The Puckish Pranksters We Love to Hate
(originally published in the Summer, 1999 issue of Once Upon A Dime)

Whether it's Mr. Mxyzptlk, The Impossible Man, or Jinxor, we all know when a comic book has gone too far to the silly side. These characters can’t be
taken seriously. Can they? Occasionally a writer will use them in an interesting
new way (Mojo in the X-men stories), but more often we readers are left to grin and bear it.

So is there anything wrong with a little over the top camp silliness? I asked Vin Diller, creator of Jinxor during his run on Commander Courage Chronicles. "Comics go through phases. Sometimes it’s a murderous rage against foreigners.
Then we look back at that era and it seems unbelievably racist. During my tenure on Courage the trend went towards the whimsical. Now looking back was it ridiculous? Maybe."

Diller was in good company. These mischeivous alien visitors seemed to be everywhere in those days. Bored and powerful they may not have meant any harm to earth but if it weren’t for Superman, the Fantastic Four or Commander Courage they sure would have caused it.

These little imps are almost always aliens with magical abilities to do anything. And if you could do anything anytime you wanted I suppose eventually you’d turn to pranks to eliminate your boredom. Strange though, for aliens they usually have enough mastery of the English language to fill their speech with puns.

Mr. Mxyzptlk
FIRST APPEARANCE: Superman #30 Sept. 1944

Luckily this little prankster could only journey to Earth from his Fifth Dimension (everybody sing “Up, Up and Away”) once every ninety days or we may have had to suffer a lot more from him.

UPSIDE: Post-Crisis, he did create Red Kryptonite and you know how much fun that led to.


The Impossible Man
FIRST APPEARANCE: Fantastic Four #11, Oct. 1964
He’s a Poppupian. Ya know from the planet Poppup and because you never know when he’ll pop up. Get it? Too powerful for the combined force of the Fantastic Four to defeat. So how did they get rid of him? Ignore him and he goes away. Oooh, menacing.

UPSIDE: He occasionally babysat for Franklin Richards.



FIRST APPEARANCE: Commander Courage #68, 1946
The purple pallored prince of pranks could turn any animal (including the human animal) into another or a hybrid half animal. There was no end to the fun as the Commander and company were turned into lions and tigers and bears. Oh my.

UPSIDE: Star shaped wand will really hurt when I shove it up his…diaper.


FIRST APPEARANCE: Detective Comics # 267, 1958

Bat-mite had infinite magical powers to change reality, including his own physical organs --eew. He proclaimed himself the biggest fan of Batman and Robin and was loathe to leave their side. It was inevitable that he'd team with Mxyzptlk.

UPSIDE: Makes a cute plush toy.

FIRST APPEARANCE: Justice League Int. #10 Feb. 1988
With heroes like this who needs villains. As a Green Lantern he can pretty much do anything he thinks of. He’s a good guy but dumb and a bit of a bumbler.

What were the Guardians of OA thinking entrusting a shaggy dog-man with a power ring? "I'm gonna zap up more kibbles and bits."

And yes, you do see a dog toy, a bone, a hydrant and a doggy dish complete with GL emblem in this image.

UPSIDE: When Hal Jordan was trapped in the arctic, G'nort bounded in with a flask of rum around his neck to save him. Not really.

FIRST APPEARANCE: Longshot limited series #2
Mojo is less a prankster and more of a TV network executive but these days who could tell the difference.

How lame is Mojo? He often battles Dazzler (the disco ball heroine).

UPSIDE: Being literally spineless does seem to qualify him as an exec. in network TV.


FIRST APPEARANCE: Flash #167, 1956

Think those chemicals just spilled themselves all over Barry (The Flash) Allen? No, no, no. That was the work of Mopee, initiate tenth class of the Heavenly Help-Mates. This extra dimensional imp was apparently the prime mover that ushered in the entire Silver Age. He deliberately spilled the chemicals which would grant super-speed on Barry Allen (at least according to a late '60's revision of the original 1956 tale).

UPSIDE: Mopee was so hated by fans and creators alike, he appeared just that once and was never mentioned again.

--Daniel DeFabio

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