The Official “Human Torch is a Jerk” Article

Journey Into Marvel – Part 73

The Arrogance of Johnny Storm in one panel.

The Arrogance of Johnny Storm in one panel.

Extremites, Johnny Storm is a jerk. It’s official.

Since I started reading the Fantastic Four, I’ve concluded that the Four’s weakness is their egos. Whenever a villain wants to destroy the Four, all he or she need do is appeal to their arrogance. This tactic works well with Ben Grimm, sometimes Reed, but is most successful with Torch. Torch is a bully.

Carl Zante and the manipulation

Carl Zante and the manipulation.

Carl Zante, the Acrobat — the villain of this issue — is a pretentious bonkers cartoon of a man. He has a thick Tony Stark moustache, a gaudy Cruella DeVille cigarette — complete with holder — and a beret. Honest to God, a beret. I love Lieber’s villains. They always have such panache and what they lack in depth is made up in star power.

Remember, that secret identity Johnny maintains in Glenville (Strange Tales issues) but doesn’t even mention in New York (Fantastic Four issues)? The writers put an end to that discrepancy. 

It seems Glenville allowed Johnny to believe that no one knew he was the Human Torch because he himself never mentioned it. They thought he wanted privacy. But we know Johnny doesn’t want privacy, he even wants you know that he is being secretive, and Larry Lieber understands this. That’s why he does away with whole stupid idea.

Ok, yeah, sure Stan Lee conceived the plot… but I want to think someone gave Stan Lee a quick slap over his bespectacled head. It’s best that it was his bother that did it.

The Acrobat comes to Mr. Storm’s house and implores to him to join a twosome with him — meaning that Human Torch must forsake the Fantastic Four. Zante suggests to Johnny that he should get some remuneration from the team. Carl claims that Storm saves the team more often then the other members and is also the most popular — hell, he’s got his own solo series, right? Reed and Ben don’t like this idea and mock Torch for even suggesting such a thing. This drives Torch into the arms of the Acrobat and that’s all she wrote.

To quote a Lucas created Fish Monster who has achieved the rank of Admiral… ‘it’s a trap.’

The Acrobat fools Johnny into burning through a safe, and … robbing it, but the Fantastics Three are there to get Johnny out of this mess and all is righted.

This issue shows Marvel’s animosity toward their teenage readership. They put in a passing piece of dialogue which states that this whole mess would have been averted if Johnny had just not been “his impulsive teenage self.” Although correct, I wonder if this isn’t another jab at the audience for berating Marvel HQ with fan mail loving the Torch and hating Sue Storm. ‘See kids sometimes Johnny is an idiot,’ Larry Lieber and Stan Lee are saying.

This is the first story of Earth 616 that is drawn by the pen of Dick Ayers. His characters have a golden 50s feel about them. They look like they were ripped right out of 1950s DC comic strips. Perhaps, they were. Johnny Storm has a quaff young Peter O’Toole would envy. Although, somehow Sue Storm looks even less human.

Someone teach these men how to draw women.

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

Story I Read:The Threat of the Torrid Twosome” (Strange Tales #106 Mar. 1963)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Pros: Charming story, getting rid of the absurd double identity thing, Johnny Storm’s flaws.

Cons: Not enough investigation of the Fantastic Four’s reaction to Johnny’s resignation, Dick Ayer’s Sue looks like an alien, was the conclusion supposed to be that Johnny Storm is a moron? Because that’s how I read it.

Next Review:The Master of Flame vs. The Monarch of the Sea!!” (Strange Tales #107 Apr. 1963)

Last Review:The Day That Ant-Man Failed!” (Tales to Astonish #40 Feb. 1963)




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 April 27, 2015, in Comics, Marvel, The Fantastic Four and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

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