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[[caption-width-right:293:Mandrake and Lothar.]]

Lee Falk's (''ComicStrip/ThePhantom'') first comic series, ''Mandrake the Magician'' is his other contender for "first costumed [[{{Superhero}} superhero]] in the comics". It all depends on if you want to count a tuxedo, with top hat and cape no less, as a costume.

Creator/KingFeaturesSyndicate started publishing ''Mandrake'' in 1934. The first story ''The Cobra'' introduced Mandrake's [[BashBrothers bash brother]], Lothar, an African prince who preferred fighting evil to his princely duties. Oh, yeah, Lothar is black. And perhaps the earliest black character portrayed seriously in comics. The second story ''The Hawk'' introduced Narda, who would become Mandrake's romantic interest. After [[ComicBookTime sixty years]] they finally married in 1998.

Educated in the mysterious ''Collegium Magikos'' in the Himalayas, Mandrake's main ability is the power to [[MasterOfIllusion create any illusion]] he can think of in a target's mind, just by "gesturing hypnotically." He also has some [[PsychicPowers telepathic abilities.]] Naturally, his illusion-casting powers make him the [[MagiciansAreWizards world's greatest stage magician,]] and that is how he earns his living when he's not busy fighting the forces of evil.

Art on the series was done by Phil Davis, and later by Fred Fredericks. Following Lee Falk's death, Fredericks took over writing the series as well, until his retirement on July 6, 2013. The Comics Kingdom site is currently running reprints, starting from 1995.

%%Can be read [[http://www.oregonlive.com/comics-kingdom/index.ssf?feature_id=Mandrake here.]]
!!Mandrake's adventures provide examples of:

* AnimatedAdaptation: Mandrake has been animated twice, in the 1972 special ''WesternAnimation/TheManWhoHatedLaughter'' and the 1986 series ''WesternAnimation/DefendersOfTheEarth''. He co-starred with other King Features characters in both projects.
* BadassMoustache: Of the pencil-thin variety, which [[{{Franchise/Zorro}} few good guys]] can pull off so well.
* BaldOfAwesome: Lothar is awesome and bald.
* BashBrothers: Lothar and Mandrake are inseparable crime fighters.
* BetaCouple: Lothar and Karma, to Mandrake and Narda's alpha.
* BigfootSasquatchAndYeti: Mandrake discovers the Yeti creatures in the Himalaya. He finds out they are actually technologically-advanced HumanAliens in disguise who lived for millenia hidden from humans, [[BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy but secretly influenced their advancement of science]], while also posing as gods to them. Mandrake wants them to interact with the Earthlings further to help them in human progress, but they have to leave to the stars, not bothering to eliminate/brainwash Mandrake because they know nobody would believe him, especially after they destroyed all remnants of their own civilisation behind. Mandrake decides not to say anything about what he learned.
* BlackSheep: Mandrake's evil twin brother Derek and evil half-brother Cobra
* CallingCard: The Clay Camel would always leave a small clay camel figurine at the scene of a crime, and whenever he escaped capture. His daughter, The Brass Monkey, did a similar thing.
* ComicBookTime: In all the decades of the strip's run, the characters never aged.
* CoolOldGuy: Mandrake's dad Theron runs the College of Magic.
* CrossOver: As an African prince, Lothar is invited to ComicStrip/ThePhantom's wedding, and Mandrake gets to tag along. The two strips have had multiple crossovers over the years, establishing that the Phantom, Lothar, Mandrake, and their respective supporting casts are all friends.
* DependingOnTheWriter: Is Mandrake's trademark hypnotic gesture necessary to his illusion magic, or just a stylistic flourish? One story written by Fred Fredericks has Mandrake rendered helpless when his hands are tied, but a different story by Lee Falk has Mandrake in a similar situation switch to using HypnoticEyes without missing a beat.
* DisproportionateRetribution: Qork is a giant alien who is punished with banishment to space, with only a raft and minimal supplies to subsist him. His crime? Falling asleep on his job, where he was in charge with guiding his ship, which hit a meteor.
* EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses: Mandrake's girlfriend and eventual wife, Princess Narda.
* EvilTwin: Derek is literally Mandrake's evil twin.
* FantasyKitchenSink: Magic, aliens, robots, parallel universes, time travel, you name it, Mandrake has encountered it at some point.
* FriendOrIdolDecision: Lothar becomes a champion wrestler in one story, surrounded with riches and glory. When he realizes that this means he cannot go on adventures with Mandrake and friends any longer, he decides to abandon it all and rejoin his old friend.
* GeniusBruiser: Lothar is strong ''and'' intelligent
* GentleGiant: Qork, a giant almost as big as a moon, but who means no harm and is very nice. He is dying of thirst and would like to drink some water from the Earth's ocean, but he refuses to endanger any people and prefers to sacrifice his own life.
* HomeBase: Xanadu is Mandrake's elaborate home and H.Q.
* InformedAttractiveness: Lee Falk sometimes went to extreme lengths to point out just how beautiful Narda is.
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Mandrake's memory has been "fixed" several times, usually by well-meaning, but condescending aliens and time-travellers who think it's too dangerous to let him remember all the fantastic things he has seen.
* LukeIAmYourFather: In the beginning, Mandrake didn't know Theron was his dad.
* MagiciansAreWizards: Mandrake's public persona is a stage magician of the top-hat-and-evening-dress school, but he also possesses genuine magic.
* MasterOfDisguise: The Clay Camel is a criminal master of disguise.
** And later his daughter, The Brass Monkey.
* MasterOfIllusion: Mandrake gestures hypnotically.
* MeetCute: Mandrake first meets Princess Narda after two of her servants try to mug him.
* MentalPictureProjector: Mandrake can make a subject's memories appear as moving images on a wall
* NiceHat: Mandrake's top hat.
* TheNotableNumeral: The villainous 8 gang
* OurGiantsAreBigger: One story had Mandrake help Qork, an alien giant who is so big ''he is the size of a country'' while Mandrake is the size of a micro-organism compared to him. He communicates with him using telepathy.
* PowerCrystal: The Crystal Cube, source of tremendous magical power, watched over by Theron at the College.
* ProtoSuperhero: Mandrake first appeared in 1934, four years before Franchise/{{Superman}}'s debut, and may be regarded as part of a transitional stage between older adventure stories and modern superhero comics.
* PullARabbitOutOfMyHat: In one story, Mandrake did a magic show for a group of school children in which he appeared to pull an ''elephant'' out of his hat (it started out tiny, grew to normal size, and then shrank again as he put it back). When the school bully suggested that he'd merely used an elephant-shaped balloon, Mandrake stuck him into the hat, and invited the rest of the children to look into the hat and watch him being chased around by the tiny elephant.
* [[RebelliousPrincess Rebellious Prince]]: Lothar is the prince of a nation in Africa, but prefers to go around the world having adventures with Mandrake.
%%* ScaryBlackMan: Lothar, again.
* TheShangriLa: ''Collegium Magikos,'' the College of Magic in the Himalayas
* SocietyMarchesOn: In the early comics, Lothar was essentially Mandrake's manservant/porter/slave, who barely spoke, did menial tasks (and beat up villains on command), and tended to vanish and appear when convenient. (Nevermind the fact that his initial appearance resembled less an actual human being and more ''Black Sambo''.) When this sort of depiction became unacceptable, he developed into a proper character with an actual personality and on equal footing with Mandrake.
* StageMagician: Mandrake's public persona is a stage magician of the top-hat-and-evening-dress school.
* TheSyndicate: The "8" Gang, led by Octon [[spoiler: who is finally revealed as Cobra.]]
* TunnelKing: The Mole, a genius inventor with a headmounted broad-beam heat ray capable of vaporising rock. It was so effective, his regular outfit included a jetpack so he could keep up. Naturally, [[CutLexLuthorACheck he used it to steal from banks.]]
* VerbalTic: Lee Falk... really seemed to like... ellipses! It can give the characters... a certain... [[Creator/WilliamShatner Shatneresque]] quality!
* VillainExitStageLeft: The Clay Camel would almost always get away in the end by disguising himself into an inconspicuous bystander or police officer and sneak away. The heroes would then realize they've been foiled when they find a discarded disguise and one of his CallingCard camel figurines. The Brass Monkey used the same trick.
* WizardingSchool: ''Collegium Magikos'' is a school of magic in the Himalayas.
* WorldsStrongestMan: Lothar has always been billed as the strongest man in the world.