Spider-Man's Groovy Disco Villain the Hypno-Hustler, Explained - Nerdist
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Spider-Man’s Groovy Disco Villain the Hypno-Hustler, Explained

The Hypno-Hustler is one of the most obscure, not to mention ridiculous, Spider-Man villains out there. And he is often ranked as one of the worst too. Despite sharing a creator with the man who gave the world Rocket Raccoon, Bill Mantlo. And yet, this musical criminal is going to be the subject of a live-action movie, starring none other than Donald Glover. The news comes straight from The Hollywood Reporter. But just who the heck is this obscure Spider-Man villain? We’re here to explain it all to you.

The modern iteration of the Hypno-Hustler, often used as a gag.
Marvel Comics

Hypno-Hustler, the Disco Devil

The Hypno-Hustler was one of many attempts during the peak of the late ‘70s Disco music craze to try to cash in on the phenomenon. (the other, far more famous example, is the mutant Dazzler). After Saturday Night Fever, everyone from Mickey Mouse to Count Chocula was cutting a Disco album, so Marvel wanted in on some of that action. Hence, the Disco-themed villain Hypno-Hustler made his debut in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #24 way back in 1978.

Hypno-Hustler debut issue, Spectacular Spider-Man #24.
Marvel Comics

The Hypno-Hustler’s real name was Antoine Desloin. He was the lead singer of a Disco musical group called the Mercy Killers. They were scheduled to headline at a popular nightclub called “Beyond Forever.” But the club’s manager caught the Hypno-Hustler robbing his safe, so Desloin used his high-tech hypnotic equipment on the manager. He had a guitar that could emit hypnotic soundwaves, and also had some boots that spewed out knockout gas. He even had retractable knives in the soles. Later up on stage, Hypno-Hustler and the Mercy Killers used their hypnotizing equipment on the audience in order to rob them all. And it would have all gone according to plan, if not for that meddling wallcrawler.

A Fateful Encounter on the Dance Floor

Hypno-Hustler and his band, the Mercy Killers.
Marvel Comics

As luck would have it, Peter Parker was dancing away at the club on that fateful night. And so, the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was there to challenge the Hypno-Hustler. In the brawl, Spidey discovered that the Hypno-Hustler’s headphones protected him from his own hypnotic sounds, rendering him immune. Spidey then took his headphones off, therefore causing him to become a victim of his own hypnosis. In traditional Spidey fashion, Peter left Hypno-Hustler all webbed up for the police to take into custody. Interestingly enough, they introduced a Disco-themed villain who used music to hypnotize and steal on the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV series that same year.

Not Exactly an A-List Spider-Man Rogue

The Hypno-Hustler in modern day Marvel Comics.
Marvel Comics

Hypno-Hustler did not exactly become one of Spidey’s recurring villains after this encounter. Within a year of his introduction, the Disco bubble burst. By the end of 1979, the terms “Disco Sucks” and “Dead as Disco” were on everyone’s lips. Everything pertaining to this genre instantly became tacky and passe. Thus, the Hypno-Hustler, with his all-silver costume and period-specific hairdo, seemed like an instant relic of a pop culture fad gone by. He has appeared a handful of times in the decades since. Usually as a background character cameo as the butt of a joke. He sadly did not survive the implosion of Disco like his fellow cash-in character Dazzler did. We last saw the Hypno-Hustler at a Vil-a-Non meeting for reformed villains.

We imagine Donald Glover will be able to have a ton of fun with a character like Hypno-Hustler. Especially if he makes the film an homage to the glorious excess of the Disco era. Maybe they make the movie a throwback period piece. Or maybe it takes place in the modern day, at a retro-themed nightclub. If we get a Spidey dancing cameo, that would make it all worth it. As long as Donald Glover wears a very close reproduction of the original Hypno-Hustler costume and embraces the absurdity, we’re here for it.

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