In this week's Action Comics #975, Mr. Mxyzptlk was revealed as the secret identity behind the mysterious doppelgänger Clark Kent who was introduced at the start of "Rebirth."
Not only has Mr. Mxyzptlk now stolen Superman's son - and made the world (including his mother Lois) forget who he is - but the villain is directly tied into the "Rebirth" mystery of Mr. Oz, the hooded figure who's been manipulating events in the DCU and stealing characters out of time itself.
This week's oversized Action Comics #975, which featured two stories - one by Jurgens and artist Doug Mahnke, and one by writer Paul Dini with artist Ian Churchill - revealed that Mxyzptlk had been under a self-imposed spell to make him a human Clark Kent. Although his appearance helped re-establish Superman's secret identity - since Clark and Superman were now seen in the same place - it remained unexplained to readers until the revelation in this month's "Superman Reborn" crossover.
Now that Mr. Mxyzptlk remembers who he is - and has returned with a vengeance - he's one of the only characters around in current continuity who is aware of Mr. Oz, his ability to grab people out of the timeline, and his prison that Mr. Mxyzptlk describes as "nothing but nothingness."
Newsarama talked to Jurgens about the decision to incorporate Mr. Mxyzptlk into his Action Comics run at the start of "Rebirth," how the character feels about Jon Kent, and where the story might take readers next.
Newsarama: Dan, when did you guys get the idea to incorporate Mr. Mxyzptlk into the beginning of "Rebirth" and the story of Mr. Oz? And why did it appeal to you?
Dan Jurgens: This actually goes back quite a long way.
When I was writing Superman: Lois and Clark, I was dealing with a Superman that had to grow a beard and live in hiding because the world had found out Superman and Clark Kent were the same person.(Remember, back then we had two Supermen: The "New 52" version and pre-Flashpoint version.)
As a way of solving that problem, I came up with the idea of a second, apparently very genuine Clark Kent so both Clark and Superman could be seen. As to who that was, we really hadn’t seen Mxyzptlk much in the "New 52," so I thought there was a good opportunity to stitch it all together.
We then decided to get it going right away in Action Comics #957 so we could hit the ground running. Putting it all together with Mr. Oz came a bit later.
Nrama: How did the rest of the creative team on the "Superman Reborn" crossover get involved, as you planned this "anniversary issue?”
Jurgens: I’d had some very loose notes about the revelation happening in #975.
But once Pete Tomasi, Pat Gleason, the Superman editorial team, Geoff Johns, and I all got together, we realized we had a pretty big story that could cut across both titles and push us to something really big for Superman.
In other words, in terms of importance to Superman, we have a lot more coming over the next couple of issues.
Nrama: What is it about Mr. Mxyzptlk as a character that fits well with the themes you guys are exploring at this point in "Rebirth"?
Jurgens: One of the things I like about Mr. Mxyzptlk is that he stretches the boundaries. He’s very powerful and his sense of logic - or lack thereof - is a very nice counterpoint to Superman.
Remember, in a strange way, he’s always seen himself as Superman’s buddy. We were very interested in how Mr. Mxyzptlk would react to Superman’s son - a perfect playmate.
Nrama: We met a version of Mr. Mxyzptlk in the "New 52" during Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns' runs on Action Comics. Is this that same character? Or the previous one?
Jurgens: I like to think of Mr. Mxyzptlk as a constant with different shades of possibilities.
That isn’t an elusive answer so much as it is that with Mxy, all things are possible. I think the backup story by the incredible Paul Dini and Ian Churchill conveyed that well.
Nrama: Yeah, that was a fun scene, with all the iterations of Superman and Mxy. But earlier in this storyline, Mr. Mxyzptlk gave Superman and his family a photo album. Does Mr. Mxyzptlk know that this Superman is from another timeline?
Jurgens: Mr. Mxyzptlk has a good understanding of what’s happening here. More on that over the next two issues.
This story will take us into another, even deeper chapter for Superman.
Nrama: Does Mxyzptlk know about the missing 10 years? And about Flashpoint?
Jurgens: Let’s put it this way.
Mxyzptlk understands there’s a problem. He understands aspects of what has created the problem.
Nrama: Wouldn't he be aware of - or at least suspicious of - what's happening to time, particularly now that he's met Mr. Oz?
Jurgens: He might be suspicious, but I don’t think he’d care.
Since he’s from another dimension, I don’t think Mr. Mxyzptlk has a particular care as to whether our timeline and sense of reality is a mess or not.
Nrama: I just thought of something. Is it just a coincidence that both Oz and Mr. Mxyzptlk use the title "Mr." … ? I'm kidding, of course. But...
Jurgens: Yes, that’s a coincidence.
Nrama: OK, I assume time works very differently in Mr. Oz's prison, but just to clarify - human Clark/Mr. Mxyzptlk has been in the "Rebirth" continuity since June's issues, but didn't escape until after Doomsday and Tim Drake were also in Oz's prison. How is that possible?
Jurgens: Don't presume that time and reality unfold in the same way at the same time across all planes of existence.
Nrama: And although we're not sure what Mr. Mxyzptlk knows (or rather, cares about), it's pretty obvious that Mr. Mxyzptlk did not know about Jon - or at least, there were no pictures of Jon in the album….and Mr. Mxyzptlk is clearly feeling jealous of the boy. Is that an accurate sketch of his feelings about (and knowledge of) Jon?
Jurgens: Yes. His best buddy (in Mxy’s mind) withheld something like that?
Mxy’s feelings were hurt.
Nrama: OK, so the next issue in "Superman Reborn" is Superman #19. And Oz is on the cover. Is Oz the subject of the issue? Or do we get more of Mxy? What can you tell us about Superman #19 and beyond?
Jurgens: Mxyzptlk was just revealed so we have plenty left to do with him.
Nrama: Another thing that's clear is that Mr. Mxyzptlk knows about Oz, and Mr. Mxyzptlk will tell Superman about the guy, right? Is the "Aftermath" of "Reborn" about Superman going after the man Mr. Mxyzptlk tells him about?
Jurgens: I’m not sure Mr. Mxyzptlk would feel obligated to tell Superman anything.
Ascribing a certain level of logic to Mr. Mxyzptlk really doesn’t work. He’s an imp! Really always flying by the seat of his pants, so to speak.
Nrama: Anything you can tell us about how this might tie into DC's summer plans?
Jurgens: That’s a “stay tuned” kind of thing.
Nrama: OK, then is there anything else you want to tell fans about "Superman Reborn" and the direction the Super-books are heading in "Rebirth?”
Jurgens: We have two more chapters to go and I can’t emphasize this enough: