I have been a juggler for 36 years, but I’ve been a comic book collector for even longer than that. Therefore, I was very glad to receive a donation to the Museum of Juggling History that combines these two endeavors. Darrell W. Toomey donated a collection of comic books with juggling featured on the cover. This sparked the idea of writing two articles on the inclusion of juggling on comic book covers and by comic book characters. Comic books can typically be split into two categories: Superhero comics and non-superhero comics. For Part 1, we’ll take a look at juggling in superhero comics. All of the examples I’ll discuss in this article were published by either DC Comics or Marvel Comics, the two main comic book companies. As you’ll see in DC Comics, superheroes tend to be those who can juggle. In Marvel Comics, it’s more of a balance between superheroes and villains who juggle more often, although Marvel does feature an entire team of evil jugglers.
DC Comic Characters
A number of popular superheroes seem to possess a fair share of juggling skill. We’ll start by looking at the most famous superhero of all; Superman. Superman is by far the most commonly seen juggling superhero. He even claims to possess “super juggling.” He has been portrayed juggling balls, clubs, people, and even elephants.
Superman is even skilled at antipodism (foot juggling).
Other DC Superheroes
Other DC Comics superheroes have been been pictured juggling as well. These include Wonder Woman and the Flash. I suppose having super speed, as Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash do, really helps a great deal when it comes to juggling.
DC Comics Villians
The only juggling villian in DC Comics history that I’m aware of was Cordani the Juggler, who appeared in Green Lantern # 32 in 1941.
Marvel Comics Characters
A wide variety of Marvel Comics superheroes have been shown juggling. Below are some examples.
The Hulk in disguise
X-Men members Iceman and the Beast passing clubs using hands and feet
The Thing juggling some villains
Quicksilver doing some super speed juggling with guns. [He must have read my article on juggling with firearms!]
Daredevil doing some foot juggling with a villain
Adam Warlock juggling the solar system
Marvel Comics Villains
The earliest juggling Marvel villain was The Juggler (Ed Hugo) who first appeared in 1949.
Ed Hugo, The Juggler
The popular Daredevil villain, Bullseye, apparently isn’t just gifted at throwing multiple objects, but can juggle them as well.
The most interesting juggling villains are an entire team of evil jugglers known as the Death Throws. They were enemies of the superhero archer Hawkeye and were introduced in the 1980s. Members included:
Oddball, who juggled various trick juggling balls including acid balls, smoke balls, and explosive balls..
Bombshell, who juggled various anti-personnel weapons including hand grenades, stun grenades, and smoke bombs.
Knickknack, who juggled an assortment of bladed instruments including meat cleavers, hunting knives and chainsaws.
Ringleader, who juggled razor-sharp rings.
Tenpin, who juggled with flaming, specially weighted, bowling pins which he also used as projectiles.
Ringleader, Bombshell, Oddball, Tenpin, and Knickknack.
The Death Throws
Hawkeye surrounded by the Death Throws
The Death Throws
Who knew that juggling was so useful in villainy? In Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at the many non-superhero comic books that have featured juggling on their covers.