Marvel Two-In-One #76
Issue(s): Marvel Two-In-One #76
But then again you'd think that whenever the Ringmaster found out that super-heroes unexpectedly showed up at his circus he'd put his plans on hold for a while, and that definitely doesn't happen in this issue.
The Thing and Alicia have taken Bill Foster to the circus to get his mind off the fact that he's dying of cancer. Bill Foster appears so much in Two-In-One (and also recently in Spectacular Spider-Man #41) that you assume they were trying to promote him. But in all these appearances he's been dying, and i'm not sure how well Giant-Man: He's Got Cancer! works as a tagline.
In any event, Giant-Man isn't even the official guest for this issue. It's Iceman, who is at the circus on a date with his girlfriend, Terri Bottoms.
And this issue also features the sort-of origin of the Ringmaster. His parents were circus owners in Europe that were killed during a Nazi blitzkrieg.
That's potentially a sympathetic origin except it just resulted in the Ringmaster becoming a petty criminal. He formed the Circus of Crime "out of survival" and has now designed a device (it's a giant version of the spinning disc on his hat) that will put him "into the halls of criminal history". That's a terrific motivation you've got there.
There's also nothing in the origin that explains how he built his hypnotizing device(s). In fact, the Ringmaster wasn't really crying out for an origin, and this origin adds nothing to him and also ties him down to a specific period in history which by 1981 you'd think Marvel would have realized wasn't a good idea.
Despite having a larger scheme in play with the bigger spinning disc, the Circus of Crime is still going through their regular "hypnotize the crowd" routine. It fails because Alicia is blind and therefore immune to the hypnotism, which is a repeat of Amazing Spider-Man #16. I'd say that the Circus of Crime should have been ready for this sort of thing, but i guess only Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, and the Thing are cruel enough to think that taking their blind friends to the circus is a good idea.
Anyway, despite the addition of a Fire Eater...
...and a Tarrax the Tamer (no relation to Terrax the Tamer)...
...the Circus of Crime don't fare very well against three super-heroes.
It really does seem like the origin story was meant to make us pity the Ringmaster.
Nice art by Jerry Bingham, but i have to say i'm shocked to see that David Michelinie scripted this. Even working with this plot, you'd think he could have done better with the Ringmaster's origin and motivation for this issue.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places this between Fantastic Four #228-229. Iceman was between teams at this time.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAlicia Masters, Bill Foster, Clown, Ernesto Gambonno, Fire Eater, Human Cannonball, Iceman, Livewire, Luigi Gambonno, Princess Python, Ringmaster, Terri Sue Bottoms, Thing
Wasn't it established by this time that the Ringmaster's father was also a Ringmaster with his own crime circus? Specifically, the one from Simon & Kirby's Timely Cap stories?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 12, 2013 5:37 PM
That is the case (the MCP lists the flashback as an appearance for the Golden Age Ringmaster) but i don't recall it having been established yet.
It's pretty odd, too, considering the original was a Nazi and according to this story he was killed in a Nazi blitzkrieg.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 12, 2013 6:02 PM
This was published the same month as Uncanny X-Men 146, the Arcade's Murder World storyline that ran from UX 145-147 where Professor X recruited Iceman to the alumnus team to rescue the hostages. Iceman thinks about how he misses "the old excitement" as one of the X-Men here and pictures himself alongside the X-Men in their post- UX 39 costumes. This suggests he appears here shortly before he enthusiastically takes up Professor X's offer to help rescue Arcade's hostages in UX 145.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | July 15, 2013 5:49 AM
Terri Bottoms - another awesome name from Marvel Comics.
Posted by: clyde | February 22, 2015 2:34 PM
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