Mister Mxyzptlk (roughly pronounced Mix-yez-pit-lick, also nicknamed Mxy) is a fictional supervillain who appears in DC Comics' Superman comic books. He was created by Jerry Siegel and first appeared in Superman (volume 1) #30 (September 1944).
"Mr. Mxyztplk" (as his name was originally spelled) was introduced as an imp from the fifth dimension. Not being bound by our physical laws, he could do things that seemed to be magical. In his first appearance, Mxyztplk wreaked havoc across Metropolis by using his powers to pull all manner of pranks. He soon told Superman that he was a jester in his home dimension, explaining why he used his powers to play practical jokes. Superman soon discovered he was able to send Mxyzptlk back to the fifth dimension by making him say his name backwards.
Originally, Mxyzptlk had designs on conquering the planet for himself, but soon settled for tormenting Superman whenever he got the opportunity. His only weaknesses were that he could not stand being ridiculed and if he said or spelled his name backwards, Kltpzyxm (pronounced kil-tip-zee-zim), he was involuntarily sent back to his home dimension for a minimum of 90 days. Mxyzptlk would often look for ways to counter the latter weakness, but he always proved gullible enough for Superman to trick him time and time again.
Mxyztplk appeared originally as a small bald man in a purple suit, green bow tie and purple derby hat. This was changed to a futuristic looking orange outfit with purple trim in the mid-1950s, although the hat remained. At around this time the spelling of Mxyzptlk's name changed (by mistake) to "Mxyzptlk".
After the establishment of DC Comics' multiverse in the 1960s, it was later explained that the purple-suited Mxyztplk lived in the fifth dimension connected to Earth-Two and the orange-costumed Mxyzptlk in the fifth dimension connected to Earth-One. The Earth-One version was also retconned into Superboy stories as Master Mxyzptlk.
A 30th-century descendant of Mxyzptlk appeared in Adventure Comics #310 (July 1963) with similar abilities. Much crueler than his ancestor, this version killed most of the Legion of Super-Heroes until Superboy tricked him into falling victim to the same "Kltpzyxm" weakness, reversing the effects of his magic.
Mr. Mxyzptlk continued to be a thorn in Superman's side for many years. Alan Moore offered a radically different interpretation of the character in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?. Mr. Mxyzptlk explained that the big problem with immortality is finding ways to spend the time. He spent his first 2000 years without moving, the next 2000 years doing only good deeds, the following 2000 years being the michevious character that he is normally portrayed as, and then he decided to become evil and bring about the event in the story. Before attacking Superman, he remarks, "Did you honestly believe a fifth-dimensional sorcerer would resemble a funny little man in a derby hat?" Despite this noncanonical story, he made it through the Crisis on Infinite Earths relatively unchanged, although the unpleasant nature of his pranks and the psychological effects they had on others were played up more, at least initially. In early post-Crisis stories the "condition" that would send him back to the fifth dimension was anything he wanted it to be, but since Lex Luthor taught him how to lie, making this meaningless, the stories have reverted to Mxyzptlk saying his name backwards. Many of Mxyzptlk's later stories have a post-modern feel to them, similar to Ambush Bug, as he comments on editorial decisions, cliches of the genre, etc. This was most obvious in Superman: The Man of Steel #75, a pastiche of Superman's death in Superman volume 2 #75, which culminates with Mxyzptlk meeting the Supreme Being who turns out to be Mike Carlin, the then-editor of the Superman titles, who promptly brings him back to life.
Although Mxyzptlk does not appear in Grant Morrison's JLA, Morrison took advantage of certain similarities to tie Johnny Thunder's Thunderbolt and Aquaman character Qwsp to the fifth dimension, implying the dimension may be the origin for legends of djinn. This story also saw the first (and so far only) post-Crisis appearance of Mxyzptlk's Earth-One girlfriend, Ms. Gsptlsnz (described as his "quinto-partner").
More recently, Peter David showed us Mxyzptlk's origins as a serious-minded researcher (who developed his wacky sense of humor after being forced to view Three Stooges films) in Young Justice and, in a multipart story throughout the Superman titles, he had his powers temporarily stolen by the Joker. It has also been implied that he sees himself as serving an important purpose, in teaching Superman not to take everything seriously.
He has also encountered Batman's imp-like tormentor Bat-Mite twice. The first was in Karl Kesel's World's Finest book, in which they forced the heroes to compete against each other. The second was in the World's Funnest one shot, in which they travel to various parallel Earths, including the worlds of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew and Alex Ross's Kingdom Come.
In Adventures of Superman #617 (2003), Mxyzptlk was reinvented as different-sex twins with an intense hatred for Superman. A year later, in Superman Secret Files and Origins 2004 (2004), he returned to his usual self. The reasons for this remain unclear.
After the fallout of the events of Day of Vengeance, the removal of magic from the Earth left Mxyzptlk nearly powerless, wandering the streets of Metropolis and unable to remember how to pronounce the inverse of his name to return him home. Superman attempted to help him, but the two were then attacked by the villain Ruin. Ruin attempted to assassinate Superman with Kryptonite-based weaponry, but Mxyzptlk pushed Superman out of the way, taking a Kryptonite spear to the heart and vanishing. However, Mxyzptlk is shown to be alive and fully-powered in Superman/Batman #23. It is not clear whether or not the events of Superman/Batman take place simultaneously with those of the main Superman titles, especially since Superman/Batman has shown no signs of being affected by Day of Vengeance or any other elements of Infinite Crisis. Therefore, it remains to be seen if Mxyzptlk was unharmed by Ruin's trap and has regained his powers, or if his appearance in Superman/Batman takes place before those of Day of Vengeance and Mxyzpltk was killed by Ruin.
Marvel Comics' Impossible Man seems to have been modelled after Mxyzptlk, as implied by DC themselves; in Superman (volume 2) #50, Mxyzptlk mentions that he's been "having fun with my new fantastic friends" and later mentions getting "back to my four new friends", referring presumably to the Fantastic Four; he also uses the expression "it's blubbering time" (a play on the Thing's standard battle-cry "it's clobbering time"), and says that he's been having "a backlog of mayhem in another dimension", probably referring to the Marvel Universe. Mxyzptlk keeps altering his form constantly in this issue, and also changes into a form similar to that of the Impossible Man, and says "Sometimes it's just impossible to remember what I look like from world to world"; the emphasis on "impossible", like with the other keywords "fantastic" and "four", are all written in italic type.
Later on, in 1996, the Impossible Man and Mxyzptlk teamed up in the DC/Marvel crossover story Silver Surfer vs. Superman, in which the two imps combined their powers to swap universes for the Silver Surfer and Superman. Here the power of Impossible Man was more like Mxyzptlk's own reality warping powers, rather than just shapeshifting. In this comic, Mxyzptlk and Impossible Man have a fight where they keep changing into various characters from their respective universe, for instance The Incredible Hulk and Doomsday.
Doomsday's present whereabouts are unknown.
Mxyzptlk in Other Media
Mr. Mxyzptlk appeared in the Superfriends animated series, voiced by Frank Welker. In that series, Mxyzptlk's name was mispronounced as Mix-ill-plick and he took to tormenting all the members of the team, even when Superman was absent.
Michael J. Pollard played Mxyzptlk in late 1980s and early 1990s live-action series Superboy.
In the 1990s cartoon Superman: The Animated Series, Mr. Mxyzptlk was voiced by Gilbert Gottfried and his design was closer to the Golden Age version. His name is pronounced Mix-yeez-spit-lick. This series also featured Sandra Bernhard as Ms. Gsptlsnz. He only appeared in episodes "Mxyzpixilated" and "Little Big Head Man".
Howie Mandel played Mxyzptlk in the 1990s live-action series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman episode "Twas the Night Before Mxymas". Mxyzptlk was said to have a long history of earlier pre-Superman visits to Earth, being the source of myths and legends regarding imps, genies, and leprechauns. This version of Mr. Mxyzptlk was very similar to the comics version; he was a native of the fifth dimension and the only way to get rid of him was to get him to say his name backwards.
In the 2000s television series Smallville, a character named "Mikail Mxyzptlk" was seen in the episode "Jinx" in Season 4. Mxyzptlk, played by Trent Ford, was a young foreign exchange student sponsored by LuthorCorp who started an underground gambling ring at Smallville High School. In this series, Mxyzptlk was from a line of people that lived near the Balkans and possessed mind control powers, which allowed him to control all the gamblers involved in his ring by only speaking; additionally, his name was pronounced Mixilpitilik (the "I"'s are pronounced, but only lightly).