Mister Mxyzptlk, the infamous Impish from the Fifth Dimension, and Superman -- well not really villain, more like nuisance most of the time -- can be sent back home, if he can be forced or tricked to say his own name backwards.

While that might have been a problem in the past, in today's world, basically everybody carries a recording device in the form of a smartphone (and Superman, or rather Clark Kent probably even long ago carried a dictaphone to conduct interviews as a reporter).

When Mxy introduces himself, usually with his name, could him saying his name forward be recorded and just played back backwards (I am sure there's an app for that): what would then be heard would be his voice saying his name backwards? Would that force him back to the Fifth Dimension? Or if the fact that it's played backwards could be detected, what if he would just be recorded saying his own name backwards once and then that recording would get played whenever he shows up again to send him straight back?

Has this method of simply using a recording device ever been attempted in the 73 years since the characters introduction? Or does it violate the "rules" how this dimension-hopping works?

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    Have you listened to a reversed recording? It doesn't sound at all like a person saying the words backward
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 12:47
  • 1
    @ZeissIkon I have, and you're right, it doesn't sound that great, but I am sure Clark's buddy Bruce has a gadget to clear up the sound... or just create it artificially based off voice samples or something.... and what about using the recording of him saying his name backwards from the previous time he got send back?
    – BMWurm
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 12:53
  • 1
    The trick was to trick "him" into saying his name backwards. A recording isn't him saying his name backwards. So, it won't work.
    – user931
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 12:56
  • 4
    @Bat Yet, apparently it has worked before ... I agree, it probably shouldn't, but wasn't sure, hence the question.
    – BMWurm
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 13:37
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    You'd be surprised at how many recording devices ended up floating around in the 5th dimension this way.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 14:26

4 Answers 4


Superman accomplishes precisely this in Superman Vol 1 #131 (1959) "The Menace of Mr. Mxyzptlk!".

Superman takes a recording of Mxyzptlk's voice and plays it backwards, shunting the hapless villain back into his home dimension for 90 days.

playback sends the foe home


Within Supergirl: The Girl of Steel (1984), the second Which Way book in the Super Powers series, Supergirl records Mister Mxyzptlk saying his name and plays it backwards, dismissing him.

Book Cover - Supergirl: The Girl of Steel

  • 6
    This is a prime example of consistency (rather, lack there of) in the Superman universe.
    – ShadoCat
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 21:18
  • Can you provide a quote?
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 22:07
  • Unfortunately, this was a book I read as a child, so it's at my childhood home, five hours ago. I can try requesting it via ILL, I suppose...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Nov 28, 2017 at 22:26
  • 2
    Luckily I've found a higher level source where much the same happens.
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 0:12
  • 2
    @Valorum Which is why I felt the need to switch to your answer as the accepted one, because yours shows the actual panel of it happening.
    – BMWurm
    Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 14:47

Even though this question is already answered and has two excellent examples, there is always room for a third.

In Superman #351 (1980) Mr Mxyzptlk is up to his usual tricks. This time he stops​ a circus caravan by turning its wheels square. Among the circusgoers there is an immigrant boy called Juan who practices​ English by using a tape-recorder.

Juan and the recorder

Unable to fly the circus to Metropolis because of legalities, and annoyed by Mr Mxyzptlk's mocking, Superman decides​ to make sure himself the circus performs as usual. Mr Mxyzptlk of course follows and causeds more trouble before introducing himself to the audience.

Mr Mxyzptlk says hello

Superman notices​ that Juan recorded Mr Mxyzptlk's introduction and realizes​ it is time to act. Superman borrows Juan's tape-recorder and replays what Mr Mxyzptlk said backwards, which sends the imp back to the fifth dimension.

The imp goes home by recorder


In Wonder Twins #1 (2019), Zan and Jayna, while doing an internship at the Hall of Justice, are warned by Superman about how dangerous Mxyzptlk can be. While he's away, Mxyzptlk appears to the twins who use the League's supercomputer to play his pompous introduction backwards.

They then watch him fade away, with a jaded look. Given the amount of times this trick has worked (see other answers), who can blame them?

Zan and Jayna half believe it worked

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