Straight out of the Poll Of The Week, it’s Myxz… Mzpt… Myzxspek… However it’s spelled, this is his very first appearance! Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Superman #30 awaits!
Writer: Don Cameron/Alvin Schwartz/Jerry Siegel
Penciler: Ira Yarbrough/Sam Citron/Ira Yarbrough/Joe Shuster
Inker: George Roussos/Don Komisarow/Ira Yarbrough
Editor: Whitney Ellsworth
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $5000.00
Previously in Superman: Pretty much everybody knows the deal with Superman, so let’s take a moment to discuss the credits above. This issue features four separate Superman features, all of which are “signed” and credited to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, but official records indicate that the first stories (and the cover art) aren’t actually the S&S team at all. Jack Burnley handles cover duties this issue, with Don Cameron handling the bulk of the duties. The one part of the issue that IS Jerry and Joe’s work is this issue’s anchor story is the introduction of one of Superman’s greatest enemies and his third-greatest bald nemesis. It all starts with a funny little man crossing the street.
An ambulance is dispatched, but the medics find that tiny bald fellow too heavy to lift, even with help. Six, seven, even eight bystanders pitch in, but to no avail. Finally, the man opens his eyes and entreats them to work all together, then animates the ambulance itself and drives straight up the sheer face of a building! He leaves behind only a strange newspaper with backwards type and a confused populace. Cut to the Metropolis Museum…
This, by the way, is why Superman comics constantly reference “Where’s McGurk?” throughout the 1990s, a reference that even I found puzzling while reading the books in college. The strange little man shows up once again at a pool, faking drowning, and the multiple stories gain the attention of the press. Clark Kent pshaws at the strange tales, but when he attempts to cover the Metropolis City Council meeting, the strange man shows up once more, forcing Clark to leap into action as Superman!
This is the point in superman #30 where I have to explain something that makes my spellcheck throw up: In this first appearance, he is called “Mr. Mxyztplk”, reputedly pronounced “mux-izt-pulk”. The more recognizable Silver Age version of the character, in the orange space suit, is “Mr. Mxyzptlk”, pronounced “Mix-yiz-pittle-ick.” That is, unless you’re on the Superfriends cartoon, at which point they pronounced it “Mixel-plick” because the universe wants every nerd argument to be an endless series of “UMACTUUALLY”. Regardless of the spelling and syntax issues, he vexes the city even more having found a super-foe to irritate, to the point where Superman actually KICKS HIM IN THE BUTT, punting him halfway across the state, only to find that Mxy’s powers are up to even his strength.
Full dislosure: I only include this particular pair of panels to show off a pretty amazing Shuster Superman who, at this point, is still leaping everywhere in dramatic and powerful fashion. Superman can’t outpower the imp and he can’t convince the mayor to cancel the parade, thus giving Mxy a target, so he uses his brain, asking Mxyztplk what manner of being he actually is. Amazing, the imp answers honestly!
The final panels entreaty for feedback apparently worked, as the imp from the Fifth Dimension began appearing regularly in the book, occasionally trying to conquer the world but mostly just wanting to tick off the Man Of Steel. By 1958, he had transitioned to his futurey tunic, and the spelling of his name changed to the more common version seen today, with some reports actually attributing it to an editorial mistake. Either way, this is a really cute story with an abrupt ending in an issue with several other perfectly acceptable stories and one really excellent Lois Lane adventure, leaving Superman #30 with a respectable 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. If nothing else, you’ll finally get the recurring “Where’s McGurk?” joke, which may in itself by worth the time spent reading this book.