Issue(s): Hulk #3
Banner had Rick Jones trap him there before nightfall. It's a really weird, really cool scene. The Hulk is being drawn less like a gawky Frankenstein monster and more squat and powerful. At the same time, it feels like Stan Lee wasn't sure what to do with a monster for a main character on an ongoing basis. After helping the army to trick the Hulk into getting launched into space (hmmmmmm, precedent for the Illuminati's Hulk solution)...
...Rick feels guilty and jams up the controls in the launch control room. Simultaneously, the Hulk is being bombarded by (cosmic?) rays in outer space, and some of that radiation shoots back into Rick through the control panel. The radiation has two effects - 1. It allows the Hulk to remain the Hulk even in the daytime (was Stan's goal to get rid of Bruce Banner?) and 2. It gives Rick Jones telepathic control over the Hulk, turning the concept of the book into more of a "boy and his monster fight crime" theme.
After taking a nap and dreaming about the Hulk's origin (guys, that just happened two issues ago - no need for a 3 page flashback already), Rick gets caught up in a scheme by the Ringmaster, whose cheesey MO hasn't changed since day one.
Once Rick's hypnosis wears off, the Rick-controlled Hulk smashes up the (unnamed at this time) Circus of Crime, escaping with Rick when the military shows up.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Hulk: Transformations TPB
Inbound References (8): show
Captain America fought a Ringmaster in his Golden Age series when Simon & Kirby were doing it; it was the probably the inspiration for this one.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 31, 2011 12:52 AM
Like everyone else, I think the Circus of Crime is ridiculous, but there's something about this issue that makes them seem genuinely creepy. Kirby really makes them seem like plague of locusts roaring around the desolate American Southwest.
Actually, if you look at the Circus of Crime's track record, they lose, but they're pretty ambitious!
* 1962, fight Hulk
* 1964, fight Spider-Man & Daredevil
* 1965, fight Spider-Man
* 1965, fight (and defeat) the Kooky Quartet Avengers
* 1967, brainwash Thor (never punished for this)
* 1969, crash the Yellowjacket wedding and get jumped by every super hero in the Marvel Universe
I mean, sure: losers! But holy God, a clown does this. Not a super clown, a magic clown, or a robot-clown. A clown-clown. Attention must be paid.
Posted by: James Nostack | September 14, 2011 2:22 PM
It's not just the Circus of Crime. While it may be hard to observe since the odds of someone encountering a circus in the Marvel Universe that isn't being run by the Ringmaster is very low, pretty much all circus folk provide an unusually difficult challenge for Marvel super-heroes. A group of carnies nearly overrun the X-Mansion in Uncanny #3, for example. Similarly, Hawkeye, who on paper has absolutely no business being in the Avengers, got his start in a circus.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 14, 2011 5:34 PM
Yeah, I was going to refer to that X-Men #3 thing. Circuses are bad-ass! Not just the Blob, but the Swordsman too. Unus is a professional wrestler, which might as well be the circus. I assume the Enforcers are former circus folk, and probably the Acrobat and the Tumbler too (who could very plausibly be the Great Gambonno's moonlighting, I suppose).
Just as there are a lot of circus-type villains, It goes the other way, too! In, like, Fantastic Four 15, Johnny Storm's fondest wish is to join his freak-cousins in the circus. To me, this sounds crazy: Johnny Storm is a astronaut super hero who does nothing but drive race cars and heavy-pet barely legal teens every day. He would drop all that for the circus in a heartbeat. Clearly he knows something special about the circus.
Likewise Quicksilver, in his early Avengers period, is like, "I know I'm an Avenger, and one time I conquered a country, but it's all just stepping stones to joining the circus."
Maybe circuses are, like, some parallel athletic conference for super folks, sort of like the AFC/NFC divide. We assume the Circus of Crime doesn't have any powers, but maybe that's ignorance from not following those teams.
Man, now I am wondering about a whole passel of unpublished circus-themed comic books. You've got your Circus of Crime, so obviously there's gotta be a Circus of Justice. And maybe like a Cirque de Outre...
Posted by: James Nostack | September 14, 2011 11:49 PM
The short lived TV series THE CAPE from a couple of years ago featured a superhero who was trained by a Circus of Crime. They started doing good deeds early on and ended up qualifying as a Circus of Justice. But, nobody watched THE CAPE, so it really doesn't matter.
Posted by: Jay Patrick | April 21, 2013 3:38 AM
"After helping the army to trick the Hulk into getting launched into space (hmmmmmm, precedent for the Illuminati's Hulk solution)"
Which I always thought was utterly ridiculous. Mainly because Doctor Strange exiled the Hulk to ANOTHER FREAKING DIMENSION at one point, and he STILL managed to find his way back. Why did any of the supposedly smartest minds in the Marvel universe think that SPACE alone would be enough to keep him away?
You just have to know that something like that is going to hideously backfire when he finds his way back and is all sorts of pissed. Whether it be by accidental spacewarp, some alien race picking him up and deciding to use him as a weapon, him accidentally finding a space-ship that can autopilot its way to Earth, or whatever. Coming back at the head of an alien army was certainly unexpected, but there was no way that was ever going to end well regardless.
Posted by: ParanoidObsessive | July 22, 2014 3:59 PM
Well, in the Illuminati's defense, sending the Hulk into space was only half the plan. The other half was putting him on a world where he wouldn't want to leave, which is already a stepup from the military and Strange's plan.
That part of the plan ended up not happening.
Posted by: Max_Spider | July 22, 2014 6:37 PM
Ringmaster is one of those villains who first appears fighting an absurdly much stronger hero and aside from random encounters here and there is never really associated with that hero again. Who else falls in this club? Cobra (Thor) is one, Scarecrow (Iron Man)...
Posted by: MikeCheyne | June 26, 2015 10:03 AM
@Mikechenyne. I'd put Goldbug (Powerman) in that catergory.
Posted by: kveto | June 26, 2015 12:31 PM
@MikeCheyne - Mystique (Ms. Marvel) sort of fits that category.
Posted by: Erik Beck | June 26, 2015 5:00 PM
The reviewer notes that "the Hulk is being drawn less like a gawky Frankenstein monster and more squat and powerful." This is dead on.
Hulk's arms are noticeably much more massive and longer than his legs in this issue. This is particularly noticeable in the splash page to chapter 1 (a very powerful drawing IMO). Notice also that the Hulk's feet haven't yet grown enough to completely split out of Banner's shoes in that drawing, perhaps suggesting that his feet were less affected by the mutation than his head and upper torso, or perhaps that his transformation was still ongoing.
Compare the normal proportions of Rick Jones with those of the Hulk in the scan where they're standing side by side with their right hands raised. Hulk is at least a foot or two taller than Rick, but Rick's legs seem to be at least as long or longer. Banner has longer legs than Rick's in issue #2, so have Banner's legs shrunk? ...or just thickened massively without lengthening?
Hulk wears Banner's torn clothes throughout this issue, instead of the purple swim trunks he wears in #2 and several other contemporaneous appearances. It's a better look for him. Hulk's left arm seems almost diminutive compared to his right arm in 2 or 3 of the scans. At least 3 of the circus people also have unusual leg to arm proportioning. I wish Ditko had been retained as Kirby's inker for at least this one issue. Ah whell at least we get to see do a full treatment of the Circus of Crime in Amazing Spider-Man #16!
Posted by: James Holt | July 30, 2016 2:10 PM
The Hulk didn't wear the purple trunks until he recovered from Rick's mind control next issue. Getting Ditko to ink Kirby was always a sweet thing, but Ditko made more money doing pencils than inks. At least Ditko never stopped inking his own pencils on Spider-Man.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | July 30, 2016 6:09 PM
Another sweet moment was for Ditko inks on Kirby pencils was Fantastic Four #13 with the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes. I seem to recall a few from the pre-super-hero monster comic days, but can't put my finger on them easily.
Posted by: James Holt | July 30, 2016 6:43 PM
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