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Mandrake. Mandrake was created by Lee Falk (The Phantom (III)) and appeared in the comic strip “Mandrake the Magician” (1934 to the present). “Mandrake the Magician” was for many years one of the classic adventure comics, and Mandrake set the archetype for comic strip and comic book magicians for decades.

The fictional Mandrake is modeled on the famous stage magician Leon Mandrake (1911-1993), and is drawn to match him. The fictional Mandrake wears a tuxedo, tails, top hat, and opera cape. At first he is an actual magician, capable of casting real spells, but not long after his debut Mandrake was changed to a stage magician who is very skilled at hypnotism, so that he doesn’t perform any actual magic, he only makes people think he did. His background is never delved in to in any great detail; it is eventually revealed that he has done an apprenticeship in Tibet and has an evil twin, Derek, and a younger sister, Lenore.

Mandrake confronts evil men of all sorts. Among his notable enemies are: the Cobra, a former Tibetan lama and Mandrake's teacher back at the lamasery; Luciphor, a Mad Scientist who had been maimed and disfigured in a laboratory accident, which drove him both mad and evil; Saki, the "Clay Camel," a master of disguise who uses his talents for crime; Paulo, the insane dictator of the country of Dementor; the Great Grando, an illusion-casting magician; and various other Mad Scientists, tyrants, magicians, and gangsters, both on Earth (Mandrake travels widely) and other planets and other dimensions. During the war Mandrake is active in the Pacific, defeating any number of spies (like the Yellow Peril Octopus, Japan's best) and saboteurs.

Mandrake is aided by Lothar, an enormous African who had once ruled the Federated Tribes and his own country but whose life had been saved by Mandrake, thereby putting Lothar in Mandrake's debt. He repays this by serving Mandrake and at length saving Mandrake's life; their relationship gradually evolves into one of equality, with them being partners. Although Mandrake has a number of lady friends over the years, his longest-running lover is Narda, the former princess of Cockaigne, who debuts as someone intent on killing Mandrake, becomes his Loving Enemy, and ends up as his One True Love.

* I'm including the "Mandrake the Magician" in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because of Mandrake's archetypal status. As mentioned, "Mandrake the Magician" was under Lee Falk's and illustrator Phil Davis' hands a classic adventure strips for thirty years. Mandrake, whose visual model was on real-life "tuxedo magicians," quickly became the archetypal fictional magician in look and manner, and remained such up until the great changes of the 1960s. Throughout superhero comics' Golden Age the great majority of the magicians were virtual copies of Mandrake. (The remainder were modeled on Chandu). 

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