Examining The Human Torch’s Paste Pot Pete

Journey Into Marvel – Part 65

Look at this guy...Gimmick.. gimmick, gimmick.

Look at this guy…Gimmick.. gimmick, gimmick.

Extremites, the costumed villain is an absurd idea. A criminal coordinates a theme and then commits said theme into a plan of criminality. Although megalomaniac serial killers like San Francisco’s Zodiac or New York’s Son of Sam do resemble this in their crimes, most crime is faceless and brutal. Comic books embellish criminal acts and put an absurd character behind them. Strange Tales #104 has one of Silver Age Marvel’s most absurd villains at the centre of its story.

Modern Marvel readers will know the name Trapster. He’s a character that has featured in some story in each of the modern flagship line, with the exception of X-Men. In 1963, he went by the name Paste Pot Pete. Pete got his name from the fact that instead of using a fire arm he opts for a hose the shoots paste. This guy threatens people with a gigantic glue dispenser.

Paste Pot uses his invention to go on a bank robbing spree that holds Glenville hostage, and in the case of the bank managers: stuck to the floor.

Larry Lieber or Stan Lee pitched this character after maybe sniffing actual paste.His grosteque beast like face, his jungle camouflage, Cuban commando look is either the marks of genius post modern art or an acid trip. That’s what this story reads like: a big acid trip.

Human Torch, after being doused with flame retardant paste, get’s stuck to a nuclear warhead which is set to shoot into the Pacific Ocean. Jonny gets out of the situation by working up a little welding action and cutting away the metal with the glue stuck to it. He chases down Paste Pot whom he then leaves to drown in the Atlantic. There’s very little plot in this one as most of it is just a competition between a guy and his paste gun verses a guy with power over flame. A lot of great art by Jack Kirby, but little to no story.

Paste Pot Pete is charming. He’s whimsical. He’s a costumed villain who’s ludicrous but represents the same flaunting creativity that DC shows with its Batman characters.

Why the need to add magic to these villains?

No, ‘magic’ isn’t the right word. Fantasy is better.

Pete is a bank robber who funnels his funds to the Communists. Bank robberies are no fun. A guy comes in with a weapon, demands cash, maybe injures or kills and then escapes. For most of the stories thus far, Mr. Storm has an unbalanced relationship with his antagonists.Jonny is always gonna come out on top. That is until Pete glues him to a warhead. Duddenly there is tension. Although the way Torch escapes Paste Pot is juvenile and far too easy, this tension is commendeble.

Extremite, why do you think we costume up our villains? Do we need to remain distant from their criminality? Do we just like gimmicks and tights? Tell me what you think in the comments.

Until next time, Extremites, I remain: Julian Munds.

Story I Read:The Human Torch Meets Paste-Pot Pete!” (Strange Tales #104 Jan 1963)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Pros: Some great Silver Age fantasy. Paste Pot is wild and corny but charming like an old episode of Bewitched. Lots of nostalgic Americana.

Con: A glue gun, really? Commies are behind it all. Lazy writing.

Next Review:The Return of Doctor Doom!” (Fantastic Four #10 Jan 1963)

Last Review:The Vengeance of Loki” (Journey Into Mystery #88 Jan. 1963)

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About Julian Munds

I possess a degree in Theatre and Drama from the University of Toronto. I own my own theatre company called Snobbish Theatre. We focus our work on new versions of classics.

Posted on February 3, 2015, in Comics, Marvel, The Fantastic Four and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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