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The Prankster(pop culture)
One of Superman's original costumed foes, the mirthful miscreant known as the Prankster first pulled the Man of Steel's leg in Action Comics #51 (1942), in a story by writer Jerry Siegel and artist John Sikela. When egocentric comedian Oswald Loomis' career goes bust he turns to crime, with an M.O. of taking practical jokes to near-lethal limits. Accompanied by his posse of hoodlums he storms into two Metropolis banks, giving away (illgotten) money instead of stealing it. Welcomed with open arms in a third bank, the Prankster turns the tables by robbing it, but when pursued by Superman he seeks refuge underground and apparently dies in a cave-in. The Prankster survived, bouncing back for consistent appearances throughout the Golden Age (1938–1954), mocking Superman with devilish glee. A throwback to Vaudevillian slapstick comedians with his straw hat, bow tie, gap-toothed smirk, and spherical body, the Prankster was intended for comic relief, not surprising since Siegel and his Superman co-creator Joe Shuster once had aspirations to produce a humor strip (in 1947 the collaborated on a short-lived comic book starring a comedic superhero named Funnyman). Padded with an array of gagweapons that would make the Joker jealous—teargas peashooters, a squirting label pin, and laughing gas, to name a few—the Prankster perpetrated gaggles of gimmicks that irritated the Man of Steel, including copyrighting the alphabet and extorting money for its use. Sometimes using asinine aliases like P. R. Ankster and Mr. Van Prank, Loomis occasionally teamed with other supervillains—Lex Luthor, the Toyman, and Mr. Mxyptlk—but like a bad standup whose shtick wore thin, was booked into limbo during later decades. Then came the reboot in Superman vol. 2 #16 (1987). The new Loomis, the star of Metropolis' long-running kid's program The Uncle Oswald Show, went mad after his series was canceled by station exec Morgan Edge. Terrorizing and nearly killing Edge as well as kidnapping Lois Lane, the Prankster's deadly gags attracted Superman's ire. In Adventures of Superman #579 (2000) Loomis received a slimmer new body from the dark deity Lord Satanus, and he occasionally rolls into Metropolis to attempt to kill Edge or merely annoy Superman with his nanotechnologically enhanced novelties. The Prankster appeared as one of the supervillain team “A.P.E” (Allied Perpetrators of Evil) in a 1966 episode of Filmation's animated The New Adventures of Superman, in the “Triple- Play” episode of Ruby-Spears' Superman cartoon (1988–1989), and in two episodes of ABC's live-action Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993–1997), with Bronson Pinchot starring as a reworked Prankster named Kyle Griffen.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.