Tag Archives: Ringmaster

The Avengers #22, Nov. 1965

The Avengers #22, Nov. 1965

Star-Studded story by Stan Lee!
Peerless pencilling by Don Heck!
Dazzling delineation by Wally Wood!
Lonesome lettering by Artie Simek!

Welp, the Avengers are split up thanks to the scheming of the Enchantress and Power Man… oh, let’s be honest, just the Enchantress. Power Man’s just some big dumb guy with big dumb powers, stupid big dumb stupid dummy dumdum stupid idiot. Dumb. Power.

After some in-fighting, the Avengers go their separate ways. Nobody will hire Hawkeye, Quicksilver, or the Scarlet Witch for any sort of entertainment because everybody’s afraid of them, so they finally end up trying to get a job from the Ringmaster and his “Masters of Menace”. Of all people… When he asks them to help him steal things from people, they beat up the circus of crime and the cops think that they’ve attacked an innocent circus. How embarrassing, to be outsmarted by the Ringmaster.

Meanwhile, Captain America disguises himself as a fat guy and offers Power Man and the Enchantress to start their own Avengers, claiming that he was the one who broke up the old Avengers. Power Man (THE IDIOT) brags about how it was really HIS idea, and Cap gets it all on tape. The Enchantress decides she’s done with this shit and her plan’s foiled, so she magically scampers off somewhere. Without the girl Power Man thought he had a chance with, the fight goes out of him, and the Avengers win! They’re back together for good! Except… Captain America wants to quit?!

Man, seeing the Ringmaster and his Masters of Menace show up was a hilariously unwelcome surprise. I saw that guy’s goofy moustache and hat and groaned aloud. This is their fourth appearance, and it somehow manages to be even weaker than the previous (really terrible) attempts. I hope the Punisher or somebody killed those guys in the 80’s when they went around killing off lame old villains.


Amazing Spider-Man #22, Mar. 1965

Amazing Spider-Man #22, Mar. 1965

Written by: Stan Lee
Illustrated by: Steve Ditko
Lettered by: Artie Simek

Remember the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime? Spider-Man and Daredevil teamed up against them and they’re… circus people who are simple burglars. A fucking awful villain team to go against Spidey. Worse than the Enforcers? Well… maybe not, but they’re a fucking circus and there’s a clown. A CLOWN!

The Ringmaster and his circus of crime (Princess Python, Cannonball, The Great Gambonnos, and The Clown) are released from prison and ready to do some more crimes. But having been caught twice at the same game, they decide they don’t need the Ringmaster to lead them anymore, and kick him out for the crafty, clever mind of… THE CLOWN. The Clown’s plan involves going to an art museum during an exhibition, then performing clown tricks for people while the rest of the crew steals expensive paintings from the rest of the building. Wow. Brilliant.

Against all odds, Spider-Man catches them. He visits the Ringmaster, thinking he’s involved, then hypnotizes him with his own hat to find their hideout. He beats the carnival gang who are now calling themselves the Masters of Menace (YOU ARE A CIRCUS) without ever even using his web-shooters. Just to be a dick about it, I think. In a true twist of irony, the Ringmaster gets unhypnotized at the last moment and heads to the hideout to steal from his backstabbing teammates… just in time to be caught by the police. Wanh wanh.

Yeah, Spider-Man has no problems with these guys at all, except that he doesn’t really want to punch a woman. That’s the biggest problem he had that day. He didn’t want to punch this lady who hugged him and then used a cattle prod to push him into a room with a giant snake who doesn’t even try to attack him. This is why Peter Parker is so bad with women.

Amazing Spider-Man #16, Sept. 1964

Amazing Spider-Man #16, Sept. 1964

Written by: Stan Lee, master of the spoken word
Illustrated by: Steve Ditko, dean of dramatic drawings
Lettered by: S. Rosen, sultan of sparkling spelling

There’s basically only one rule of the Marvel universe: If you get a new series, you have to guest star everywhere else you possibly can. In this case, it forms the basis of the friendship between Spider-Man and Daredevil, which is a nice buddy situation that they never really overuse, and the characters are similar enough at this point that it makes sense.

As a publicity stunt, the nefarious Ringmaster and his circus of crime have advertised that Spider-Man will be at their show, even though they have no intention of making that happen! What evil men these circus folk be. Being bored, Peter Parker sees the ad and decides that it couldn’t hurt anything to actually make an appearance, so he joins the circus. Also, among the crowd gathered to watch is the blind lawyer Matt Murdock, who… How did he explain that a blind man wanted to go to a circus again? He just wanted to smell all the animals or something?

Anyway, the Ringmaster’s power is that he has a top hat which can hypnotize an entire crowd at once, which then leaves them easy to rob. He hypnotizes Spider-Man as well, but he didn’t count on a blind man being there (honestly, I can’t blame him for that one), much less a blind man who’s actually a superhero. Daredevil tries to stop the Ringmaster and he makes Spider-Man defend himself. Thanks to the limited nature of his mental control, Daredevil’s able to get his hat and break Spidey out of the spell, then get back to his seat to let the wall-crawler take care of the rest of the circus. It is his comic, after all, you gotta let the guy do all the fun stuff.

This is a good way to take advantage of Daredevil’s blindness as a strength, put him up against a guy that relies on sight. I don’t think they do that all too much in his comic, but only because it’d be a walk in the park for the guy if all his bad guys were constantly trying to hypnotize him or blind him with bright lights or something. I guess now that I think about it, that does still happen a lot.

The Incredible Hulk #3, Sept. 1962

The Incredible Hulk #3, Sept. 1962

Stan Lee & J. Kirby

So, remember how in the first two issues, Bruce Banner only turns into the Hulk when it’s nighttime? Well, thank god THAT ridiculous idea is over! In this issue it changes… to him always being the Hulk and also being under Rick Jones’ telepathic control. Just like we know today?

There are two stories in this issue (as well as a short recap on the Hulk’s origin story). The first involves Rick Jones tricking the Hulk into riding a special military rocket that General Thunderbolt Ross has insisted only the Hulk can safely pilot. Of course, it’s a trick, and the idea was actually just to launch the Hulk into space so he wouldn’t bother anybody. When he gets out of the atmosphere, however, he’s bombarded by Cosmic Radiation (the same that gave the Fantastic Four their powers, no doubt) and gets telepathically connected to Rick Jones when the boy presses the button to bring the missile back to Earth.

In the second story, Rick decides to take some time off from being able to control the most powerful being in the world to go to a circus, which is led by the sinister Ringmaster, who has a hat which hypnotizes entire audiences all at once, which allows his criminal circus to steal all their valuables. Unfortunately for them, Rick doesn’t get all THAT hypnotized, and calls for the Hulk to come and save him. The big green guy punches an elephant and breaks a bunch of stuff, and then he and Rick go bounding into the sunset.

Wow, that was your second try, Stan? I guess there’s a reason this change didn’t last very long, and it’s mostly because of Marvel’s (and Stan Lee’s) amazing relationship it had with it’s readers at the time. In the letters section at the back of each mag, you get the impression that Marvel’s just as willing to make some changes to make their readers happier. I’d all but bet that the vocal fans didn’t like this minor change to a character that had only been out for a couple months, and that was enough to change him. And that’s pretty cool, but really only something you can do when you’re a rinky-dink operation just starting out.