A Bad Place Full Of Bad Jerks

Superman The Animated Series: Target / Mxyzpixiliated

After winning a prestigious journalism award for reporting on the various shady dealings of LexCorp, Lois Lane finds herself the target of several assassination attempts in “Target”. This is easily, up until this point in the series, the outright worst episode. Just…what the hell. This is an episode of unfinished ideas and half-baked action sequences, the product of a writers room that was worked too hard and up too late. Nonsensical scenes of Lois in danger, stilted dialogue, and assy ass animation make for an absolute bomb.

There are three new character introduced as possible suspects for the attempts on Lois’ life, each more boring than the last. You’ve got fellow reporter Julian Frey, police detective Kurt Bowman, and Lois’ informant on the LexCorp story Edward Lytener. Scenes that are supposed to through you off the trail of who the real assassin is are haphazardly strewn throughout the episode. One such scene where we see Bowman creepily watching Lois toss and turn in her sleep from outside her window that serves only as a red herring and never comes up again later in the episode.


This is the episode that finally made me drop all suspension of disbelief and really question why the fuck one of the top reporters in the city of Metropolis cannot figure out who Superman really is. This episode just has way too many instances of “Superman just happened to be nearby and Clark disappeared for a second” for me to continue believing Lois can’t put two and two together. Even when Lois asks Superman at the end of the episode why he’s always around when she’s in trouble she accepts his bullshit sly answer and continues on without a second question.

They made no attempt whatsoever to mask the fact they’re reusing old footage of explosions from earlier episodes. A scene where Lois is almost assassinated by a flying rocket-powered elevator (!) is punctuated by animation of fire and explosions I know I’ve seen this used several times in several episodes, but never this egregiously.

I know that the STAS crew members were probably leery of using too many classic Superman villains in a short amount of time and wanted Superman to face a non-superpowered threat for once, but it just fails to work on almost every level. Lytener winds up being the culprit, having felt spurned by Lois while he fed her inside information despite obviously showing affection for her. He traps her; Superman saves her, etc. etc. This might be the least essential episode of the series, and definitely one to skip if you’re ever marathoning through the show as I am.


Luckily, all the ill will brought about by “Target” is absolved by the incredibly fun “Mxyzpixiliated”. Swinging the focus back to classic comic villains, “Mxyzpixiliated” has Superman facing off against his most unusual enemy, multi-dimensional trickster imp Mr. Mxyzptlk. Mxyzptlk has gotten bored fooling around and disturbing humanity for centuries and sees Superman as someone who might actually give him a bit of a challenge as he fucks with reality.


By warping reality Mxyzptlk causes Superman to have visions of his parents turning into chickens, Rodin’s The Thinker getting up and walking around a museum and of the imp himself casually walking through busy intersections and popping out of newspaper comics. Annoyed by the constant embarrassment and annoyance Mxyzptlk is bringing to his life, Superman makes a deal with him; if he can trick Mxyzptlk into saying his name backwards he must leave Superman and the Earthly realm alone for 90 days before he can return. Supes outwits him right away, and send the little man off to his own dimension for three more months.

Gilbert Gottfried is perfectly cast as the mischievous, short-tempered Mxyzptlk, giving him an incredibly annoying and grating voice that just begs to be loathed. Gottfried is joined by fellow comedian Sandra Bernhard, who gets a few lines in as Mxyzptlk’s neglected, beautiful lover Ms. Gsptlsnz. In the months of waiting between each chance he gets to completely fool Superman, Mxyzptlk is often seen completely ignoring the fawning Gsptlsnz, his obsessive desperation at perturbing the Man of Steel making him oblivious to any of her come ons.


The episode is neatly structured thanks to its constant time skipping, aside from the initial scenes most of the episode is spent jumping ahead 90 days at a time with brief glimpses at Mxyzptlk’s growing frustration in between. After getting soundly defeated and outwitted by Superman each time he pops into our dimension, Mxyzptlk is finally fed up with it all and decides to up the ante, making the rules of the “game” so that he only has to leave if he reveals his last name, backwards, twice in a row.

Supes has devised some pretty clever ways of getting Mxyzptlk back to his dimension the previous few times, but this time seems outmatched as he tries to outrun a shape shifting Mxyzptlk who has changed into a kryptonite-laced missile. Of course this all winds up being part of his best plan yet as he flies in such a pattern that he forces Mxyzptlk to spell his name backwards, twice, in skywriting from the smoke of the missile as the imp is sent back to his own dimension for good this time. The clever ending is just the cherry on the top of an excellent episode. Playing to the strengths of the crew, they’ve managed to create a funny, crafty, and just purely entertaining episode utilizing a classic Golden Age villain in the best of ways. This gets everything right, an inverse of all the ways “Target” went wrong.


-“Target” was so bad it knocked me out of commission last week…or maybe it was the fact that I got a new job. Either way my schedule, while more intensive, still allows me to post these every Monday. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep them coming at a regular weekly rate from now on.

-“Mxyzpixiliated” gives us a good look at how Superman shaves as he reflects his eye lasers off a bathroom mirror back onto his face, singeing off his facial hair.


-The comic strips seen in “Mxyzpixiliated” are homages to Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, and Dick Tracy, as well as a biting critique of the lazy artstyles of many mid-90s newspaper comics.

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