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Context

The Melter is an early, very Silver AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1950s to the early 1970s 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 with clear super-villain decayWhen villains gradually become less credible threats.. He thus mostly teamed up with other two-bit villains to pose more of a threat to Iron Man or the Avengers.

This character profile covers his entire career.

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Background

  • Real Name: Bruno Horgan.
  • Other Aliases: The Mysterious Melter.
  • Known Relatives: Unnamed ex-wife.
  • Group Affiliation: Former member of the Death Squad, and the first and second versions of the Masters of Evil.
  • Base Of Operations: New York City area.
  • Height: 6’ (1.82m). Weight: 205 lbs. (93 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Brown. Hair: Brown.

Powers & Abilities

Horgan is fairly large and has some physical training. Plus 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 a particularly crafty operator.

Melting ray

His signature weapon is a ray that loosens the molecular bonds of specific substances. That turns solids into liquids within seconds. The first version affected iron (or rather, sufficiently ferrous materials).

For instance one hit liquefied most of Iron Man’s left vambraceArmour part covering a forearm., but left the arm within unharmed.

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

Melter (Marvel Comics) (Bruno Horgan) (1963 costume)

The first, 1963 Melter costume.

Costume

The Melter offhandedly mentions that his costume is armoured. But this was never clearly shown.

The cape in the early versions of the costume helped 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.
  • 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 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 from 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, and 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 (Scott Summers)’ optic blast.

Melter (Marvel Comics) (Bruno Horgan) (1964 costume)

The 1964 Melter costume.

Subsequent melting ray versions

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

Third version

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

It was deployed along with a new model of helmet, with four or five studs above Horgan’s brow. These shot melting beams with a range under one metre, as 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.

Fourth version

It was compacted to the size of a large pistol, without a big power pack. Furthermore, it could make the “melting” effect exothermicAccompanied by the release of heat.. 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.

Fifth version

It was mounted on the Melter’s abdomen. The beam had concussive force as well as being a heat ray, which suggests plasma.

It is likely that this version was developed with Justin Hammer’s staff.

Sountrack

If you want music to evoke 1963, the choice is easy. The Melter appeared back when Martha and the Vandellas’ Heat Wave was a big hit.

History (part 1)

Bruno Horgan was an American industrialist in the defence industry.

In 1962 or 63, rival industrialist Anthony Stark proved that Horgan’s factories used substandard materials for the US Army’s tanks. Horgan lost this key contract, which 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 was melting iron. Inspecting the device in secret, he reverse-engineered it into a compact beam weapon.

Horgan became the Melter to feel powerful and feared. After all, he could now destroy the world’s most essential metal !

The man who could melt iron

Horgan used his ray to sabotage Stark Industries tanks. Then 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.

Melter (Marvel Comics) (Bruno Horgan) (1967 costume)

The 1967 Melter costume.

Mastering evil

In 1964, the Melter was recruited by Baron Heinrich Zemo as part of his maniacal scheme to kill Captain America (Steve Rogers) for good.

Zemo’s Masters of Evil (the Melter, the Radioactive Man (Chen Lu) and the Black Knight (Nathan Garrett)) used sprays of Zemo’s Adhesive X to trap thousands of Manhattanites. But the Avengers 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. The Masters then immediately engaged 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 this assault was undone by the accursed Richards.

Melter skelter

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 cobbled-together melting gun into a more compact and powerful version.

It worked for a while. 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.

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

The 1976+ Melter costume is the most famous one.

Remastered

Horgan was freed months later by the 1968 version of the Masters of Evil (Radioactive Man, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Klaw, Whirlwind (David Cannon)). These had been 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.

Re-remastered

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 swatted by the Wasp (Janet Pym).

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History (part 2)

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 (William Taurens). This Death Squad robbed a major comic book convention, but ran into Iron Man.

Furthermore, the Black Lama (King Jerald) intervened. 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 Jerald was about to kill Iron Man. This forced the mysterious entity to teleport away.

The nuclear option

It seems likely that Whiplash then introduced the Melter to Justin Hammer.

In any case the Melter became a Hammer operative during the mid-1970s. Thus, when he returned he had a new costume and a new heat ray projector.

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 intervened, but the Melter struck first and landed a series of good shots. These apparently killed Iron Man.

Stark actually narrowly survived. He then sacrificed an old robotised Iron Man suit to distract Horgan. This plan worked, but Horgan was accidentally defenestratedThrown through a window. and seemingly killed during the fight.

Melter (Marvel Comics) (Bruno Horgan) in his civvies

Melter, schmelter

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 returned 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. He 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, who then defeated his foes.

The villainous trio was sprung from Ryker’s Island by Hammer’s operatives within days. But they soon were defeated during the famous floating villa battle against Iron Man.

Melter (Marvel Comics) (Bruno Horgan) and the Whirlwind

Masters of Evil.

1980s

The Melter was free in 1983. He and Scarlotti were part of the army of super-villains attempting 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 had been murdered and replaced by a Scourge of the Underworld operative.

This Scourge fatally shot Mr. Horgan.

Post-mortem

The Melter name has since been claimed by two unrelated persons.

The first was Christopher Colchiss of the young Masters of Evil. His powers aren’t unlike Horgan’s melting ray.

The second was a man wearing a colour-shifted version of the last Melter costume. He 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.

The Melter (Bruno Horgan) raiding a Stark Industries plant (Marvel Comics)

Personality

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

At first he was remarkably overconfident, and focused on petty revenge. The pettiness eventually took over. Thus, Horgan became a treacherous, revenge-minded, ungrateful, self-aggrandising usual loser looking for an edge. Or a big cheque from a more competent villain.

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

Tactics

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 the Melter 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), 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 piñata.

The Melter (Bruno Horgan)'s classic costume (Marvel Comics)

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 Adaptation

(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).

Would make a good Guy Gardner or Hal Jordan foe. His weapon would have a setting that melts solid energy like the one manifested by Green Lanterns, and depletes ring charge at an accelerated rate.

DC Heroes RPG

Melter

Dex: 03 Str: 02 Bod: 03
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 03
Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03
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.

Motivation:

Power.

Occupation:

Criminal.

Wealth:

004

Equipment:

  • COSTUME [BODY 05, Blunting: 05, Skin armour: 01, Bonus: Skin armour also works against energy attacks]. These are low-ish 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].

Equipment – melting ray:

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].
  • The Mk. 2 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 Hero Points 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. 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.

Melter (Marvel Comics) (Bruno Horgan) and Blizzard Shapanka beams

DC Adventures RPG

Melter (Bruno Horgan) — Averaged PL5.6

STR STA AGL DEX
00 01 00 01
FGT INT AWE PRE
01 02 01 01

Powers:

Master of the melter beam ● 5 points ● Descriptor: Skill
– Enhanced Skill (Technology 6) (Limited 2 to melting beams).
– Melt all the guns — Enhanced Advantage (Improved Smash, Power Attack, Takedown – Limited 1 to melter beam), Enhanced Skill (Ranged Combat (Melting beam) 4, Limited 1 to Smash Attacks), Improved Critical 2 (Melter beam)

Devices:

Colourful costume ● 10 points (Removable) ● Descriptor: Technology
– Protection 2
– Feature — the versions with a cape provide Second Chance against falling off narrow surfaces.
– Jet belt — Some versions had Flight 5

Successive versions of the melting beam ● 21 points (for the Mk5) ● Descriptor: Technology

  • The Mk1 was Ranged disintegration Damage 11, Removable, Limited 2 to sufficiently ferrous materials.
  • The Mk2 could affect all metals, improving the Limitation by one step. It could also be used to melt/weld metal to a nearby surface, but that took several seconds and is thus considered a Feature.
  • The Mk3 was Ranged disintegration Damage 12. But it was Easily Removable (being hand-held). It also had a Quirk – it had to be set for metal, stone, flesh or wood and would only affect germane materials until the switch was turned to another setting.
  • The Mk3 also had the helmet-mounted mini-projectors, which is considered a Feature.
  • The Mk4 is Ranged heat Damage 13, Removable, same Quirk as above.
  • The Mk5 was the same but could alternate between a heat Descriptor and an Energy Descriptor.

Combat Advantages:

Close Attack 2, Defensive Roll 1, Improved Smash and Power attack (limited to melter beams), Ranged Attack 2, Takedown (Limited to melter beams).

Other Advantages:

Benefit 1 (Justin Hammer contract)

Skills:

Athletics 1 (+1), Expertise (Captain of industry oh gosh) 3 (+5), Expertise (Radio and military vehicles engineering) 6 (+8), Insight 1 (+2), Perception 3 (+4), Ranged combat (Melter beam) 3 (+6), Technology 8 (+10), Vehicles 2 (+3) (Limited 1 to land vehicles).

Offence:

Initiative +0
Unarmed +3, Close, Damage 0
Melting beam +6, Ranged, Damage 13, Crit 18-20.

Defence:

Dodge 06
Fortitude 03
Parry 03
Toughness 01*/02/04**
Will 02

* Without Defensive Roll.
** With Costume.

Complications:

  • Ego trip Horgan was often more interested in propping up his ego than in getting results. In particular, he often played with supposed preys, with stupid results.
  • Working on calibrations The melting beam is material-specific, and the Melter runs into situations where none of the settings he has is appropriate.
  • Omnishambles Horgan’s career and company were destroyed, and that he’s the Melter is public knowledge.

Powers Levels:

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 10, Dodge/Toughness PL 05, Parry/Toughness PL 04, Fort/Will PL 03.
  • Points total 80. Abilities 14, Defences 11, Skills 13, Powers 5, Devices 31, Advantages 6. Equiv. PL 6.


Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Marvel Universe.

Helper(s): Darci.

Writeup completed on the 11th of August, 2014.