Editor’s Note: It’s been pretty dark, tense times lately, I think we can all agree, and so I really felt like spreading a little goofy fun instead. Enjoy this lost entry from the COMICS 101 Archives:
With Superman/Batman teamups on everyone’s mind these days, I myself have been thinking about a longtime favorite Batman teamup comic of mine, an outrageous farce from WORLD’S FINEST #113 (November 1960): “Bat-Mite Meets Mr. Mxyzptlk!”, written by Jerry Coleman and drawn by Dick Sprang.
And no, I’m not that old. I first encountered this story in BATMAN: FROM THE THIRTIES TO THE SEVENTIES, my beloved hardcover Batman reprint book that was a staple of Li’l Scott’s bookshelf. If you’d like to read it for yourself, look no further than the brand-new WORLD’S FUNNEST collection, which collects some of the landmark appearances of longtime pains-in-the-asses Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk.
Here the Dynamic Duo joins forces with Superman against their peskiest otherdimensional foes Bat-Mite, that worshipful elf who’s always throwing magical obstacles in Batman’s path, just so he can see the Caped Crusader do his best work, and Mr. Mxyzptlk, who generally just enjoys being a colossal pain in Superman’s ass.
Our story begins in Gotham City, with the rampage of a couple of bank robbers in an enormous “crime robot,” which is tearing its way through the city.
Luckily, they are in Gotham, which can only mean one thing: giant props! Batman and Robin leap to a hardware expo’s giant (and fully functional) acetylene torch, and melt the pavement beneath the robots’ feet. But it’s to no avail, as the robot has hidden jets that allow it to fly out of the sticky muck, in apparent defiance of all known laws of aeronautics.
Also on the scene is Superman, in Gotham on assignment for the Planet as Clark Kent, and he hurtles a giant boulder at the crime robot. To everyone’s surprise, the boulder magically transforms into an outlandish sculpture of Superman, falling to the ground and blocking traffic, which can only mean one thing, Batman deduces:
Bat-Mite doesn’t want Superman sticking his Kryptonian nose in where it doesn’t belong, preferring to see Batman and Robin handle the situation. Naturally, Superman’s a little irked at this, but Batman tries to mediate, asking Superman to give them a lift to the Crime Robot, and if they can’t handle it, then the Man of Steel can jump in.
(And by the way, a quick aside about Bat-Mite: what’s up with his stomach? Is he supposed to be chubby, or is he just wearing a baggy, ill-fitting sweatshirt? I never quite n=knew what was going on there, and it always made me vaguely uncomfortable.)
As it happens, Batman and Robin are indeed capable of handling the situation themselves, toppling another giant Gotham City prop (I tell you, that city’s civic improvement budget must be huge) atop the colossal robot.
Before they can even accept Bat-Mite’s congratulations, things take a turn for the weirder, with freaky animal-headed plants appearing at Gotham’s botanical gardens.
But this time it’s not Bat-Mite’s doing – no, it’s Superman’s own personal irritant, Mr. Mxyzptlk, arrived on the scene from the fifth dimension to hassle Supes.
Mxy and Bat-Mite take an immediate dislike to one another, and before you know it the magical prank war is on, with Mxyzptlk using his magic to make a maple-syrup billboard come to life and drench Bat-Mite, which the little elf then diverts to the street, forcing Superman to use his “steel-strong hair” as a mop. Really.
Next, Mxy distorts a nearby smokestack and makes the smoke into solid smoke rings to imprison Bat-Mite, who in turn transforms them into lightning bolts and fires them back at Mxyzptlk.
The two adjourn to their separate corners before Round 2, when Mxyzptlk creates a horrible hairy creature to attack the city, knowing that Bat-Mite will expect his heroes Batman and Robin to defeat it somehow. The foolhardy Bat-Mite does just that, using his magic to hurl the Dynamic Duo at the giant flaming hosebeast.
Luckily, a blast of Superman’s Super-Breath removes them from harm’s way, and Superman hurls the creature into deep space. Mxyzptlk gloats to Bat-Mite over his first victory, spurring Bat-Mite to think twice about Mxy’s motivations…
Inspired, Bat-Mite turns his attention toward frustrating Mxyzptlk, rather than trying to “help” Batman, magically transforming all of Mxy’s threats into outlandish goofs. His raging volcano, for example? Transmogrified into a giant pipe.
After Bat-Mite changes his “warehouse caterpillar” into a giant butterfly, a frustrated Mxyzptlk returns to his own dimension, intent on thinking up a way to make Bat-Mite miserable.
This, by the way, being one of the few occasions I can remember in which Mxy leaves of his own volition and isn’t forced out with the ol’ “Kltpzyxm” loophole. A proud Bat-Mite looks to Batman for a little encouragement in getting Mxy to vamoose, but doesn’t quite get the reception he’d hoped for:
I mean, really, would it have killed Batman to say thank you?