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365 Reasons to Love Comics #290

Some bad guys don’t get any respect. Today’s featured bad guy is one of those. (Archive.)


290. The Melter

Melter 1.jpg

Some baddies have very obvious names that describe their entire villainous function. The Rhino’s a big rhino dude. The Riddler riddles. The Tinkerer tinkers. The Shocker… well, okay, he vibrates. And the Melter? He melts stuff.

Bruno Horgan (no, that’s not a typo– it’s “Horgan,” not “Hogan”) was once a munitions man who fell into bankruptcy when safety inspectors shut him down and all his contracts were given to one Tony Stark. Horgan then discovered one of his defective machines was capable of projecting a beam of powerful energy that melted stuff. Naturally, he decided to seek revenge and strapped the thing to his chest. No, it doesn’t sound very safe, but that’s what made him broke in the first place. Of course, his revenge caused him to cross paths with Tony Stark’s alter ego and “bodyguard”– the Invincible Iron Man!

Despite appearing way back in 1963 in Tales of Suspense #47 (in an 18-page epic fantasy super-spectacular by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko), and being a mainstay in the Masters of Evil for quite a while, “the mysterious Melter” has not had a storied history. Sure, he popped up on those classic ripped-from-the-panels animated shows, but that was back in the ’60s. In fact, poor ol’ Melty was shot to death by the Scourge of the Underworld a long ways back, sad to say.

Melter 2.jpgMelter 3.jpgMelter 4.jpg

So what went wrong? Surprisingly–or maybe not, depending on who you are–Iron Man has a very good rogues gallery. You’ve got the Mandarin, Spymaster, the Ghost, Fin Fang Foom, Ultimo, Blizzard, Whiplash, the occasional MODOK, and a bunch more I’m forgetting. It’s easy to see why a dude like the Melter has been overlooked.

Also, there’s his costume. I won’t lie– it’s maybe the nadir of super-villain fashion. Well, his original outfit, anyway; it looks like he’s had a new one in every appearance. The lack of consistency is also a problem. But, okay, let’s look at the first costume. We have a big purple helmet, baggy sleeves, elf boots, a big flowing cape, striped leggings, and some funky torso thing with a death ray that shoots out of his chest. Yeah, he looks silly. I happen to dig silly, but a team of blind wombats could dress a man better. He later switched the chest-ray to a gun, but by then it was too late: he’d landed on the lame list.

I think it’s time for a Melter revamp. It’d be the first thing I did were I to write Iron Man, which I probably never will because I don’t actually like Tony Stark at all. However–! The Melter, that’s where it’s at. His origin’s fine– it’s cool that Tony Stark, and not Iron Man, is his true enemy. All he needs is a cool new look and perhaps some extra gadgets. He’s an industrial terrorist who can melt anything he wants. That’s cool, right?

The Melter really needs a little more lovin’ and respect. Poor Bruno never caught a break– I think it’s time to give him one. There wasn’t a Melter II, was there?

For more on the meltingest super-villain ever, visit the Marvel Universe page.


I’m pretty sure The Scourge killed him

He’s an industrial terrorist who can melt anything he wants. That’s cool, right?

Eh. Melting is a slow process, and one that requires constant application. All in all, I think he suffers from being too specific in his gimmick.

Yeah, Melty was pretty much a C-list badguy. But I remember really liking one of his appearances, a Tales of Suspense two parter in #’s 89 and 90 (You’ve got one of the covers posted above), in which Melter damaged Stark’s newer armor so much that he found himself having to don his old gray armor in order to come out victorious. I remember it being quite a tense situation.

Then again, I was 7. Make of it what you will.

Eh. Melting is a slow process, and one that requires constant application.

Not necessarily – if you get the temperature/chemical mix right, it can actually be a pretty quick process. I rather like the comic-booky logic behind a mad scientist in a tchnological battle to destroy IM’s armour as quickly as Stark can compensate. Don’t think you could sustain many stories with it, however.

if you get the temperature/chemical mix right, it can actually be a pretty quick process.

Even from a projected ray?

I guess it’s time I built that melting gun.

We’re talking about a world where a guy can shoot lasers out of his eyes and another one can stick to wells and sense danger coming. I don’t think a melting ray is really that far-fetched.

He can stick to WALLS, as well as wells. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Actually, wells are pretty much the only things that guy *can’t* stick to! I remember several occasions where Spider-Man was trapped in a water tower or somesuch and unable to climb out because “the walls were too slick.”

Anyways, the Melter was reintroduced in Marvel Adventures: Avengers recently, with a slightly new angle: he’s not *truly* “melting” objects, but reducing their “molecular cohesion” for an effect that’s similar to melting, but doesn’t require or create a lot of heat. Presumably they wrote it that way because it’s an “all-ages” book, and high-heat melty action might be a little too lethal for that? OTOH, he *does* threaten Giant Girl in the same issue, noting that he *could* “melt” organic matter if he wanted to.

Here’s an obvious problem with the Melter. His melting ray is energy based. Being an energy process, not chemical, the melting is a result of heat. I have no problem that the heat can be generated almost immediately and projected. These are comic books, after all. The problem is that heat radiates. It’s just what it does. Whatever is melted would give off an extreme ammount of heat.

Steel melts at about 2400F. For arguements sake, let’s say that the heated metal radiates a heat of half that – 1200F. The armor melting off of Starks body would destroy the flesh beneath. Stark is dead, multiple times over.

There is only one explanation: Tony Stark is a mutant. He can resist extreme heat without damage.

Now that he’s a mutant, can we shove him off into the X-titles and get him the heck out of mainstream Marvel?

It’s interesting that Lee, Ditko & Heck are credited on the cover of Tales of Suspense #47. Okay, not so much a surprise for Lee, who is a master of self-promotion, but I think it was pretty rare for the artists to be listed on the cover way back then.

Suedenim was posting while I was writing my post. This explanation in the all-ages Avengers doesn’t fly. In order to be a chemical process, the chemicals need to be applied. He uses an energy ray. Energy can induce a chemical reaction, but energy cannot apply chemicals. No matter how you slice it, he uses a ray gun, not a splat gun.

He was great as Phoebe’s brother on Friends.

The whole “in a world of superheroes, anything’s possible” argument only goes as far as the reader’s suspension of disbelief. You have to have some level of relatability in the reality of their world. Otherwise, you end with characters who can change the past by punching a wall.

What, you’re saying you can’t change the past by punching the wall? I’m crushed. Or at least, my knuckles are.

I remember that second appearance of the Melter as being pretty desperate also. Didn’t Iron Man beat him the first time by donning a paper outfit?
Or did he alter the composition of his armor?
Remember, the Metal Master in Hulk #6, wasn’t he also beat the same way? A machine made out of paper mache and cardboard boxes.

I thought he might have gone away for good, but like a bad penny, when the writers were stuck for a story, up he’d pop!

See, the idea that somebody could beat him, just because they didn’t have any metal on them… that’s terrible.

And I blame the Melter for this.

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