Saturday, November 17, 2007

House of Mystery #153 (September, 1965)

“From out of the past emerges Professor Arnold Hugo, sinister scientific genius, with a fantastic new plot to unloose his evil on the world!” This month, J'Onn was on his own against his irregular adversary. “How could I ever forget Professor Hugo-- Batman's old enemy who tried to gain my powers! He is as evil and dangerous as anything that can emerge from the Idol-Head of Diabolu!” I really like that bulbous-headed geek. There's just a palpable sense of malice whenever he appears, even though he's never much of a threat. Maybe that's his problem, an impotent fury that will never be satisfied. “It’s still a week away from a full moon, when the Diabolu Idol-Head opens--time enough to find Hugo and clap him back behind bars!” Afterthought and diversion--thy name is Hugo!

The story began with an “innocuous little” J’onzz identity (looked a bit like Floyd the Barber) searching a seacoast curio store for the Idol-Head. Cool continuity, huh? Very Stan Lee, and I mean that with the utmost respect. A nearby radio announced that the notorious evil scientist had escaped from Bayville Prison, and was seen headed toward nearby Seaside. “Too bad Zook is ailing-- he'd like to be in on this case with me!” An airborne search led the Manhunter to Hugo, who used a special gun on his foe. “Great cosmic clouds! He’s firing--fireballs!” J'Onn used super speed to dodge while he ripped iron "spears" from a gate to burst the flaming orbs before they set Seaside ablaze.

Hugo escaped to a secret mountain region, where he unearthed a trio of titanic-sized frozen cavemen. “Hee, hee! So--it’s true! These are the pre-historic giants--the last of a race of evolutionary freaks that lived eons ago--These few, being indestructible, ruled the Earth once--and were overcome only by the ice age...” With his fingers trembling excitedly as he worked his device, the Professor tapped into the giants' power, growing to fifty feet... as did his suit and tie, to hilarious effect. Hugo smashed the device which enabled his transformation, to insure its finality.

While mighty Martian Vision led the Alien Atlas to the towering Hugo, he proved unable to harm his foe. Hugo taunted J'onzz with sadistic glee. "Don’t you know that a Super Big Man has got it all over a Super Little Man, Manhunter? ...Ha! Ha! You can't hurt me, little man! I'm as indestructible as you are, Manhunter! Don't bother me any more, little man!" He seized J'Onn J'Onzz, then flung him like a rag doll with all his might. Through a cruel, slight grin, Arnold noted, "If you try and stop me again--I'll hurl you to the moon next time!"

“Panic grips Mayville City at the appearance of the giant figure of Professor Arnold Hugo...”
“Yikes! Look what’s hitting town!”
“Yes--I, Professor Hugo--future master of the whole world! You should feel honored that I have chosen Mayville as my base of operations!”
Really, Mayville City as the new capital of the Earth? Well, alright. At least Mayville’s Finest managed to irk "The Mental Wizard" with their pesky gunfire to the point that he stomped some poor soul’s hardtop in with the heel of his now-invulnerable Oxford. “Fools! Must I smash you all before you recognize me as your leader! Now, hear this! You shall all assist me in the building of certain machines only my great genius can devise! Don’t try to leave town! Anyone caught trying to leave will be destroyed!” Certain machines? So the first step to enslaving the world is forcing an entire city to become your lab techs? Something tells me this all comes from the days when Mrs. Hugo couldn’t bribe the other mothers in town to keep their play dates with little Arnie.

While Hugo rampaged through Mayville to gloat and flaunt his new found power, the prehistoric giants thawed out. MM was unable to stop them with a cave-in, although it was nice to see J'Onn smash through a crude but massive magnifying glass(?!?) one caveman used to start a fire. He did slow their progress by breaking a water main to soak the ground, with the great weight of the cavemen forcing them deep into the mud. Arriving ahead in town, J'Onn distracted Hugo while the city was evacuated. "Well, well--If it isn't the little man again! Still think you're big enough to challenge me?"
“I can do one thing you can’t, Professor—FLY!”

J'onzz briefly wrapped Hugo in cable, giving the citizens of Mayville time to flee the colossal conflict to come. Once the cavemen made the scene, they showed Arnold big from BIG. Hugo hoped for "king-sized henchmen," but instead found brutal savages on the attack. The Martian Marvel initially joked about their failure to recognize Hugo's leadership, but as things got hairy, "They've got him badly outnumbered! I must help him--So he can help me!" J'Onzz took some serious punishment while Hugo prepared the equipment Mayville had been working on, but the pair managed to see the cavemen re-frozen. Too bad Zook was out sick, or he could have saved a lot of trouble. In a move that could get his Mensa card revoked, Hugo fell for the old, "There's another one behind you!" trick. It lost him his equipment to the Manhunter, who used it to shrink Hugo down to normal. How, seeing as it was supposed to be a freeze ray built from another machine Mayville supplied equipment for? Maybe after “Plan 9 From Outer Space” Ed Wood moonlighted in comics as “Dave Wood?” J'Onn planned to lug the entire Neandersickle trio back to their cave, but had to first deal with Arnold. "You--you Martian pest! If--if not for you, I would've become master of the world!" With a big grin, J'Onn replied, "Oh, don't blame me, Professor-- Actually, it was your own machine that defeated you!"

“The Giants Who Slept 1,000,000 Years” was by Jack Miller and Joe Certa. It's an all-time Alien Atlas favorite of mine!


Adama said...

Maybe the freezing ray slowed down his molecules, causing him to shrink? I know that doesn't make a damned bit of sense either, but hey, at least I tried!

Luke said...

With a big grin, J'Onn replied, "Oh, don't blame me, Professor-- Actually, it was your own machine that defeated you!"

Oh snap! J'Onn lays it down right there! Hugo's enlarging suit and tie reminds me of how, on the Incredible Hulk cartoon from the 80s, when Hulk would change back to Burce Banner, his suit, shoes, and labcoat would all come back, good as new. MM needs more wacky advetures like this in the modern age.

Diabolu Frank said...

One of the only issues of Ostrander's run to be received by pretty much all comers was the humorous Choco-addiction issue (at least based on old DCMB trolling.) I certainly prefer my Manhunter with a sense of humor or a current of quirk. That series was so damned sombre, it's no wonder we called it Spectre Lite™ back in the day.