Friday, 29 August 2008

The Human Torch!

Strange Tales #101, October 1962
(Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby)

(Yes, folks, Jack Kirby handles the artistic chores here, which, with him also illustrating Fantastic Four, Journey Into Mystery, Hulk, and the ongoing adventures of Ant-Man in Tales to Astonish, takes him up to 5 titles a month. Phew.)

Back in the earliest days of the FF, before the Thing built up his cult of personality, the Human Torch was regarded as the most popular member of the team. As a teenager, he was most likely to appeal to the young readership, so he was awarded his own title (or at least a share of his own title, as he had to share with various anthology strips).

For the purposes of this series, the Human Torch has taken up residence in Glenville, somewhere in New York State. Bizarelly, despite being a member of the most famous super-hero team in the world, he has a secret identity.

Apparently, the good people of Glenville aren't all that smart, then. Anyway, whilst he gets to battle the Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom on a regualar basis in FF, here he has to make do with villains like the Destroyer, who may sound like a serious threat, but, well, you'll see.

Yes, the Destroyer is a serious threat. To theme parks. Scary stuff. The Destroyer stages a serious of incidents at the new amusement fayre, which the Torch must stop, without compromising his secret identity.

After his first couple of attempts are thwarted by the Torch, the Destroyer gets mad, and challenges the Torch to battle. This catches the attention of the Torch's team-mate, the Thing, who shows up to help. So much for protecting his secret identity.

Johnny Storm's no chicken, though, and he tells the Thing to sling his hook, so that he can take on the Destroyer himself. In a rare example of intelligence, the Torch decides to investigate why the fayre is being targeted, and discovers...

Yes, the red menace has come to upstate New York. Kids in the 60s must have been convinced there was a communist hiding behind every corner, if these comics had any influence on them. Of course, there was generally an evil alien hiding behind every other corner...

Anyway, the Torch makes short work of the Soviet submarine, and quickly tracks down the Destroyer, who turns out to be -

It's all a bit Scooby-Doo, isn't it?

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