While he may remind look a little of The Riddler, The Ringmaster is a HELL of a lot cooler than just another Commie villain. Also, he’s surrounded by henchmen who look like they came out of the movie Freaks – pretty creepy.If you’re reading these posts in order, you’ll have read the previous entry where I talk about Part One of this issue. To recap, the issue has A LOT going on, so I had to break it in half. This part of the story begins with two detectives walking around a city full of motionless people. On top of that, all of the nearby banks and jewelry stores have been wiped clean, but this is only one in a series of similar events that the detectives have investigated. One of the men finds a circus poster and decides that it’s the only common lead in solving this crime.
We then get to see exactly how this happened. The Ringleader, who runs the circus, takes center stage and calls for the audience’s attention. He then hypnotizes them with a spinning spiral on his hat (HYPNOSIS AGAIN?!). With the spectators frozen, clowns, midgets, and bearded women come out to steal their wallets, watches, and jewelry. Elsewhere, Rick Jones lets the Hulk out of his concrete cage. We are reminded that while he Rick have control over the Hulk, that control breaks if Rick falls asleep. To fight this, Rick actually forced himself to stay awake all night. There’s no way that this is going to last very long…and seems like such a tedious plot element to introduce in the first place.
Rick Jones is the type of guy who WON’T let you tag along.
Being a hungry, growing boy, Rick decides that he’s going to visit his Aunt so he can eat (the Hulk is fine where he’s at). After mooching off of her for a while, he passes back through the city on the way to check up on the Hulk again. It is there that he sees the rush of a crowd heading towards a circus. Bah! The Hulk’s not important! Rick wants to go to the circus! This turns out to be a BIG mistake, as he becomes part of The Ringmaster’s next hypnotized audience!
The thing about Rick is that he isn’t a very sympathetic character. I don’t like him, and going back to his first appearance there hasn’t been a single panel where I have. As much as they want us to care about the fact that he’s helpless, I just can’t.
Earlier, we were introduced to the new link between The Hulk and Rick. At this point in the story, Rick is frozen from the hypnosis, and actually can call the Hulk to his rescue JUST BY CALLING FOR HELP IN HIS MIND! To make matters worse, the interesting Hulk from issue #1 has now turned into a complete imbecile who says things such as “BOY IN DANGER!” I guess “HULK SMASH” is just around the corner somewhere?
The Hulk comes to the rescue, until he gets blasted with a WATER HOSE. Out of ALL of the things that everyone tries to stop the Hulk with, and a water hose takes him down? Anyway, the circus chains him up, and uses him as a side-show freak when they reach the next town. Suddenly, Rick Jones appears with the detectives. Instead of an explanation as to HOW the hypnosis was broken, they just say, “Your victims told us everything when we snapped them out of your spell!” I guess we can just imagine to ourselves what might have happened.
The most BAD ASS thing that the Hulk has done up until this point: Punch a freaking ELEPHANT!
Finally, the Hulk snaps, Rick commands him to tear everything to pieces, the army shows up, and the Hulk escapes. The second to last panel shows a frustrated General Ross with his fists in the air screaming, “I’ll get you, if it’s the last thing I do!” Just the cliche type of thing that you’re probably picturing in your head right now.
I AM NOT LOOKING FORWARD TO READING THE NEXT ISSUE OF THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Ugh.
(This article originally written on May 20th, 2011 at comicbookcurios.blogspot.com)