Tag Archives: Prankster

Superman 299 – so many villains


Superman 299 (May 1976) concludes the four part Mr. Xavier story, by Bates, Maggin, Swan and Oskner, and was also the third issue of Superman that I bought.  The big grouping of villains on the cover appealed to me, and even though I had not read the previous three issues, I found the story completely fulfilling on its own, and would start collecting Superman regularly from this point on.


Xviar has teleported all the villains eitherout of jail, or to Earth, scattering them around the globe to send Superman running (or flying, I guess) hither and yon, too busy to figure out that the alien’s plan to destroy the Earth is reaching its culmination.  The villains seem to have no issues with being shuttled around either, and are more than happy to work together, which leads me to think that Xviar is mind-controlling them to a degree.  Superman first has to deal with Terra-Man, the now Toyman, and the Prankster in Egypt.  Aside from a cameo in an issue of World’s Finest in the 60s, this is the first time the Prankster has appeared in twenty years.  Not that he gets to do much.


With the Inter-Gang boss about to go free, Superman decides to become Clark Kent one last time, to testify at his trial.  He grabs a spare suit from his offices at WGBS, and heads to the courtroom, only to find that he has not lost his powers when dressed as Clark.


Before he can follow upon that, he has to race off again, this time to deal with Lex Luthor, the Parasite and Mr. Mxyzptlk.  Luthor shows none of the animosity towards the Parasite that he had the last time, even though the Parasite once more messes up his plans, which is what leads me to think that Xviar is controlling them.


After disposing of them, Superman has time to think, and, analyzing his Clark Kent clothes, sees that they have been infected with some alien tech that serves to nullify his powers.  Only someone who had access to his apartment could have done this, but who?  Meanwhile, we see that the energy Superman is expending in fighting his foes is being harnessed by Xviar, and Superman himself is the weapon with which he plans to destroy the Earth.


Brainiac and Amalak, who are fairly similar anyway, are the next villains that Superman has to deal with, as the story nears its conclusion.


Xviar, ready to be taken back to his home planet, seems to be in a trance as Superman checks the various suites in his building, and finds the alien tech.  He figures out that Mr.Xavier is behind his power loss, but does not seem to have put together the entire plan.  The story builds the suspense quite well as Superman faces off against the Kryptonite Man, the adult version of the Kryptonite Kid that he had faced as Superboy.  But when Superman hits Kryptonite Man with a punch that ought to destroy the world, nothing happens.  Beneath his costume, Superman was wearing the power-nullifying Clark Kent clothes, and took down Kryptonite Man with nothing more than normal human strength, which dissipated the built up energies.

Mr. Xavier gets sent to a galactic prison, and is never seen again.


The story has a bit of a downer ending.  Superman is Clark Kent again, but this means that he is back to being meek, giving in to Steve Lombard and Morgan Edge, and losing the admiration of Lois.  But that’s the price of being a hero.

I would say this is by far the best Superman storyline to date, and I am amazed that these tales have never been reprinted.


Superman 88 – Luthor, the Prankster and the Toyman team up


Luthor, the Prankster and the Toyman join forces against Superman in the cover story from issue 88 (March 1954), by Woolfolk, Boring and Kaye.


The three villains bump into each other at an amusement park.  They agree to team up, but this consists of each executing a plan of theirs, with the two other two acting as back-ups.


There is some creativity in the robberies, but all three plans fail.


While Luthor continues to appear regularly, and the Prankster returns early the following year in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, this is the first time the Toyman had appeared in four years, and it would be another ten before he returned.  His hair is significantly shorter in this story than previously depicted.

Superman 87 – The Thing from 40,000 A.D., and Superman vs the Prankster – the stage play


The Thing from 40,000 A.D. debuts in Superman 87 (Feb. 54), in a story by Finger, Boring and Kaye.  The title alludes to the successful science-fiction horror film, “The Thing from Another World,” while the character itself bears a strong resemblance to the alien from “Who Goes There?” the short-story that inspired the film.


The biggest difference is simply the beginning, in which the mysterious creature from the future lands on Earth, just outside Metropolis.  Then it begins taking on the characteristics of those it is near.  Because this is a comic book, and not a horror film, the Thing does not kill and/or assimilate those it copies, but it does take on their knowledge and characteristics.


The Thing impersonates a few people, as it hunts down a huge synthetic diamond.  It takes on the form of Clark Kent, and, later, Superman.


This leads to a great Superman vs Superman battle.  The two are equally matched, and Superman is at a loss to figure out how to defeat him.


Their fight takes them to a nuclear test site.  Superman survives ground zero, but the Thing is apparently destroyed.

It isn’t, but it does take over thirty years for the character to return, in DC Comics Presents.


Woolfolk and Plastino bring back the Prankster, not seen for a couple of years now.


An all-reporter stage production of Superman battles with the Prankster is being put up, and Clark is recruited to play Superman.  The Prankster decides to mess with the production.  Like they couldn’t see that coming.


There are some good scenes along the way.  Just the fact that he hasn’t been in every second issue makes this more refreshing.

Superman 75 – Superman’s real name, and Lois loses her memory


Lois Lane’s memory loss gets the cover of Superman 75 (March/April 1952), but gets the third spot in the issue itself.


After so many appearances by the Prankster in the last couple of years, I am happy to announce that this is his final story until 1954!  Hamilton, Boring and Kaye have the Prankster open a joke school in this story.


Lois Lane becomes one of his students, and begins pulling practical jokes on Superman.  Of course, these jokes are being used the way the Prankster used his – as diversions while he commits crimes.  Despite this, Lois goes on pulling them.


What keeps the Prankster out of jail in this story is simply Superman’s refusal to give his true name in court.  Intriguingly, when he does so, it is Jor-El the second.  The name Kal-El has not yet been conceived of!


And now we move onto the cover story, as Woolfolk and Plastino give Lois Lane some convenient memory loss.


Superman changes his identities, only afterwards noticing that Lois was there.  Before he can do anything, Lois falls victim to a memory loss machine.


It takes a while before Lois even remembers who Superman is, but once she does, she falls for him all over again.  Superman is kind of ok with this situation, as long as Lois does not recall seeing who he really is.


When she finally does regain her memory, it turns out she was blinded by light at the moment when Superman changed costume, and she didn’t see it anyway.

Superman 72 – the Prankster’s boss, Perry White’s family, and Clark Kent gets fired


Heading into space with Superman on the cover of Superman 72 (Sept/Oct 51), although the story itself is the final one in the issue.


The issue opens with a tale featuring the Prankster, which is beginning to feel mandatory.


Schwartz, Boring and Kaye have the Prankster working for someone else in this story, a mob boss called the Financier.  He sets up the Prankster’s crimes for him, but the Prankster gets offended at how the Financier treats him like a one gimmick villain, and decides to not use pranks in his crimes.


Superman overhears this, and so he decides to put the pranks into the crimes himself, messing things up along the way, and causing friction between the Prankster and the Financier.


As Superman intended, the two villains turn on each other, and he is able to grab both.


Hamilton and Plastino introduce Perry White’s family in this story, which sees Perry in his private life, as he avoids the paper, to avoid gangland reprisals.


Perry’s wife Alice makes her debut in this story.  Not much is done with her character, for many years.  In fact, she is not even seen again until an issue of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen in 1960.


There is also a newbie reporter at the Planet, who Perry challenges to turn in a scoop worthy story within a day.  Superman helps the boy round up the bad guys threatening Perry. Only at the very end do we discover that the boy is really Perry’s son Will.  Will winds up with a job as a Planet reporter, but never makes another appearance.  Probably switched to some other paper, rather than have his dad as his boss.


The final story in the issue is the cover story, by Woolfolk, Mortimer and Kaye.  Clark Kent gets fired after writing a story that misquoted a developer, leading to a lawsuit against the paper.


A failed inventor round up a bunch of other failures, and brings them all on his space ship, heading out into space where they can all die together as failures.  He has major issues with depression. Lois Lane sneaks aboard, because a rocket ship full of doomed people is a great place to be.


Being trapped in space makes all the people on the ship confront their fears and traumas, and they work together (with hidden assists from Superman) to bring the ship back to Earth.
Not as good as the cover makes it seem.

Superman 70 – Lois Lane and Annie Oakley, and Superman surrounded by kids


Although almost certainly inspired by the success of the musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” no reference to it is made in the lead story from Superman 70 (May/June 1951), by Schwartz, Boring and Kaye.


The story does not deal with time travel or an impersonation, instead, it’s about a local girl whose skill with a gun leads her to be nicknamed Annie Oakley.


Her shooting skills are so impressive that word reaches Metropolis, and Perry White decides that the Planet should do a story on her.


When she lives up to her reputation, Perry decides to hire her as a bodyguard for Lois.


Lois is not keen on having a bodyguard, and does her best to shake Annie, heading down into the subway while Annie is on horseback. But hoods are trailing Lois, and try to take advantage of her shaking her bodyguard, leading to a fight in the subway, with a horse on the tracks.


The story weaves into romance territory, as Superman enlists Annie in a bizarre plan to convince Lois not to rely on Superman, a plan that involves humiliating her and dousing her with water.  Annie thinks Lois Lane and Superman are both nuts, and heads back to the country.


The Prankster is back, yet again, in a story by Hamilton, Boring and Kaye.


This time he uses children to divert Superman, spurring on a contest by the Planet for the child who wrote the best story about Superman.  This guarantees that Superman is surrounded by kids at all times, and can not get away to chase the Prankster.


The story spends a lot of time with characters explaining why the contest cannot be called off, but eventually Superman gets the kids to swarm the Prankster instead.


Superman 69 – the Prankster and the Trickster


The Prankster has been making a lot of appearances, but the one in Superman 69 (March/April 1951) is indeed cover-worthy.


Woolfolk, Boring and Kaye spin this tale, as one of the Prankster’s men successfully pulls a prank on him.  While the others are terrified, the Prankster is delighted, and takes the guy on as his apprentice.  They work on job together, and the new guy begins to think he is as good as the Prankster.


So he decides to become a villain in his own right, the Trickster.  He pulls off some thefts of his own, using similar gags to the Prankster.


Then he begins pulling demeaning crimes, dressed as the Prankster, to further humiliate him.  Superman is barely needed as these two are so busy trying to take each other down.