Dynamite Entertainment has sent us a writer's commentary featuring Sholly Fisch talking about the fifth and final issue of Mighty Mouse. Cover and art by Igor Lima.
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Because YOU demanded it — the LAST issue of Mighty Mouse!
Well, okay, it's not really because you demanded it. Mighty Mouse was always planned as a five-issue limited series, with a beginning, middle, and end. But that isn't as funny.
I have to say, I am sorry to see the series end; it's been awfully fun to write (and, hopefully, for you to read too). But we still have to get through one last issue — not to mention this commentary — before we're done. Here goes…
Of course, since I've already written a bunch of these commentaries for the series, the tricky part is finding something new to say about what's in issue #5. So, instead, let's start by talking about what ISN'T in this issue:
• Joey doesn't die a horrible death and get resurrected as the avenging spirit of divine wrath.
• Mighty Mouse isn't suddenly ret-conned as a dark, armored vigilante called "Slaughtermouse."
• Officer Betances doesn't marry T-Bone, the teenage bully, only to discover his horrifying secret.
• We don't launch into an epic tale of super-heroism enhanced by painted art from Alex Ross. (Oh, no, wait – that was issue #1…)
Well, so much for what's not in the issue. Now, let's move on to what IS here…
Ah, cartoon physics. If only all wars could be fought this way…
Incidentally, on page 1, Joey's point about not being able to use the cartoon cannon twice (unless it's funny) is pretty accurate — except for running gags, cartoons don't usually use the same device more than once. But it also provides a handy justification to explain why Joey doesn't just draw a whole mess of cannons for the troops. The story's a lot more fun if we see lots of different classic cartoon bits at work instead.
In many ways, it's easier to make fighting alien cats believable than it is to make readers believe that a by-the-book guy like Colonel Morrissey would accept help from a kid and a cartoon mouse, or order his troops to use cartoon weapons instead of their guns. That's why I spent so much time in issue #4 making it clear that nothing else works against the aliens. Morrissey's a practical guy, so I made the situation so hopeless that even he couldn't argue with success.
Remember when Mighty Mouse got caught on camera during the news bulletin last issue? Obviously, part of the reason for that was to reveal him to the world. But now we get to the rest it: As the news coverage continues, Joey inadvertently gets caught on camera now, cluing in his mom that he's smack at the middle of everything that's going on.
Incidentally, along similar lines, I also thought about sticking a page or two in the middle of the battle with the aliens, showing the battle raging outside Joey's school, so that his schoolmates could see him in action, defending the Earth. Or maybe at least a shot of the kids locked down in the school for their own safety, watching the live news coverage with Joey on screen. But I simply ran out of pages, and didn't have room to bring the battle outside the school — not to mention the logistics of trying to get Joey there instead of staying in one place, supplying the troops. And squeezing in a scene of kids watching Joey on the news would have been too similar to the emergency room scene. So, in the end, I had to cut it all. Still, between seeing Joey on the news here and the kids' attitude toward him at the end of the story, it's pretty clear that they all found out more or less what happened.
Mighty Mouse and Joey both leap into battle, but each in his own way. Even with cartoon physics erupting all around, this is still the real world, and an 11-year-old soaring through the sky with a cartoon mouse battling spaceships would stretch credibility a little too far. But an 11-year-old serving in a vital support role when none of the adults are capable of doing it? Sure, why not?
I also really like the matter-of-fact way that Betances takes care of the alien, and the immediate turnaround in the soldiers' attitudes. She really has become one of my favorite characters in this series.
And, of course, even in the middle of fighting off an entire alien invasion, Mighty Mouse still spots a kid in danger and stops what he's doing to not only swoop in and save the day, but also dispense a bit of safety advice. Why? (All together now:) Because he's a HERO!
It had to happen – the titanic encounter that's been building since issue #1: Joey's mom meets Mighty Mouse! And Mighty Mouse handles it in exactly the way that Mighty Mouse would.
This was actually a tricky scene to write. Obviously, Joey had to end up staying where he is, continuing to do his bit. But no parent in her right mind would let her 11-year-old stay in the middle of a war zone, so how could we get there? To make it even remotely believable, we needed to see her utter refusal and the assurances from everyone in charge…which, of course, don't make the slightest bit of difference to her. And Joey had to be the one to finally sway her, by impressing her with his maturity and using her own past arguments to convince her.
Even then, though, there's no way she'd just leave him there without her. Joey's mom may not be home a lot, since she's busy working to keep a roof over their heads, but she's actually a pretty good mother.
Humans vs. cartoon aliens! All-out, hoo-hah action! Cartoony slapstick aplenty! What more could you ask for?
Well, I guess you could ask to see the guy whose name is the title of this comic book series. So here's Mighty Mouse, once again willing to risk himself to protect the planet without a second thought. Why? Because he's a…
Aw, you know the rest of it by now.
At last — Mighty Mouse's climactic clash with the Big Bad who's been behind the scenes all this time! Actually, when I wrote the original outline for the five issues, I had the Big Bad turn out to be Oil Can Harry, who (as a feline villain) had struck a deal with the alien cats. But the licensor didn't go for that idea — I'm not entirely sure why — so you can see what I came up with instead.
The advantage to taking this approach to the (quite literally) Big Bad is that it gave me the opportunity to pick up on the bullying theme that's threaded throughout the series. Mighty Mouse even quotes Joey's homemade comic from 'way back in issue #1.
See? And you thought I wasn't paying attention…
Sigh. It had to happen. Thanks are said. Loose ends are wrapped up. And, despite Joey's worries back in issue #2, the cops and military don't even dissect Mighty Mouse.
Sadly, Mighty Mouse and Joey say goodbye…
…but maybe not forever. Even with Mighty Mouse finally back in his own world, freeing Mouseville from their domination by the aliens, Joey and Mighty Mouse are still there for each other. Like Joey wrote in his homemade comic, "Friends forever." Awww…
But we're not quite done yet. Mighty Mouse may have saved Joey from the bullies back in issue #3, but it left Joey wondering what would happen when Mighty Mouse wasn't around anymore. Well, now, Mighty Mouse isn't around…but Joey isn't the same scared kid we met at the beginning of the series anymore. Joey hasn't gained super powers. He isn't still carrying around cartoon weapons. But saving the world, and helping his hero get back home, has given Joey confidence and helped him begin to realize his potential.
That doesn't just mean the bullies don't pick on Joey anymore. Joey realizes that he needs to help other kids too. And why?
Because Joey's become what he dreamed of being.
Joey's a hero.
And, as we say in one of the other comics I write, "That's all, folks!" Thanks for hanging around. It's been fun.