AskDefine | Define prankster

Dictionary Definition

prankster n : someone who plays practical jokes on others [syn: cut-up, trickster, tricker, hoaxer, practical joker]

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English

Noun

prankster (pranksters)
  1. One who performs pranks.

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Extensive Definition

The Prankster (real name: Oswald Hubert Loomis) is a fictional character and villain who appears in Superman stories published by DC Comics. The Prankster's first appearance was in Action Comics #51 in 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 improved upon the character by giving him a more svelte appearance, as well as high tech weaponry that made him a more serious threat.

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 appearance 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 imposter to replace the registar 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 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.
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 armour 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.
Apprentally 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 apprentally 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 moveable 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."
Most recently, he has been seen among the new Injustice League and is one of the villains featured in Salvation Run.

Other media

Animation

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."
The Prankster also appeared in the 1988 animated series of Superman, in the episode "Triple-Play." His look and modus-operandi were taken straight from the comics. In the story he kidnaps the winner of the World Series and transports them to a desert island. He then forces Superman to play the team single handedly, by threatening to kill Superman's friends if he does not cooperate.

Live-action

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. In the first episode titled The Prankster he breaks out of 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 Loomis.
He returned later in the season, along with his father with light ray capable of paralyzing people (including Superman). He attempted to use this device to kidnap the President of the United States, who was visiting Metropolis.
prankster in German: Schurken im Superman-Universum#Prankster
prankster in Dutch: Prankster
prankster in Tagalog: Prankster

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