by Starsky Hutch 76 and Martin Maenza
In the land of Zrfff within the fifth dimension, an enormous crystalline figure floated within the large cell where it resided. This entity was the product of the merging of Mr. Mxyzptlk and the crystalline entity Aethyr, formerly the heart of the Phantom Zone. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter,” DC Comics Presents #97 (September, 1986).]
Since its imprisonment, it had had plenty of time to dwell upon its situation, to consider what had brought it to this point. It was easy enough to blame the Bizarro imp Kltpzyxm. After all, he was the one who had placed the entity they had become within a large jewel’s setting. (*) The part of the entity that was Mxyzptlk had to admit it was a pretty good joke, but even this was not the event that had set it upon this road.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Tales of the Bizarro World: The Last Bizarro, Chapter 1: Kltpzyxm Day.]
An image flashed in the entity’s mind of a scar-faced Kryptonian sorcerer placing what looked like a crystalline half-shell upon Mxyzptlk’s head. The imp had been flooded with power as he was merged with Aethyr, which had once existed at the heart of the Phantom Zone. But even though the crystalline heart had nearly shattered from the pressure, it had managed to save itself by jettisoning all the Phantom Zone prisoners it had once held, then disappeared back into the recreated Phantom Zone. (*) But since it had been mystically bonded with Mxyzptlk, it was soon drawn back to the fifth dimension, where it once again merged with the imp, this time without the extra baggage from the Zone. Unfortunately, that occurred after the imp had been imprisoned by the Zrfffian authorities, trapping them there.
[(*) Editor’s note: See World of New Krypton: Supergirl and Valor: Homecoming, Chapter 3: Heir to the House of El.]
Now, the entity knew what it must do. Within its composite mind, it pictured the being it had been before taking its current gigantic form. It pictured Mxyzptlk — Mxyzptlk with the shell upon his head, Mxyzptlk raising his hands to his head and lifting the shell from his head.
There was an enormous flash, and the being was split asunder. The cavernous prison was filled with a shrill, high-pitched laughter as the imp rose to his feet. “Ha-ha-ha! Those slthrrds thought they could keep me locked up forever! They didn’t know who they were dealing with!”
He peered out one of the windows of the cell and said, “Looks like Kltpzyxm undid my redecorating. Well, can’t have that.” He raised his hands but then thought better of it. “Nah, better not let those killjoys know I’m loose.”
A voice called out to him telepathically, “Nooo! Nooo! Do not abandon me!”
Mxyzptlk turned and looked down at the crystalline shell. He picked it up and said, “If I were smart, I’d leave you here after all the trouble you got me into. No self-respecting imp goes out without his hat, though. Plus, I kind’ve like the power boost you gave me. Gotta do something about your appearance, though.”
With a flash, it was transformed into what looked like a derby carved out of crystal. He placed it on his head at a jaunty angle.
“Now to see what that Super-sap has been up to since I left.” A small portable television appeared floating in the air in front of the imp. On the screen, he saw Superman on the floor playing with his adoptive daughter Jasma Kent as Kristin Wells and Gerta Gim-Ze looked on.
“What?!” the imp exclaimed. “The Super-sap has started a family?” He pictured the two women he’d had babies with out of wedlock and who had then taken him to court; he was flooded with jealousy.
“He’s living in domestic bliss while those two boring flthsshers are raising my two boys and squeezing me out of the picture? That won’t do! That won’t do at all!” With a flash, he left his cell and the fifth dimension. He didn’t know what he was going to do yet, but he knew it was going to be big.
“And then we rode the kangas!” the little blonde girl said with such glee that only a toddler could muster. (*) “Like this!” Jasma hopped into the air and onto the man’s back.
[(*) Editor’s note: See DC Universe: Invasion, Book 2, Chapter 5: Paradise.]
Clark Kent smiled at the little girl. “Now how does the kanga go again?” he asked wryly.
“Hop hop hop!” the girl squealed. “Hop hop hop!” She began to bounce up and down.
“Ooof!” Clark pretended to be hurt. “Easy there, honey! Don’t go all Dr. Seuss on me with the hop on pop bit!”
Gerta Gim-Ze, the elder Kryptonian aunt, looked at him curiously. “Seuss?” she asked.
The younger woman, Kristin Wells, shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t ask me,” she said. “I haven’t gotten that far on all my twentieth-century references just yet.”
Clark Kent chuckled. He enjoyed his new extended family. This made taking time out of costume a joy. It was something he didn’t want to end.
Suddenly, his super-hearing picked up something that would cause it to do just that. Clark Kent went from being playful to completely serious all in one instant. He reached around, grabbed Jasma from his back, and lifted her off. “OK, honey, playtime is over.” He handed her to Kristin.
“Clark, what is it?” she asked, knowing the look on her lover’s face.
“Could be nothing but a fire,” Clark said, tearing his clothes away to reveal his red and blue costume. “But I’d better go just the same.” He put down his glasses and stood tall and firm as Superman. “Back as soon as I can!” And with that, he rocketed off.
Kristin turned to Gerta. “Maybe I should go, too?”
“Perhaps, child,” the older woman said, “if you think that best.”
“No!” a wicked voice said, coming from all about the residential room at once. “Don’t go just yet! We’re about to have some fun!“
There was a blinding flash, and when their vision returned to normal, their environment was in black and white. The decor had taken on a decidedly 1950s aspect. The dress of the two women and the little girl was that of the 1950s as well. “I look like June Cleaver!” Kristin exclaimed.
Gerta Gim-Ze was clad in a 1950s style maid uniform. She rubbed her eyes and exclaimed, “I think that flash must have damaged my vision!”
“I’m seeing the same thing, so I don’t think it’s your vision.”
“You’ve got that right!” the wicked voice said. There was another flash, and Mr. Mxyzptlk appeared in a cardigan, shirt, tie, and slacks. The crystalline derby was now a crystalline pipe. “Honey, I’m home!” he called out. A canned cheer of a studio audience suddenly filled the air.
Jasma clapped her hands at his appearance, thinking it was a great trick. “If you liked that, you’ll love this. I overheard you say you like kangas.” A stuffed kangaroo appeared in his hands, which he handed to her.
“Mr. Mxyzptlk!” Kristin exclaimed.
“Mister?” the imp leered as he turned toward the redhead, running a hand over his slicked-back hair. “No need to be so formal. Honey, dearest, or sweetheart will do.”
“How about creep, psycho, or demented little shrimp,” Kristin said, crossing her arms.
“Now what kind of greeting is that for the new head of the household?” the imp said. The sound of a laugh track filled the air.
He turned to Jasma, whose jeans, T-shirt, and tennis shoes had now become a sailor-style dress, white socks, and black leather shoes. Her blonde hair was in pigtails. “Shouldn’t you be in school?” he asked, puffing on his pipe as he tried to do his best Robert Young imitation.
“School? I’m only four years old, silly!” Jasma laughed. The laugh track filled the air again. “Where’s that coming from?” she said, swinging her head around animatedly.
Kristin Wells frowned. While she looked stunning in the dress and pearls, she wasn’t about to take it from the imp. After all, between all of her studies in the far future as well as discussions with Clark, she knew all about the little maniac. While his magic might have been meant all in fun, he was the type that needed to be stopped right away.
“OK, you! That’s as far as you go!” Kristin wound back her fist and prepared to strike the Ward-wannabe. After all, there was no sense in pretending she wasn’t a Superwoman here. Her fist flew forward.
And Mxyzptlk stopped it cold by grabbing her about the wrist. “Ah-ah-ah, sweetie,” he said, pushing it down.
Kristin was shocked. He was easily countering her super-strength.
“Women of the ’50s never raised their hands to their hubbies,” he continued to taunt. “That wasn’t allowed.”
Gerta frowned, too. “Why, you!” She attempted to leap into the air to fly, but instead fell to the floor with a loud thud. The laugh track accompanied her drop as if it were a pratfall.
“Oh…” the old woman groaned suddenly.
“Gertie!” Jasma cried, rushing to the woman’s side.
“I’m OK, child,” she managed to say.
The little blonde girl huffed and turned to the imp, who was barely over her own height. “You’re a bad man!” she scolded. “Bad, bad man!”
The laugh track chuckled.
Mr. Mxyzptlk chuckled, too. “My, how cute,” he said, patting her on her little head as if she were a dog. “Sorry, honey, but words don’t hurt me. Or at least not unless it is certain ones said backwards.”
Kristin realized they were in a dire situation here. Their only hope was if Clark managed to come back in time and catch the imp off-guard. Part of her hoped he would soon, and part of her worried if even he would be able to accomplish stopping this threat quickly.
Meanwhile, Superman flew in the direction that the screams had led him. With his super-vision, he was surprised to see a meteor plummeting toward the very suburbs outside of Metropolis in which he lived.
With a burst of speed, he skyrocketed toward the meteor, leading with his fists. Taking care of meteors was nothing new for him. He would smash it, then take care of the debris at super-speed before it could rain down on the suburbanites.
Just as he was about to connect with the meteor, it turned into a giant pie, much to his astonishment. He collided with it and was splattered with banana creme meringue. Through the thick goop, he thought he could make out the sound of high-pitched laughter.
“Mxyzptlk,” he cursed, flinging meringue from his covered hands.
There was still the matter of the falling wreckage of the pie. He flew after it and was surprised to see it vanish within a mile of the surface.
“Mxyzptlk would never show concern for innocent bystanders,” Superman said to himself, thinking of when the imp had dropped Argo City on Metropolis. “He must be around here somewhere.”
Using his super-speed, Superman crisscrossed the skies across Metropolis, his eyes focused all about him. Hmmmph, he thought. X-ray and telescopic vision isn’t revealing hide nor hair of the imp. Further, my super-hearing hasn’t picked up any out-of-the-ordinary sounds, either. He frowned slightly.
Mxy tends to go for the showy grandstanding, he pondered silently as he flew. Why hit me with a pie in the face and then nothing more? It doesn’t make sense.
Then, it was if a light bulb went off in the Kryptonian’s head. “A distraction! He wanted me in costume and out of the house!”
He turned his arc sharply ninety degrees in the air and rocketed back toward the Metropolis suburb. “He wanted me away from my house! He must be there!“
Moving faster than the eye could follow, Superman rocketed toward the home he lived in as Clark Kent, flying through an open window.
But as soon as he passed through the walls, he felt something odd. He blinked twice, wondering if something had happened to his vision. The whole place was in black, white, and gray.
His arrival was accompanied by what sounded like boos and hisses from a crowd. He glanced about but saw no one. “Mxy’s magic!”
Hurrying into the next room, he found the source of his frustration trying to charm his way into Kristin’s graces. Gerta and Jasma were there, too, and all were dressed as if they stepped out of a 1950s situation comedy.
“OK, Mxy, what’s your game?” Superman demanded to know.
“Kal, your costume!” Gerta exclaimed.
Superman looked down. While he expected his familiar blue, red, and yellow costume to be replaced with grays, blacks, and whites, he was a bit more surprised as well. His familiar S-logo was slightly different than usual. “What the–?”
Mxyzptlk chuckled. “I thought that would be more fitting, given our little theme here.”
Superman rushed forward, moving faster than a normal person but not nearly with the super-speed he usually had. He grabbed the imp by the lapels of his cardigan sweater and hoisted him into the air. “What are you up to this time?“
“Moi?” the imp said with a smile. “Whatever do you mean?“
Suddenly, Jasma let out a terrible scream. “Eeek. Lookee lookee!” She was jumping up and down and pointing to the floor.
All the adults turned in time to see the floor boards splinter and cave into the ground, revealing an opening into the ground below. Then, from the darkened cavern poked up a number of large, furry forms. Their faces were long and pointed, their eyes narrow slits. In their hands they carried spears and other types of weapons.
“What are those?!” Kristin exclaimed.
Mxyzptlk laughed again. “What else? Mole men!“