Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Stone's Scale of Evil Rank
Why Diabolu has been selected for 8th Place:
- Diabolu forever altered the original formulation of the Manhunter from Mars
Meanwhile, by the end of the first appearance of the Idol-Head of Diabolu, John Jones was “dead,” the entire Middletown setting and cast were abandoned, the strip had been ousted from Detective Comics, and the Martian Manhunter had his first ongoing villain. The relatively fresh arrival Zook was all that remained of J’onn J’onzz’s life prior to the touch of Diabolu. For years afterword, the strip was defined more by the monsters unleashed by the Idol-Head on a regular basis than by the actual lead characters.
- Diabolu “killed” John Jones.
- Diabolu was the Manhunter’s first ongoing menace.
- Diabolu is the only long term menace to remain exclusive to the Martian Manhunter.
- Diabolu was the de facto star of House of Mystery.
- J’onn J’onzz destroyed the Idol-Head of Diabolu.
The Counter Argument:
- The Idol-Head isn’t a villain—it’s an knickknack. It’s your granny’s keepsake box turned sour. Lacking sentience and basic articulation, how bad must the Martian Manhunter suck to call this thing one of his greatest enemies? The Idol-Head is like Evan Dorkin’s four panel gag strip “Myron the Living Voodoo Doll,” except unfunny and less developed.
- The Diabolu stories were sub-literate garbage for slow children which barely functioned on dream logic. The Idol-Head stories killed the strip.
- Martian Manhunter never fought the Idol-Head, but instead the various monsters released from its captivity.
- Diabolu was the wizard that created the Idol-Head, not the object itself. That hunchbacked, loose toothed old fart only appeared in one story.
What Diabolu Represents:
The Idol-Head of Diabolu was basically a tool for completing the transition of the Manhunter from Mars into a purely cynical generic comic strip. House of Mystery was already a watered down and highly repetitive EC rip-off, but the Idol-Head was the engine to take it to its lowest level. At least in the anthology stories, bland characters were introduced to confront menaces with their own varied origins. Concurrently, Manhunter from Mars was basically Superman in a cop uniform, but at least that was a hook. Brought together every month, the Idol-Head would spit out some weird threat, and the sole purpose for the existence of Martian Manhunter and Zook was to stop the dangers and try to find their implausibly mobile source. It was the boiling down of a concept to its most purely formulaic core. No need for personalities, locations, casts of characters, any sign of development, etc. Instant, soulless product—just add water and repeat as desired. The Diabolu Idol-Head is so vapid, its greatest accomplishment is to stand as the strongest evidence against the perceived value of the Martian Manhunter on record.
- The Idol-Head of Diabolu is to the Martian Manhunter as the Puzzle Box is to Hellraiser/Bottle City of Kandor is to Superman/Cosmic Cube is to Captain America/Random evil objects is to Friday the 13th: The Series
The Idol-Head of Diabolu was a cheap tool to lure the Martian Manhunter into action, but it also effected some of the first and most devastating changes ever visited upon an established DC comic strip.