The Clown

The Clown
The comic book history of The Clown, an enemy of Magno the Magnetic Man and his sidekick Davey...a normal boy he regularly puts in physical danger.

If you've learned anything about being a supervillain from this podcast, then you've probably come away with the idea that a solid gimmick is only half the battle. Joker, the Riddler, Prankster, and now the Clown: all kind of the same thing. It's not the idea, it's what you do with it.

Down to Clown

The Clown, really needed to figure out what his whole deal was. He enters the the public library. Like any super-villain on a budget before the internet, he needed a high school chemistry book to complete his experiment. In disguise tried to rip it from the hands of Davey, high school kid and side-kick to Magno - more on him later, but the librarian, a man who was pretty serious about the honor of the public library, ignored the stranger's threats and gave the book to the kid.

The librarian 100% is not paid enough to put up with this.

Davey and the librarian then watched awkwardly as the stranger went to the corner of the room and disrobed... wasn't...quite like that, though it might be better if it was? He revealed that he was wearing a yellow bodysuit with a green belt, boots, and ruff - you know, that medieval neck thing. He revealed...that he was the clown.

And, true to his name, he just started trashing the library.

Murder on page 2. Magno and Davey comics go hard.

But remember the librarian who I guess was getting paid enough to physically defend the books? He wasn't having any of that. Unfortunately, that's when the clown revealed that he was more than happy to stretch the definition of "clowning around" when he pulled out a dagger and stabbed the librarian to death. Kids' comics weren't messing around in 1940.

Anyway, the Clown went after Davey, but the kid slipped away to the Clown screaming, no joke, that today he would destroy the public library, tomorrow the city. Which...way to start small but then immediately go really big, I guess. Also, if it was your grand plan to destroy the city, just do that and the assume that the public library is going with it.

The Clown was successful with the library, burning it down, and after inciting Davey, a child, into a fistfight because the Clown also threatened to burn the American flag and no patriotic boy was going to let that happen, it drew the attention of Magno.

Technically according to Texas v. Johnson he can, Davey. It's protected speech.

Now, Magno is basically if Bruce Wayne was also Magneto, which sounds awesome. He's a rich millionaire playboy who fights crime and has a clown nemesis and a child side-kick. And the character debuted less than a year after Batman did in Detective Comics...The reason the Magno and Davey movie isn't pulling in $800 million at the box office is that the writers...didn't really care about Magno's backstory at all. He never appeared outside his costume. We don't get any sort of motivations or conflicts regarding why he does what he does. No Marthas in sight.


Anyway, the clown, displaying a profound level of scientific acumen when possessing only a high school chemistry textbook, went back to his underground lair hidden in the graveyard - remember how I said he needs to figure out his whole deal? Yeah, the Joker used a condemned amusement park. Why is the clown using a graveyard? Like, figure out your branding. He commanded his slave, Lydia, to start work on an anti-magnetism spray, which...there's a lot there we won't unpack.

So, there's always been a sort of...weird undercurrent to the Batman and Robin dynamic, especially in the early issues. Magno kind of takes this up a notch when, to temporarily share his power, he has to...quote...rub the boy. Yeah... but, Magno and now Davey's powers are control of all metal, not super protection from concussions. The Clown lured them into a collapsing building, and they woke up in his evil lair.

Long story short, the clown, though he sprayed everything in the room with anti-magnetic spray, Magno noticed that the water faucets got wet and some of the spray washed off. Magno pulled them from the wall with his powers. The anti-magnetic spray thus washed from the room, the Clown cursed Magno for spoiling his experiments and they all learned a lesson about lab safety when Magno punched the clown over a table, some chemicals that shouldn't mix - yet were apparently sitting in open containers on a flimsy table - mixed, and the lab blew. The clown was dead. Or was he? He wasn't. Literally minutes after the heroes left with Lydia the hypnotized lab assistant, the Clown sprung from the ground.

All they had to do was stay for a few more minutes. Or investigate things at all.

You don't let a villain like the clown gather dust, and the writers didn't. He got a lot of issues...and, well, I guess also had a lot of issues... and did a lot of different things. He tried his hand at being a mob boss. He kidnapped Davey and hypnotized him, trying to goad Magno into killing him but then using him to trash a retirement home for some reason. He always had the heroes at the end, but he always relied on that tired trope of tying them to something - like an anchor or a missile - and waiting for them to die.

This is probably unreasonably intense for a children's comic.


You have to wonder if he even wanted to succeed. I mean, the dude had anti-magnetic spray, degravitating fluid he used to fly, a pretty solid hypnosis machine, a, quote, fourth-dimension machine, that he used to grow into a giant. If he wanted to he could have just sold any of those during wartime and cashed in.


But...that would assume that the Clown wanted the Allied powers to win...which...I guess is a bigger assumption than one might think because the Clown...the Clown was a Nazi sympathizer, something that even his organized crime lackeys had a hard time swallowing. Because they might beat up elderly women in their intimidation racket...but even they drew the line when it came to supporting the Nazis.

During World War II things got weird. Well, weirder. The Clown, like his idol, Hitler, developed a fascination with the occult and, in one of the last issues, succeed in trapping Magno in Hell. Magno escaped, but the book was cancelled a few issues later and the Clown, well, without a hero to give him purpose, disappeared into obscurity.

Hell looks an awful lot like the illustrator did not want to take the time to draw fire.
Holy Comic Book Sources, Batman!

Want more of the most ridiculous comic book villains of all time?

Preeeetty sure The Clown, Magno, and Davey are in the public domain, but please do your own research to confirm before using these characters.