Hmm… What can I tell you about this issue that I didn’t say the last time I wrote one of these? Well, I guess if I run out of things to say, I can always recite some limericks or something.
Let’s start with the covers. I love that heroic image of Mighty Mouse on Igor’s cover, and it was a really great surprise to see that this issue’s variant cover was by J. Bone. Several years ago, J. did the covers and some of the interiors for my Super Friends series at DC, but it’s been years since we’ve had another chance to work together. He’s a talented artist, and a very nice guy to boot. In fact, the original art to his cover for Super Friends #5, with the Justice League transformed into apes, is framed on my bedroom wall. It still makes me smile whenever I look at it. (Go Google the cover, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s ok, I’ll wait.)
And, yes, it is incredibly understanding and indulgent of my wife Susan to let me hang a bunch of comic book art in our bedroom.
Gee, I wish I had some juicy, behind the scenes gossip to share about this issue. But the truth is that Mighty Mouse editor Anthony Marques is a dream to work with, and once the outline for the series and the first issue were approved, the licensor didn’t ask for a whole lot of changes either. So, instead of dishing dirt, I suppose I’ll just have to talk about the issue itself.
Particularly in an all-ages series, you want new readers to be able to come in at any issue and still be able to figure out what’s going on. At the same time, though, you don’t want to include too much obvious recap exposition, so that it won’t feel clunky when the whole series is collected into a single trade paperback. So it’s all fairly streamlined here. In the space of a couple of word balloons, the dialogue on this page tells you pretty much everything you need to know about what’s gone before, with the rest filled in a few pages later. And, hey, when’s the last time that you saw in-jokes about Superman: The Movie, Flash comics, and The Wizard of Oz all squeezed into a single panel?
To my mind, one of the most underrated movies in history is Adventures in Babysitting. Not just because it’s a really fun movie (and you’ve gotta love that scene in the blues bar), but because it’s so beautifully written and structured that everything in the movie – no matter how much of a throwaway it might seem to be at the time – becomes important to the story later on. Most of the time, you don’t even realize when the seeds are being planted…at least, until you go back and watch the movie a second or third time.
I can’t claim the same is true (at least, to that extent) in Mighty Mouse, but I do try to play fair with readers and plant stuff that will resurface an issue or two later. So, in these few pages, we come back to the cops, cell phone photos, and broken TV that we saw in issue #2, as well as Joey’s collection of Mighty Mouse memorabilia and his hardworking single mom, who was behind the scenes in issue #1. Plus, we discover that Joey’s full name is Joey Malone (Oh, so that’s where his derisive “Joey Baloney” nickname comes from!), and even plant a few new seeds that’ll sprout in issues #s 4 and 5 too.
I’m also pretty fond of the running gag of Joey’s annoyance whenever someone refers to his action figures as “dolls.” He’s such an eleven-year-old boy…
In fiction, it’s amazing how many kids just happen to know or be related to brilliant scientists who can supply all of the esoteric knowledge and sci-fi gadgets they need. In real life, though, where’s a kid likely to go for science advice on interdimensional travel? Well, other than the internet, it seems to me that the obvious choice would be his or her science teacher. But, realistically, how much useful info about interdimensional travel is a science teacher likely to know?
Apart from grounding us back in reality a bit, this scene also gave me the opportunity for Mister Carzon’s little speech about imagination, since imagination is very much one of the themes of the series.
And now, we finally pick up with the bullies from issue #1. Obviously, Joey gets a little justice here, even though he wonders how long-lived it’ll be. Equally significant for the series, though, Mighty Mouse gets angry enough to act without thinking first…so that he – and we – wind up discovering some pretty important stuff about how cartoon physics work in the real world. I imagine it probably won’t be too shocking a spoiler if I tell you that it’s not the last time we’ll be seeing cartoon physics in this series.
Oh, and if you’re paying incredibly close attention, you might notice that the two bystander kids on page 12 are the same ones from the schoolyard in issue #1.
Out of necessity, there’s a lot of talking in this issue, as Joey and Mighty Mouse struggle to figure out how to get Mighty Mouse back home. As I read over my first draft of the script, though, I decided it really needed some more action, so I went back and slipped in the bit with Mighty Mouse and the stolen car. I like the subtle offhandedness of it; Mighty Mouse does it completely without fanfare and without even thinking twice or interrupting his conversation, and Joey’s so preoccupied that he may not even have noticed Mighty Mouse stopping the crime.
Yes, of course Mighty Mouse remembers that he destroyed the Malones’ TV and makes up for it. Would you expect anything less from the Mouse of Tomorrow?
A bit of friction starts to emerge between the two friends as the stress and frustration starts to get to them…until Joey finally hits upon the insight they need to reopen the rift between the two worlds. And, surprise, surprise, the solution pulls together all of the series’ themes – heroism, wish fulfillment, bullying, and imagination. Who’da thought?
Hmm, looks like Mister Carzon wasn’t quite right when he told Joey he’d need more than imagination, huh? At long last, it looks like Joey has saved the day…
…or maybe he’s just made things worse! How can Mighty Mouse save both worlds now? He’ll give it his best shot next month – same Mighty time, same Mighty channel!
Say, that brings us to the end of the issue, and I didn’t even have to resort to any limericks. I don’t want to disappoint all those limerick fans out there, though, so here’s a quick one:
There is a mouse hero named Mighty
Whose path became terribly flighty.
‘Til he finds his way home
With pal Joey Malone
With his world, Mighty won’t reunite-y!
Hey, I didn’t say it would be a good limerick…