Thursday, April 16, 2009

Detective Comics #279 (May, 1960)

Captain Harding arranged a secret meeting in his office at police headquarters. "Martian Manhunter-- I've summoned you here to ask a favor! You must pretend to leave town-- at once! ...I just received a tip that escaped convict Willy Ward is holed up in the city-- and fears to come out of hiding whole you're around!" The Sleuth from Outer Space understood. "I get it! Okay, Captain-- you can tell the newspapers that I'm off on a top-secret mission... Actually, I'll be around all the while in my secret, everyday Earth guise!" Harding thought the plan was perfect, little realizing the Alien Ace was on his payroll as Detective John Jones.

Jones spied a fellow officer watching over a gathering crowd in the park, and asked what the excitement was about. "Hiram Horner, an eccentric millionaire, who fancies himself an inventor!" The huckster intended to show how his Molecular Light-Beam Painter could near instantaneously change the color of statues on display, but the process proved too powerful, causing "tiny molecular explosions!" J'onzz knew he had to protect bystanders from the shrapnel, but didn't want to ruin Harding's gambit, so the Alien Sleuth bored into the ground. "By spinning at Martian Supersonic Speed, I'm burrowing a tunnel which should get me beneath that statue in seconds! Now to get a good grip on it..." and cause the statue to sink beneath the earth! Detective Jones then returned to the scene to relieve Horner of his dangerous device. "Very well, sir... but I'm sure that even Edison had a few goofs in his time!"

The next day, Jones was pounding the pavement in pursuit of Willy Ward, but "Great Comets! There's Hiram Horner again! What's he up to this time?" Showing off "the world's first Remote-Controlled Airborne Building Transporter!" Well, at least until the rocket motors conked out, leaving the curiously flat bottomed building (or not, to Silver Age readers) falling in a crowded metropolitan area. Jones again transformed into the Alien Atlas in order to make one swift, mighty leap onto the airborne building. Sure that no human eyes could detect him, the Manhunter anchored himself on the roof, spread his arms like propeller blades, and began whirling himself as an inhuman helicopter. After the Martian Miracle Man set the wayward building gently to the ground, he resumed his duties as Detective Jones. "Hiram Horner-- if you don't put a stop to these foolish inventions of yours, I'll clap you in jail and throw away the key!"

The following morning, John Jones hit paydirt, spying Willy Ward on the street with a pretty lady on his arm. The Detective swiftly adopted his mighty Martian form, but was distracted by "Great Suns! What are those floating objects?" Hiram Horner had unleashed Solar Receptors that would absorb the sun's rays and project cheap lighting at night... in theory. In fact, they began to burst into hovering balls of flame, stripping the Manhunter of his powers just as the alerted Willy Ward was making a break.

J'onn J'onzz sweated on his knees and cursed "that fool inventor," which reminded him he was still carrying the Molecular Light-Beam Painter he'd confiscated from Horner as Detective Jones. The device's rays were powerful enough to snuff the flaming receptors. "Thus, before Willy Ward can get very far, he samples a taste of blazing alien fists..." The crook surrendered, and later, the Manhunter from Mars lectured his liability/benefactor. "It's a lucky thing Detective Jones turned over your inventions to me! I hope this experience has taught you a lesson!" It certainly had, as Horner now intended to invent things strictly to serve the police department, as his Molecular Light-Beam Painter had helped J'onn J'onzz, who slapped his forehead and cried "OH, NO!"

"The Impossible Inventions" was by Jack Miller and Joe Certa. Art above has been digitally enhanced and altered.

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