The so-called "clown king of the underworld" (S No. 69/1, Mar/Apr 1951: "The Prankster's Apprentice!"), a "cunning" and "ruthless" criminal with "a dangerous sense of humor" (S No. 50/2, Jan/Feb 1948: "The Slogans that Came Too True!") who is forever playing pranks on people, including his own henchmen (Act No. 104, Jan 1947: "Candytown, USA"; and others), and who likes nothing better than to pull an uproarious prank-filled crime while at the same time making a monkey out of Superman (S No. 55/1, Nov/Dec 1948: "Prankster's Second Childhood"; and others).
Lois Lane has described the Prankster as â€œthe most dangerous of all practical jokersâ€ (S No. 37/2, Nov/Dec â€˜45: â€œPranks for Profit!â€), while Superman has referred to him as an â€œaddle-brained foul ballâ€ (S No. 50/2, Jan/Feb 1948: â€œThe Slogans That Came Too True!â€) and Clark Kent has called him an â€œovergrown juvenile delinquentâ€ (S No. 61/1, Nov/Dec 1949: â€œThe Pranksterâ€™s Radio Program!â€). Even the underworld is wary of the Prankster, for in the words of gangster â€œBugsâ€ Halloway, â€œHeâ€™s got a reputation for making saps outa smart guysâ€ (S No. 22/3, May/Jun 1943: â€œThe Great ABC Panic!â€).
By his own, somewhat less modest account, however, the Prankster is â€œthe funniest man in the worldâ€ (Act No. 95, Apr 1946: â€œThe Laughing Stock of Metropolis!â€) and the greatest criminal of all (S No. 52/1, May/Jun 1948: â€œPreview of Plunderâ€; and others). â€œWhat makes me so world-famous?â€ asks the Prankster rhetorically in March-April 1952. â€œItâ€™s my sense of humor! Larceny with laughs has been my motto!â€ (S No. 75/1: â€œThe Pranksterâ€™s Star Pupil!â€).
Described as â€œSupermanâ€™s most fiendish foeâ€ (Act No. 109, Jun 1947: â€œThe Man Who Robbed the Mint!â€), the Prankster is a man in his middle 30s, five feet tall, weighing approximately 125 pounds (S No. 41/1, Jul/Aug 1946: â€œToo Many Pranksters!â€). He has slicked-down red hair and a narrow moustache, a pointy nose, and large â€œcup-shaped ears [that] begin wiggling like madâ€ whenever he is struck by an evil inspiration (S No. 22/3, May/Jun 1943: â€œThe Great ABC Panic!â€). He speaks in a bombastic, highfalutin manner, often saying â€œAye and verily,â€ for example, instead of â€œyesâ€ (Act No. 51, Aug 1942: â€œThe Case of the Crimeless Crimesâ€; and others). His laughter has been described as â€œsinisterâ€ (Act No. 109, Jun 1947: â€œThe Man Who Robbed the Mint!â€), and he is often portrayed as having wide gaps between several of his front teeth, giving him the appearance of a fiendish jack-oâ€™-lantern (Act No, 51, Aug 1942: â€œThe Case of the Crimeless Crimesâ€; and many others). On one occasion, the Prankster joins forces with the Toyman and Lex Luthor after a chance encounter of the three at an amusement park (S No. 88/3, Mar 1954: "The Terrible Trio!").
The Prankster is immensely egotistical. In May- June 1948, for example, after reading press accounts of Supermanâ€™s recent capture of the Toyman and thwarting of Lex Luthor's latest â€œgigantic scientific hoax,â€ the Prankster reacts contemptuously. â€œBah!â€ he exclaims. â€œIf that fool Luthor could think up something gigantic, swiping a library book would be a sensation! And whatâ€™s clever about the Toyman? Whyâ€”compared to me, heâ€™s just a third-rate petty- larceny punk who made the big time on lucky breaks!â€
â€œWhatâ€™s eatinâ€™ ya, Prankster?â€ interjects one of the Pranksterâ€™s henchmen. â€œWith them guys in jail, you got less competition!â€
â€œThatâ€™s not the point!â€ retorts the Prankster. â€œThose punks are getting all the publicity! â€”While my great criminal talents are being forgotten!â€ (S No. 52/1: â€œPreview of Plunderâ€).
The Prankster is the â€œprince of practical jokersâ€ (Act No. 151, Dec 1950: â€œSupermanâ€™s Super-Magic Show!â€), and his penchant for prankishness is exhibited repeatedly in the chronicles. On one occasion, he frightens the wits out of a Metropolis policeman with a gun that fires little toy parachutes instead of bullets, and on another he and his henchmen invade a bank armed with pistols and machine guns that shoot fireworks, corks, and streams of water (Act No. 51, Aug 1942: â€œThe Case of the Crimeless Crimesâ€).
Particularly in his early appearances, however, the Prankster is fiendish as well as mirthfulâ€” carrying a deadly â€œminiature gunâ€ concealed inside a playful-looking flute, attempting to annihilate his own henchmen with poison gas so that he can keep their share of the loot for himself (Act No.51, Aug 1942: â€œThe Case of the Crimeless Crimesâ€; and others).
In the course of more than twenty separate encounters with Superman, the Prankster has employed a number of ingenious aliases and alternate identities to help him carry out his nefarious schemes, including P.R. Ankster and Ajax Wilde (S No. 37/2, Nov/Dec 1945: â€œPranks for Profit!â€); Mr. Van Prank, Colonel P.R. Ankster, Mr. Frank Ster, and Professor Smythe (S No. 61/1, Nov/Dec 1949: â€œThe Pranksterâ€™s Radio Program!â€); and Dr. Dawson (S No. 70/3, May/Jun 1951: â€œThe Pied Piper Prankster!â€).
In the texts, the Prankster is alternatively referred to as the Chuckling Charlatan, the Clown King of Crime, the Comedy Crook, the Mirthful Miscreant, and the Rollicking Rogue.
In addition, he has been described as â€œthat cherubic, clowning comedy king of crime,â€ a â€œmastermind of malignant mirth,â€ and the â€œmirthful marauderâ€ (Act No. 51, Aug 1942: â€œThe Case of the Crimeless Crimesâ€); â€œthat whimsical wizard of whacky crimesâ€ (Act No. 69, Feb 1944: â€œThe Lost-and- Found Mystery!â€); â€œthat ribald rogue of mirthful menaceâ€ (S No. 29/1, Jul/Aug 1944: â€œThe Wizard of Wishes!â€); the â€œmocking mountebank of mischiefâ€ and â€œclowning crime-kingâ€ (S No. 37/2, Nov/Dec 1945: â€œPranks for Profit!â€); â€œthe waggish wizard of clownish crimesâ€ (S No. 41/1, Jul/Aug 1946: â€œToo Many Pranksters!â€); â€œthat grinning engineer of evilâ€ (Act No. 109, Jun 1947: â€œThe Man Who Robbed the Mint!â€); â€œthat rollicking rajah of roguesâ€ and â€œSupermanâ€™s madcap enemyâ€ (S No. 61/1, Nov/Dec 1949: â€œThe Pranksterâ€™s Radio Program!â€); â€œthat clownish character with a crooked streakâ€ and â€œSupermanâ€™s old enemy, who blends his larceny with laughsâ€ (S No. 66/1, Sep/Oct 1950: â€œThe Babe of Steel!â€); â€œthat crook with a yen for clownish crimes,â€â€œone of Supermanâ€™s arch-enemies,â€ the â€œcrime clown,â€ and the â€œmaster of mad mischiefâ€ (S No. 69/1, Mar/Apr 1951: â€œThe Pranksterâ€™s Apprentice!â€); â€œthat pixie crookâ€ and â€œthat pixie practical jokerâ€ (S No. 70/3, May/Jun 1951: â€œThe Pied Piper Prankster!â€) the â€œmenacing jokester of crimeâ€ and a â€œgrinning clown of crime and Supermanâ€™s most annoying foeâ€ (S No. 72/1, Sep/Oct 1951: â€œThe Unfunny Prankster!â€); and the â€œarch-clown of crimeâ€ and â€œone of Supermanâ€™s trickiest foesâ€ (S No. 87/3, Feb 1954: â€œThe Pranksterâ€™s Greatest Role!â€).
In August 1942, with the aid of funds they have acquired by robbing a bowling alley and other strictly penny-ante crimes, the Prankster and his henchmen set in motion an elaborate scheme designed to enable them to loot one of Metropolisâ€™s wealthiest banks. On two separate occasions, the villains barge into a bank during business hours, line the patrons and employees up against the wall at gunpoint, and force them to endure a series of infuriating but harmless pranksâ€” as when the Prankster tricks a bank president into blackening his entire face by lending the unsuspecting banker a gimmicked handkerchief with which to wipe his browâ€”and then peacefully depart, leaving behind, to the amazement of bank officials and onlookers alike, a satchel filled with money as a gift for the bank.
â€œWhy did you forcibly enter those banks and leave money there?â€ asks a bewildered judge, after Superman has taken the criminals into custody following their second bizarre robbery-in-reverse. â€œJust a childish whim, judge,â€ replies the Prankster coyly. â€œPlaying cops and robbers has always intrigued me. Iâ€™m a wealthy man, and if I desire to give money away to banks, who is there to say nay?â€
Indeed, when the Prankster and his cohorts barge into their third, and last, bank, the bankâ€™s president is only too eager to accommodate them, certain that he is about to become the next recipient of the Pranksterâ€™s well-publicized largesse. Only too late, after the villains have laughingly looted the vault of millions of dollarsâ€™ worth of jewelry, currency, and bonds does the bank official realize that he has just been the victim of an actual robbery.
When Superman attempts to intervene, the Prankster takes Lois Lane hostage, forcing Superman to retreat, but the Man of Steel manages to infiltrate the villainâ€™s hideout disguised as one of his henchmen, and before long he has rescued Lois, apprehended the Pranksterâ€™s henchmen, and set out in pursuit of the escaping Prankster. However, as the villain flees into the darkness of a subterranean cavern, Superman sees â€œavalanching boulders topple down upon the mirthful marauder,â€ and he assumes that he has just witnessed â€œthe end of the Prankster!â€
But Superman is mistaken, for the wily criminal has miraculously escaped death by â€œtaking refuge on a ledge.â€ When he gloatingly examines his bag full of bank loot, however, he discovers that the hoard of money and jewelry has been replaced by worthless â€œblank paper.â€â€œHe [Superman] must have substituted it for the swag at super-speed while I was off- guard!â€ mutters the Prankster. â€œSo Superman has the last laugh- -this time! But we will clash again- - soon! And perhaps next time it will be the Prankster who will laugh loudest- -and the longest!â€ (Act No. 51: â€œThe Case of the Crimeless Crimesâ€).