Monday, September 24, 2018


Story & Pencils by: John Byrne | Inking by: Karl Kesel
Coloring by: Tom Ziuko | Lettering by: John Costanza | Editing by: Michael Carlin

The Plot: As bizarre occurrences—soap suds falling from the sky and a popcorn storm in the subway—occur in Metropolis, Lois Lane is kidnapped by a man calling himself the Prankster. In actuality Oswald Loomis, a children’s TV host, the Prankster has perpetrated these strange pranks as a way to gain publicity before his show can be canceled. Superman eventually locates Loomis, rescues Lois, and arrests the villain. However, the Prankster escapes custody, crank-calls Lois, and has a good laugh over the day’s events.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: This is the first appearance of the Prankster post-CRISIS. Though I know nothing about the character’s original incarnation, he at least looks pretty much exactly like I remember from an old Superman storybook I had as a child.

Morgan Edge, president of Galaxy Communications, makes his post-CRISIS debut here. My understanding is that pre-CRISIS, Edge was the head of Intergang, Metropolis’s premiere mob as created by Jack Kirby in the pages of JIMMY OLSEN. It’s also my understanding that pre-CRISIS Intergang was supplied with technology by Darkseid. Here, Edge appears to be a media mogul rather than a crime boss, but we do see that he has a connection with Darkseid at one point when the villain visits him in his office to gloat about how well his plan is going.

Jimmy thinks about how his mother has been alone since his father died, and wonders if it’s time she had a boyfriend. Again, Mrs. Olsen is depicted only from the back, her face unseen. We also see that Jimmy is friends with a hobo named Pete, and that he’s almost twenty years old.

Superman briefly wonders if Mister Mxyzptlk, last seen in issue 11, is behind the weirdness in the city, but realizes the imp can only appear every ninety days, and that much time hasn’t passed since he last vanished.

On the story’s final page, a group of military and scientists in the arctic find a girl in the snow, dressed similarly to Superman.

This issue has the exact same title as UNCANNY X-MEN #121, a story Byrne did with Chris Claremont about eight years earlier, making me wonder if Byrne, rather than Claremont, came up with the name of that previous tale.

My Thoughts: Hey, Prankster didn’t kill anybody! I mean, sure — some of his tricks could have gotten someone killed, and yeah, he did very blatantly try to murder Morgan Edge by dumping him out of his office building… but the point is, he didn’t do it, making him the very first villain Superman has fought post-CRISIS who is not a mass murderer.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. Still, though, when you’re pleasantly surprised that no innocents bought it and Superman actually caught the bad guy (even if he did then escape from the cops two pages later), then maybe there’s been just a bit too much bloodshed in your Superman comics lately.

Additionally: John Byrne has debuted Morgan Edge, who is trying to rile up the people against Superman, and who is working secretly for Darkseid. Replace “Morgan Edge” with “G. Gordon Godfrey” and “Superman” with “all superheroes”, and this is the exactly plot of LEGENDS, which only took place a year or so ago, publication-wise. I’ll withhold judgment on this plot until it comes to fruition, but just now it seems like an odd choice so close on the heels of such a similar storyline.

Oh, and of course there's the appearance of Supergirl, which I believe will become the storyline that essentially closes out Byrne's run on the Superman titles. I know the character died in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, and I seem to recall that this version is actually some sort of shapeshifter and not an actual Kryptonian -- thus keeping with Byrne's preference that post-CRISIS Superman truly be the only surviving native of that world. But what I don't know is whether this Supergirl has appeared because Byrne needs to fix something again (as with the Pocket Universe Superboy), or if he's doing it himself because he wants to. I guess we'll find out soon enough!

Next Week: There’s a Superman robot running around in ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #439, and the Man of Steel meets the Metal Men again in ACTION COMICS #599.


  1. That Prankster was a real wild card this issue. ^_^

  2. This was another story reprinted in the UK but with LEM declining to use the cover - instead we got a split image of Superman fighting the water spray whilst the Prankster laughs and Manga Khan is offered milk by L-Ron (their first appearance was reprinted here). The only online image available seems to be this eBay listing. Now I can see the original, I can see why it was passed on.

    I gotta admit it is a bit confusing to have Superman having supposedly been around for many years (per his history with the Justice League), yet is only now meeting most of his most infamous foes. Other post comments have gone into the confusion with Wonder Women and Hawkman, and it's surprising that Superman never became a source of so much confusion.

    I forget if it's already come up but ISTR it was established that Jimmy's mother had him when she was quite young and so she should be in her late 30s and thus potentially in Superman's range. Unfortunately either the art or the colour has made her look a contemporary of Martha's which rather undermines what was clearly intended.

    1. I don't necessarily mind Superman meeting most of his villains now... I figure for the first few years of his career, he was battling mad scientists and gangsters, a la the Fleischer cartoons and ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN TV show.

      It kind of presages BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, now that I think about it. It's established in that show that Batman and Robin had been operating for years before Dick went off to college, but the only established villains they have at the show's outset are Joker and Penguin they meet everyone else during the run of the series, so I guess the assumption is that they were fighting common criminals most of the time up until the first episode.

      The Jimmy's mom thing is revealed, I think, in the next issue of SUPERMAN when we see her from the front for the first time. I wonder if the white hair was a coloring error, or if Byrne wanted it white to make you think she's older before his reveal? Back in those days, white hair was often used to represent platinum blonde, as in the cases of Silver St. Cloud and the Black Cat, so that could be the intention here as well.

  3. Kid Dick-Robin in TAS would have been cool. Wonder if they would allow the speedo?
    Did you notice JB's imitation of then-popular Cartoon TV shows?

    1. Yeah, and he has even more overt 80s cartoon parodies in the upcoming ADVENTURES issue with Mr. Mxyzptlk!