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Melter (Marvel Comics) (Bruno Horgan) (1976 costume)

Melter

(Bruno Horgan)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

The Melter is an early, very Silver Age  enemy of Iron Man. He appeared in late 1963, toting a rubber science beam weapon that could melt iron. Back then, Iron Man’s suit was actually made out of iron.

He continued to return with remarkable regularity, but clearly marked by super-villain decay . He thus mostly was seen grouping up with other two-bit villains to pose more of a threat to Iron Man.

The Melter was slain by the Scourge of the Underworld in 1986. This character profile covers his entire career.


Background

  • Real Name: Bruno Horgan.
  • Other Aliases: The Mysterious Melter.
  • Marital Status: Divorced.
  • Known Relatives: None.
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the Death Squad, and the first and second version of the Masters of Evil.
  • Base Of Operations: New York City area.
  • Height: 6’ Weight: 205 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown


Powers & Abilities

Horgan is fairly large and has some physical training – plus some superhuman combat experience. He has extensive engineering experience, and a good education in the hard sciences. Horgan is otherwise fairly ordinary. He never was much of an impressive presence or particularly crafty operator.

The Melter (Bruno Horgan) raiding a Stark Industries plant

His signature weapon is a ray that loosens the molecular bonds of specific substances. That turns them from solids into liquids within seconds. The first version affected iron (or rather, sufficiently ferrous materials). For instance one hit liquefied most of the Iron Man armour’s left arm, but left the wearer’s arm inside unharmed.

In most versions this ray was mounted as a pectoral projector or over Horgan’s stomach. The beam is fairly large (a bit like a searchlight) so aiming it isn’t a problem most of the time.

The Melter also offhandedly mentions that his costume is armoured, albeit nothing was ever clearly shown.

The cape in the early versions of the costume was quite useful in helping him keep his balance while running on narrow surfaces. In 1976, the Melter wore a new capeless uniform, which had belt-mounted jets for flying.

Melter science facts

  • Horgan isn’t a good shot. The beam is wide, but the man isn’t too fast or accurate. He consistently misses fast-flying targets, but is pretty good against large immobile objects such as the broad side of a barn (in DC Heroes terms, he can use his Cell Rot Power as AV/OV against obstacles).
    Horgan is also good at shooting at guns. Part of his confidence was borne by knowing that he could easily disarm police opposing him. He could even melt a sword wielded by the Black Knight (Dane Withman) to slag. Horgan will often go for the weapon rather than the man, since the odds of success are — counter-intuitively — better for him when doing that.
  • The beam was good at ruining metal-reinforced concrete by melting the rebar within. This left the masonry to collapse (preferably on somebody, or under somebody).
  • A chemical treatment to proof some metals against the beam was developed in 1964. But it apparently was specific to the second version of the ray.
  • The ray takes time to affect large quantities of metal, or smaller quantities that have been reinforced by force fields (such as Iron Man’s armour). However the Melter learned to use that to his advantage. Examples included partially melting large metal objects so they’d collapse while still solid – or partially melting Iron Man’s boots to fuse them to the floor.
  • The melting ray has been deflected by colliding with other energy beams, such as Iron Man’s repulsors or Cyclops’ optic blast.

Subsequent melting ray versions

The second version was improved by Baron Heinrich Zemo, and could affect all metals rather than just iron.

The third version was a jury-rigged, carbine-sized version with cables hooked into a backpack (presumably holding power packs). However it had four settings – metal, stone, wood and flesh.

This third version was deployed along with a new model of helmet with four or five studs above Horgan’s brow. These could shoot a small version of the beam with a range under one metre – they’re a surprise self-defense weapon. The stud projectors are presumably fired through cybernetics in the helm. Only one is fired at a time but they’re quite accurate.

The fourth version was compacted to the size of a large pistol, without a big power pack. Furthermore, it could make the “melting” effect endothermic, so in this mode the melting ray was effectively a heat ray making stuff melt. From the 1970s onward, the “heat ray” approach was what was usually featured for the Melter, rather than molecular liquefaction.

The fifth version was mounted on the Melter’s abdomen, and the beam had concussive force as well as being a heat ray (which suggests plasma). It is likely that this version was developed in concert with Justin Hammer’s staff.


History

Bruno Horgan was an American industrialist in the defence industry. However, in 1962 or 63, rival industrialist Anthony Stark proved that Horgan’s factories were using substandard materials for the tanks they built for the US Army. Horgan lost this key contract, which reportedly bankrupted his company. He developed a raving hatred toward Stark and, to a lesser extent, the Army.

As his company was falling apart, Horgan saw that a defective inspection beam in one of his labs was melting iron. Inspecting the device in secret, he reverse-engineered it into a compact beam weapon that could melt iron like butter.

The power-hungry Horgan then developed the identity of the Melter. He wanted to become powerful and feared. After all, he could now destroy the world’s most essential metal !

The man who could melt iron

Horgan began by striking at Stark Industries. He used his ray to sabotage their Army-ordered tanks before he started slagging critical machinery at their production plants. Iron Man (Tony Stark) intervened, but the Melter forced him to flee with one hit. The saboteur’s beam could easily reveal Stark’s identity by melting his helmet – or kill him by destroying his heart-regulating chestplate.

However, Stark soon came back with a suit made of extruded aluminium, and Horgan barely escaped.

The Melter (Bruno Horgan) destroys the pistols of policemen

In 1964, the Melter was recruited by Baron Heinrich Zemo as part of his maniacal scheme to kill Captain America for good. Zemo’s Masters of Evil (the Melter, the Radioactive Man (Chen Lu) and the Black Knight (Nathan Garrett)) sought out the Avengers. They attacked Manhattan with sprays of Zemo’s Adhesive X, trapping thousands. The Avengers eventually prevailed and captured the Masters.

Some months later, Zemo had his allies the Enchantress (Amora of Asgard) and the Executioner (Skurge of Asgard) free the Knight and the Melter from prison to immediately engage the Avengers. The Masters of Evil were again defeated, and Zemo was accidentally killed while attacking Captain America.

The Melter was also part of the massive, Dr. Doom-engineered attack against Susan Storm and Reed Richards’ wedding. But these events were essentially erased from continuity by the accursed Richards.

Melter skelter

Though it took over a year, the Melter had his cellmate smuggle him parts from the machine shop. This allowed Horgan to build a crude melting gun. After betraying his cellmate he escaped, got a spare costume out of hiding and promptly went after Stark. This time he forced the inventor to turn his current, carbine-sized melting gun into a more compact and powerful version.

It worked for a while and the Melter clearly had the upper hand when the police came in. But Stark had subtly sabotaged the weapon, and the Melter was again arrested.

Horgan was promptly freed months later by the 1968 version of the Masters of Evil (Radioactive Man, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Klaw, Whirlwind) assembled by the Crimson Cowl (Ultron-5). Though the Black Knight turned against them, the Masters stormed Avengers’ Mansion. The Melter narrowly took Hawkeye (Clint Barton) down by surprise.

However, Horgan failed to kill Jarvis, who warned the Black Knight in time to rescue the Avengers. The Masters were ultimately defeated, though Ultron escaped.

Klaw engineered an escape along with his accomplices. It worked, and the Masters minus Ultron were at large by 1970.

They attacked the annual Rutland, VT costumed parade to kidnap a famous scientist – but the Avengers were the guests of honour. Still, the Masters of Evil struck hard and stunned their opponents. It was the unexpected arrival of the Liberators (Valkyrie, Black Widow, Medusa, Wasp, Scarlet Witch) that did them in. The Melter was flattened by the Wasp (Janet Pym).

Melter, schmelter

Being a Master of Evil was Horgan’s high point as a super-villain. It only went downhill from there. In 1975, he allied with Whiplash (Mark Scarlotti) and the Man-Bull, forming the Death Squad to rob a major comic book convention. But they ran into Iron Man.

Furthermore the Black Lama (King Jerald) had come for Iron Man as part of his strange tournament. He convinced the Death Squad and part of the public to attack Iron Man. Horgan shot Stark in the back, but a fan intervened and Iron Man prevailed. In anger, Horgan shot the Black Lama as he was about to kill Iron Man. This forced the mysterious entity to teleport away.

(It is likely, but not demonstrated, that Whiplash then introduced the Melter to Justin Hammer. In any case the Melter became a Hammer operative during the 1970s, and when he returned he had a new costume and a new heat ray projector.)

The Melter (Bruno Horgan)'s classic costume

In 1976 the Melter stole a tactical nuclear device from the US military. He was promised a multi-million dollars ransom for it. Iron Man had intervened during the theft, but the Melter struck first and made a series of good shots, defeating and apparently killing Iron Man.

Stark actually narrowly survived. He then sacrificed an old robotised Iron Man suit to distract Horgan so he could attack him by surprise. His plan worked, though Horgan was accidentally defenestrated and seemingly killed during the fight.

Minor bits

The Melter was then part of the “Defender for a Day” debacle. We do not talk about the “Defender for a Day” debacle.

Horgan was also briefly summoned to the future by Arthur Zarrko the Tomorrow Man to fight the Fantastic Four of 1995. But he was soon sent back to the second half of the 1970s.

At some point during the late 1970s, he was also “recruited” in Krona’s army during the JLA/Avengers events, and fought for Krona at the side of Heat-Wave (Mick Rory) from the DC Universe.

Hammer time

In 1979 the Melter associated with two other Justin Hammer men, Blizzard (Gregor Shapanka) and Whiplash. Together they attacked an Atlantic City casino, combining their weaponry to make short work of the massive titanium vault door. Their common foe Iron Man attacked, but they turned the tables on him. Only bodyguard Bethany Cabe’s intervention saved the golden Avenger.

This allowed Iron Man to swiftly regain the upper hand and defeat the villains. They were sprung from Ryker’s Island by Hammer’s operatives within days, but only to get caught in the famous floating villa battle against Iron Man and defeated anew.

The Melter was free in 1983. He and Scarlotti were part of the army of super-villains that attempted to kill the Thing (Ben Grimm) while he was hospitalised after his fight against the Champion of the Universe (Tryco Slatterus). That assault failed against an equivalent army of heroes defending the hospital.

Mere months later the Melter again attacked Iron Man. With the help of an imprisoned physicist, he had tuned his old melting ray to devastate the specific alloy used by Iron Man. However, Iron Man was coincidentally wearing an older suit of armour. As a result, the Melter’s attack was completely ineffective, leading to his swift defeat.

In 1986, the Melter was preparing a surprise attack against Avengers’ Mansion with a new melting ray, to reestablish his cred. However, his hired aide was murdered and replaced by a Scourge of the Underworld operative, who gunned Horgan down.

Post-mortem

The Melter name has since been claimed by two unrelated persons. The first was Christopher Colchiss of the young Masters of Evil, whose powers aren’t unlike Horgan’s melting ray.

The second was a man wearing a colour-shifted version of the last Melter costume, who was part of Norman Osborn’s “Goblin Nation”. He’s apparently a newbie who bought the rights to the costume and name (and perhaps the technology) from Roderick Kingsley.


Description

See illustrations.


Personality

Horgan was originally on a huge power trip. He wanted to reign supreme through his accidental discovery and inspire universal fear.

At first he was remarkably overconfident, and interested in (somewhat petty) revenge. The pettiness eventually took over. Thus, Horgan became a treacherous, revenge-minded, ungrateful, self-aggrandizing usual loser looking for an edge – or a big cheque from a more competent villain.

His smug confidence often led him to make indirect attacks rather than just shoot Iron Man when he couldn’t dodge. Horgan could have won many of his fights had he just shot Stark rather than attempt to toy with him. However that went both ways to an extent. Stark usually fought defensively (in DC Heroes RPG terms, Laying Back) in case Horgan changed his mind and stopped playing.

This is especially notable since, in the one fight where he opened with two good shots in a row (in tabletop RPG parlance he got two solid dice rolls in a row), the Melter thrashed and nearly killed Iron Man. He ruined a Golden Avenger-class suit of armour within minutes. He also had good rolls during the followup fight, destroying an outdated Mk. 2 Iron Man armour like a pinñata.

Horgan occasionally claimed that he was a greater genius than Tony Stark. That was absurd – the main improvements on his ray were done by Zemo, Stark and — apparently — Hammer scientists.


Quotes

“With a mask to conceal my identity, I can plunder at will ! The very sight of me will strike fear into the heart of men ! No weapon can menace me, for I can melt them all !”

“Once the world learns that the Melter has defeated Iron Man, none will dare to oppose me !”

(Betraying an accomplice) “You’ve served your purpose to me, and I always did think gratitude is for the birds !”

“I always said I was more of a genius than your boss, Tony Stark, and this time I’ll prove it — by melting you into a puddle of steaming SLAG !”


DC Universe History

Would make a good Guy Gardner or Hal Jordan foe, his weapon having a setting that melts solid energy like the one manifested by Green Lanterns.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Melter

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Power
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 03 Occupation: Criminal
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 010 HP: 025

Skills:
Accuracy (Melting/heat beam attacks against hand-held objects): 07, Evasion (Ranged only): 04, Gadgetry: 05, Scientist: 04, Vehicles (Land): 03, Weaponry (Melting beam): 04

Advantages
Familiarity (Radio engineering, Military vehicles engineering, Business management), Scholar (Melting ray technology, Heat/plasma ray technology), Schtick (Disarmer (his Accuracy Skill)).

Connections:
Justin Hammer (Low).

Drawbacks:
MIA toward not making direct attacks, Public ID.

Equipment:

  • COSTUME [BODY 05, Blunting: 05, Skin armour: 01, Bonus: Skin armour also works against energy attacks]. These are fairly neutral values since the costume was never clearly demonstrated to be armoured.
  • CAPE [BODY 01, Acrobatics: 05, Limitation: Acrobatics only to retain his balance whilst jumping or running].
  • The 1976 costume no longer had a CAPE, but it had a JET BELT [BODY 02, Flight: 06].
  • And one of the following, in chronological order :
    • MELTING RAY Mk. 1 [BODY 03, Cell rot: 11, Bonus: Cell rot is Ranged, Limitation: Cell rot can only affect sufficiently ferrous materials].
    • It was replaced by the Mk. 2, which could affect all metals rather than just ferrous ones. The Mk. 2 can also emulate Glue by semi-melting a metallic object and fusing it with the floor – this Stunt Power costs no HPs but requires that metallic item be firmly in contact with a suitable surface, and unmoving for several seconds.
    • The Mk. 3 version was carbine-sized and could be Taken Away, but it also introduced the helmet projectors described below. Furthermore the Mk. 3 could attack metal, stone, flesh or wood – though Cell Rot will only affect the category of matter corresponding to the current setting out of these four. The Cell Rot effect now had 12 APs.
    • MELTING RAY Mk. 4 [BODY 02, Heat Vision: 13, Limitation: Heat Vision must be set to metal, stone, flesh or wood and will only attack something in the selected category – though being in the vicinity of superheated material is of course harmful].
    • The Mk. 5 version has Energy Blast: 13 as well.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 11th of August, 2014.

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