Posts tagged ‘Prankster’

Action 151 – Superman vs Luthor, Prankster and Mr Mxyztplk

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Prankster makes use of a proxy Superman, which will stand around and let himself be made an ass of.

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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.

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Action 109 – The Prankster wipes out currency, Congo Bill protects elephants, and Billy Gunn returns

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John  Sikela does the art on the Prankster’s latest scheme, in Action 109 (June 1947).

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The Prankster releases a gas in the mint that wipes out all the printing on the money, leaving everyone with blank notes.  Chaos sweeps the US.

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The government turns to Superman, who finds some gold meteors, flings them to Earth, and melts them down, turning them into money.  I wonder if this story is meant to be some commentary on the gold standard?

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What makes the story fun is Superman’s scam on the Prankster.  The Prankster is buying all the blank currency for pennies, clearly because he intends to restore the printing on it.  Superman pretends to help, bringing him huge amounts of blank paper – but he keeps selling the Prankster the same paper over and over – and it isn’t even the real money, but fake stuff Superman had printed up.

Once the real money is restored, the story doe snot address what happens with the massive gold reserves Superman just created.  Are they spread around for the good of humanity? I doubt it.

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Congo Bill gets a really solid African adventure in this story by Samachson and Smalle, aiding a tribe that protects the elephants in their territory from poachers.

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The tribe gets forced by the poachers to build fake elephant skeletons, creating a phony elephants burial ground, but the more interesting thing is the backstory between Bill and the tribe, who made him a member after he saved their leader.

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Some really nice art on the elephants as well.

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Billy Gunn. not seen in this strip for years, returns in this story by Don Cameron and George Roussos.

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Still in Times Square, Billy meets two former Texas Rangers, and convinces them to get jobs with the police.

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Together the Rangers, Vigilante and Billy Gunn stop some thieves.  Stuff is nowhere to be seen in this story, but in a previous tale, he was given his own radio show spin-off from Greg’s show, so I assume this is the night he is recording.

Action 104 – The Prankster’s Candy Town, and Congo Bill and the onion thefts

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Jerry Siegel and Ira Yarborough give the Prankster the cover of Action 104 (Jan. 47), for his latest tricky gambit.

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The Prankster convinces a confectioner to create an entire town built of candy, as a way of luring children and promoting their products.  It’s so devious, it must be legal.  Superman and Lois Lane are just chomping at the bit, trying to catch the Prankster at something.

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The Candy Town opens, but Superman immediately demolishes it.  The Prankster has a bus handy, and takes the patrons to his rival candy town, which he has just opened.  The Prankster had “spiked” the candy of the real town, making it taste awful.  Superman rebuilds the town, without the awful flavours.

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In a really nice touch, the Prankster discovers that he does not actually own the rival town, the confectioner does.  The Prankster refers to buying the company from a man named Wolfingham, obviously a reference to J. Wilbur Wolfingham.

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Samachson and Smalle return Congo Bill to Africa, in a curious tale that sees men attack someone in order to steal what appear to be onions.

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Bill follows their trail, and winds up in a lush jungle of rare and exotic plants, and realizes that the “onions” were actually bulbs of these expensive flora.  The art really makes the most of the jungle setting.

Action 95 – the Prankster makes Superman the laughing stock of Metropolis

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John Sikela handles the Prankster story in Action 95 (April 1946), in which the Prankster nearly succeeds in driving Superman to quit.

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The Prankster’s goal is to continuously publicly humiliate Superman, but using intermediaries, so that Superman will not realize that it’s a plan.

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The Prankster gets away with it a few times, undermining Superman’s self-confidence.  After getting a pie int he face at a ceremony meant to honour him, Superman decides to hang up his cape, and announces his retirement, as the city doesn’t love him anymore.

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Later, once he gets a grip on himself, Superman figures out the Prankster’s scheme, and goads him into confessing onstage.

Sikela’s art on the Prankster is a bit odd.  He doesn’t look quite right.

Action 77 – The Prankster’s newspaper stand, the Rainbow Man goes colour-blind, and Zatara vs Pan

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Don Cameron and Ed Dobrotka give the Prankster one of his more devious schemes in Action 77 (Oct.44).

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The Prankster takes over a newsstand in the business centre of town, and makes a deal with a failed entrepreneur.  The Prankster sells men fake copies of the Daily Planet, with news of the destruction of their factories or resources, and the businessman then quickly buys their company at a low price.

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Of course, it’s not long before the Planet gets involved.  Lois Lane and Clark Kent both have their names attached to phony stories.  Superman figures out what has happened, but the Prankster has another twist to his plan, forcing his dupe to sell the companies to him for pennies, so the Prankster can then sell them back to their owners at hugely inflated rates.

Superman then steals what the Prankster has bought, making everything worthless again.  It takes a while, but Superman finally makes sure that everyone owns what they did at the start, and the Prankster is back in prison, for a few months at least.

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Mort Meskin gives the Rainbow Man a really hard time in this month’s Vigilante story.

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The Rainbow Man’s men take advantage of the lax security when their boss is taken to the hospital, and break him out.  Vigilante and Stuff learn from the doctor that the Rainbow Man really is quite sick, but doesn’t realize it.

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In an enjoyable twist, Rainbow Man’s illness gives him colour-blindness.  Ignoring his own men’s objections, Rainbow Man wears a green suit to match others wearing red.  Vigilante spots him immediately, but wonders what his motive is in wearing the wrong colour.

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Eventually Vigilante figures out the colour-blindness, but Rainbow Man basically does himself in, stopping his car at a green light, thinking that it’s red.

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In the best Zatara story in a long, long time, Gardner Fox and William White pit the hero against the Greek god Pan. For his own amusement, Pan creates a coin that makes the owner’s every wish come true.  Pan ensures that the coin eventually winds up with criminals.

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For a while now, Zatara has been casting complex spells simply by saying them normally, and the “be it so” backwards.  Kind of a cheap shortcut.

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Still, Zatara does an impressive job outwitting Pan and the gang of thieves.

Action 69 – Lost and Found with the Prankster, the Dummy gets smaller, and Zatara fights evil magicians

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The Prankster returns in a story by Sam Citron in Action 69 (Feb. 44).

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The story deals with preposterous ads about lost items, which run in the Daily Planet.  The first is for a needle in a haystack, which winds up starting a stampede.  The items are actually rare, and stolen, and the Prankster’s ads elicit a blackmail payment as a reward.  Lois and Clark take a while to piece the story together, and it’s made even harder for them as the Prankster’s men pretend to be Planet reporters, extorting money to keep the true story from the papers.

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The Prankster’s scam only really falls through when he kidnaps Lois Lane.  Astoundingly, the Planet has no trouble running the ad about this, although they do send the copy to Perry White before the paper goes out.

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Samachson, Meskin and Kubert produce one of the best Vigilante stories in this issue.

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The Dummy steals an experimental machine that can make people smaller.  He first uses it on himself and his gang, so they can pull off an impressive in-flight robbery.

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Vigilante and Stuff get on his trail, but the Dummy uses the machine on them, and leaves them prey to a chicken. I just love that sequence.  Vigilante and Stuff manage to survive until the effect wears off, and then turn the tables on the Dummy, capturing and shrinking him (again), and bringing him to jail in a birdcage.

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Gardner Fox and William White pit Zatara against two Eastern mystics in this story.  It touches on racist, with the Hindu magicians, but avoids the extremes common in the era.

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The two men are shown to have magical powers equal to those of Zatara.  He manages to defeat them largely through subterfuge, and then by knocking them out with his fist. Still, the Hindu mystics are not shown to be phonies, or cowards, or anything other than criminally bent.

Action 57 – the Prankster returns, and Americommando heads to France

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A goofy, if memorable, cover for Action 57 (Feb. 43), as the Prankster returns, in a story by Siegel and Sikela.

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I compared the Prankster to the Joker in his first story, but for this one, the Penguin would be a more apt comparison.  Because this tale bears more than a passing resemblance to a Penguin story.  It opens with the Prankster making a deal with a mob boss.  For a $100,000 investment, the Prankster guarantees to give him a million dollars.

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The Prankster turns himself in, but donates the money to a society that protects ostriches.  This wins him the goodwill of some prominent society matrons, who demand his release.  The Prankster then starts an “appreciation firm,” writing flattering letters to the rich and powerful, becoming their friend. It’s all a set-up to rob them, and though he turns the million over to the mobster, he immediately steals it back.

Superman spends much of the story frustrated, as there is nothing he can do as himself, or as Clark, when the Prankster isn’t breaking any laws.  Superman does get involved at the end, but the Prankster escapes, returning shortly in an issue of Superman.

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With his identity as Otto Riker exposed, the Americommando leaves Germany for France in this Greene and Baily story.

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Dr Ito is hot on his trail, and it’s lucky for Tex that the man has never read Les Miserables, as Tex disguises himself as an artist, going by the name Jean Valjean.

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Ito is suspicious, though, as the painter resembles Riker, and does expose him as Americommando.  Another failed disguise, though our hero gets away and destroys a German ammunition depot.

 

 

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