Circus of Crime

Circus of Crime
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The Incredible Hulk #3 (September 1962)
Created by Stan Lee (writer)
Jack Kirby (artist)
In-story information
Base(s) New York
Member(s) Ringmaster
The Clown
Bruto the Strongman
The Human Cannonball
The Great Gambonnos
Princess Python
Live Wire

The Circus of Crime is a fictional villainous organization appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Publication history

The modern Circus of Crime first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #3 (September 1962),[1] and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Fictional team biography

Old West

There were two organizations in the Old West who dubbed themselves the Circus of Crime. Both teams fought against Kid Colt.[2][3][4][5]

World War II

Originally a spy organization employed by the Nazis during World War II, Tiboldt's Circus was a traveling circus led by Fritz Tiboldt, the Ringmaster, and he and his performers would use their special skills and talents to rob their audiences. He was sent to America to murder US Government officials using the cover of his circus activities. Tiboldt and his gang fell afoul of Captain America and were deported back to Germany, where Fritz Tiboldt and his wife were subsequently murdered by their former employers.[6]

Modern day

The modern day Circus of Crime first came to the authorities' attention when they carried out a series of robberies of small towns using the Ringmaster's skill in hypnotism to mesmerize entire towns. Regrettably for the Circus, Rick Jones was one of the victims of their capers, and his involvement led to the involvement of the Hulk, as Rick briefly had telepathic control over the Hulk. He resisted the Ringmaster's hypnotism when the Ringmaster tried to bill him as 'The Monster of the Age', leading to the Circus' arrest.[1][7] After a brief stretch in prison, the Circus visited New York City, where they battled both Spider-Man and Daredevil.[8][9] The Ringmaster was briefly able to hypnotise Spider-Man. The Circus' core members later briefly operated as the Masters of Menace, a name thought up by Princess Python, after being released from prison and throwing the Ringmaster off the team, replacing him with the Clown. They were again captured by Spider-Man.[10][11]

The Circus of Crime established themselves as recurrent antagonists in several Marvel Comics series, where they briefly attempted to recruit Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch into their ranks when the Avengers had been disbanded.[12] The Ringmaster later hypnotized Thor into assisting with one of the Circus' schemes while the Thunder God was stripped of most of his powers except his strength.[13][14][15] Battling the Avengers again, they attempted to sabotage the Wasp and Yellowjacket's wedding.[16][17] Other encounters pitted them against Daredevil[18] and Power Man.[19][20] They later fought Power Pack[21] and Generation X.[22]

Initially depicted as credible villains, the Circus of Crime's members were gradually used by writers as comic foils, and were once defeated by Howard the Duck.[23][24][25] They were featured as antagonists in the first issue of the Sensational She-Hulk series, in which writer John Byrne regularly used minor or forgotten characters for parodic purposes.[26]

A new iteration of the group known as Cirque Du Nuit later surfaces, acting as enemies of Hawkeye and Kate Bishop.[27]


Nineteenth century

This team briefly forced Kid Colt to assist them until he exposed them.

Old West (1870s)

World War II

Modern Day

Former members

In other media



  1. 1 2 DeFalco, Tom; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1960s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 88. ISBN 978-0756641238. The Incredible Hulk #3 featured the first Marvel Age appearance of the all-new Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Lee, Stan (w), Keller, Jack (p), Keller, Jack (i). "The Kid Joins the Circus! / The Last Performance" Kid Colt Outlaw 106 (September 1962)
  3. Christiansen, Jeff (April 4, 2005). "Circus of Crime (Kid Colt foes)". The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012.
  4. Thomas, Roy; Skeates, Steve (w), Keller, Jack (p), Keller, Jack (i). "Iron Mask and His Circus of Crime" Kid Colt Outlaw 127 (March 1966)
  5. Christiansen, Jeff (November 19, 2002). "Iron Mask". The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Archived from the original on April 9, 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Simon, Joe; Kirby, Jack (w), Simon, Joe; Kirby, Jack (p), Simon, Joe (i). "The Ringmaster of Death" Captain America Comics 5 (August 1941)
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Lee, Stan (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Ayers, Dick (i). "The Ringmaster" The Incredible Hulk 3 (September 1962)
  8. 1 2 Lee, Stan (w), Ditko, Steve (p), Ditko, Steve (i). "Duel with Daredevil" The Amazing Spider-Man 16 (September 1964)
  9. Manning, Matthew K.; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2012). "1960s". Spider-Man Chronicle Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 26. ISBN 978-0756692360. In this issue, the Man Without Fear first clashed with a hypnotized Spidey; then helped him take on the former Hulk adversaries the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime.
  10. 1 2 Lee, Stan (w), Ditko, Steve (p), Ditko, Steve (i). "The Clown and His Masters of Menace!" The Amazing Spider-Man 22 (March 1965)
  11. Manning "1960s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 28: "New recruit Princess Python staged a coup that saw established member the Clown become leader of the troupe."
  12. Lee, Stan (w), Heck, Don (p), Wood, Wally (i). "The Road Back" The Avengers 22 (November 1965)
  13. Lee, Stan (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "Abandoned on Earth!" Thor 145 (October 1967)
  14. Lee, Stan (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "-- If the Thunder Be Gone!" Thor 146 (November 1967)
  15. Lee, Stan (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "The Wrath of Odin!" Thor 147 (December 1967)
  16. Thomas, Roy (w), Buscema, John (p), Esposito, Mike (i). "Till Death Do Us Part" The Avengers 60 (January 1969)
  17. Manning "1960s" in Gilbert (2012), p. 46: "This bizarre wedding tale saw...the Circus of Crime serving as the prerequisite wedding crashers."
  18. 1 2 Conway, Gerry (w), Heck, Don (p), Colletta, Vince (i). "Circus Spelled Sideways Is Death!" Daredevil 118 (February 1975)
  19. 1 2 Isabella, Tony (w), Tuska, George (p), Hunt, Dave (i). "Among Us Walks... Black Goliath!" Power Man 24 (April 1975)
  20. Isabella, Tony; Mantlo, Bill (w), Wilson, Ron (p), Kida, Fred (i). "Crime and Circuses" Power Man 25 (June 1975)
  21. Higgins, Michael; Kruchkow, Seth (w), Morgan, Tom (p), Morgan, Tom (i). "At the Circus!" Power Pack 59 (October 1990)
  22. DeFalco, Tom (w), Buckingham, Mark (p), Vey, Al; Holdredge, Jon; Hanna, Scott (i). "A Day At The Circus!" Generation X 32 (November 1997)
  23. 1 2 Gerber, Steve (w), Colan, Gene (p), Janson, Klaus (i). "Getting Smooth!" Howard the Duck 25 (June 1978)
  24. Gerber, Steve (w), Colan, Gene (p), Janson, Klaus (i). "Repercussions...!" Howard the Duck 26 (July 1978)
  25. Gerber, Steve (w), Colan, Gene (p), Janson, Klaus (i). "Circus Maximus" Howard the Duck 27 (September 1978)
  26. Byrne, John (w), Byrne, John (p), Wiacek, Bob (i). "Second Chance" The Sensational She-Hulk 1 (May 1989)
  27. 1 2 Fraction, Matt (w), Aja, David (p), Aja, David (i). "Vagabond Code" Hawkeye v4, 2 (November 2012)
  28. Lee, Stan (w), Keller, Jack (p), Keller, Jack (i). "Iron Mask!" Kid Colt Outlaw 110 (May 1963)
  29. Lee, Stan (w), Keller, Jack (p), Keller, Jack (i). "The Unbeatable Mr. Brown!" Kid Colt Outlaw 112 (September 1963)
  30. Lee, Stan (w), Keller, Jack (p), Keller, Jack (i). "Dr. Danger and the Invisible Gunman" Kid Colt Outlaw 116 (May 1964)
  31. Lee, Stan (w), Keller, Jack (p), Keller, Jack (i). "The Fearsome Fat Man!" Kid Colt Outlaw 117 (July 1964)
  32. Lee, Stan (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Ayers, Dick (i). "Beware!! The Terrible Totem!!" Rawhide Kid 22 (June 1961)
  33. Lee, Stan (w), Ayers, Dick (p), Ayers, Dick (i). "The Amazing Mr. Hurricane!" Two-Gun Kid 70 (July 1964)
  34. Lee, Stan (w), Ayers, Dick (p), Ayers, Dick (i). "The Rattler Strikes" Rawhide Kid 37 (December 1963)
  35. Lee, Stan (w), Ayers, Dick (p), Ayers, Dick (i). "Revenge of the Red Raven" Rawhide Kid 38 (February 1964)
  36. Englehart, Steve (w), Giffen, Keith; McCarron, Owen (p), McCarron, Owen (i). "Escape!" Super-Villain Team-Up 8 (October 1976)
  37. 1 2 DeFalco, Tom; Michelinie, David (w), Bingham, Jerry (p), Stone, Chic (i). "The Big Top Bandits" Marvel Two-in-One 76 (June 1981)
  38. 1 2 3 DeFalco, Tom (w), Lyle, Tom (p), Jones, Robert (i). "Duel With Devil Dinosaur" The Amazing Spider-Man Annual '98 1 (July 1998)
  39. Mantlo, Bill (w), Buscema, Sal (p), Sinnott, Joe (i). "Dragon-Night!" The Incredible Hulk v2, 292 (February 1984)
  40. Lee, Stan (w), Kirby, Jack (p), Everett, Bill (i). "Ulik Unleashed!" Thor 173 (February 1970)

External links

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