"Prankster’s Second Childhood": The boys of the Manley Academy for Problem Children have chosen to emulate The Prankster as their hero. Clark Kent and Lois Lane investigate why when the boys’ mischief endangers Lois’ l


Quote1.png dere Sooperman: you fooled me once. now it’s my turn to make a sap out of you. Quote2.png
The Prankster

Superman #55 is an issue of the series Superman (Volume 1) with a cover date of November, 1948.

Synopsis for "Prankster’s Second Childhood"

The boys of the Manley Academy for Problem Children have chosen to emulate The Prankster as their hero. Clark Kent and Lois Lane investigate why when the boys’ mischief endangers Lois’ life by setting her dress on fire. Superman arrives on the scene just as a blimp in the shape of The Prankster flies by with a note thanking the children for helping the villain realize that he wants to live his childhood all over again.

The next day, The Prankster robs a bank and takes Lois hostage while Superman is locked inside the vault. The Man of Steel promises to let them go free if they will not harm Lois. He quickly assembles all the gold into a mammoth block that the thieves cannot carry and he honors his word, leaving the scene. A crudely misspelled ad in The Daily Planet mocks Superman but leaves a clue that The Prankster will rob the Queen Maria of its valued art once it docks that night. This time, he gets away with the heist and the boys admire him even more.

Superman is desperate to get the boys’ adulation before they grow up and emulate a life of crime but The Prankster is one step ahead again: he has decided to rob the dowager Mrs. Vanderick and taunts Superman with another clue. He arrives on the scene just as the wealthy woman is being assaulted and hastily constructs a madhouse full of trap doors and spring-loaded boxing gloves around The Prankster and his henchmen and Superman flies a busload of the troubled youth to the scene where they can see their hero turn into a punching bag. They pile on The Prankster and beat him until he begs to go to prison (with a note on his back reading “I’m a sap! I sure am!”)

Appearing in "Prankster’s Second Childhood"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

  • Junior Brown (First appearance)
  • Mrs. Brown (First appearance)
  • Benjamin Franklin (Mentioned only)
  • Professor Manley (First appearance)
  • Mrs. Vanderick (First appearance)

Locations:

Vehicles:

  • Queen Maria (First appearance)


Synopsis for "The Richest Man in the World"

Stephen Van Schuyler III is a famous man of action and the richest man in the world but his money can’t buy the love of Lois Lane. His secretary Mary Jones sets up an interview with Lane, even though Schuyler usually despises the press. When she arrives on his private island, he showers her with affection and shows off dozens of pieces of art he has made of her and a yacht named for her: the interview is all an excuse to propose to Lane.

Sensing something is afoot, Superman arrives to find Lois considering the offer. He insists that money can’t buy happiness but Lois proposes a test: whomever can get her the greatest wedding presents will be her suitor. For something old, Van Schuyler buys an elaborate ancient tapestry from Asia and Superman flies to a monastery and retrieves the machine that was used to make it almost 4,000 years ago. Superman wins.

For something new, Superman flies to Venus and retrieves a flower that was recently discovered by astronomers. Van Schuyler uses his personal cyclotron to make a radiant sun-diamond which Lois considers superior.

With the score tied, Mary slides a suicide note under the door and Superman learns that she has been in love with Van Schuyler and will kill herself if she can't have him. He races to save her from leaping off a bridge and wraps her in his cape to keep him warm. Mary takes it and uses this as something borrowed for Lois’ third round present. Superman extracts radium from Belgian Congo and uses it to illuminate one of the statues of Lois in Shuyler’s garden. Having made an even more impressive gift than his own unique cape, Superman wins and Van Schuyler admits defeat. He agrees to give the radium in the statue to medical science instead of leaving it as a monument to his lost love. Superman decides to quickly give Mary a make-over, transforming her into a fashionable woman instead of a buttoned-up professional and this allows her employer to appreciate how beautiful she is.

Back at The Daily Planet, Lois tells Clark Kent how no one could take Superman’s place in her heart.

Appearing in "The Richest Man in the World"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Stephen Van Schuyler III (First appearance)

Other Characters:

Locations:

Items:

Vehicles:

  • Lois Lane

Synopsis for "Too Many Heroes!"

The famous film villain Peter Lorloff on his deathbed berates his sister Stella and her husband Felix for leeching his money for many years, declaring he won't bequeath anything to them. He also tells his niece Carol that she'll get nothing too since she never casted him any heroic roles, despite her insistence that the movie studio won't ever agree to give him one. His butler then brings him a phone number directory and he searches it for a lawyer to execute his will. Finding the name of Jonathan Trundle who lives on 13 Tenement Street, he chooses him. Trundle is a failed lawyer who talks to himself and is shocked upon finding he will be paid 5000 dollars to carry out Peter's will.

Trundle later reads Peter's will to his family at his mansion and states that one million dollars will be given to anyone who performs the most heroic act within a week of his death, since he himself could never be a hero onscreen. The family is shocked upon realizing it and Stella declares they'll file a case in court. The news about the will is published in the Daily Planet the next day and many people start planning on how to look like a hero. Clark, knowing what is going to happen, decides that Trundle would need help. He meets up with the lawyer in his apartment and soon flies off with him, telling him that they're going to keep an eye on wannabe heroes. He spots a man tripping another man in front of an oncoming truck, but the wannabe hero realizes that e can't sae him in time. Superman smashes part of the road into the air to save the man and grabs the truck before it falls.

Later, as a man tosses another person on the tracks to rescue him, Superman stops the oncoming train and revels to the public that people have been engineering hoax rescues to get the million dollars. Felix upon hearing about this, tells Stella they're doing it the wrong way, since it's Trundle who they should be putting in danger and saving. The couple agrees to carry this out themselves, which Carol overhears and decides to tell Clark at the Daily Planet about it. He tells her to reach Trundle's apartment, but upon arriving there himself, finds Felix rescuing the lawyer. The superhero them douses the building with water and grabs Felix, telling him he knows he set the fire and drugged Trundle's milk before threatening him to not do it again.

Stella meanwhile rescues Trundle from falling debris when he wanders toward his building in stupor, but finds herself in its path. She however gets rescued by Superman and the lawyer states she is courageous as well as pretty, making her blush. The next day, Stella and Felix decide to eliminate Carol for her heroic act so she doesn't get the money. Trundle later makes Superman accompany him to his date with Carol at her film studio, but they learn that she hasn't left the set despite everyone else leaving. Superman finds Felix smashing the wind tunnel controls and tells Trundle to find Carol. He does find her in the tunnel, but its giant fan soon turns on and starts dragging them towards itself. Superman however gets them both of the tunnel and goes to smash the fan, but its speed proves too fast. Gathering his strength,, he soon destroys it.

Jonathan later knocks Felix out for trying to kill Carol, before she kisses him for his bravery. Stella later contests Peter's will in court, telling the judge that the conditions in it have caused enough chaos. The judge agrees and tells Trundle to choose a worthy hero or the money will be awarded to the Savats. Superman states that the hero is Trundle himself as he risked his own life to ensure the money goes to the deserving person and while rescuing Carol. The judge agrees and awards the money to him. The excited Trundle asks Carol to marry him and she agrees.

Appearing in "Too Many Heroes!"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Carol Lorloff
  • Jonathan Trundle

Antagonists:

  • Felix
  • Stella

Other Characters:

Locations:

Notes

  • The first two stories are republished in Superman Special Edition.
  • “Too Many Heroes!” is a revised version of an unpublished 1945 story which was eventually published in 2018's Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman.
  • A one-page Daffy & Doodle gag by Lit-Win has Daffy followed by an alley cat who is happy to have the human companionship until he walks into a dog show.
  • A one-page Casey the Cop gag by Henry Boltinoff has Casey get boxing gloves for his nephew Willie but returning them when the boy beats him senseless.
  • William Morrison has a two-page text piece entitled “The Boy Who Wasn't Too Bright” about Albert Einstein and his opposition to the Nazi Party.
  • A half-page Sonny strip by Jack Bogle has Sonny brutalize a cat, interrupting his father’s relaxation.
  • Boltinoff also has a half-page Little Pete gag where Pete uses a book teaching him to throw his voice to confuse a bully.

Trivia

  • Superman’s secret message to the Superman of America (Code Venus No. 2) is: “YJGTG VJG YKNNKPIPGUU VQ FQ C VJKPI KU ITGCV, VJG FQKPI YKNN PQV DG FKHHKEWNV”.


See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References

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