CIRCUS OF CRIME

Membership: Bruto the Strong Man, Clown (Elliot Franklin), Clown (Franklin's alleged half-brother), Fire-Eater, Great Gambonnos, Human Cannonball, Live Wire, Princess Python, Ringmaster (Maynard Tiboldt), Teena the Fat Lady;
formerly Antoro, Bert, Blackwing (Joey Manfredi), Blossom, Chondu the Magician, Clem, Destiny (Irene Adler), Devil Dinosaur, Dog-Faced Boy, Dragon Man, Eden, Fifi, Glamazonia (She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters), Hawkeye the Marksman (Clint Barton), Howard the Duck, Iron Jack Baker, Jeb, Kimba the tiger, Major Minor, Mechano (Hulk), Moon Boy, Mystique (Raven Darkholme), Precious the python, Professor, Rajah, "Stilt Performer", Stilts, Sultan the elephant, Swordsman, Tarrax the Tamer, "Thor" (Mike), several unidentified members

Purpose: Circus performances as a cover for robberies; occasionally affiliations with organized crime

Affiliations: A.I.M., Army of Evil (Absorbing Man/Carl Creel, Anaconda, Armadillo, Baron Blood/John Falsworth, Baron Zemo/Helmut Zemo, Blackout/Marcus Daniels, Blood Brothers, Boomslang, Brothers Grimm/Barton & Percy Grimes, Bulldozer/Henry Camp, Bushmaster/Quincy McIver, Coachwhip, Cottonmouth/Burchell Clemens, Crossbones/Brock Rumlow, Cyclone/Pierre Fresson, Death Adder/Theodore Scott, Dragonfly/Veronica Dultry, Fer-de-Lance, Ferocia, Graviton/Franklin Hall, Grey Gargoyle/Paul Pierre Duval, Gypsy Moth/Sybil Dvorak, Ironclad/Mike Steel, Klaw/Ulysses Klaw, Kraven the Hunter/Sergei Kravinoff, Living Laser/Arthur Parks, Madame Menace/Sunset Bain, Mentallo/Marvin Flumm, Mr. Hyde/Calvin Zabo, Nitro/Robert Hunter, Piledriver/Brian Calusky, Puff Adder, Rock Python, Sidewinder/Gregory Bryan, Squid/Don Callahan, Thunderball/Elliot Franklin, Tiger Shark/Todd Arliss, Vapor/Ann Darnell, Vector/Simon Utrecht, Viper/Jordan Dixon, Whirlwind/David Cannon, Wizard, Wrecker/Dirk Garthwaite, X-Ray/James Darnell, Yellowjacket/Darren Cross), Boris, Doc Samson (Leonard Samson), Doctor Sax, Max Fury, Johnny Guitar, Hammerhead, Headmen (Chondu the Mystic, Gorilla-Man/Dr. Arthur Nagan, Ruby Thursday, Shrunken Bones), Hydra, Kingpin (Wilson Fisk), Madame Masque (Giulietta Nefaria), Masters of Menace (Clown/Eliot Franklin, Human Cannonball, Princess Python), Mr. Negative (Martin Li), Owl (Leland Owlsley), Prince Rudolfo, Relf, Taskmaster (Tony Masters), Tombstone (Lonnie Lincoln)

Enemies: Avengers (Black Ant/Ant-Man LMD, Black Panther/T'Challa, Hawkeye/Clint Barton, Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff, Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff, Valkyrie/Brunnhilde, Venom/Flash Thompson, Vision, Wasp/Janet Van Dyne, Yellowjacket/Goliath/Hank Pym), Beast (Henry McCoy), Black Goliath/Goliath (Bill Foster), Terri-Sue Bottoms, Luke Cage, Captain America (Sam Wilson), Circus of Lost Souls (Blossom, Dog-Faced Boy, Major Minor, Meriam, Stilts), Dallas Cowboys, Daredevil (Matt Murdock), Officer Dragon, Frankie, Generation X (Chamber/Jonothan Starsmore, Husk/Paige Guthrie, Jubilee/Jubilation Lee, Skin/Angelo Espinosa, Synch/Everett Thomas), Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze), D.W. Griffith, Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Howard the Duck, Ignatz Hubley, Hulk (Bruce Banner), Iceman (Robert Drake), Edwin Jarvis, Rick Jones, Kobik, Dr. Thomas Marles, Alicia Masters, Mark Mudge, Stanley Mudge, Foggy Nelson, Power Pack (Alex Power, Jack Power, Julie Power, Katie Power, Franklin Richards), Quentin Carnival (Bertha the elephant, Corky Franklin, Red Fowler, Ralph Quentin, others), Cynthia Randolph, Iris Raritan, Paul Same, Serpent Society (Anaconda, Asp, Sidewinder/Seth Voelker), S.H.I.E.L.D., Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Spider-Man (Ben Reilly), Shroud (Max Coleridge), John Steele, Sub-Mariner (Namor McKenzie), Beverly Switzler, Claire Temple, Thing (Ben Grimm), Thor (Odinson), Thunderbolts (Atlas/Erik Josten, Citizen V/Helmut Zemo, Meteorite/Karla Sofen, Songbird/Melissa Gold, Techno/Paul Norbert Ebersol), Ulik, Mary Jane Watson, Kate Waynesboro, Winda Wester, Whitey, Winter Soldier (James Barnes), Wonder Man (Simon Williams), Wraith (Yuri Watanabe)

Aliases: Tiboldt's Circus, Tiboldt Carnival of Wonders, Ringmaster's Circus of Delight, Tiboldt Travelling Circus, McFadden Brothers Circus, MacFadden Brothers Circus, Cirque du Nuit, Cirque du Somnambulism

Base of Operations: Mobile

First Appearance: Incredible Hulk I#3/3 (September, 1962)

History:
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition#2 (fb) - BTS) - The Circus of Crime has roots stretching back over 100 years, when it was a wandering circus in Europe, under the name Tiboldt's Circus. In the late 1930s, it became affiliated with the Nazi Party and tried killing Captain America. (See profiles for Circus of Death, Ringmaster of Death for more information). When Fritz and Lola Tiboldt were killed by Nazi agents, their son Maynard became the new Ringmaster, and he moved the circus to America, convincing many of the performers to move with him; he recruited more performers in America. The business struggled, however, and Maynard decided to turn to crime, designing a special hypnosis hat. Many of the circus performers quit, but those who stayed were dedicated to robbing the crowds after Ringmaster hypnotized them. They developed a pattern of committing these robberies in various towns, then making sure the audiences had no memories of the events, thus if any arrests took place they would be nearly impossible to prove. The circus used various names for their performances so no one would grow suspicious.

(X-Force I#-1 (fb) ) - At the Tiboldt Carnival of Wonders, Ringmaster announced the magic show of Chondu the Magician, as the tamer Clem ignored worries from Jeb about Kimba the tiger. Young James Proudstar visited the fortune teller, Destiny, who confided her fears to her confidant Mystique later. Kimba escaped and hurt Clem, then John Proudstar defeated it. Ringmaster invited the powerful man to join the Ringmaster's Circus of Delight, which he promised would be a big success.




(Incredible Hulk I#3/3 (fb) - BTS) - The Circus of Crime traveled through a series of small towns. In each, Ringmaster left the townspeople mesmerized and standing like living statues as they ransacked the town. By the time they hit Plainville, authorities were beginning to catch on. As civilians began to wake up, the F.B.I. questioned them and learned the truth.

(Incredible Hulk I#3/3) - In a new town, Ringmaster mesmerized a new crowd and the performers, including Bruto, Clown, and Teena the Fat Lady, pillaged the audience and the town. In yet another town, Ringmaster hypnotized a new crowd, including Rick Jones, who summoned the Hulk with his thought waves. Hulk batted aside the Human Cannonball before being knocked down by a water hose and bound with nets. Ringmaster kept the Hulk tied up overnight, presumably subduing him with hypnosis. The next day, Ringmaster introduced Hulk as a circus performer, but the F.B.I. closed in. The Hulk went on a small rampage and Ringmaster sought to escape, but the Hulk subdued him.

(Hawkeye III#7 (fb) - BTS) - The Tiboldt Travelling Circus settled in Michigan, with new performers Hawkeye the Marksman, Eden the tattooed lady, and the Strong Man. They considered working with a local artist, but Ringmaster and Eden instead robbed the man and saw him killed.

(Hawkeye III#7 (fb)) - When Hawkeye discovered the artist dead, he went to confront Ringmaster, finding Eden in his room and growing jealous.

(Avengers I#1) - The Hulk disguised himself as the super-strong robot clown Mechano and performed by juggling an elephant, a horse, and a seal, until the Avengers found him and exposed him as the Hulk. The resulting battle tore the Big Top apart.

(Hawkeye III#8 (fb) ) - As "Mechano" performed, Ringmaster announced that Hawkeye the Marksman, Bruto the Strong Man, and the "Garden of Eden" were up next, but Hawkeye didn't show up.

(Hawkeye III#8 (fb) - BTS) - Eden was later arrested for the murder, and spent a decade in jail.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#16 (fb) - BTS) - After much planning, the Ringmaster prepared his Circus for the biggest heist of all, with a crowd in New York City. He prepared his Circus performers, including the Human Cannonball (using the name the Great Gambino), the Great Gambonnos, the Clown, and Bruto the Strongman, and he printed posters advertising Spider-Man's presence to draw a greater crowd.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#16) - When Spider-Man actually showed up to perform, Ringmaster was shocked, but he simply hypnotized the hero along with the crowd. Daredevil, however, was immune to the hypnosis and fought back, soon freeing Spider-Man from his trance. The Circus members fought both heroes, but the villains were soon defeated and Spider-Man used Ringmaster's hat to free the crowd from their trance. Ringmaster was arrested.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#22 (fb) - BTS) - Ringmaster and some of the others served their prison sentences and were released.

(Amazing Spider-Man I#22) - When Ringmaster proclaimed his plans to move the Circus to rural towns, a group of his followers rebelled, including Human Cannonball, the Great Gambonnos, and Princess Python, and they proclaimed the Clown as their leader. The group rebranded itself the Masters of Menace and robbed an art gallery, but Spider-Man stopped them. In the end, Ringmaster tried to rip the Masters off, and they all ended up arrested.

(Avengers I#22 (fb) - BTS) - After getting out of jail again, Ringmaster reformed the Circus, but they performed several shows with very small audiences.

(Avengers I#22) - The Circus (including Ringmaster, Princess Python, Human Cannonball, Clown, Flying Gambonnos, and Bruto) heard the news that the Avengers had been disbanded, so they called in Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver to perform with them, though the heroes thought them a regular circus. The next day, the Avengers turned against the Circus after learning the truth, nearly defeating the villains, but Ringmaster summoned the police, who assumed the heroes were the instigators.

(Thor I#145 (fb) - BTS) - Out of jail again, the Ringmaster devised a plan to use the Circus (Ringmaster, Clown, Bruto, Great Gambonnos (using the name Great Gambinos), Human Cannonball, Princess Python) to steal the Golden Bull.

(Thor I#145) - When Bruto strained himself trying to lift an elephant, Ringmaster needed to audition new strong men to aid in the plot, but none were strong enough. A man claiming to be Thor (actually Thor, but stripped of his god powers) auditioned, Ringmaster hypnotized him into moving a lead replica of the Golden Bull.

(Thor I#146) - The Circus provided "Thor" with a replica of Thor's costume, then they paraded out for the evening show. Ringmaster used hypnosis to make the crowd believe it was the real Thor, then he hypnotized Thor himself. That evening, as Clown and the Gambonnos distracted the guards, the others broke into the museum, where Precious restrained a guard (until the snake was shot and slithered away) as Thor lifted the statue, Cannonball used a flamethrower to burn through a wall, and the Circus planned to use magnets and equipment to take the bull away. Though Ringmaster hypnotized the guards to miss with their gunfire, the shots woke Thor up, and he dropped the bull, pinning Princess Pythonto the wall.

(Thor I#147) - Thor freed Princess Python, then the Circus of Crime escaped in their truck while the police questioned him.

(Avengers I#60/Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes II#6/7) - The Circus of Crime (Ringmaster, Princess Python, Great Gambonnos, Human Cannonball, Clown) posed as wedding caterers, snuck into Avengers Mansion, tied up Edwin Jarvis, and prepared to set off nitro explosives. After Yellowjacket and Wasp were married, Hawkeye discovered the Circus, but was apprehended. When Wasp cut the cake, she found Precious inside. The Circus soon attacked the Avengers (including Black Panther and Vision), but they were swiftly defeated, and Yellowjacket was revealed as Goliath (Hank Pym). As they were arrested, they were disappointed they couldn't get revenge on Thor.

(Thor I#173 (fb) - BTS) - To increase ticket sales to the circus, Ringmaster hired Mike to pose as Thor in circus acts. The Circus (Ringmaster, Clown, Princess Python, Great Gambonnos, Human Cannonball) robbed an electronic center, stealing a powerful Dual Computer. They hid it inside a 5000-lbs. barbell, but then "Thor" was injured while trying to lift it.

(Thor I#173) - Ringmaster hired Dr. Don Blake to check on him. Soon, Ulik attacked the circus, and Ringmaster hypnotized him into submission, caged him and planned to use him as a back-up Thor as needed. That evening, in the next performance, the actual Thor arrived and performed, but Ringmaster assumed it was still Mike and sent Ulik against him. Ulik woke from his trance, and a fight between he and Thor broke out. Soon, the police arrived and saw the dual computer exposed.

(Daredevil I#118 (fb) - BTS) - The Circus spent months performing and committing robberies in small towns. Preparing for a large benefit at Shea Stadium, the Circus of Crime recruited new member Blackwing, who could perform with his trained bats.

(Daredevil I#118) - Hearing that Daredevil had disrupted a group of bank robbers, Ringmaster assembled the Circus (Princess Python with Precious, Human Cannonball, Great Gambonnos, Blackwing) and developed a plan against the hero, who he suspected was immune to his hypnosis. The Gambonnos, Princess Python, and Precious tracked Daredevil to the office of district attorney Foggy Nelson, where they battled the hero, but when Princess Pythonaccidentally killed her own snake with an electric prod, the villains fled. That night, at the Stadium, the Circus performed, then Ringmaster hypnotized all those present, and all those watching on television at home. Blackwing sent his bats out to loot, soon returning with the riches, but then Daredevil arrived with the police, and the hero easily defeated the Circus, though Blackwing escaped.

(Power Man I#25 (fb) ) - The criminal Live Wire developed a plan to free the recently captured Circus of Crime. He used his electric lariat to stop the truck they were being transported in, then he joined the group.

(Power Man I#24) - When a storm broke out, Luigi Gambonno nearly fell to his death, but Power Man saved him. Later, while Power Man sparred with Black Goliath, Live Wire stunned the men, and the Circus of Crime (Great Gambonnos, Funny Man/Clown, Strongman, Princess Pythonwith Precious, Ringmaster, Live Wire) gathered, with Ringmaster determined to recruit them both. The heroes' allies Claire Temple and D.W. Griffith were nearby.

(Power Man I#25) - Princess Python cruelly zapped Claire Temple, and Live Wire stopped D.W. Griffith from intervening, but Temple soon escaped and woke up Power Man with Princess Python's electric prod. Ringmaster ordered Black Goliath to attack Power Man, but Luigi instead woke the giant up from his hypnosis, repaying his debt to Power Man. A fight broke out and the Circus was defeated, with Griffith turning the hypnosis hat back on Ringmaster and Princess Python in the end.

(Howard the Duck I#25) - Iris Raritan hired the Circus, including Ringmaster, Clown, the Great Gambonnos, Princess Python and Precious, and Cannonball, to perform for her private party. Ringmaster immediately hypnotized the crowd, including Paul Same, Winda Wester, and Howard the Duck, and Ringmaster ordered the duck to come with him. Howard woke the next morning, realizing the party guests would think he was involved.

(Howard the Duck I#26) - In Skudge, Pennsylvania, the Circus of Crime forced Howard to perform stand-up comedy for a crowd, and the crowd laughed even as Howard tried to warn them to run; soon Ringmaster had the crowd (including Ignatz Hubley) hypnotized and willingly turning over their money. Howard wanted to leave, but Ringmaster beat him, informing him he'd stay with them forever. Cannonball tried helping Howard why the Circus had turned to crime in the first place, sharing their origin story. The Circus stopped for gas and Ringmaster went inside the station, where Hubley shot his hat off. In the subsequent chaos, Paul Same ended up shot and Winda Wester beat up, as they had followed the Circus with Iris, who had planted a tracking device on Ringmaster. The Circus rushed away in the madness.

(Howard the Duck I#27) - Howard and Iris followed the Circus to Cleveland, Ohio, where Howard recorded the Circus stealing from another hypnotized crowd. The Circus of Crime was furious and attacked, but they were swiftly defeated by Howard and Iris, who turned over the evidence to the police.

(Super-Villain Team-Up I#8 (fb) - BTS) - Feeling too much heat in the United States, the Circus of Crime relocated to Europe.

(Super-Villain Team-Up I#8) - In Latveria, the Circus (Ringmaster, Clown, Great Gambonnos, Human Cannonball) was attacked by Sub-Mariner and the Shroud, and the Circus was swiftly defeated. New member Rajah rode his bull elephant into battle, but Namor easily tossed him aside. Shroud and Sub-Mariner agreed to join the Circus temporarily, with Sub-Mariner posing as Rajah and Shroud as a roustabout. That night, they performed for Dr. Doom (secretly Prince Rudolfo), and Namor and Shroud began fighting.

(Super-Villain Team-Up I#9) - To save his own hide, Ringmaster (with Cannonball and Clown) revealed the identities of Shroud and Sub-Mariner to "Dr. Doom". The monarch had Boris escort the Circus from his kingdom.

(Incredible Hulk II#217 (fb) - BTS) - Members of the Circus' side-show act, including Blossom (fat lady), Major Minor (a little person), the Dog-Faced Boy (man with facial deformities), and Stilts/the Man with the Rubber Body (very tall man) found a beautiful sea nymph named Meriam on a beach. When Ringmaster saw her, he locked her up, determined to discover her secrets for himself, but the four side-show performers escaped with Meriam.

(Incredible Hulk II#217) - The Circus of Crime (Princess Python and Precious, Human Cannonball, Ringmaster, Clown, Great Gambonnos) attacked the side-show members, with their new ally the Hulk, and the Circus captured all of them. Back at the circus, Ringmaster questioned Meriam, but Hulk and the side-show performers escaped and easily defeated the circus, returning Meriam to the sea.

(Marvel Two-in-One I#76) - The Circus of Crime (Great Gambonnos, Fire-Breather, Tarrax the Tamer, Iron Jack Baker, Princess Python, Clown, Cannonball) were practicing when Clown rushed in to warn them that he'd seen the Thing outside. The Ringmaster had designed a new Psionic Eye, which magnified his tech, capable of mesmerizing an entire town. That night, Ringmaster hypnotized the crowd, but the blind Alicia Masters was unaffected; when they tried apprehending her, she screamed, waking Thing up, and alerting Iceman, who had been outside with his girlfriend Terri-Sue Bottoms but was being prevented from entering by Circus employee Bert. Iceman and Thing battled the various Circus members, including a man on stilts swinging a wrecking ball. While Clown kidnapped Alicia, Ringmaster released the crowd from their trance and then scared them away with Tarrax's cats, causing a stampede. Goliath (Bill Foster) joined the fight. As Ringmaster tried activating his Psionic Eye, Iceman destroyed it, then Thing destroyed the getaway truck. The police then arrived.

(Ghost Rider II#72 (fb) - BTS) - The Circus of Crime broke out of jail, but chose to leave Ringmaster behind. The team put Clown in as their leader. In time, Clown ran away from the Circus, and the others tracked him down, living with his father, the clown Corky, at the Quentin Carnival.

(Ghost Rider II#72) - The Circus (Human Cannonball, Great Gambonnos, Bruto, Live Wire, Fire-Eater) staged a series of attacks on the Quentin Carnival over a week to convince Clown to rejoin, culminating in the tent of Corky being set on fire, badly wounding Clown's father. Clown rejoined the team, and they apprehended John Blaze, who'd followed him.

(Ghost Rider II#73) - With John Blaze tied up, the Circus listened to Clown's plans to return to the Quentin Carnival and take it over. Clown, however, sided with the Carnival, and they turned against the Circus, swiftly defeating the villains. In the end, Ghost Rider hit Clown with his penance stare, leaving him a stuttering mess.

(Spider-Man and the Dallas Cowboys: Danger in Dallas) - The Circus of Crime kidnapped Mark Mudge, the son of inventor Stanley Mudge, who had built a gravity-resistant invention that allowed the wheelchair to fly. Ringmaster demanded to know where Mark had hidden the anti-gravity device during the kidnapping, but it was actually in the possession of Stanley. The Ringmaster announced from the broadcast booth that he would hurt Mark if Stanley didn't hand it over, and used the giant television screen in the Dallas Cowboys' stadium to project his hypnotic hat's effect, mesmerizing the people inside Texas Stadium. After the Cowboys snapped out of the trance, they fought the Circus members for the device. It ended up in the hands of Jameson, who began to float into the air, where the Ringmaster waited in a helicopter. As Spider-Man attempted to swing up towards them, two Cowboys mistook him for a Circus member and grabbed his legs, pulling them into the air with him. After rescuing Jameson and causing Ringmaster to land, Spider-Man swung the two Cowboys towards the Ringmaster. They jumped and landed atop him and his pilot. The Circus of Crime was then arrested.

(Incredible Hulk II#292 (fb) - BTS) - Ringmaster, dodging warrants, took the Circus south to Mexico, where they performed shows legitimately. He acquired the Dragon Man, adding it to the show, and keeping it under hypnosis.

(Incredible Hulk II#292) - In a small Mexican town, the full Circus assembled: Ringmaster, Clown, Fire-Eater, the Great Gambonnos, Human Cannonball, Live Wire, Rajah (aboard his elephant Sultan), Teena the Fat Lady, Bruto the Strong Man, and Princess Python (with Precious). When Dragon Man escaped to feed, Ringmaster apprehended him. Later, Bruce Banner and his girlfriend Kate Waynesboro showed up at the circus. Ringmaster hypnotized Bruce and forced him to transform to the Hulk and battle Dragon Man. As the Big Top was destroyed and the Circus fled, Dragon Man broke the hypnotic control, Kate Waynesboro fired Human Cannonball at Ringmaster and knocked off his hat, and the hat was destroyed, freeing the Hulk.

(Captain America I#309 - BTS) - Death Adder personally delivered an invitation to the Circus' Princess Python to join the Serpent Society. She followed him.

(Captain America I#315 - BTS) - Sidewinder tortured Princess Python for betraying the Serpent Society and running off. He considered selling her back to the Circus of Crime.

(Captain America I#319 (fb) - BTS) - The Serpent Society ransomed Princess Python back to the Circus of Crime.

(Captain America I#319) - When their member Death Adder was killed, Asp and Anaconda attacked Ringmaster and Clown, wondering if they were behind it.

(Sensational She-Hulk I#1 (fb) - BTS) - Using the McFadden Brothers Circus, the Circus of Crime made themselves available for hire. The Headmen anonymously hired them to test She-Hulk's powers. They also recruited new member the Professor, a make-up artist.

(Sensational She-Hulk I#1) - At McFadden Brothers Circus, She-Hulk used the Circus of Crime's facility as a work-out space. Ringmaster hypnotized She-Hulk, then the Circus (Bruto, Clown, Great Gambonnos, Professor, Princess Python) disguised She-Hulk as Glamazonia, after learning her origins, and they scheduled a free show to show her off to the public. They used her to shake the change out of an entire hypnotized crowd (who were seat-belted into their seats). When Professor tried to kill She-Hulk with a wagon, jealous that she was taking Princess' place as the circus beauty, She-Hulk fought back, until a talking gorilla (secretly Gorilla-Man) arrived, grabbed Ringmaster's hat, and freed her from her hypnosis. She trapped the entire circus, and the police wondered if this was the first time they could make the charges stick.

(Power Pack I#59) - At the MacFadden Brothers Circus, the Ringmaster tried convincing the Circus (Human Cannonball, Great Gambonnos, Clown, Bruto, Live Wire) to go legitimate, but they wanted one last major heist, having heard that foreign royalty would be in the crowd. Clown took over leadership of the group. During the live performance, they tried stealing the crown off the prince, but Power Pack and Franklin Richards, who were in the crowd, fought back, and the Circus was easily stopped. When the police arrived, Ringmaster used his powers to make the Circus appear innocent.

(Spider-Man Team-Up I#5/2 (fb) - BTS) - The Ringmaster officially retired from the Circus, leaving the Clown in charge. They changed their name to the Cirque du Somnambulism (a fancy word meaning sleep-walking) and began wearing edgier costumes. The mysterious and powerful Relf, an elf with a gun, teamed up with them, seeking revenge on a truck driver who had killed a cousin of his. The Cirque sent him to retrieve the Ringmaster's hypnosis disc.

(Spider-Man Team-Up I#5/2) - Relf returned to the Cirque (Clown, Great Gambonnos, Human Cannonball, Princess Python) with an ukulele instead of the disc. When they grew furious, he shot the men then removed the bullets to revive them, impressing Princess Python. Relf went back for the disc, only to learn that Officer Dragon of the FBI had it. He gave Princess' python wings and flew to Cleveland, where the Cirque ended up in a battle with Officer Dragon, Spider-Man (Ben Reilly), Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, Howard the Duck, and Beverly Switzer.

(Thunderbolts I#2 (fb) - BTS) - The Circus of Crime accepted Ringmaster back as their leader. They posed as a charity act in Delaware but ended up robbing the crowd to cover Ringmaster's recent medical bills.

(Thunderbolts I#2 (fb) ) - The Thunderbolts defeated the Circus (Ringmaster, Great Gambonnos, Human Cannonball, Princess Python), and the recorded events hit the news.

(Generation X I#32) - In Snow Valley, Massachussetts, the Circus (Ringmaster, Princess Python, Clown, Human Cannonball, Great Gambonnos, Bruto) planned to rob more small crowds, struggling financially. Students from Generation X attended and disrupted the Ringmaster's attempts to hypnotize the crowd. A battle broke out and the circus members went down, with Jubilee scattering the circus animals. When Luigi got hurt, the Circus called off the fight. Generation X let them go free if they promised to donate their proceeds to charity.

(Amazing Spider-Man/Devil Dinosaur '98 Annual (fb) - BTS) - Ringmaster spent weeks hypnotizing public servants, getting waivers and permission to take Devil Dinosaur and Moon Boy away from the custody of Dr. Thomas Marles as members of a minority group with free will. The circus also added new member Antoro, an animal trainer, with his menagerie.

(Amazing Spider-Man/Devil Dinosaur '98 Annual) - After gaining custody of him, Ringmaster hypnotized Moon Boy into saying that the two of them wanted to join the circus. The Circus (Ringmaster, Princess Python, Bruto, Great Gambonnos, Live Wire, Human Cannonball, Clown, Fire-Eater, Antoro) practiced their upcoming act, rehearsing with Moon Boy and Devil, when Spider-Man arrived to warn Ringmaster that he was watching him. Huge crowds gathered for the first show and Spidey was shocked when Ringmaster never tried hypnotizing the crowd, but he soon realized that during the performance the Gambonnos had committed a robbery. The next night, Spidey found Luigi Gambonno and Fire-Eater robbing a jewelry store; he easily defeated them and got the truth. Back at the Circus, Spidey attacked and defeated Antoro and his animals then the others. Ringmaster unleashed Moon Boy and Devil against him, but when Cannonball accidentally struck Moon Boy, he was awakened from his hypnosis and turned against the Circus. Soon the villains were defeated.

(Incredible Hulk II#470 (fb) - BTS) - Ringmaster left the Circus of Crime and wanted to shut them down permanently. Clown took over the leadership and, with Princess Python, Human Cannonball, and the Great Gambonnos, they took on a long-term gig performing at the Three Rings Casino in Las Vegas. They adopted a busy schedule of two shows per night plus a matinee on Sundays. When not performing, they would wear all black and rob banks.

(Incredible Hulk II#469) - Ringmaster, now with hypnotic eyes, met with the Hulk and hypnotized him into going after the Circus in Las Vegas.

(Incredible Hulk II#470 (fb) ) - Ringmaster met with Clown, telling him he had a permanent plan to shut down the Circus.

(Incredible Hulk II#470 (fb) ) - The Circus robbed a bank. Later, when they sought to rob a casino, thugs Frankie and Whitey were committing the same robbery. The snake scared the men, but then Hulk attacked and the Circus managed to knock him out by choking him into unconsciousness with the snake.

(Incredible Hulk II#471 (fb) ) - Clown was furious when local gamblers started placing bets on the Hulk, and he yelled at the Circus. Clown placed a bet that Hulk would destroy the Circus, believing it was a surefire win. They kept Bruce Banner chained and sedated in a cage. At show time, Hulk attacked, easily defeating the circus performers and tearing down the Big Top.

(Incredible Hulk II#470) - Clown met with Doc Samson, telling him what had happened with the Hulk.

(Incredible Hulk II#471) - Clown finished his narrative to Samson.

(Civil War: War Crimes#1) - Members of the Circus of Crime (Ringmaster, Great Gambonnos, Clown) attended a criminal gathering organized by Hammerhead, but S.H.I.E.L.D. and Iron Man attacked.

(Avengers: The Initiative#27 (fb) ) - Johnny Guitar and Doctor Sax wanted to join the Circus, but Clown and the Gambonnos turned them down.

(Ghost Rider VI#33 - BTS) - Deacon and Blackout considered the Circus of Crime as possible agents in their fight against Ghost Rider (Blaze).

(Hawkeye IV#2 (fb) - BTS) - Ringmaster set up a show called Whimsical, starring the Cirque du Nuit, and prepared to perform at the Hotel Metropol.

(Hawkeye IV#2 (fb) ) - Ringmaster led the Circus of Crime, including new members Fifi and a new Swordsman (who had once been trained by the Swordsman), in performing for a group of criminals, including Owl, Hammerhead, Tombstone, Madame Masque, and Kingpin. Ringmaster hypnotized the crowd so they could rob them. Hawkeye (Clint Barton) attacked and was briefly apprehended, but Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) dressed as Fifi and fought to free him. In the subsequent battle, as the circus men opened fire on the heroes, Kate returned fire, hitting several with arrows and blinding Ringmaster directly with arrows to the eyes.

(Secret Avengers I#29 (fb) - BTS) - Taskmaster hired the Circus for an assignment in Bagalia.

(Secret Avengers I#29) - In Bagalia, members of the Circus (Princess Python, Grumpy the Clown, Bruto, Livewire, Fire Eater) put on a daring performance, torturing John Steele with plasma knives. When Steel escaped, he brutally defeated the Circus, tossing Live Wire into the giant snake's mouth and seemingly killing him. The Avengers (Valkyrie, Hawkeye, Agent Venom, Black Ant/Ant-Man) arrived to rescue Steel, and Princess Python reported into Max Fury. Venom questioned Clown, who ratted out Taskmaster.

(A+X#12) - The Circus of Crime (Human Cannonball, Great Gambonnos, Princess Python, Clown) fought Beast and Wonder Man.

(Amazing Spider-Man III#19.1 (fb) - BTS) - Ringmaster used black market tech to repair his eyes.

(Amazing Spider-Man III#19.1) - Mr. Negative proposed an alliance with the Circus of Crime (Ringmaster, Great Gambonnos, Teena the Fat Lady, the new Clown, Princess Python, Bruto, Fire-Eater), but the Circus refused. Later, as they battled police, Spider-Man and Wraith intervened, easily defeating the villains.

SECRET WARS III HAPPENED

(Captain America: Sam Wilson#7 (fb) - BTS) - The Circus of Crime, including Human Cannonball, Ringmaster, Clown, Great Gambonnos and Princess Python, were arrested and transported to Pleasant Hill, a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison where supervillains were transformed by Kobik, a sentient Cosmic Cube, into innocuous civilians and used to populate an idyllic small town. The Circus of Crime became Pleasant Hill's circus.

(Captain America: Sam Wilson#7) - Reverted to their original form the Circus of Crime fought Captain America (Sam Wilson) and Winter Soldier in Pleasant Hill.

(Deadpool and the Mercs for Money II#6 (fb) - BTS) - Ringmaster invested in mechanized animals and a giant Mecha-Lord Big Top, a huge battle structure with sophisticated assault technology.

(Deadpool and the Mercs for Money II#6) - The Mecha-Lord Big Top attacked the city, and Deadpool led his Mercs for Money to fight back. They fought back against clowns with rocket boots, then the Circus (Clown, Bruto, Live Wire, Fire-Eater, Great Gambonnos, Princess Python, and Ringmaster on a giant robot elephant). They were delivered to S.H.I.E.L.D.

(Captain America: Steve Rogers#13) - Baron Helmut Zemo approached the Circus (Ringmaster, Great Gambonnos, Fire-Eater, Bruto, Clown, Teena the Fat Lady) for an alliance. They later gathered with a larger army, forming the Army of Evil.

Comments: Created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers.

The Circus of Crime (Human Cannonball, Clown, Great Gambonnos, Princess Python) also appear in Cyclops II#1 (May, 2011) but this story seems to be in the reality of the "First Class" comics (X-Men: First Class, Uncanny X-Men: First Class, Wolverine: First Class, etc.). While some of these stories (or at least, similar events to the ones we saw in the comics) did occur on Earth-616 (i.e. the X-Men meeting Gorilla Man early in their career), the general editorial consensus has been that the "First Class" comics were not in -616
--Proto-Man

Profile by Chadman.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Circus of Crime should not be confused with:


Bert

(Marvel Two-in-One I#76) - Circus employee Bert was preventing Bobby Drake and his girlfriend Terri-Sue from entering the Big Top as they'd arrived late for the performance. When Bert tried chasing Bobby down, he slipped on ice and fell.

--Marvel Two-in-One I#76


images: (without ads)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe I#2, p28, pan1 (group image)
Hawkeye III#7, p1, pan3 (Tiboldt Travelling Circus)
Incredible Hulk I#3, p19, pan1 (group image)
Incredible Hulk I#3, p22, pan1 (Ringmaster's Big Top)
Thor I#145, p5, pan1 (Circus on parade)
Daredevil I#118, p15, pan2 (performing with Blackwing)
Incredible Hulk II#292, p5, pan4 (with Dragon Man)
Ghost Rider II#72, p22, pan1 (group image)
Marvel Two-in-One I#76, p3, pan2 (with Antoro)
Spider-Man Team-Up I#5, p47 pan3 (Cirque du Somnambulism)
Incredible Hulk II#470, p5, pan3 (in black, bankrobbers)
Secret Avengers I#29, p9, pan2 (Circle of Snuff performance)
Deadpool and the Mercs for Money II#6, p7, pan1 (Mecha-lord Big Top)
Marvel Two-in-One I#76, p9, pan1 (Bert)


Appearances:
Incredible Hulk I#3/3 (September, 1962) – Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (penciler), Dick Ayers (inker)
Amazing Spider-Man I#16 (September, 1964) – Stan Lee (writer/editor), Steve Ditko (artist)
Amazing Spider-Man I#22 (March, 1965) – Stan Lee (writer/editor), Steve Ditko (artist)
Avengers I#22 (November, 1965) – Stan Lee (writer/editor), Don Heck (penciler), Wally Wood (inker)
Thor I#145-147 (October-December, 1967) – Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker)
Avengers I#60 (January, 1969) – Roy Thomas (writer), John Buscema (penciler), Mike Esposito (inker), Stan Lee (editor)
Thor I#173 (February, 1970) – Stan Lee (writer/editor), Jack Kirby (penciler), Bill Everett (editor)
Daredevil I#118 (February, 1975) – Gerry Conway (writer), Don Heck (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker), Roy Thomas (editor)
Power Man I#24 (April, 1975) – Tony Isabella (writer), George Tuska (penciler), Dave Hunt (inker), Len Wein (editor)
Power Man I#25 (July, 1975) – Bill Mantlo, Tony Isabella (writers), Ron Wilson (penciler), Fred Kida (inker), Len Wein (editor)
Howard the Duck I#25-27 (June-September, 1976) – Steve Gerber (writer/editor), Gene Colan (penciler), Klaus Janson (inker)
Super-Villain Team-Up I#8 (October, 1976) – Steve Englehart (writer), Keith Giffen (penciler), Owen McCarron (inker), Marv Wolfman (editor)
Super-Villain Team-Up I#9 (December, 1976) – Bill Mantlo (writer), Jim Shooter (penciler), Sal Trapani (inker), Archie Goodwin (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#217 (November, 1977) – Len Wein (writer/editor), Sal Buscema (penciler), Ernie Chan (editor)
Marvel Two-in-One I#76 (June, 1981) – Tom DeFalco, David Michelinie (writers), Jerry Bingham (penciler), Chic Stone (inker), Jim Salicrup (editor)
Ghost Rider II#72-73 (September-October, 1982) – Roger Stern (writer), Bob Budiansky (penciler), Dave Simons (inker), Tom DeFalco (editor)
Spider-Man and the Dallas Cowboys: Danger in Dallas (1983) - Marie Severin (plot/layouts), David Anthony Kraft (writer), Kerry Gammill (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks)
Incredible Hulk II#292 (February, 1984) – Bill Mantlo (writer), Sal Buscema (penciler), Joe Sinnott (inker), Ann Nocenti (editor)
Captain America I#309 (September, 1985) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Paul Neary (penciler), Dennis Janke (inker), Michael Carlin (editor)
Captain America I#315 (March, 1986) - Mark Gruenwald (writer), Paul Neary (penciler), Dennis Janke (inker), Michael Carlin (editor)
Captain America I#319 (July, 1986) – Mark Gruenwald (writer), Paul Neary (penciler), Dennis Janke (inker), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition I#2 (April, 1988) – Mark Gruenwald (writer/editor)
Sensational She-Hulk I#1 (May, 1989) – John Byrne (writer/penciler), Bob Wiacek (inker), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Power Pack I#59 (October, 1990) – Michael Higgins (writer), Tom Morgan (artist), Mike Rockwitz (editor)
Spider-Man Team-Up I#5/2 (December, 1996) – Steve Gerber (writer), James Fry (penciler), Chris Ivy (inker), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Thunderbolts I#2 (May, 1997) – Kurt Busiek (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), Joe Rosas (inker), Tom Brevoort (editor)
X-Force I#-1 (July, 1997) – John Francis Moore (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Mark Morales, Jon Holdredge, Al Milgrom (inkers), Mark Powers (editor)
Generation X I#32 (November, 1997) – Tom DeFalco (writer), Mark Buckingham (penciler), Al Vey, Jon Holdredge, Scott Hanna (inkers), Mark Powers (editor)
Amazing Spider-Man/Devil Dinosaur '98 Annual (July, 1998) – Tom DeFalco (writer), Tom Lyle (penciler), Robert Jones (inker), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#470-471 (November-December, 1998) – Joe Casey (writer), Ed McGuinness (penciler), Nathan Massengill (inker), Bobbie Chase (editor)
Hawkeye III#7 (June, 2004) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Joe Bennett (pencils), Sandu Florea (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Hawkeye III#8 (August, 2004) - Fabian Nicieza (writer), Joe Bennett (pencils), Sandu Florea (inks), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Civil War: War Crimes#1 (February, 2007) – Frank Tieri (writer), Staz Johnson (penciler), Tom Palmer, Robin Riggs (inkers), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Earth's Mightiest Heroes II#6-7 (March-April, 2007) – Joe Casey (writer), Will Rosado (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Ghost Rider VI#33 (May, 2009) - Jason Aaron (writer), Tony Moore (artist), Axel Alonso (editor)
Avengers: The Initiative#27 (October, 2009) – Christos Gage (writer), Rafa Sandoval (penciler), Roger Bonet (inker), Jeanine Schaefer (editor)
Hawkeye IV#2 (November, 2012) – Matt Fraction (writer), David Aja (artist), Stephen Wacker (editor)
Secret Avengers I#29 (September, 2012) – Rick Remender (writer), Matteo Scalera (artist), Tom Brevoort (editor)
A+X#12 (November, 2013) – Christos Gage (writer), David Williams (artist), Nick Lowe (editor)
Amazing Spider-Man III#19.1 (September, 2015) – Gerry Conway (writer), Carlo Barberi (penciler), Juan Vlasco (inker), Nick Lowe (editor)
Captain America: Sam Wilson#7 (May, 2016) – Nick Spencer (writer), Angel Unzueta, Daniel Acuna (artists), Tom Brevoort (editor)
Deadpool and the Mercs for Money II#6 (February, 2017) – Cullen Bunn (writer), Brian Level (artist), Jordan White (editor)
Captain America: Steve Rogers#13 (May, 2017) – Nick Spencer (writer), Ro Stein (penciler), Ted Brandt (inker), Tom Brevoort (editor)


First Posted: 02/07/2019
Last updated: 02/07/2019

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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