Friday, January 11, 2008

House of Mystery #173

House of Mystery #173 (On Sale: January 11, 1968) has a fairly nice cover by Jack Sparling, who did four covers for DC this month.

"Revolt of the H-Dial" by Dave Wood and Sal Trapani is the last of the House of Mystery Dial H. For HERO stories. Robby Reed uses his H-Dial to become Gill Man and pursue the Speed Boys. He catches them trying to steal a race horse. Robby stops them, then is overcome by a strange compulsion to steal the horse himself.

Puzzled by his odd behavior, Robby becomes another hero, the Human Icicle. This time he stops the Speed Boys from stealing a race car. Once again, Robby steals the car under another bizarre compulsion.

Robby vows to make one more attempt to stop the Speed Boys, then turn himself in to police. He battles the crooks while they try to steal a speed boat. The compulsion to steal begins again, but this time it goes away before Robby completes his theft. He deduces that the pitch from the jet-booster the crooks used was responsible for his behavior. The booster falls into the ocean, preventing further compulsions, and Robby rounds up the gang.

The back-up, "So You're Faceless," is the last silver age Martian Manhunter story and is by Jack Miller and Joe Certa. Vulture hires Marco Xavier to steal an experimental weapon that will enable Mr. V to control the world. J'onn steals the weapon, intending to follow it back to Vulture headquarters. But he is weakened by fire and loses the crooks he is following.

J'onn resumes his role as Marco Xavier who is now wanted by police until he is picked up by Vulture agents. J'onn is finally taken to Vulture secret lair and meets Mr. V face-to-Faceless. Mr. V reveals that he knows J'onn has been posing as Xavier. He then removes his mask and shows the Martian Manhunter that he is the real Xavier. He also knows J'onn is vulnerable to fire and uses it against him.

The Martian Manhunter is helpless against his foe who prepares to use the stolen weapon to finish off J'onn. When the untested weapon is fired, it explodes. Vulture headquarters is destroyed, and only J'onn walks away safely.

Edited by George Kashdan; this is his last issue as HOM editor.

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