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
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.
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.