April Fools Day with Comics Greatest Pranksters
April Fool’s day is just around the corner (or rather past the corner when this is published) and I think there is something to be said for the tricksters in comic book history. Many of our greatest heroes wouldn’t be who they are without their lackadaisical (though mostly homicidal) foes and while many are inherently malicious, some of those characters are no more than mischievous and continue to stand that test of time. As we affectionately refer to comics as funny books here at BRC, there is no better day to celebrate these iconic characters than today so come on by and pick some up at any of our six Houston locations!
Trickster - DC Comics
Starting off this list with the Flash villain, Trickster, it’s pretty evident that the DC Universe has got quite its stakes on comical themed villains. The first Trickster is a practical joker and con man, and one of Flash’s early frequent foils. My absolute favorite iteration of the character is in the Justice League Unlimited show portrayed by Mark Hamill (who has played him in live action in the CW-verse and the original 1990’s show!) as a sympathetic character who Flash is a friendly and helpful presence in his life when he escapes from authorities and is off his medication. Trickster, James Jesse, is a surprisingly complex character who even had a long stint as a good guy! His harlequin costumes and many stories have made him a favorite in my book and I’m happy to place him first on this list! “Got me again, Flash!”
Joker - DC Comics
This is a character who obviously needs no introduction, the clown prince of crime has been the caped crusader's nemesis almost since his inception and is the first thing I think of for this holiday when related to comics. His wide smile and maniacal laughter (thanks again, Mark Hamill!) have carved their claim in pop culture history, one of media’s most popular villains of all time not just in comics who has hardly needed an upgrade in his over 80 year history. Further popularized by animated shows and films, especially in the Nolan and Phillips’ interpretations, he is a character that is certainly not going anywhere soon. While some of his antics seem silly, such as the famous Joker Fish saga, and his affinity for (albeit deadly) flower spritzers and hand buzzers, he is also undeniably cruel but his charisma and portrayals have made him so hard to hate. “So tell me, have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
Riddler - DC Comics
“Riddle me this, dynamic dunder-heads!” My absolute favorite interpretation of this trickster (not that Trickster) is the Frank Gorshin Riddler in the 1966 Batman TV show, which was a staple in my childhood and his off the wall riddles that would leave anyone but Batman grasping at straws, his design and quirks are long held in high esteem. (And of course, well known for his portrayal by Jim Carey in Batman Forever.) Edward Nygma, his alter ego a pun in itself for enigma, uses his obsession with wordplay to combat the Batman and may not be quite as deadly as the Joker, has certainly made himself known for all time in the Batman rogues gallery.
Creeper – DC Comics
I remember as a teenager picking up a comic with the garishly dressed, red boa-d, green short-ed Creeper and not being able to immediately tell what I was looking at. Long time friend/foe of many in the DC Universe, though mostly heroic, Jack Ryder has been prancing over comic book pages for over fifty years, doing good where he can, and is well known in the animated shows an incorrigible flirt with one Harley Quinn, much to the annoyance of Batman and Robin, where the Creeper continues to get in their way. He’s an underutilized character I’d love to see more of in the comics and definitely deserves to be on this list of comics pranksters.
Loki – Marvel Comics
I know this list is overrun with DC characters, but Marvel has its own Trickster God in Loki. Loki since the 2011 Thor film has been a fan favorite in both comics and film, causing trouble for his brother and the Avengers where he can, switching sides on a whim, and overall creating chaos where it best suits him. Obviously based in Norse Mythology, Loki has been written as a complex character with gray morals, with his tricks being much more silly in his original Journey into Mystery days such as turning people into ice cream and the like, to even as far as stealing Sif’s body to parade as Lady Loki (my favorite run!! Go read the Straczinsky run now, do yourself a favor!) to now being a mostly good, teenage former young avenger and of course in his upcoming Disney+ series sees a possible return to form. Loki is always endlessly entertaining to read and watch on the screen and I have a feeling we’ll be watching him for a long time to come.
Bat-Mite – DC Comics
Mr. Mxyzptlk seems like the obvious choice here, in his Great Gazoo-esque tomfoolery in Superman’s portfolio but I feel like the similar Bat-Mite doesn’t get quite as much of the limelight. Bat-Mite is an imp who idolizes Batman and constantly gets in his way. He is good natured but pesky, and after his inception in 1959 there was a long gap in his publication before we saw him again, only popping up from time to time. Bat-Mite has cosmic reality warping powers that he mainly uses to see his idol, the Dark Knight, but always causes trouble along the way. Some of his best reads are when he has to throw down with the Superman imp counterpart but he’s always a delight to see!
Bugs Bunny – DC Comics/Dell Comics
Bugs is a no brainer, with his iconic “aint I a stinker,” and overall attitude has been in the pop culture sphere for over eighty years. Now why is he on a comics list? Since nearly his first on screen appearance in 1938, Looney Tunes have had comics published first from Dell and Gold Key and nowadays by DC Comics, and Bugs’ spirit has never faltered. He is soon to be featured in Space Jam 2 and has my favorite iteration in the Cartoon Network Looney Tunes show, and has now even crossed paths with the likes of even the Justice League. In TV shows, movies, and comics, Bugs is probably media’s funniest memorable character, at the expense of Elmer and Daffy and more, I can think of no better prankster, who no matter in what media will be timeless.
The Mask – Dark Horse
Now the films definitely gave me the impression that the Mask was a more funny character but his comics are extremely dark and focus on the evil the jade mask brings out in men. Jim Carrey made this character so well known, as a lustful zany egomaniac, a Dr.Jekyll/Mr. Hyde scenario, and while the personality of the green faced character is the same in the comics, the mask is more of a homicidal vengeful spirit, enabling its wearers to live their darkest fantasies but the character itself is an iconic one. Smokin’!
Ambush Bug – DC Comics
As the huge fan of Justice League International I couldn’t not add Ambush Bug, created by series co-creator Kieth Giffen. The Bug was originally conceived as an off the wall Superman antagonist but has been fondly referred to by writers as “Bugs Bunny as a super villain.” He has origins that mirror the last son of Krypton, his planet, the planet Schwab is on the brink of destruction and is sent by his father with the suit where he crash lands on earth. He is a fourth-wall breaking teleporting trouble maker but has made his change from villain to absent minded hero/commentator in his more recent years. He has graced the pages of Superman and Doom Patrol comics and even in major events and animated DC TV shows causing even more well intentioned chaos (for the most part.) He may be a weird one to add in a list of weirdos but I’ve always had a soft spot for him and I hope he gets more of the spotlight in comics again!
As always, thank you all for reading and supporting our stores. Have a happy and safe April Fool’s day!
Written by Bedrock City Contributor: Victoria Flood