Picking up from last week’s theme, the creative and editorial team of Denny O’Neil, Jim Aparo and Dick Giordano created another lost gem series in the back pages of the final issue of THUNDERBOLT. It was this strip which replaced the Sentinels, about whom we’ve spoken before. Unfortunately, there was only a single story ever produced–from here, all three men would find their way to DC, where they would take on a bevy of more lucrative and popular assignments. So this is a bit of a What If installment.
The strip was called The Prankster, and it owed a bit of a debt to Harlan Ellison’s classic prose story “Repent, Harlequin, Said The Tick-Tock Man!” I don’t know whether Harlan was ever asked about the Prankster, but he had certainly had dealings with Denny over the years, and so if he was in any way offended or felt ripped off, he definitely would have mentioned it. That is, assuming that Harlan realized that “Sergius O’Shaugnessy” was Denny in the first place.
Set in the pristine future city of Ultrapolis, The Prankster concerns the criminal activities of a singular freedom fighter dressed in a jester’s outfit-cum-super hero costume who wages war with the totalitarian regime which has outlawed creativity in all its forms. The Prankster, then, is a classic trickster figure.
There’s really not all that much more left to tell, as this initial seven-page story was all their was of the Prankster. But he was a favorite of Fred Hembeck’s, and Fred devoted a Dateline @#$% column to him in the late 1970s, which is where I first heard about the strip.
And yeah, it ends on a cliffhanger. I prefer to imagine that the Prankster was able to effect his escape, as the next chapter would have depicted. But I suppose it’s equally valid to believe that he was shot by that soldier and killed. Your choice.
THUNDERBOLT #60 also included this house ad for Giordano’s assorted Action-Hero titles, written in his inimitable style. He wasn’t quite as bombastic as Stan Lee, but he had a certain level of fun and self-effacement to his editorial material, which is well showcased here. It’s almost like a Marvel ad, but a bit more restrained and dignified.