Retro Review: House of Mystery #160

This week I present DC’s House of Mystery # 160, cover dated July 1966.  And why is this comic book special, you might ask?  Well, it’s special because the book features the Dial H For Hero series, starring Robbie Reed and his Super-Hero dial.  And in this book DC chooses to bring back Plastic Man (kinda/sorta) by having Robbie dial his Super-Hero dial and has it turn him into the hero, Plastic Man!

And in a short while, four months to be exact, DC would publish a new series featuring, the one and only original Plastic Man, beginning with Plastic Man # 1, cover dated November 1966!  So this issue of House of Mystery was a sort of try out, or maybe more like, a coming attraction for the hero and his revived comic, due in the fall of ’66.

Plas is shown on the cover, and on the first splash page, so it was no big secret when it finally happens, but obviously DC wanted people to buy the comic, so chose to showcase Plas as much as they could, rather than saving it as a big reveal.

In the story itself, entitled; “The Wizard of Light”, Robbie has to face off against the villain, whose name happens to be The Wizard of Light!  Robbie is staying with his cousin, Ned, who is a big fan of the one-shot heroes that the H-Dail turns Robbie into whan he dials the not so secret code, H-E-R-O on the dial.

Robbie is there to witnesses a dam break, which threatens a farming community and quickly dials up a hero … and he transforms into Giant Boy, thus proving that the dail can repeat heroes!  It had not done so in the series up to this point.  He saves the community, then is thrust into another peril, this time involving poisonous fumes in a private lab.  Giant Boy risks his own life to save a Dr. Drago.  When he is overcome by the funes he transforms back to Robbie Reed, thus saving himself from the poisonous fumes (don’t ask me why this worked, it just did, in the 1966 DC comic universe) ((I guess Robbie didn’t share the same set of lungs as Giant Boy))!

Later on Robbie again uses his H-Dail to transform into King Kandy at the fairm when it is menaced by monterous illusions, created by The Wizard of Light!  King Kandy manages to stop The Wizard of Lights’ robbery attempt, but the villain escapes.

The villain later stages an armored car robbery and Robbie reaches for his Hero Dial once again and this time turns into … Plastic Man (on page 13 of the 16 page story).  Plas appears and Robbie thinks … “I’ve become Plastic Man — that famous crime-fighting hero of years ago!”  Over the final three pages, Plastic Man makes short work of The Wizard of Light and reminds the readers of Plas’ powers and that he can transform himself into a “billion different shapes and things”, though he only uses two of those shapes to defeat the villain in this story, streching his arms and forming himself into a ball, like the Legion’s Bouncing Boy!

All this, and the book has a second 9 page story, featuring the Martian Manhunter battling The Vulture!  This story is entitled; “Manhunter’s New Secret Identity” and has J’onn J’onzz giving up his John Jones identity to assume a deceased crook’s identity, of Marco Xavier, to better enable him to track down The Vulture.  This storyline would continue for quite a number of issues actually, and is one of my favorite Manhunter storylines in his entire history.

So with all of this excitement, I give the book four (4) out of 5 (five) Legion Flight Rings!  It’s definetly worth adding to your collection of Silver Age comics, if you don’t already own it!

About Greg Turner

Greg Turner (@gregturner16) is Back to the Past’s archivist and an auctioneer. He writes the columns “Fabulous Finds” and “Retro Reviews” on alternating weeks for the website and spins classic 45′s each week for Vinyl Tuesdays.

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