Superman faces his first big villain team-up in Action 151 (Dec. 50), as Edmond Hamilton, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye bring together Luthor, the Prankster and Mr. Mxyztplk.
The imp’s 5th Dimensional magic brings the other two villains to him. Luthor has developed a way of creating “proxy”s, which can be designed to look like anyone, and Prankster contributes the overall theme – to make everyone laugh at Superman. You might think Luthor would step in and insist that they actually try to kill him, but perhaps he is just a bit too freaked out by the situation to think clearly.
Mr. Mxyztplk uses a proxy of Lois Lane in his ploy, making it look like Lois has given Superman the brush off, and is now in love with Mxyztplk. Again, one is left to wonder why the villain reveal their involvement so openly. And especially with Mxyztplk making the first move, Superman should know not to trust anything he sees.
Luthor makes the most effective use of his proxy, creating a duplicate of himself, so that he can rob banks and yet maintain a perfect alibi. Superman tries to bring him in for theft, but gets laughed out of court.
The Prankster makes use of a proxy Superman, which will stand around and let himself be made an ass of.
Superman wins at the end by creating proxies of the three bad guys, and using them in a carnival routine. It’s pretty clear to see what Superman’s plans are, particularly with the microphone that repeats everything backwards, but the villains egos are so delicate that they climb up onstage to interfere with Superman’s comedy routine, and wind up doing themselves in.
It’s certainly not the best villain team-up, but it is a functional one.