Thursday, March 27, 2008

House of Mystery #165 (3/67)

"Marco Xavier" learned "my old enemy, Prof. Hugo" had busted prison and stolen a vial of pure radium, all from the local newspaper. "Since Manhunter is known to be in this part of the world, I expect Hugo will show up here! Fighting that kookie villain again may be a pleasant diversion from battling Faceless and his VULTURE syndicate!" Days later, foreign hirelings used a Stall-Ray on the engines of airborne jets transporting large shipments of diamonds near Belois Woods. While Manhunter tackled them, Hugo blasted the Alien Atlas from behind with, "A penetrating secret radium spray, Manhunter--powerful enough to kill an ordinary man ultimately! It may not harm you, my Martian foe--but it has made you radioactive enough to infect anyone who ventures too close to you! I'm sure you wouldn't want to do that, Manhunter-- Even to me and my men! Ha! Ha! I've put the Martian Manhunter out of circulation for good!" See what a taunting little cretin Hugo, "the wily professor" is? Don't you just love it?

Blessedly, J'onzz wasn't radioactive in his Marco Xavier form, and he used that advantage to pick up chicks! And I mean he verbally called them chicks to their faces, as he bragged about his millionaire friends and personal fortune. Them sixties sure were the swingingest of times, right daddy? "Oh Marco... Sometimes, you act as if money was more important to you than love!" Of course, Xavier was really just using those beards while trying to lure Hugo's beach combing lackeys into arranging a meet. "Ha, ha! My men have chosen wisely, Mr. Xavier! Your reputation as a gentleman who can be trusted in performing--shall we say-- extra-legal chores, is well known in underworld circles!" Hugo wanted Xavier to smuggle a barometer onto Marco's buddy Spiros Lasser's yacht. Hugo wouldn't give details, but explained that he'd cut Xavier fifty grand out of his upcoming $250,000 payday.

The deed done, Lasser's barometer soon exploded in his face, splattering him with radioactive fluid. Hugo then extorted cash from Lasser in exchange for hasty treatment. Lasser arrived at Coleur Bend dressed in a lead-lined suit (to protect the money.) "Since you have kept your end of the bargain, I shall now keep mine! With the great Professor Hugo, a promise is a promise! Besides, a dead man would be bad advertisement for future customers!"

Once cured, "Lasser" was replaced by an angry Manhunter. He grabbed the barrel of the radioactive spray gun, spinning the thug wielding it over his head. "Round and round and round you go-- Where you get off, nobody knows-- Except me!" Hugo squealed at a second henchman, "Stop gaping, you prize idiot! Use the other weapon." Manhunter then tossed the first goon into the second, a brutal habit of his. Twisting the twin radioactive spray guns into one pretzel, he confided, "Funny thing! As a young Martian boy ranger, I could never get the hang of tying a square knot! And look how well I do it now!"

"I'm glad you think it's funny! Tell me Manhunter--for old time's sake-- what did I do wrong?"

When Manhunter explained his deception, "YEEOW! The irony of it all! I--I cured the Manhunter so he could conquer me! Oh, what will the criminal world think of me when they learn this?"
"I won't tell anyone, Professor Hugo--if you don't!"
"Thank you--but my gratitude won't stop me from trying to escape again! And one of these days, Manhunter-- I'll get you!"
"Odd--Exactly what I keep promising myself--about Mr. Vulture!"

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