Sunday, January 4, 2009

The House of Secrets #150 - March 1978

The Phantom Stranger visits The House of Secrets!

Sure, The Phantom Stranger made three appearances in The House of Mystery, but they were in reprints--he does HOM's sister title, The House of Secrets, one better by appearing in all-new story, by two people who had handled the Stranger solo--writer Gerry Conway and artist Gerry Talaoc!

The story is titled "A God By Any Other Name":
The Stranger starts telling a story that begins in 1892, and concerns a man named Thomas Corbett, who formed a witch's coven and tried to kill Rabbi Samuel Shulman, a friend of the Stranger's.

Shulman and his friend, Father John Christian, thought they had destroyed Corbett in a previous battle (told in House of Secrets #89), but are shocked to see him resurface in Father Christian's church, ransacking the place!

They manage to fight him off, but the church is wrecked. Corbett seems to possess extraordinary powers, and they think that perhaps a new coven has been formed.

Later, they track Corbett to a large building, where he stands astride a giant machine, which dumps a vat of molten lava at the two men. They get out of the way, so Corbett then fires a bolt of electricity out of his hands, aimed at Father Christian!

Christian instinctively holds up his crucifix, which blocks the blast and sends it back at Corbett, burning him to a crisp!

Problem solved? Not quite:
...Dr. Thirteen always felt comfortable showing up and ruining everyone's fun, no matter what book it was.

The phone rings, and its Mrs. Thirteen--she's in a panic, as we see many of the appliances in the Thirteen's apartment going haywire!

Before Thirteen is even off the phone, the Stranger disappears, and helps rescue Mrs. Thirteen.

Turns out the new apartment the Thirteens live in is called "The American Dream Apartment"--a experimental, super-high-tech building run entirely by a supercomputer, invented and run by one man, a genius named Robert Korman.

That's all the Stranger need to hear, and he disappears as quickly as he arrived.

We see Korman--who is a spitting image for Corbett--interacting with his creation, and on its screen is a horribly demonic image. As they talk of a master plan, the Stranger arrives:

And once again, The Phantom Stranger is gone...!

Unusual, that neither The Phantom Stranger or Dr. Thirteen appear--or are even mentioned--on the cover (nicely drawn by Jim Starlin). Since The House of Secrets was usually filled with three or four unconnected stories, you'd think DC would've wanted potential readers to know this issue was a little different. Oh well.

In any case, nice to have Gerry Conway back writing the Stranger outside of
Justice League, if only for this one issue.

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