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A Human Torch Story That’s So Bad It’s ‘Van Vile’

Journey Into Marvel – Part 81

Van Vile paints a 3 headed ape to terrorize us.

Van Vile paints a 3 headed ape to terrorize us.

Extremites, I have discovered the best way to enter a story in the Strange Tales solo Human Torch issues is to expect the worse. Today, my expectations were lived up too and then some. This is the most terrible Human Torch story I have read thus far. Read the rest of this entry


Stan Lee Answers Who Would Win in a Fight Between Namor and the Human Torch

Journey Into Marvel – Part 74



Extremites, it’s hilarious that I find myself in a loop discussing Johnny Storm’s ego. Last issue was the official moment when the Human Torch’s ego became his comeuppance. In today’s issue the two greatest egos of the Marvel Universe face off: Submariner and Johnny Storm.

A well crafted character, even one who has a large ego – maybe especially one that has a large ego — shows some vulnerability on occasion. Even a massive dick like John Constantine, Frank Castle or Bruce Wayne is shown to have some vulnerability. But Johnny Storm is just a punk kid, and to this point in the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee, and the others who have written him, paint him only as a punk kid. Read the rest of this entry

Why the Human Torch’s Run In Strange Tales Is Not a Solo Title

Journey Into Marvel – Part 51

Human Torch deals with the Wizard

Human Torch deals with the Wizard

Extremites, the Strange Tales Human Torch run is not a solo title.

Even two issues into his run, in the failing Strange Tales line, Stan Lee relies upon crossovers to cover the dramatic deficiencies of everybody’s favourite flamer.

The Human Torch can’t function without the other heroes. Read the rest of this entry

The Human Torch and Youth Exploitation: Why Johnny Storm Got a Solo Title

Journey Into Marvel – Part 50

Torch racing a Nuclear Missile for fun. What?

Torch racing a Nuclear Missile for fun. What?


Extremites, today’s article marks the 50th in our Journey Into Marvel series and it’s fitting that the Human Torch, my favourite pet peeve, figures as the object of my criticism.

Ask any young Marvelite, today, about Johnny Storm and they will tell you that he is a B-String character. However, if you called forth the name ‘Marvel’ in 1962 these same Marvelites would reply  ‘Human Torch.’ Johnny was Marvel in the 60s.

Read the rest of this entry

Let’s Recast The Fantastic Four The Right Way

I have talked some about the upcoming Fantastic Four film. I am largely quite hesitant about the film. Particularly because of the rather disrespectful way the characters have been adapted thus far, and this new film is from the same company responsible for that.

Read this great article about dream casting for the roles. Sadly, in reference to the real casting, aside from the Human Torch, it is very uninspired. Reed on. (See what I did there.)

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ff21It looks like 20th Century Fox is going ahead with their reboot of the Fantastic Four, and many fans are already up in arms over that development. They fear the reboot will be as bad as previous attempts and the negative reaction is so intense that many are hoping it stays in development hell rather than being filmed.

What is so troubling for them and myself included are the casting choices being mentioned in the trade papers. While Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch is an intriguing, though out-of-left-field possibility, some like Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic just left me wondering what the hell is going on with the casting director. Has anyone looked tellerat this actor? He looks like a dweeb! I’m sorry but nothing about Teller gives the impression that he is a gifted scientist type. And given how young he is, it’s pretty clear that the…

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The Anti-Marvel Hero: Inside Dr. Strange’s Silver Age Spiritual Debut

By: Julian Munds

The Battle on the Extra-plain.

The Battle on the Extra-plain.

If you follow these articles on the regular, you may have noticed an absence of Dr. Strange. There is a very good reason for this, as in 1963, Dr. Strange was still not fully considered part of Earth-616 continuity.

I’ve only written one article to date about him. By November 1963 there had been about four full stories published featuring the Doctor. Only two of which Marvel considers proper continuity. The others were retconned.

Dr. Strange was considered experimental in his earlier publications which made his stories rather short and frankly… a tad weird.

In November, Dr. Strange was officially brought on as a Strange Tales companion publication to the solo adventures of Johnny Storm because of enormous positive fan feedback. This story was his first official and non-oneoff exhibition tale.

Dr. Strange is extraordinarily different then the other lead characters presented in the Silver Age.

He is not a public figure. He prefers to operate in the dark underbelly of the supernatural world. For example Strange’s first panel was set in a dark, dingy, occult store off a dank alley in New York’s Greenwich village.

Every other character has some public persona, whether it is literal fame; like the Fantastic Four, or notorious fame like Spider-Man or Hulk.

No one seems to know that Dr. Strange exists until he appears.

All of the other characters of Marvel, thus far, are either scientists themselves or the results of science. The Fantastic Four, especially Mr. Fantastic, utilizes his scientific ingenuity to cross obstacles. Banner/Hulk is both a scientist and a scientific accident. Spider-Man, too, is a science experiment gone awry. Hank Pym and Iron Man are examples of scientific ingenuity at its best. Even Thor, who does rely on his supernatural strength, is both a medical doctor and a scientist when he is Don Blake.

Strange, however, is entirely supernatural. He exists by a mythos that relies on a ‘spiritual understanding,’ meaning that his mythos is built on faith. I know I am nitpicking here, as I am dealing with fiction: Strange’s fiction is more absurd.

The tangibility of the mythos caused some clarity issues in the first two debuts. A lot of the action in those earlier issues were dependent on a kind of “because I said so” explanation.

In this issue, however, we get an explanation of the extra dimension and how Strange manipulates magic. I.E. The paneling that explains how a white candle can be used as a trap.

Even the idea of astral projection, which is a major mechanism of the plot, is explained by an advanced “pseudo-manipulate” technique of the mind that somehow Strange has learned. Through the X-Men, we are already familiar with the difference between learned talents and inherent talents, particularly because of Professor X.

The supernatural seems less absurd. This is because Stan Lee and Steve Ditko clearly want to create a character that has a future. Absurdity is great for a one off, but not a stream of events.

The realm of the supernatural has never been a place for the heroes of Marvel.

So far, the only characters that have been associated with magic are Loki and Dr. Doom. Loki strives to dominate all things magical. He does this by manipulating other people by using the laws of magic to make characters act against themselves. Dr. Doom, who is far less powerful then the Asgardian, seeks to attain this power.

Strange, on paper, makes far more sense as a supervillain. For example, in this issue when Baron Mordo traps Strange, with a white candle, the Doctor mentally manipulates a young girl to come to his rescue. He telepathically takes away her will.

Is this really the act of a hero?

Strange, much like Doom, seeks to be the master of his craft. Baron Mordo stands in his way.

I wrote a lengthy article that talked about selfishness being the true trait of a villain and Strange/Mordo both share this trait. Both seem to be acting in their self interests. There is no greater calling to protect Earth or even another character.

Strange exists on the fringes of the established world (Earth 616) and thereby bends traditional Marvel tropes. These two (Mordo and Strange) exist beyond good and evil; making Strange into a kind of anti-hero.

The evil of the story is represented by Baron Mordo who returns to act as yang to Strange’s yin.

The master plan of Mordo.

The master plan of Mordo.

Mordo pretends to be an old friend of Strange and this coaxes him into a trap.

Mordo and Strange fight on the extra-plain for dominance and use a plethora of different spells against each other. Strange uses the power of non-magicals to save himself and this is Mordo’s weakness. Mordo doesn’t see the worth of normal humans.

A very …. almost ‘X-Men like’ theme.

Steve Ditko and Stan Lee have made the mythos far simpler to understand. As a result, this story doesn’t feel as whacked out psychedelically as the others. Whereas I left the prior stories confused, this one I left excited for what’s to come.

Strange’s stories feel episodic as if they are stepping stones in a larger arc. Most of the other hero’s issues are self contained tale. This endless arc makes Strange’s issues fantastically titilating.

I don’t much mind the lack of clarity as to how they work into the larger Marvel world. I trust that this will be explained further down the road. This is only Dr. Strange’s third feature, so I am excited to see how he evolves from here.

Journey Into Marvel

Story I Read:Return of the Omnipotent Baron Mordo” (Strange Tales #114 Nov. 1963)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Pros: Clarity in plot. Basic character development for Strange. Moral ambiguity.

Cons: There is still a lot of the narrative that relies of Faith. ‘Oh I am trapped by this candle because Mordo says so.” Their is still no discussion of why this is and what is the nature of the extra-plain.

Previous Review:The Human Torch… Meets Captain America” (Strange Tales #114 Nov. 1963)

Upcoming Review:Challenged by the Human Cobra!” (Journey Into Mystery #98 Nov. 1963)

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How the Appearance of Captain America Marked the Downfall of the Human Torch

By: Julian Munds

Captain-America-And-The-Human-TorchI was so exited when I picked up this issue.

My excitement always boils over when I see a new character.

Some of the characters that I have been reviewing ad nauseam, like the Human Torch, have begun to get really dry. When I saw Steve Rogers, engaged in mortal combat with the Torch, on the cover, I grew giddy with anticipation.

Finally, I get to start discussing what makes Captain America tick. Nevermind the fact that I already new that his true Silver Age debut came in a later issue of the Avengers. I still allowed my excitement to drive me.

Sadly, after reading this issue I am depressed.

The seeming appearance of Captain America turned out to be the Acrobat in disguise.

Apparently, the Acrobat thinks that framing a Golden Age character that hasn’t been seen in decades was a smart idea. More on that later.

This issue signals a change in Marveldom’s focus on the Human Torch. The mistaken appearance of Captain America, even though it isn’t him, marked the beginning of the downfall of the Human Torch as the flagship character.

The Fantastic Four, in the early years of the Silver Age, were the metronome of Marveldom. What went on within their pages directly influenced how the other characters would be written. However, as 1962 and 63 progressed, the other characters began to outshine the rather vanilla personalities of the Four.

Iron Man and Hank Pym were cracking away at the genius of Mr. Fantastic. Hank McCoy was doing Thing’s schtick far better then Thing. Jean Grey and Janet Van Dyne were showing that the Invisible Woman is not the only female capable of holding her own with the male characters.

Not to mention, Spider-Man’s slow regicide of the Torch was beginning to destroy the teen appeal of his title.

The Human Torch’s position as the flagship character of Marvel was waining.

Within the Fantastic Four itself, Torch was still wildly popular and some of his best stories will still being written. It was his solo adventures, here in Strange Tales, that were seriously under threat.

Strange Tales had never been a huge seller for Marvel. Since the solo escapades of Torch had been made the focal point of the publication, no improvements in sales had been recorded.

This was until two events: one, the Strange Tales annual which featured a cameo crossover from Spider-Man and two, the debut of the whacky and psychedelic Dr. Strange in the Summer of 1963. Both of these issues sold better then any single issue that just featured only Johnny.

Taking note of the rather eclectic response to the Solo Torch adventures, Stan Lee decided to use the publication as a place to experiment with more inventive characters and treatments of the other mainstays. For instance, Ben Grimm’s cameos in the publication were often grittier and angrier then his appearances in Fantastic Four. Sue Storm’s cameos were more fleshed out, and she was often far more composed then her Fantastic Four incarnation.

Because Strange Tales had a small fan base and a very loyal one, as many that bought these comics had been on board since 1961 refocus, they were extraordinarily vocal and very hard to alienate. Naturally, Stan Lee saw the value in this. He could use the publication as a place to test things out for the future. And so the Captain America experiment happened.

I do not profess to be an expert on the Golden Age of Marvel. I know a few tidbits of facts and have read one or two issues from that period. Frankly, it is a era I am more familiar with through the lens of DC. That being said, I do understand the importance of Captain America.

He is a character that began as American propaganda personified. Much like Superman of the war period, Captain America came out of a xenophobic, propagandist “America crushes her enemies at all costs” mindset.

He had very little edge to him and was a golden boy personification of war bonds advertisements.

His character makes even littler sense in the anti-establishment world of the early 60s.
Keep in mind that this issue debuted only three weeks before the assassination of JFK which spurred on the counter culture revolution.

Stan Lee had begun to reap great success from the reestablishment of Marvel as a place for superheroes. He did this by creating each character as a direct parody to the prior archetypes that flooded DC.

Stan also had enormous success with updating two of the greatest characters of the Golden Age; the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner; though the latter was now a villain.

His new realist take on characters might could apply to Steve. However, this was a gamble, as the Cap represented the parents of those who read the comics. Thus, he wanted to test the reaction people would have to the Captain’s return.

When Steve first appears, giving a speech to a group about his return, it really seems that he is actually the real man. Even when the Cap is clearly helping a group of robbers take down a bank and by extension fighting the Torch, it seems like Stan has brought back America as a villain like he did with Namor.

When the big reveal comes at the end; that the whole time it was Acrobat behind the shield, it really is a brilliant twist. When this story was read in November 1963, it must have bowled over the readers.

However, when I read this now, knowing the vast history of Captain America in modern Marvel, it doesn’t have much allure.

The plot is pretty run of the mill: a bank robbery. And Torch could very well be part of the scenery.

This issue really isn’t about Torch or Acrobat. It is a glorified focus group.

This story is an interesting in moment in Marvel history but not a very interesting story.

The Awesome use of a mop  in the culminating battle.

The Awesome use of a mop in the culminating battle.

Journey Into Marvel

Story I Read:The Human Torch… Meets Captain America” (Strange Tales #114 Nov. 1963)

Rating: 2 out of 5

Pros: Cool idea. Lovely buzzy cover image. Really exciting battle between the two.

Cons: Not much story. Feels gimmicky. Torch sees no development here.

Previous Review:Face to Face with the Lizard!” (The Amazing Spider-Man #6 Nov. 1963)

Upcoming Review:The Return of the Omnipotent Baron Mordo” (Strange Tales #114 Nov. 1963)

Spider-Man vs. The Human Torch: Who’s the Alpha Dog?

Journey Into Marvel

The Story I Read: “On The Trail of the Amazing Spider-Man.” (Strange Tales Annual #2 Oct 1963)

STann2_SpideyTorchSomething that a lot of modern comic book nerds, like myself, forget, when we look back at the work that was created in the Silver Age, is that these comics were originally intended for preteens. This explains the rather juvenile writing style and the, usually, clear three act structure. Violence, though prevalent, bends more to the slapstick then to the homicidal. Likewise, the characters were child friendly and accessible. Marvel went one step further and created two characters that were the readership’s ages or just a little older. Spider-Man and the Human Torch are around the same age but they couldn’t be more different. Where Human Torch is often brash and pig-headed, Spider-Man is logical and empathetic. Yet, both are written with a sardonic edge and both have pretty terrible tempers. Naturally, they are the perfect partners for each other and this issue pairs them up in flamboyant fashion. The pairing shows much more then their similarities with each other but also who is the alpha-hero between the two.

As I have said countless times before, the Human Torch is the flagship character of this period. He is cross sold through out all issues and the way his name is held in reverence by the contemporary characters borders only on the messianic. But as a character he, and this may just be me, is wholly unlikable. He’s self involved, arrogant and a fame whore. Not to mention, he’s also a bully. Mr. Storm does not deserve to be the central Marvel spirit and the readers were showing this in the way they spent their coin.

Spider-Man has only been featured in a monthly publication for two months as of October 1963, yet he has surpassed all preceding heroes. I believe this was because of two factors. One, Peter Parker is the victim of bullying rather then the bully, and, two, he possesses that beloved sardonic quality of Johnny but he also wears his empathy on his sleeve. Human Torch rarely ever has given a second thought about any of his team mates or sister. Just look to the preceding issue of Strange Tales for example of this narcissism.

Strange Tales has become less the solo exploits of the Human Torch and more of a place for him to headline a story with great cameos. To put a decidedly large cherry on the sundae, this annual features the first cross over for Spider-Man. He’s been visited by others in his publications but never cameoed in someone else’s. Fittingly, there is a heavy theme of competition. Stan Lee was entirely aware that these two characters were constantly being compared.

The competition begins when the one off villain, who’s look is vaguely reminiscent of Batman’s Penguin, frames Spider-Man for a jewelry robbery. As everyone in

Spider-Man and Torch duke it out!

Spider-Man and Torch duke it out!

the city has been trained to think Spidey is an outlaw, the city including Jonny, believe the worst of him. When Peter seeks out the only guy who can help clear his name who happens to be Torch, Jonny misreads this overture as an attack and and epic battle ensues. Perhaps, misread is too kind a word. What really happens is Torch sees the Spider and attacks without thought. This sudden rush to judgement is directly related to an earlier moment in this issue when he was musing too his sister Sue, who would win in a fight against him. Torch has a jealousy toward Spider-Man that Peter does not return. Peter has a great amount of respect for the Torch, although I can’t fathom why.

The first half of the story is dedicated to the wrestling match between the two and it is wonderfully entertaining. Torch’s wildly inconsistent and highly malleable powers are destroyed by Spider-Man. Jonny flames up and Peter dashes out of the way. It almost ends in stalemate until Pete comes up with a ‘freeze web.’ When Torch gets caught into this web his fire is instantly extinguished long enough for Spider-Man to explain how he was wrongfully accused. The ingenuity of Parker beats the hasty arm flexing of Torch.

This tipped balance is further shown in the ending when the Fox is finally taken down. Peter uses his Spidey-sense to suss out the many hidden lairs that the Fox had placed around the city. When the both of them finally catch up to the thief, Spider-Man and his senses, take the Fox down single-handedly. Torch doesn’t do anything but watch.

Wait a minute…. this is Strange Tales: Human Torch’s solo adventures, how can the ‘guest’ save the day? More importantly, why did Stan Lee write it this way? Perhaps, this is the moment Spider-Man unseats Torch as the flagship character. Spider-Man is the new edgier Torch and perhaps, Torch works better as a sidekick. Certainly, Torch is much better as a part of the Fantastic Four team. He is much too brash and prickly to lead his own adventures, not to mention he is kind of boring. Torch has no internal struggle going on, he sees evil, he wants to torch it. Spider-Man has a constant struggle between what is morally right and what he wants. This is why he is compelling. What an important turning point. Torch has a lot to learn from Spider-Man and as a duo they are fantastic.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Pros: The exciting match between Spider-Man and Torch, The surprise ending, and smart writing.

Cons: The derivative Cobblepot like villain, the lacklustre takedown of the Fox.

Preceding Review:  “The Terrible Traps of Egghead” (Tales to Astonish #112 July 1963)

Upcoming Review:The Icy Finger’s of Jack Frost” (Tales of Suspense #45 Sept 1963)

Why the Human Torch is Forever Unlikable

Journey Into Marvel

Story I Read: “The Threat of the Living Bomb!” (Strange Tales #112 Sept 112)

human-torch-fly-byThose of you who have read my recent reviews have probably noticed that I have been harping on the arrogance of the Fantastic Four. It seems every story that features an FF character revolves around egotistical needs. The worst culprit out of the Four, for this self obsession, is by far the Human Torch. His need to be liked, to be appreciated by none superhero folks, is as blazing as his skin. If there is not applause for Johnny, then he mopes and takes his displeasure out on his partners; most heavily on Thing. This has always made him a rather unpleasant character and really discoloured my opinion of the ‘most popular member of the Four.’ Luckily, this issue, takes away Human Torch’s need to be recognized and finally investigates what he’s made of.

Torch begins the story doing what he does best: showing off. When his home town doesn’t appreciate his aerial acrobatics, Torch goes into overdrive and attempts to win them over. He even makes a full fire facsimile of Niagara Falls. Desperation is a fascinating emotional aspect of Storm we haven’t seen before. He is really put off by the  town people’s apathy to his existence. This apathy towards him leaves him broken. Johnny is surprisingly fragile.

The plot is anything but fragile. At first I thought it was gonna be a cheap repeat; a purple spandex wearing thief called ‘The Eel’ steals a brief case with ‘Project X’ embossed on it. Boring, right? I thought there would be a quick confrontation with Torch and all would be righted.


The Eel, upon delivery of the brief case, is informed that the case’s contents are atomic and, through a

Torch flies the mom into space.

Torch flies the mom into space.

twist of fate, he has tripped off detonation protocols. Naturally, not wanting to be incinerated, he drops the active bomb near a hospital. This is all made more complex by the fact that the Eel is the only person who holds the deactivation code. What a marvelous twist. There is no, painstakingly planned, master plot. All the danger results from coincidence. Torch gets thrown into action because there is no other choice. Torch, feeling so impotent and unloved, deals with the problem at hand with a practicality not seen before.  A usually egotistical Torch might have gone off to destroy Eel, but instead he tries to figure out how to disarm the bomb, like a rational person. What’s even better, he is unable to figure it out. The bomb explodes and Torch has to absorb the energy from the blast; which means absorbing all the bomb’s poisonous radiation. Torch sacrifices himself for a hospital. A sacrifice on this scale has never happened in Strange Tales, Fantastic Four or any other Four related publication to this point. Torch acts like a true hero and it only took a dip in popularity to make this happen.

This act of martyrdom is not the only powerful moment in the issue. When things look bleak for our flaming hero, Ben has a moment of real grief. He is heavily affected by Johnny’s possible death. So much so, that he professes his love for the guy. This is a really poignant and powerful moment. I suggest picking up this issue just to experience this.

That endorsement aside, this issue is far from perfect. After all the turmoil, all the trials and all the grief, Johnny Storm seems unaffected. All of the brilliance is undercut by the final panels. The first thing Johnny does after being revived is insult Thing. There could have been a note of change written here. Just one small moment for Johnny to realize his pursuit of fame is empty. The interaction came off as extraordinarily cold and caused me to dislike Torch even more then I did at the top.

Marvel often uses Torch as a conduit for commentary about the youth of the early 60s. Throughout the issue Torch’s reputation is being destroyed by a boisterous and hate filled radio presenter. It is his opinions that caused the civilians at the beginning to be so dismissal of Torch’s inferno circus. The presenter has a change of heart after Storm’s heroics and declares he was wrongfully dismissing the youth: “young people have worth too,” he declares. This issue wasn’t written to develop Torch, but to extol the worth of the readers. I hate the fact the writers destroyed a brilliant investigation into the motivations of a public superhero for placation of the audience. What a shame.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

Pros: Dick Ayer’s gritty detailed art, The Twists, Thing’s moment of beautiful humanity and the moment Torch takes in the full energy of a nuclear blast.

Cons: The ending panels and the pandering to the readers.

<— Preceding Review: “Marked for Destruction by Dr. Doom” (The Amazing Spider-Man #5 Oct 1963)

—> Upcoming Review: “The Terrible Traps of Egghead” (Tales to Astonish #112 July 1963)

Under the Skin of Asbestos Man

Journey Into Marvel – Part II

Story I Read: “Fighting to the Death With the Asbestos Man!” (Strange Tales #111 Aug 1963)

Kasloff. The man who will most likely die of cancer.

Kasloff. The man who will most likely die of cancer.

Looking at the solo adventures of the Human Torch in Strange Tales, I am struck by the haste in their construction. In the early days, of the establishment of the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee wanted to capitalize on the possibilities of having a teenage hero and cranked out countless unfocused stories. The speed in the development is obvious in the disregard to canon. It would be ideal to look at Torch as a rough draft for Spider-Man but it can’t really be done.

Accepting that Torch doesn’t work on his own, as evidenced by the more and more prevalent cameos of the other three Fantastic members in the solo stories, let’s dive into the story offered in Strange Tales # 111.

The first thing that strikes me about this story is the brilliance of the villain. Up until this point, in the Silver Age comics, little focus had been given to the villain’s motives. Often they had been reduced to simple melodramatic caricatures expounding:  “let’s kill the hero because he is good and I am not.” Orson Kasloff, on the other hand, is one of the first truly human villains. A good third of the story is devoted to the sad thoughts of a scientist who feels disrespected by his employer and this makes his need to destroy Torch that more believable. When he attempts to rob said employer the plan predictably blows up in his face for he does not expect the alarm to go off. I chuckled at this.

Long story short, Kasloff becomes Asbestos Man and all the time spent on establishing Kasloff; the man, goes up in flames in the nauseating arrogance of Torch’s snap vendetta. When the villain challenges the flaming teenager, Jonny, haphazardly flies to battle and is easily defeated.

Torch’s powers are wildly pliable, suddenly he’s too weak to combat a man in an asbestos suit when in an earlier publication he burnt so hot he melted through an asbestos lined wall. Perhaps, this is Stan Lee’s way of equalizing the earlier wild creativity of the Marvel heroes.

Fluidity in character development is also present in Sue Storm who makes yet again another aimless cameo. This time she is cast in the role as

Today's Story.

Today’s Story.

Jon’s spirit guide. Sue is looking more and more matronly in every issue. Perhaps, Stan is wishing he actually made her into Jonny’s mother rather then sister. The wild sexism and disrespectful way the creatives treat Sue is better suited to full other article but I just need to mention banality of her presence in this issue.

One of the greatest aspects of this story is it’s art. Inked by Dick Ayers, this story is beautiful. No longer are the empty blue backgrounds common to Jack Kirby present. Background detail is prevalent. The contouring on Kasloff’s face or the fire veins (for what else do we call those dark lines on Torch) are fluid and ably move when Torch does. The New York presented here is gritty and evokes the detail neo-Noireish renderings of Gotham in DC’s Batman. Marvel is truly coming into its own over the DC behemoth.

Looking at this story as whole, it is easily a 3 out of 5 story, mainly for the time spent on detail of a new villain and the environment he exists in. The negatives exist in the rather shoddy writing that peaks its head on many occasions. Ably obvious in this rather cheap redundant piece of dialogue spouted by Kasloff early on ““What is all the excitement about? Why is everyone so excited??”

Changes are afoot but there are still many obstacles.

P.S. Think of all the cancer Kasloff will suffer because of his alter-ego.

Last Review: Journey Into Mystery #94

Upcoming Review:Face To Face With Magic of Baron Mordo” (Strange Tales #111 Aug 1963)

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