Monday, August 19, 2013

The Hat Is Quicker Than The Eye

Name This Marvel Villain??

If you're thinking our mystery villain reminds you a little of this guy:

Then you're on the right track. Both were creations of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby; both used performances as covers; both were specialists in hypnotism; and, yes, both had those signature villain twirling moustaches. But unlike the Miracle Man, the Ringmaster needed a little assistance to accomplish his feats of hypnotism--specifically, the mechanical, spinning circle device embedded in his top hat. And with his little travelling circus, he could go from town to town and basically conduct mass pick-pocketing on mesmerized audiences:

For such a petty thief, you'd think the Ringmaster would be small change as far as measuring up as a super-villain. But he's faced off against some of Marvel's heaviest hitters and done surprisingly well. In fact, his first foe was none other than the Hulk. Talk about biting off more than you can chew.


Probably one of the reasons why the Hulk's first series didn't last long. Not many kids want to buy a comic where the title character, supposedly the strongest mortal on Earth, can be taken down by a hose.

And apparently, even immortals of Asgard drop by the circus every now and then. Though they're no more immune to top hats than anyone else:

Of course, the Ringmaster's ego and taste for wealth have made him seek out more ambitious and high-profile heists from time to time. And to assist him with things like distractions and special operations, he's assembled what he calls his Circus of Crime:

You laugh now, yes, but this wily little group has even had the gumption to take on the Avengers:

"Let's get the Avengers--now!" How many circus performers do you know who have the stones to go around shouting that? And what's that his brother is saying--they're disappointed Thor isn't facing off against them, as well? If only being cocky could win the day, eh? At any rate, I'm sure you can predict who came out on top in this fight. I mean, if the Avengers were to get taken out by a clown on a unicycle (literally, a clown on a unicycle) and a guy who performs as a human cannonball, Ultron would never let them hear the end of it.

I'm not sure whatever became of the Ringmaster. Law enforcement seems equally clueless, considering that if they wanted to find and arrest this guy, they'd probably begin by searching, oh, I don't know, circuses. But regardless, you can always count on the Ringmaster to put on a good show.


Edo Bosnar said...

I thought the title of your post involved some kind of trick question: Ringmaster has to be one of the most recognizable villains around.
Otherwise, you make a good point about how tenacious he is. Basically, he and the Circus of Crime are nothing more than glorified pickpockets, yet they've made appearances throughout the '60s and '70s (and even '80s I think), taking on the cream of the Marvel Universe.

Anonymous said...

Say what you want, but the Ringmaster wasn't afraid to take on the heavyweights, was he? I remember in Supervillian Team-Up, he had one of his flunkies charge the Sub-Mariner on an elephant. First time in a comic I ever saw somebody punch out an elephant. (I know that's not nice, I like animals, but it was just a comic).

Comicsfan said...

Well, Edo, I do like to make a few of these not so difficult to guess--though you probably won't be seeing the likes of Dr. Doom or Ultron in these segments! :)

Anonymous, maybe they at least had the good sense not to turn a hose on Namor. ;)

Anonymous said...

I love how the Hulk's big green foot is sticking out of the water. Kirby had a sense of humor, didn't he?