Bored with living in the Fifth Dimension with beings that had powers to rival his own, Mr. Mxyzptlk started going to the Third Dimension where his powers were unrivaled. Using these powers he tormented humans taking on various guises such as genies, imps, and leprechauns. He had done this for centuries but eventually became bored with that as well.
When Superman arrived Mxyzptlk saw him as the "ultimate challenge" and began to play various pranks (such as making the statue of "The Thinker" come to life and attack Superman, only to have it revert to a normal statue after Superman broke it) on him in order to test out his powers. For a time, Superman began to think that he was going insane but Mxyzptlk decided it was finally time to reveal himself and explained that he was there to play games with him. Superman was not amused by Mxyzptlk's antics and claimed that a game must have rules. Deciding that was true, Mxyzptlk came up with one rule: if Superman could get him to say, spell, or otherwise reveal his name backwards, "Kltpzyxm" (Pronounced "Kill-tip-see-zim"), he would leave for ninety days.
For the next year, Superman tricked Mxyzptlk into revealing his backwards name almost immediately after seeing him, usually by playing dumb. Mxyzptlk became increasingly enraged and obsessive over Superman's constant victories. This obsession led him to ignore his wife, Gsptlsnz, who was craving of his attention. Finally fed up with being ignored, Gsptlsnz suggested that Mxyzptlk simply destroy Superman. Mxyzptlk agreed and set about building a giant armored suit that took him the entire ninety days to complete. After his suit was completed, Mxyzptlk went to Earth and was returned to Zrff in less than five seconds.
In spite of his constant fast victories over Mxyzptlk, Superman grew tired of seeing him and finally proposed a final game, which would rid him of the Imp forever. Mxyzptlk agreed to leave forever if Superman could get him to reveal his name backwards twice in a row. Superman pretended to have lost interest in any and all games but Mxyzptlk refused to allow it. After an aerial battle in which Mxyzptlk turned into the "ultimate smart bomb" with a Kryptonite warhead Mxyzptlk thought he had won up until he saw that Superman had duped him into skywriting his own name backwards twice.
Banished back to the Fifth Dimension again, Mxyzptlk wasn't done with Superman and vowed to think up a loophole and one day return. Even after he found pleasure in giving Gsptlsnz the attention she craved, Mxyzptlk still couldn't allow Superman to go unpunished.
As promised, Mxyzptlk thought up a loophole: Mxy only claimed that he wouldn't come back to bother Superman, but he never said that he'd not return to the Third Dimension. He decided that this meant that while he couldn't bother Superman directly, this didn't mean he couldn’t incite someone else to bother him. Finding Bizarro to be of sufficient power and perfectly lacking in intelligence, Mxyzptlk went to Bizarro and convinced him that Superman and all his friends were laughing at him. Enraged at this, Bizarro immediately went to Earth with some help from Mxyzptlk, who he called the "funny little big head man". Once there, Bizarro started to attack Superman.
Mxyzptlk couldn’t resist revealing his hand in this, however, and indirectly mocked Superman. This proved to be a mistake, as the rulers of Zrff, the Tribunal, discovered it and immediately brought him to trial. Mxyzptlk pleaded his case claiming that he had no choice but to torment Superman since it was just part of his nature but the Tribunal would have none of it. His behavior was unbecoming as a citizen of Zrff. Mxyzptlk had broken their interdimensional laws, tormented members of a less advanced species and even worse, one of their most heinous crimes, going back on one's word. They stripped Mxyzptlk of his powers and banished him to Earth for ninety days until the next dimensional interface, promising to return his powers only if he did a good deed for the Third Dimensional beings.
Despite losing his powers, Mxyzptlk figured that it might be worth it to see Superman get his, however, after experiencing pain and suffering, it turned out to be a bad idea. He was also dismayed to discover that "Kltpzyxm" would not send him home. Once Bizarro was finally subdued and calmed, Superman, on learning of Mxyzptlk's sentencing, decided that the best punishment for Mxyzptlk was to put him into Bizarro's service. Mxyzptlk was taken to Bizarro's planet where he worked on the fake Metropolis and was tormented by Bizarro's pet Krypto. It is likely he eventually returned to his own dimension after serving his punishment.
Powers and abilities
Mxy possessed vast magical powers, capable of altering reality in almost any way he saw fit, with which he took great delight in tormenting and annoying Superman. The exact extent of his power is unknown, but he's capable of transforming humans' body and mind (best seen when he turned the entire staff of the Daily Planet into animals), bringing inanimate objects to life, flight, telekinesis, creating objects out of nothing, instant teleportation from vast distances (he was able to instantly transport Bizarro from his planet to Earth with just a snap of his fingers), and transformation into anything either organic or inorganic.
He also seemed to be immortal: when first introducing himself to Superman, he mentioned that he had been tormenting humans for centuries, he was capable of living in space without air or any form of vehicle, he removed his own head without ill effect, and any injures he sustained with his powers could be instantly healed.
His powers did seem to be limited, however, as any effects of his magic were removed once he left, giving the impression that he had to remain in the Third Dimension to keep it stable. It also appeared that he was somewhat capable of altering time since after his disappearance everything went back to the moment he arrived with only Superman being aware of anything that occurred when Mxyzptlk was there.
The Tribunal of the Fifth Dimension could instantly take away or overpower Mxyzptlk and any other citizen of the Fifth Dimension, however, and all such citizens were answerable to them.
- Mr. Mxyzptlk first appeared in Superman comics in 1944, and has kept tormenting Superman for decades, mainly as a mischievous antagonist.
- According to the commentary for "Mxyzpixilated", there were plans for him to star in a Justice League episode, but neither writer Paul Dini (a huge fan of the character, who wrote "Mxyzpixilated") nor series creator Bruce Timm could figure out a story that would be suitable. He did make a "cameo" as a cardboard cutout used in a training exercise in the episode "Secret Society - Part 1", however. This incarnation resembles the original Mr. Mxyzptlk, rather than the two more modern versions.
- "Secret Society, Part I" (cardboard cut out)
- Dini, Paul, Goodman, Robert (writers) & Tsuji, Shin-Ichi (director) (November 21, 1998). "Little Big Head Man". Superman: The Animated Series. Season 3. Episode 5 (airdate). Episode 52 (production). Kids WB!.
- Dini, Paul (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (September 20, 1997). "Mxyzpixilated". Superman: The Animated Series. Season 2. Episode 8 (airdate). Episode 21 (production). Kids WB!.