering the hint that Mxy dropped earlier. But when he arrived home, Mxy says he couldn't stay because that wasn't part of the deal.
I am enjoying this storyline and I think Mr. Mxyzptlk was the perfect foil for DC to use in order to put Clark Kent back in place as Superman's secret identity. When it's all said and done this will fix the problem created when Lois outed Superman during the New 52. Now it's all about seeing how we get there and watching it play out.
"Mxy's Revenge" continues in SUPERMAN #19 and then concludes in ACTION COMICS #976.
Dan Jurgens (with special thanks to Tomasi and Gleason)
Mahnke, Mendoza and Quintana
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