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“Sockamagee!”? Kid, you’re already getting on my nerves – House of Mystery #157

September 5, 2010

“Dial H for Hero” always sounded weird to me. I always thought that there was some magical phone that would summon a hero to fight crime. I had no idea that there was just a dial that a kid found in a cave, and he deciphered the letters on it and that when he dials H-E-R-O he turns into a random, you guessed it, hero. I guess I can roll with all that.

Unfortunately the kid in question is one of the most annoying human beings in the history of comics, a bespectacled nerd by the name of Robby Reed who has an aptitude for science and general genius-ery. Ugh. Oh, and he says “Sockamagee!” all the time. Ugh again.

“The Marauders from Thunderbolt Island” is brought to us by Dave Wood and Jim Mooney, and finds Robby and his alter egos squaring off with the evil Mr. Thunder and his malevolent minions, villains that Robby had defeated in the previous issue (his debut). Mr. Thunder steals some machinery from a naval vessel, and Robby first has to get rid of his friends before he can spring into action:

Nothing clears a room like a test tube.

The first hero, Bullet Man, ricochets around and whoops the baddies:

That doesn’t finish the job, so Robby has to change into an elctrified sumo wrestler called Super-Charge:

In this guise Robby gets captured, but he makes his escape when he changes back into his nerdy self. Next up is Radar-Sonar Man:

Would Radar-Sonar Man get mad if you called him Sonar-Radar Man? Just a thought…

This blind hero finally gets the job done, and Robby retires to his residence for the obligatory final yuck with Gramps:

I want to dump this kid’s books so bad. You have no idea.

The J’onn J’onzz backup only adds insult to injury. “Manhunter, World’s Greatest Clown!” comes to us from Jack Miller and Joe Certa, and features that most horrific of things — a clown. And not just any clown, but an evil clown with an overlarge head:

Terrifying combo. It’s like a tarantula with a machine gun.

The “clown” in question is actually Professor Hugo, a crook that the Martian Manhunter has bested and thoroughly humiliated in the past. In a goofy revenge plot, Hugo, after his escape from prison, uses a mind-control ray in an attempt to make J’onn into a laughingstock. While Hugo’s dressed as a clown he lures the Manhunter to him by, well, just waving at him (I guess J’onn likes clowns) and zaps the green fella. How does he test the machine’s efficacy ? Dancing!:

Maybe it’s just me, but J’onn doesn’t look like he hates those moves all that much. Gotta daaaaance! Gotta daaaaance!

Hugo in his clown guise turns J’onn into a circus act and tries hard to make a fool out of him — J’onn fails at things like juggling, he brings brick walls crashing down on himself and burrows down into the ground and bursts a pipe. But all this has an unexpected effect — suddenly J’onn is the new Buster Keaton:

Hugo gives up on the whole embarassment deal and gets the bright idea to actually use this mind control thingamajig to, oh, I don’t know, commit crimes. That doesn’t last long, though, thanks to the Martian Manhunter’s disturbingly nude and grammatically challenged sidekick, Zook:

And Hugo heads back to the hoosegow.

Kind of a double dose of silliness in this issue, though I sort of like the second effort. When you have “Sockamagee!” and Zook both under one roof, I suppose goofy is what you’re bound to get.

At least there’s an evil clown. That’s storytelling gold. Coulrophobes beware! 

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 12, 2011 6:15 pm

    Professor Hugo had the distinction of being a former Batman villain ( who later became J’onn J’onzz’s arch-enemy. Highly unusual for silver age DC.

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