"Death Dance of the Hypno-Hustler"
In "Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spder-Man" # 24 (November, 1978) the Hypno-Hustler is out to score big, and the management and the audience at the Beyond Forever Disco are just the first to hear and feel the power of mesmerizing music. Unfortunately for him, Spider-Man is in the audience, and he has experience in fighting mind-controlling foes before. He has very little trouble against a rookie like the Hypno-Hustler.
After defeating a gang of thugs on the subway, all Peter Parker wants to do is go back to his apartment and hit the books. His friends have other plans, which include taking him out to see the new act at the Beyond Forever Disco. And to make matters worse, they even brought a white suit for him (which looks like it was lifted from John Travolta and "Saturday Night Fever": just what the straight-laced Peter Parker needs to feel absolutely embarrassed. How he gets the suit on in front of his friends and still keep his Spider-Man costume on underneath a secret is a mystery.)
At the disco, the manager discovers his big act robbing his safe. To keep him silent, the Hypno-Huster demonstrates his two big weapons: first, his hypno-goggles, for individual targets, and secondly, his backup band, the Mercy Killers, whose siren singing compliments his abilities. Outside, Peter and his friends arrive just in time for the Hypno-Hustler and the Mercy Killers to start their hypnotic performance. The effect puts the audience into a trance, which would have affected Peter as well, except he has experience in fighting off mind control.
[The music is loud — incessant! It washes out over the dance floor in waves of sound. It carries with it the will — the consciousness of the dancers … and recedes with the subtle insistince of the ebbing tide!]
(Peter) "Its the music! It — it's mesmerizing them … guiding their movements. H-Haven't felt anything t-this strong ever since Mindworm!. G-got to fight it!
[But as Pete resists, all the others on the dace floor succumb … to the will-sapping performance of the Hypno-Huster.]
(Peter) "Music … The musician's voice — flashing lights — everything contributing to the hypnotic effect! It — it's almost … over-powering!"
To keep himself from falling under the Hypno-Hustler's control, he borrow the trick from Odysseus and puts webbing balls into his ears to block the sound. He then confronts the Hypno-Hustler, unable to hear what he is saying, but, from long familiarity with villain-speak, still managing to figure out what he is saying. He also discovers his foe is not just a one-trick villian: the Hypno-Hustler can swing a guitar like a baseball bat, and his belt and boots are gimmicked, too. Still, that isn't enough to fight off Spider-Man, so the Hypno-Hustler uses his hypnotic goggles to call in his reserves, the Mercy Killers. Which is exactly what Spider-Man was waiting for. The Hypno-Huster is becoming frustrated at not being able to to defeat or even fight Spider-Man and is getting angrier, while Spider-Man is as calm as he was when he started. At just the right moment, Spider-Man jumps behind the frustrated Hypno-Hustler and removes his headphones, taking away his protection against the Mercy Killers' hypnotic singing.
(Peter) "When will these pikers learn that anger only cloud your judgement … setting them up for the simplest of maneuvers … like this one?!"
(Hypno-Hustler) "What in – ? Oh, no! Not my … HEADPHONES!!"
[Bereft of his protective headphones, the Hustler is left wide open to the mesmerizing song of his own compatriots on crime … the Mercy Killers! And the effect is both intriguing to our wall-crawling observer … and instanteous.
All that's left is the clean-up. As long as the entranced Mercy Killers keep singing, everyone in the audience will remain entranced, and because everyone else in the audience was entranced, no one saw the battle and therefore could not connect Spider-Man with Peter Parker. All Peter has to do to protect his secret identity is web the Mercy Killers to stop them from singing and once everyone awakens from their trance, pretend he was hypnotized like the rest, as they discover the Hypno-Hustler and the Mercy Killers webbed and their valuables in a pile on the stage.
History: The Hypno-Hustler is a one-shot villian with a hypnosis gimmick and a disco theme. although he would make a couple of subsequent comics appearances without encountering Spider-Man. He would later join Vil-A-Non for recovering ex-super-villains. He also appears in the background in the "House of M" storyline.
As for the Mercy Killers, they were never uniquely identified and never appeared in subsequent comics.
Commentary: Disco has a lot to answer for musically, but in all fairness, don't hold it responsible for the character of the Hypno-Hustler. The blame goes to the writer Bill Mantlo and artist Bill Springer. And yes, the character concept was lame but not all that more lame than a lot of Spider-Man villains from that period.
- According to the Marvel Encyclopedia, the Hypno-Hustler's real name was Antione Delsoin.
- A female version of the character named Hynotia appears in the "Spider-Man: The Animated Series" videogame. (There is a Iron Man animated series character named Hypnotia: coincidence, or just to keep from crossing and confusing the two?)
- Issue at the Comics Vine
- Hypno-Hustler at the Marvel Universe wiki
- Hypno-Hustler at the Marvel database
- Hypno-Hustler at the Spider-Man wiki
- Hypno-Hustler at Comics Vine
- Hypno-Hustler among the 11 lamest super-villains at the International Society of Supervillains here
- Hypno-Huster rated #1 all-time Spider-Man worst villain here
- Hypno-Hustler rated among the 20 worst supervillains here