Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"The Incredible Team of Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk!"

Issue: World's Finest Comics #123

Cover Date: February 1962

Writer: Jerry Coleman

Penciller: Dick Sprang

Inker: Sheldon Moldoff

Cover Artist: Dick Dillin

Synopsis: One afternoon, a crime rocket lands next to a boat company on the outskirts of Gotham City. The owners of the company quickly call the police, who in turn call in Batman and Robin. Batman drops down via a parachute and begins to take care of the crooks, unaware that he's being watched by his #1 fan Bat-Mite. Two crooks catch Batman off guard, as Robin runs to his aid. At that same moment, Superman arrives (having been called by the Dynamic Duo en route supposedly) to help Batman and Robin, but is stopped by a kryptonite ray that is fired from the top of the crime rocket. While Superman prepares to throw a boulder at the crime rocket to damage the kryptonite ray, Mr. Mxyzptlk pops in from the 5th dimension to join the party. When Superman does throw his boulder, both Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk hurl their magic at it; Bat-Mite uses his to allow Batman and Robin to finish rounding up the crooks while Mr. Mxyzptlk uses his simply to annoy Superman.

The boulder transforms first into strange alien face, then into a purple creature with tubes across its back that spurt fire. Both Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk try to turn the creature back into a boulder, but both fail. It is then that the imps catch sight of each other and Batman catches sight of both of them. The creature allows the crooks to escape in their crime rocket, as the heroes are occupied with preventing it from reaching the factory. A lasso tied to a giant anchor, a deep hole dug by Superman, and even Superman's strength fail to deter the creature from its path. Meanwhile, Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk engage in a short magical duel, before realizing they're an equal match for each other. They decide to team up to get rid of the creature and attempt to cancel out the creature's fire with water from giant water faucets.

The faucets have the opposite effect, transforming the creature into a giant porcupine that fires explosive quills. While Superman destroys the giant faucets to prevent a flood, Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk fire their lightning bolts at the giant porcupine in another effort to make it disappear. This time, the creature turns into a three-legged magnet with a white, round head. Superman uses this transformation to the heroes' advantage, attracting the crime rocket back to Earth using the magnet creature. After Batman and Robin tie up the crooks, Batman comes with an idea to get rid of the creature. He has Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk create a duplicate of the magnet creature, which proves successful as the creatures absorb each other. Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk realize they have overstayed their welcomes and return to their home dimensions, but not before waving goodbye and promising to return someday soon.

Thoughts: I have a couple of problems with this story, but let me start with the positive. Right off the bat, the creatures in this story are really creative. The fire spewing one on the cover in particular. No discernable eyes, but a number of flame emitting tubes, including his tail. I got quite a chuckle out of it using its tubes to spray air to float over the Super-Hole. Also, how can you go wrong with a porcupine that launches exploding quills? The final creature takes the prize for the most bizarre, having legs at the prongs and the base, in addition to a ball shaped head resting in the "U" of the magnet. While the art still looks a little off compared to the Batman books, Dick Sprang's sense of design is still excellent. Also, it was nice to see Batman come up with the plan to defeat the creature. He is the world's greatest detective after all. Lastly, one fun fact: this issue has a full page ad for the second Batman Annual.

The main problem I have with the story is how it continues off of the first Bat-Mite/Mxyzptlk team up. At the end of that story, we saw Mr. Mxyzptlk swearing that he'd come up with a scheme to get his revenge on Bat-Mite. Going into this story, one would think that the next story would see Mr. Mxyzptlk coming up with his plan and put it into action. Instead, we see Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk engage in a magical duel for two panels and then agree to team up to defeat the creature. It's not even a begrudging one; Mr. Mxyzptlk is clearly happy to team up. I like the idea of the use of both imps' magic creating a creature they can't wish away, but the story could have been done in a way that kept the animosity between the two. It's even more strange that the two stories don't match up as both Bat-Mite/Mxyzptlk stories had the same writer. I had a few minor problems as well. First, how did these common crooks get a rocket, let alone a kryptonite ray? Usually when criminals show up they're of the common variety, but this gang clearly has connections. Also, how was Batman able to lift the rope connected to the giant anchor when they attempt to lasso the creature. Superman is part of the story; why not have him use his super strength? This is still a fun story, but a step down from the first team up of Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk.

This story has been reprinted in the Showcase Presents: World's Finest Vol. 2 TPB

1 comment:

Sávio Christi said...

Well, has another number of World's Finest Comics with Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite (number 169); with the two imps Changed in Supergirl and Batgirl; when Batman and Superman are with a Bored tire in the Batmobile.

And the number 1 of the mini series Superman / Batman: Generations (the 1st of 3 mini series with the title Generations), the imps joined team-up again; when aliens want know who are the Best; Superman or Batman; for stop a invasion from another Planet.

Also, in an episode of the cartoon Batman: The Brave and The Bold; Called Legends of the Dark Mite, Batman meets Bat-Mite and mentions Metropolis and Mxyzptlk.