Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Year of Mxyzptlk 2: The Super Case of Miss Dreamface!

Continuing our year-long coverage of the history of Mister Mxyzptlk (or, in this era, Mxyztplk) by reading, enjoying, and making a little bit of fun at the very first Mxy story in the 1940s syndicated comic strip! You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll fall in love, you'll lose your pants! But hey, enough about my blog, let's read on with the story!

Previously on Superman: During his first (1) appearance on Earth (2), Mxyztplk bedevils Superman (and mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent), under the guise of "having fun," which we here at this blog oughta know a thing or two about a thing or two. Mxyztplk causes a series of "accidents" to the passenger train speeding Miss Dreamface, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World™, towards Metropolis! Remember kids, this blog does not encourage the experience of "fun" by wrecking a train. Quite the opposite!

Panels from the Superman daily newspaper comic strip (April 17, 1944), script by Whitney Ellsworth, art by Wayne Boring.
(From this point on, I'll identify the date of strip or panels within the alt-text of each image.)

One of my great joys in discovering the Ellsworth/Boring Superman comic strip: I never realized it had such a good sense of humor. Ellsworth has a very light touch with comedy: it's not slapstick but he brings a lot of personality to short-term guest characters, like these two learned professors studying time and speed management alongside the railway tracks. They're pretty lovable ducks and really, I just commend them for getting away from the academic setting and out into the fresh air.

It's not the perfectest of scans or reproductions of what was some really fine-lined inkwork, but check Boring's technique, especially in the second panel below. The large splashes of dark ink and the outlined silhouette draw the eyes from the train down to the professors, and since the panel takes place immediately in the middle of one of the professors' lines, we can see just how flamin' fast that train is going (There's a 180-degree rule being broken here somehow too, but frankly, I don't give a fig about that. It's just that gorgeous!)

Lesser men (I believe I was mentioning Steve Lombard here only last week) woulda shrieked and ran and soiled their pants, but our intrepid academics actually stand their ground and attempt to push the near-derailed rushing train back onto the tracks. How they doin' that?!? Oh, yeah...Superman. (slaps hoof on forehead for not remembering to check the top of the newspaper strip for the title.)

This, I think, right here in this ordinary black-'n'-white newspaper comic strip right on the big-ass comics pages of the New York Telegram and the Dacron, Ohio Democrat-Republican and the Daily Planet and the Daily Bugle and the Hooterville World Guardian and the Daily Prophet and the Ankh-Morpork Inquirer, is the secret to the magic of Superman: he makes ordinary citizens believe in themselves.

Meanwhile, Miss Dreamface...oh, yeah, forgot about her!...Miss Dreamface is still rushing off to her destiny meet-'n'-greet with the Metropolis Marvel. Will her Mystery Date be a Lion...or a Luthor?

Watch Superman's eye lines here — he smartly doesn't want to look anywhere near Miss Dreamface's vexing visage. She must be realllly ugly, like Al Capp's Lena the Hyena! Or like Al Capp's political or social views.

Later, a crowd of stricken admirers show up at Miss Dreamface's Metropolis apartment, demanding to meet her. All of them are under the sexual spell of this saucy siren. Hey look, they're sportin' wood!

Supes puts an end to the battering ram boys's actions and what does he get for his troubles? Squat, I tells ya, squat. Also, he gets threatened by some palooka over on loan to DC from Timely's Yancy Street. Well, for that guy there's no place to go but up when Superman tosses him high into the Metropolis sky. Aw, man, Mister Ellsworth, you're gonna make me wait a whole day to see that guy splat on the ground when he comes down?

Naw, just foolin' ya. The Man of Steel catches him easily. And he makes a quip at the same time. Oh that Superman of mine! (swoons)

Meanwhile, Agatha, Miss Dreamface's governess/valet/personal assistant has apparently spotted something outrageously odd. Whatever could be frightening her so? Aw geez, she's lookin' straight at the fourth wall! SHE CAN SEE US! SHE CAN SEE US!

Oh no, let me correct that. The impish Mister Mxyztplk (oh yeah! Forgot about him.) has appeared in the apartment. What sort of mischief is he up to now OH MAN HE'S FALLEN IN LOVE WITH DREAMFACE. Men want her, women hate her, imps propose to her!

The Divine Miz D challenges Mxyztplk to prove his love by dispersing the horny horde below on the street. Mxy lover-leaps from the building as the lecherous legion discover there's something happening to them, that, had they had the vocabulary of a couple decades later, would have been described as blowing their minds. Wow! What is it? Keep in mind that this below strip was published on May 20, 1944, a Saturday — the strip wouldn't continue this story until Monday, so that's a heckuva cliffhanger to spend contemplating during a Wartime Sabbath, huh, kids?

On Monday: BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA HE PANTSED 'EM! Except for Superman. Now we know why Supes wears his underwear on the outside: for protection against getting his tights pulled down. You don't tug on Superman's cape, and even more, hands off the red Jockeys for Super-Men, bub!

I really like the punchline to the next day's strip, too.

Later, back at the Daily Star Planet, Clark Kent meets Ted Spence, who as a boy knew Miss Dreamface as a plain-faced child and has always been in love with her, even before she gained her amazing ship-launching face. Well, join the club, Ted, and OH HEY DON'T JUMP OUT THAT WINDOW jeez he's always pullin' that! Obviously, Superman saves him, but I'll leave that part out because a) you knew he would and b) it's not as good an attempted suicide scene as the one in All Star Superman. Still, Clark, maybe close that window, huh?

Back at Miss Dreamface's Dream Apartment (Agatha action figure sold separately), Mxyztplk continues to woo the femme fatale, who is rapidly running out of things to hide her face behind. Whatsa matter, Wayne Boring, you not up to the task of showing us how mind-breakingly beautiful she is? Or is ya...chicken? Chicken! BUCK BUCK BUCK BUCK BUCK Note: please do not ever taunt Wayne Boring about his art skills because he will destroy you. I did it once, but I think I got away with it.

Dreamface persuades the other-dimensional imp into a partnership...might we call it a...SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP?!? No. No, we might not. Because that's copyrighted by Marvel and anyway, it's still over thirty years in the future.

Having seen Superman rescue Ted Spence from falling out of the Daily Planet building, Mxyztplk kidnaps Ted under the belief that Ted is important to Superman. But it turns out that Miss Dreamface remembers Ted from their youth together! (I know, I know...take a minute to write it all down on a flow chart and color-code it with your magic markers to keep track of it, that's what I did.) Then, Superman enters, and WHAT'S THIS? This machiavellian moll manipulatively man-handling the Mast Mon of Mypton? Sorry, I ran out of alliteratives there.

Next time: Oh boy, how's Superman gonna get outta this one? Wouldja giving in?!?

1 comment:

Blam said...

the magic of Superman: he makes ordinary citizens believe in themselves