June 22, 2024

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #409: The Hypno-Hustler

Some bad guys can only exist in the era of disco. Disco probably died for a reason.

There was a time, not that long ago, when I was writing these columns out weeks in advance.  I was two or three weeks ahead.  But my department was shorthanded this past semester, and my grading workload when papers came due was much higher than I was used to.  As a result, what was once done two or three weeks in advance is now being done days in advance.

Basically, that means, this week’s column owes its existence to Donald Glover, but he spells his name with a hyphen, so Jimmy Impossible probably approves.

Yes, the Hypno-Hustler!  The sort of characters whose name is probably more memorable than, oh, anything he’s ever actually done.  Real name Antoine Delsoin, the Hypno-Huslter made his debut in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #24 in November of 1978.  Because of course this guy first appeared in the 70s.  He’s a disco themed bad guy, and kudos to writer Bill Mantlo and artist Frank Springer for getting the disco-themed bad guy in before the disco fad ended…I think.  I don’t know exactly when disco died, but Saturday Night Fever came out the year before and Airplane! was making “disco died” jokes in 1980, so that seems to fit in.

I mean, it’s not like there’s an exact date that disco died.

If I am digressing this much, there must not be much to this guy’s story.

And there isn’t!  In his debut story, the Hypno-Hustler was the lead singer/guitarist for the Mercy Killers, but when the manager of a club he was playing caught him robbing the safe, Antoine used his hypnotic powers to get away with it.  With his back-up band, he can also hypnotize groups, and his boots had knock-out gas stored in them, but Spider-Man showed up, as he is wont to do, and realized that the Hypno-Hustler was wearing headphones to protect himself from his own powers.  Removing the headphones meant the Hustler was taken out by his own powers.

From there, the Hustler mostly appears in backgrounds or as cameos.  He joined a Villains Anonymous at one point and sometimes acted as hired muscle for bigger time criminals.  But really, with a character like this, what can you do when his music is gone?  Has anyone ever had a disco-themed character outlast disco?

Dazzler proves you can only have one.

So, really, it may be a bit of a surprise that Sony, anxious to start its own Spider-Man themed cinematic universe, would go with the Hypno-Hustler starring comedic actor Donald Glover.

Or not.  I mean, I can kinda see this if they opt to make the character something of a joke and that’s the whole point, that he’s some pathetic supervillain sort who is just as pathetic as he sounds.  I mean, this is the sort of character where even if you don’t know a single thing about him, you can make a good, solid guess what kind of character he is.  That may be all you need.

Besides, Sony’s other movies in this Spider-Man universe haven’t exactly been knocking people’s socks off.  Might as well go for the really unconventional between animated Spiderverse movies.