The second part of ‘Superman Reborn’ finally reveals the identity of the mysterious Clark Kent imposter. Read on for our (spoiler-filled) thoughts…
Since the start of DC Rebirth – the latest reshuffle of the DC universe – last year, there has been a second Clark Kent running around, exactly like the real one in every way accept that he isn’t Superman. At last, Action Comics #975 reveals the truth.
In the first part of ‘Superman Reborn’ – to be found in Superman #18 – Clark Mark.2 revealed some surprising reality-warping powers as he kidnapped Clark and Lois’ son Jon from under their nose. As they go to confront the fake Kent at his Metropolis apartment, they find out his true identity. He is in fact Mr Mxyzptlk, who has come to take revenge on Superman for “forgetting about him.”
First of all, what really matters when it comes to an ongoing mystery is that it has a satisfying solution and this issue definitely delivers on that. Having Mxy as the culprit is both the most obvious answer – who else has that amount of power? – but also the one we least suspected – it’s more insidious than Mxy’s usual schemes. The issue itself is quite low-key, as it is all set in the one location but the emotional stakes do enough to raise the scale. For all his powers, Superman is here just a man doing anything he can to get his son back. And then, in a cruel final twist, Mxy pulls the whammy on Lois and makes her forget her own son.
Dan Jurgens’ writing is excellent but Doug Mankhe’s artwork is exceptional, too. The visual highlight of the book is the prolonged sequence where Mxy takes on the forms of all of Superman’s greatest enemies – Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Mongul, Bizarro, Doomsday ETC – before finally revealing himself. Manke also does a great job with Mxy himself – he’s still the goofy-looking garishly-dressed imp he always is but Manke adds something more menacing than mischievous to his expression.
As if this wasn’t enough, the issue comes with a B-story, ‘The Man in the Purple Hat’, which explains Mxy’s motivations. Written by the great Paul Dini – of the DC animated universe fame – it’s great tale that dishes out the exposition with flair. It turns out that Mxy was imprisoned by the mysterious Mr Oz – who has been hanging around the DC universe since the start of DC Rebirth – and now he is getting back at Supes for not coming to save him. Ian Churchill does a fine job on artwork here, including some terrific visual nods back to Mxy’s different incarnations over the years – including the one from Dini’s own Superman: The Animated Series.
All in all, comics don’t come much better than this. It drops a long built-up reveal in excellent fashion, leaves us eager to find out what happens next and it’s all told with some strong writing and amazing artwork.