Or – “C’mon, ‘Mices On Infinite Earths?  That’s Comedy GOLD Right There!

Retro Reviews generally have a simple premise:  “Hey, look at this cool thing I read!”  This one is all about that statement, with an added caveat:  “It’s much cooler than you’d ever believe!”

MIGHTY MOUSE #5
Writer: Michael Gallagher/Mike Kanterovic/Tom Brevoort
Artist: Ernie Colon/Mike Kazaleh
Inker: Marie Severin
Colorist: Evan Skolnick
Letterer: Brad K. Joyce
Cover Artist: Ernie Colon & George Perez
Editor: Fabian Nicieza
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $1.00 (Near Mint Price Today: $2.50)

Previously, on Mighty Mouse: Depending on how old you are, you’ll have different thought about Mighty Mouse as a character/property:  Short feature cartoons?  Andy Kaufman’s famous comedy routine?  If you’re old like me, you might even remember Dell’s comic version of the character.  Chances are, though, that most of us have the 80’s-era ‘Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures,’ spearheaded by Ralph Bakshi and featuring the work of a young John Kricfalusi (later of Ren & Stimpy) fame, if you remember him at all.  Probably best remembered for a scene wherein the Mighty one sniffed flower petals that certain wackaloons believed were cocaine, the series was a precursor to most every cartoon since, including things like Spongebob Squarepants and huge wodges of Adult Swim.  Mighty Mouse’s powerset is classic Kryptonian in every way, although he’s a tiny bit arrogant, and his secret identity works as a factory drone for his main squeeze, Pearl Pureheart, unbeknownst to her.  In issue #4 of this series, his life was torn asunder by the appearance of Piranha, a strange fish who travels throughout the universe, appearing across the universe on world after world, moments before they are destroyed by a mysterious force from beyond.  M.M. was recruited by The Minotaur (Heh…) to team up with his female counterpart from another universe to take out…  Y’know what?  Let the book tell you about it.

The whole thing is a pastiche of Crisis on Infinite Earths, if you hadn’t picked up on that (and honestly, even Torq caught that one), right down to the title, a parody of the issue in which Barry Allen raced off into the great beyond.   There’s a certain amount of meta going on here, right from the get-go, so you know I love it.  Since he and Mighty Mousette didn’t get the job done alone, Mighty sets off to gather some of his most powerful friends to assist in taking down the Anti-Minotaur’s evil Engine…

I’m not sure why they needed the entire League of Super-Rodents, but not the rest of the Mighty Heroes (Yes, I”m a fan of theirs.  Obscure superhero cartoon appeals to me?  There’s a shocker…) but nonetheless, The Cow agrees to come along on the mission of mercy, and the makeshift team sets off for the anti-matter universe to finish off the evil armored overlord.  While his pals hammer on the Anti-Minotaur, Mighty is sidetracked by a thirst for vengeance against Mangy Mouse, his evil duplicate, causing his friends to be outmatched.  Realizing things aren’t working out, The Minotaur takes an unprecedented step, one that could break the very timestream itself…

WHO?  WHO COULD IT BE???

This part is pretty awesome, but it does bear a bit of explanation.  Back in the early forties, the animators at Terrytoon created their mouse character for cartoon shorts, but the existence of a comic book character with the same name caused them to change the name, and gradually he evolved into the Mighty Mouse that we know today…  It’s a pretty clever take on the source material, playing on the use of the original Earth-2 Superman in CoIE as well as dealing in the kind of superhero ephemera that I love so very, very much.  With the Minotaur fighting the assembled heroes and Mighty Mouse fighting Mangy Mouse, Supes has a straight shot at the Anti-Minotaur’s Motor, and quickly destroys the villain’s power-source.  This has some unintended consequences, however…

I like a story that works on multiple levels, and this one delivers on it’s premise while parodying the end of the Crisis and also being amusing in a dry sort of way.  With the heroes saved, Mighty Mouse finds that he doesn’t have the power to save himself, and resigns himself to his horrible fate.  Seconds before the end, Supermouse grabs his other self and launches Mighty back through the wormhole to reality…

With the evil Anti-Minotaur routed, Minotaur teleports the heroes home, wiping their memories of the whole affair and returning everything to the status quo.  Everything, that is, except for our red-and-yellow hero…

It’s a cute story with references galore, and the issue ends with a tale of Bat-Bat (another Bakshi character) and a pretty savage parody of the then-current Batman movie and it’s knockoffs.  A very long time ago, I bought myself a copy of the Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes, and I remember being bothered by the author’s insistence that characters like Mighty and the other super-animal types get equal time as legitimate heroes.  Now, though, I understand what he was trying to say:  The adventure herein, with a talking mouse fighting a giant talking bull, is no more or less epic, heroic or awesome that the original story that it parodies.  The careers of Superman and Mighty Mouse are roughly the same duration, and both heroes serve as iconic presences of ultimate goodness.  M.M. being a rodent doesn’t change the fact that he is a hero, and this is a good issue regardless of our protagonists genus.  (Or is it species?  I never remember…)  Indeed, Captain Carrot, The Thundercats and even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles owe their existence partially to the success of Mighty Mouse.  The combination of meta-references, high adventure and a pinch of melodrama serve to make this issue a well-kept secret, and Mighty Mouse #4 earns a highly impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: The Mighty Heroes Versus The Impossibles, all-out street fight, who wins?  GO!

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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6 Comments

  1. Frank
    January 17, 2011 at 8:15 am — Reply

    The Rampaging Sloth!! I love it.

  2. Steven Allen
    January 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm — Reply

    THe immpossibles!!

  3. Damascus
    March 28, 2011 at 12:38 am — Reply

    I dunno, Coil Man, Multiple Man and Fluid Man would put up a pretty good fight. Although Fluid man always kinda creeped me out. I know it’s not always the case but the term “Fluid” often refers to bodily fluids and they sure don’t specifically state what fluid he is. But I think over both teams, I’d have to give it to The Galaxy Trio!!

    Also, you said you gave the book 4 out of 5 stars, but your little star counter shows a 3 1/2 star rating. Might wanna fix that.

    • March 28, 2011 at 8:03 pm — Reply

      Also, you said you gave the book 4 out of 5 stars, but your little star counter shows a 3 1/2 star rating. Might wanna fix that.

      Fixed it…

      • Damascus
        March 29, 2011 at 1:05 am — Reply

        Cool. And also, sorry for being THAT guy. I don’t usually pick out the little things in written text, but the star counter might for some be the only thing they look at, which considering it’s a Retro Review would be a shame. Oh well, I admit it, I let my OCD anal-retentive self speak out.

        Good job on the Retro Review, also you seldom make typos or mistakes considering the vast amount of wordage that makes up your contribution to the site.

        • March 29, 2011 at 6:17 am — Reply

          Good job on the Retro Review, also you seldom make typos or mistakes considering the vast amount of wordage that makes up your contribution to the site.

          Well, as Adrian Veidt said, ‘Nobody’s human…’ Or was that Dick Van Patten? I get those confused sometimes…

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