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Superman 660

The Prankster (Oswald Hubert Loomis) is a fictional character, a supervillain in the DC Comics universe and primarily a foe of Superman. The Prankster's first appearance was in Action Comics #51 (August 1942).

The Prankster's particular gimmick is the use of various practical jokes and gags in committing his crimes. This, coupled with his cartoonish appearance, caused many{ to write him off as a "joke villain", until the early 2000s, when writers gave him a more serious appearance, as well as high tech weaponry that made him a more serious threat.

Publication history

Golden and Silver Age versions

The original Prankster is Oswald Loomis, a criminal and conman who uses elaborate practical jokes to commit crimes. In his debut in Action Comics #51, the Prankster and his assistants break into a series of banks and force the employees to accept money. After he becomes famous for this joke, the Prankster enters into yet another bank - and this time takes all the money. Superman, who had suspected the Prankster was up to no good, stops the robbery, but the Prankster manages to escape. The Prankster returns to plague the Man of Steel throughout the Gold and Silver Age. One of his more novel schemes was seen in Superman #22 (May/June 1943). The Prankster, with the backing of several criminal leaders, files a copyright to own the English language. Once he gains legal ownership of the alphabet, the Prankster begins requiring payment of anyone using the written word. Superman is at first unable to do anything, as the Prankster is not breaking the law. Eventually, Superman discovers that the Prankster had hired an impostor to replace the registrar at the copyright office, and he turns the Prankster over to the authorities.

The Prankster's final Silver Age appearance is in the Alan Moore scripted story, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? (Superman #423). The Prankster, along with the Toyman, are unwittingly manipulated by Mister Mxyzptlk to discover Superman's secret identity. They succeed after kidnapping Pete Ross and torturing the information out of him, then killing him. After managing to unmask Clark Kent in front of Lana Lang and others, the Prankster and Toyman are captured by Superman.

Modern Age version

The first appearance of the modern age Prankster was in Superman vol. 2 #16 (April 1988), in a story written and drawn by John Byrne. Comedian Oswald Loomis is the host of the long running children's variety show called The Uncle Oswald Show. When the ratings begin to fall, the show is canceled by its network WGBS. Loomis finds himself typecast and unable to obtain new employment. Bitter that his gravy train has come to an end, Loomis seeks revenge on the network executives that were responsible for his show's cancellation (including Morgan Edge), but is foiled by Superman. This turned out to be an intentional objective for the Prankster since he knew he could not seriously oppose Superman, and so immediately surrendered upon facing the superhero with plans to exploit the media attention while in prison.

In Adventures of Superman #579 (June 2000), Loomis reappears with a younger, more athletic body, presumably by Lord Satanus. His personality is changed as well; no longer an inept goofball, he is now a manic trickster seeking to unleash his twisted brand of laughter upon the world. By this time, Metropolis has been upgraded by Brainiac 13. The Prankster takes advantage of the new technology, creating high tech gadgets and weaponry, which retain a comical theme. He quickly challenges Superman again. Superman is suffering from kryptonite poisoning during the battle, and is hospitalized in S.T.A.R. Labs shortly thereafter.

During the Critical Condition storyline, scientists learn that the cause of Superman's illness is a nanovirus carrying a small grain of kryptonite. They proposed to shrink Steel, Superboy, and Supergirl to microscopic size, and send them into Superman's bloodstream to destroy the virus. However, the Prankster subdues Steel, steals his armor, and attempts to sabotage their efforts. Though he fails, he escapes with Steel's armor still in his possession. He uses the armor to attack a temporarily powerless Superboy before Steel arrives on the scene, taking control of his hammer via a remote failsafe and damaging the armor due to his knowledge of its weaknesses.

The Prankster is later hired by Lord Satanus to kidnap metahumans with dual personalities, particularly those with a light/dark duality. Satanus hopes to gain strength by drawing power from the darker personalities of these individuals. Superman foils this scheme, and the Prankster disappears after Satanus is defeated. When Manchester Black reveals Superman's identity, the Prankster is one of many villains involved in the campaign to destroy Superman's life, though he forgets Superman's identity when Black is defeated.

In a One Year Later storyline, the Prankster is hired by Lex Luthor to wreak havoc in Metropolis. While Green Lantern and Hawkgirl bring down Loomis and his army of traffic-light-men, his rampage is just a distraction while Luthor breaks Kryptonite Man out of prison.

Apparently inspired by his turn working for Luthor, Prankster has taken on a new persona as a distraction-for-hire. Rather than pull off crimes himself, he is now hired by criminals to distract Superman and the police with his pranks while they commit crimes. He offers a discount to any client whose plans include Superman, as he sees the Man of Steel's involvement as "the best kind of free advertising." His new venture has apparently proven quite lucrative, as he is able to afford a high-tech lair. Above it sits a seemingly normal joke shop called 'Uncle Oley's Sure Fire Joke Shop'. It is not normal, for it includes a movable trapdoor. The Prankster also has about a half-dozen beautiful female assistants, who do many things for him, such as monitoring Metropolis or serving him breakfast. Though the Prankster goads them to commit pranks on him, they do not always do so, for they fear his retaliation. He insists on never sharing his high-tech gadgets with clients, considering himself "an artist, not an armorer."[1]

Most recently, he has been seen among the new Injustice League and is one of the villains featured in Salvation Run.

Prankster was among the many of Superman's villains who was rounded up and placed in the Phantom Zone by the people of Kandor. Superman freed Prankster to be taken to Belle Reve.[2]

Powers and abilities

The Prankster has an arsenal of trick items that he uses in his crimes, thanks to Brainiac 13's upgrade of Metropolis the Prankster has new set of advanced tricks. The Prankster’s tricks include: ultrasonic devices that cause a person to laugh uncontrollably, Joy buzzers and Nano-robots.

The Prankster uses a vehicle that allows him to fly.

In other media

Television

  • The Prankster appeared in an episode of the 1967-68 animated series The New Adventures of Superman (now retitled The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure), titled "The Prankster". His appearance is significantly less gaudy than that of the comics, as he is portrayed as a short man with a hook nose wearing a slouch hat, who speaks in a nasally voice. When Superman sabotages a potentially dangerous prank of the Prankster's by making it that the Prankster steps right out of a joke shop into a river, he becomes enraged, showing the Prankster is not as receptive to being victim to the same type of practical jokes he enjoys inflicting on others. In "The Men from A.P.E.", he appears as a member of A.P.E. (short for Allied Perpetrator of Evil) alongside Lex Luthor, Toyman, and Wicked Warlock in a plot to get rid of Superman.
  • The Prankster also appeared in the 1988 Superman episode "Triple-Play". His look and modus-operandi were taken straight from the comics. In the story he kidnaps the baseball teams competing in the World Series and transports them to an uncharted island in the South Seas. His motivation for the abductions was that he was a baseball junkie who blames Superman for sending him to jail, whereupon he was not allowed to watch baseball, and now he was going to enjoy the World Series all for himself in the solitude of the island. The Prankster then makes the baseball teams play against his team of robots, and forces Superman to be the pitcher for the robot team by threatening to kill Superman's friends if he does not cooperate. Fittingly, after being sent back to prison for the kidnappings, the Prankster is seen sniveling and whining about being barred from hearing news of the World Series to the prison guards, who bark at him "No baseball for you for a long time!"
  • The Prankster was portrayed by Bronson Pinchot in two episodes of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Here his name was Kyle Griffin, a man who was sent to jail five years earlier due to one of Lois Lane's articles. Griffin is assisted by a man named Victor, who is skilled at electrical engineering but lacks social graces, best explaining why the Prankster is the only man who would befriend him. In the first episode, titled "The Prankster". Griffin escapes from prison and goes after Lois posing as her secret admirer. The Prankster's comic book identity was referenced when Lois suspected the admirer was an old school acquaintance named Randall Loomis, who is ruled out as a suspect when Lois and Clark learn he's now a wealthy man about to move to Europe with his wife. He returned later in the season, along with his father and Victor, who makes a light ray capable of "freezing" people (including Superman). He attempted to use this device to kidnap the President of the United States, who was visiting Metropolis.

Video Games

  • Prankster is set to appear in the upcoming video game DC Universe Online.

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