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
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?
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
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
UPSIDE: Post-Crisis, he did create Red Kryptonite
and you know how much fun that led to.
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.
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
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
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
UPSIDE: Mopee was so hated by fans and creators
alike, he appeared just that once and was never