Sunday, July 6, 2008

House of Mystery #158 (4/66)

"At last, J'onn J'onzz, Manhunter from Mars, catches up with the sinister Idol-Head of Diabolu! But this fateful find leads to the most astonishing adventure of his career, as he tries to thwart one and the same creature centuries apart in time-- and winds up with his own live at stake..."

"One night, the full moon, like a giant searchlight, illuminates the earth below..." Manhunter and Zook raced across a remote beach, to reach the Idol-Head before it could again open, to release another wretch from its vile menagerie! It was that time of the month again, but the pair couldn't halt a red stream emitting from the cursed box! For some unfathomable reason, Manhunter tried to manually push the crimson smoke back into the Idol-Head, rather than employ the Martian lungpower that appeared in virtually every Silver Age Justice League of America comic. "HEE! HEE! That great Manhunter-- you pushing evil thing right back where it came from!" To the dismay of both, the Martian Marvel was himself drawn into the Idol-Head with the immaterial monstrosity!

Manhunter awoke on a desolate cliffside: "Huh? Wh-where am I? Hmm... the architecture of that town over there is-- is that of Ancient Babylonia-- centuries ago!" From afar, he spied a fully-formed furry fuscia foe of the sort he'd prevented from emerging in his time. The mammoth launched explosive bolts from its triangular snout at a huddled mass of villagers! "Hold tight to your belongings, friends-- I'll get you out of here!" Manhunter bored under the ground, then carried the chunk of earth upon which the people stood to safer mooring! "I--I thought such things occurred only in our folk-legends! ...Such power! He must be one of the ancient gods!" Manhunter returned to trade blows with the beast, eventually knocking it into a ravine! "Fire away buddy-- you'll need bigger bombs than that to stop me!"

The Alien Atlas returned to the villagers, who prostrated themselves! "Do not bow before me-- I am not one of your gods!" One of the men explained to J'onzz that the creature was just one of many set upon them by Diabolu the Wizard! The man had served as the wicked sorcerer's apprentice, and tried to destroy his most dreadful construct of evil, an Idol-Head that would haunt the world even after Diabolu's passing! "You're telling me! And if I destroy the Idol-Head now, I will be stranded here forever! ...But hold on-- the Idol-Head did appear in my own time-- which means I did not destroy it? Why?" The Sleuth from Outer Space received his answer: "If you destroy the Idol-Head now-- before Diabolu has locked it up and uttered his secret incantation-- it will release all the evils inside!" The villagers returned to their homes, while J'onzz merely longed for his.

From his cave, the wizard Diabolu cursed the interloper that interfered with his plans, and intended to release another immense horror from the Idol-Head. However, the "cannon on legs" clawed its way back up from the ravine. "Ha! Ha! My creature is not finished yet!" Diabolu pumped his fist and cheered his terror on, until it appeared victorious! It began destroying the "deserted stone dwellings of the abandoned village," seemingly bringing a tear to Diabolu's eye!

"Ha, ha! He is carrying out my commands... Just as he and the other evils in the Idol-Head will wreck and destroy in the future! Enough! Before I die, I must imprison you in the Idol-Head! But hurry! Sidarre-- Omnere-- In you go... And now to seal the Idol-Head! ...Widdicare, randicott, medicott, lendicott... Now-- I-- Can-- Die-- OH-h-h-h-h-!" So the great evils were sealed into the Idol-Head by invoking the names of insurance companies and HMOs? Appropriate! "All is quiet now... a terrifying silence broken only by the slight thump made by Diabolu's head as it falls upon the table..."

Back in the present, Zook held his head in hand as he gazed into the empty Idol-Head. "Poor Manhunter! What I ever do without you? Where you now?" Sadness turned to shock as scarlet smoke billowed from the Idol-Head of Diabolu! Zook ran as the cannon creature formed and stumbled after him. "But Zook's fright turns into joyous relief" when the creature changed form into the Manhunter! "Poor Zook! I'm afraid I fooled you as completely as I tricked Diabolu into imprisoning me in the Idol-Head-- after I destroyed his creature and took its place! It was the only way I knew of returning to my own time!" Manhunter was set to tell his little friend all about it, but only after he "crunched" the Idol-Head in his bare hands! "Wheee! I never think I live to see this day, Manhunter!"

Editorial had a final statement: "Is this really the end of the Idol-Head of Diabolu? It seems so-- but you, the readers, can bring it back, if enough of you wish hard enough! Write and let us know!" I guess someone, somewhere must have clapped their hands-- because right here, the Idol-Head of Diabolu returned and continues on the daily, never mind the full moon!

"The Origin of the Diabolu Idol-Head" was written by Jack Miller and drawn by Joe Certa.

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