Wednesday, October 3, 2007
House of Mystery #146 (10/64)
Most of Manhunter's HoM encounters play out accord to a standard formula, if not a clear one, as there's something off-putting drifting through the mix. To an extent, it seemed like writer Jack Miller was trying for that Fox/Broome sci-fi storytelling of the 60's, but without the scientific background to pull it off. Famous locations were hinted at throughout the series, but cities and monuments were rarely named. Pseudo-deductive reasoning was called into play to solve the problems created by Diabolu, but their conclusions are often either forced, painfully obvious, or just plain don't make sense. Then there's the fire thing...
For instance, in "The Doom Shadow," MM and Zook found the Idol-Head just in time to watch it spew a giant orange were-cat thing with antennae called Aroo. After the first antennae failed to down MM with electricity, the second shot a burst of fire that stripped the Martian of his powers. Whilst that was happening, Zook tried alternately to fry and freeze the Idol-Head, until Aroo thought to snatch it and escape. Later, a dam burst, and both MM and Aroo arrived to dig trenches that diverted the oncoming water. MM realized that Aroo must be protecting its egg (!?!), and found it just as it hatched a purple electrical giant called the Doom Shadow (who's name he learned from...The Book of Diabolu!). Aroo just vanished (its work done,) while the Doom Shadow literally petrified everything in its path. MM realized that it was D.S.' own shadow doing the damage, so he (get this) tried to use the roof of a grain silo to block out the sun! Why the D.S. bothered to zap MM with an immobilizing eye ray, I don't know, but its shadow soon crept up on MM's downed form. It must have been pretty slow coming, because Zook had time enough to freeze the water in the makeshift trench, lift the giant ice cube over D.S.' head, then melt it. Since Aroo was protecting the D.S. egg from water, it must be his weakness, right? I must note however that this example of problematic Jack Miller scripting may be flawed, as there's some question as to whether he or perhaps Dave Wood wrote it, but the Miller playbook was at least in sight the whole time.