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|First appearance||The Incredible Hulk #3 (Sep 1962)|
|Created by||Stan Lee (writer)
Steve Ditko (artist)
|Alter ego||Eliot Franklin|
|Team affiliations||Circus of Crime
The Masters of Menace
|Notable aliases||Crafty, Griffin, Funny Man, Crafty Clown|
|Abilities||Use of clown paraphernalia
Sharp claws and talons
Ability to spit a slimy corrosive venom
The first Clown first appeared in The Incredible Hulk #3 (September 1962), and was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The character subsequently appears in The Amazing Spider-Man #16 (September 1964), #22 (March 1965), The Avengers #22 (November 1965), The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 (1965), Thor #145-147 (October–December 1967), The Avengers #60 (January 1969), Super-Villain Team-Up #8 (October 1976), Ghost Rider #70 (July 1982), #72-73 (September–October 1982), #75 (December 1982), #80 (May 1983), The Sensational She-Hulk #1 (May 1989), The Incredible Hulk #471 (December 1998), Deathlok #4 (November 1999), X-Men and Power Pack #3 (February 2006), Civil War: War Crimes #1 (February 2007), The Amazing Spider-Man: Free Comic Book Day - 'Swing Shift' (June 2007), and The Amazing Spider-Man #552 (April 2008). The character briefly appears as the Griffin in World War Hulk: Gamma Corps #1-4 (September 2007-January 2008). The Clown appeared as part of the "Circus of Crime" entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition #2.
Fictional character biography
Eliot Franklin was born in Orlando, Florida, the son of a man named Corky. When he began his criminal career, he joined the Ringmaster's Circus of Crime, working as a circus clown, comedian, juggler, and unicyclist. He uses a number of gimmicks such as a trick cane, unicycle, and juggler's balls.
He is apparently a member of the Circus of Crime from the outset but he is indistinguishable from the other clowns until he meets in a Hotel room with Human Cannonball, the Great Gambonnos and Princess Python when they decide to kick the Ringmaster out and go out on their own. They call themselves the Masters of Menace and elect Eliot as their leader. The Clown comes up with a plan to rob a Madison Avenue Art Gallery and they get away with a load of valuable paintings, but the whole plot is eventually foiled by Spider-Man.[volume & issue needed] He tries to leave with the paintings, but is knocked out from behind by Ringmaster, and the police arrive and capture them all.[volume & issue needed] After they get out of jail, the Masters agree to rejoin the Ringmaster as the Circus of Crime. They try to recruit Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to the cause but fail, and the Clown is defeated by Scarlet Witch causing him to trip over a rope.[volume & issue needed]
After a run-in with the Hulk, Thing, Iceman, and Giant-Man,[volume & issue needed] Eliot leaves the group, wipes off the make-up, he hangs out with the Quentin Carnival because his father Corky is a clown there. He wants to go straight but the Circus of Crime finds him and won't leave him alone. When Corky's tent burns to the ground, the Ghost Rider steps in to save Eliot's dad.[volume & issue needed] But Corky is badly hurt and the hospital bills will be high so Eliot goes back to the Circus and re-assumes his role as the Crafty Clown. The group even appoints him leader.[volume & issue needed] He takes the group back to rob the Quentin Carnival but his real intention is to way-lay Fire-Eater as revenge for what was done to his father. This ambush is interrupted by the Ghost Rider who forces Eliot to look at his own tainted soul. The Clown sees his life as a hell and is reduced to near-catatonia.[volume & issue needed] Unblinking and robotic, Eliot is given the job of pushing a broom around the Quentin Carnival. Corky recovers, returns to the show, and works hard to help Eliot improve. By the time Johnny Blaze leaves the carnival, Eliot is soft-spoken and stuttering but is able to communicate.[volume & issue needed]
Sometime later, he rejoins the Circus of Crime and they battle Namor, the Shroud, the Hulk again, the She-Hulk, Power Pack, Ben Reilly, Spider-Man, Howard the Duck, Generation X, Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy.[volume & issue needed]
Eventually, he, Princess Python, Cannonball, and the Gambonnos move to Hollywood and resort to armed robbery. That group gig is thwarted by the Hulk. Eliot then goes on to get spiky hair, smoke cigars and become a professional assassin, of all things. He steals the televisions from every one of his victims and stockpiles them in his room at the Hollywood Towne Hotel where he tries to watch every channel possible to see if there is any word on the Ringmaster who has gone straight and against whom Eliot has sworn revenge. He blasts it out with an army of robot repo men who have snatched one of his TVs and then saunters down the Hollywood streets in triumph. While trying to kill what he believes to be a crime boss, but is in actuality Nick Fury under the hypnotic affects of The Ringmaster, he battles the Jack Truman incarnation of Deathlok. The Clown eventually recognized The Ringmaster when he appears on television running for elected office under the guise of "Martin Thraller". The Clown shows up at the national convention as The Ringmaster is about to appear on television in an attempt to hypnotize the viewers to elect him President. The Clown battles again with Deathlok. In the end, Deathlok allows The Clown to flee rather than taking him into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, since they both shared the common goal of taking down The Ringmaster.
Griffin was with Gamma Corps when they had an encounter with Hulk's Doc Green form. After Doc Green saved them from the Doc Green A.I., each of the Gamma Corps members were depowered by Doc Green.
A new Clown appeared in Brand New Day as one of the villains in the bar. He was later sighted as a member of Hood's crime syndicate. Later, the Clown is contacted by Zodiac and Death Reaper, who offer him a spot on their rogue band of criminals. Together, they attack the Human Torch, hijack the Red Ronin to attack Times Square, and cause Norman Osborn a large amount of consternation. Clown, along with Paste-Pot Pete, rob a bank during Red Ronin's rampage, with Clown executing the bound security guards. Clown is seen with Manslaughter Marsdale killing a large amount of H.A.M.M.E.R troops at an old S.H.I.E.L.D. barbershop base as Zodiac reveals the stolen Zodiac Key to an Agent Murphy.
Clown is revealed to not be Eliot Franklin, but his half-brother. The reason for this deception is unknown.
A third Clown appeared as a member of the Circus of Crime.
Powers and abilities
The first Clown has no superhuman powers but often uses his clown paraphernalia in attacking his victims, such as using his juggling balls and trick canes. As Griffin, he is a Harpy-like man (based on Betty Ross's Harpy mutation) with sharp claws and talons, and can spit a slimy corrosive venom. He is shown to be somewhat mentally unstable.
In other media
- The first Clown appears in the "Ringmaster" episode of "The Incredible Hulk" portion of The Marvel Super Heroes. He appears as a member of the Circus of Crime.
- Amazing Spider-Man #22
- Deathlok vol. 3, issues 4-11, written by Joe Casey
- Civil War: War Crimes #1 (February 2007)
- World War Hulk: Gamma Corps #1
- Hulk Vol. 3 #12
- Amazing Spider-Man #522
- Dark Reign: The Hood #2
- Dark Reign: Zodiac #1 - 3 (Aug - Oct. 2009)
- Dark Reign: Zodiac #3 (Oct. 2009)
- Nick Spencer (w), Steve Lieber (p), Rachelle Rosenberg (i). "Department of Revenge-Ucation" The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #12 (4 June 2014), United States: Marvel Comics
- Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 3 #19.1
- Clown at SpiderFan.org