Just added a new post to my blog, this one spotlighting the often-maligned JOHNNY STORM, THE HUMAN TORCH series.  The first 5 covers (so far), lovingly restored, in all their 4-color glory.

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The latest restoration...

STRANGE TALES #117  /  February 1964  /  Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky and Steve Ditko

This one was a NIGHTMARE. I hoped things would go easy, as for once, when I clicked on "levels", ONCE, all the colors-- ALL of them-- came up beautifully.  But there was a TON of damage down the left edge, plus dirt, and discoloration, and on top of that, endless specs of dirt and stray specs of ink EVERYWHERE.  What made it take forever was those damnable puffy clouds-- complex dot pattern blends which had to cleaned or replaced TEDIOUSLY, a bit at a time, and another bit, and another bit...  This is the kind of clean-up that would make me wanna take a break from doing any more of these for maybe 6 months.

Well... all done now...



The solo Human Torch series started about a month or so after Amazing Fantasy #15 hit the stands, and several months before Spider-Man got his own title.  I think Stan may thought, the adult Human Torch used to be a big hit, can't miss with a kid Human Torch -- the comics buying kids will lap it up!  Problem was, the Human Torch series wasn't particularly well written and the art was often sub-par, based on the samples I've seen at least.  

At the time it was cancelled, tho', Stan essentially limited most of his characters to one title, excepting Nick Fury, who was in two titles but with one set in WWII while the other was in the present, as was the case with Captain America, briefly back in WWII in his own title, while in the present leading the Kooky Quartet after Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man and the Wasp all took off.  It wasn't until 1971 that characters began routinely appearing in multiple series again, with the semi-permanent return of Cap, Iron Man and Thor to the Avengers and the beginning of Spider-Man co-starring in Marvel Team-Up.

Philip Portelli said:

Obviously Stan thought A) teen-age Spider-Man = Big Hit, B) Fantastic Four = Big Hit and C) the Concept of the Human Torch = Big Hit for in the 40s thus a teenager from the Fantastic Four with flaming powers should = Big Hit. But the concept could not overcome the contrivances and the conceits of the series: the "secret" identity (then wear a mask, Johnny!), the time limit (which wasn't as pronounced in the early issues of Fantastic Four), the reliance on the other FFers (virtual babysitters) and that Johnny was egostistical, whiny, smug, immature and yes, jerky!

Imagine had Stan replaced Johnny with the Original Human Torch in Fantastic Four Annual #4. That would have been something!

I've often said that the Human Torch's series was well-placed in a title called STRANGE TALES. I agree, the Torch didn't have strong stories or art to draw people in. Maybe the thinking was that he didn't need them to draw an audience, or that better stories wouldn't draw any added audience. But geez, some of those stories are howlers--even if we don't get into his concept that he's got a secret identity.

Stan may have taken to heart readers' outcries if Thor was appearing in AVENGERS while he was battling Mr. Hyde and Cobra, for instance, over several issues in THOR. But Marvel time is different from ours, obviously. I knew there wasn't a month gap between the end of one issue and the start of the next in a continued story, so the notion that Thor was appearing somewhere else in that time never bothered me. I doubt any readers really thought it was a spoiler to see Thor elsewhere, which implied he escaped from the death trap he faced in at his own title.

-- MSA

I've long thought that in the Marvel and DC universes, either days last for 72 hours or hours last for 180 minutes. I can't imagine the characters being able to do so much otherwise.

As far as the Torch's stories go, while I enjoyed them, he had some pretty bad villains, and I don't think that really helped the series. It can't make him look good fighting the likes of Paste Pot Pete and the Plantman when in the FF he's going up against the likes of Dr. Doom and the Skrulls.

The Torch is also one of those characters who, if you look a little too closely, really, really strain the idea of suspension of belief. How can anyone be in the same room with him when he's on fire? How does he attack anyone without seriously scarring them for life? I mean, I like Johnny, and I ask these questions. For someone who's on the fence, how does that make them feel?

Yeah, turning one's self on fire, being able to fly around and through fireballs around is a rather peculiar power for a superhero, but the original Human Torch was one of the earliest to pop up in the first year after Superman made his debut.  And while people certainly dreamed of being super-strong and able to fly like Superman, or as smart and brave as Batman, or even able to swim anywhere under water for any length of time like Sub-Marine, I don't think too many comics fans fantasized about walking or flying around in a body transformed into flame. 

I did love that story of several years ago set in the Silver Age in which Spider-Man encounters Paste Pot Pete about to take on the Johnny, and upon learning the name of the baddie, Spidey erupts into convulsive laughter.  Yeah, not quite the reaction most self-respecting super-villains really want -- well, aside from the Joker.

And Crystal was Betty Cooper. Which would make Quicksilver Reggie Mantle.

So Betty dumps Archie for Reggie...

All that 40s Sub-Mariner but his Silver Age stuff has been almost ignored? Frankly I didn't think too much of Namor in the Golden Age. Or the "Human" Torch. I actually found Timely's one or two appearance "failed" characters the most interesting of Timely's output. Really a shame more of these characters like Fiery Mask didn't last longer.

Sorry, for some reason typing made the name of the person I was replying to disappear. I'm still getting glitches here.

Stan also sort of apologized for Diablo being. he thought the worst villain he ever made, and the Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man show for being the worst thing he ever did.
 The only time I ever saw Stan APOLOGIZE for screwing up was on CAPTAIN MAR-VELL.

I think it was over replacing Drake & Heck with Friedrich & Springer. MY GOD,
those Friedrich issues SUCKED!!!!!!!

Ron M. said:

Sorry, for some reason typing made the name of the person I was replying to disappear. I'm still getting glitches here.

What I normally do is copy the entire text from the Reply box into a text document on my computer. After I'm satisfied everything's correct I copy the whole thing back to the "T" box and do whatever tweaking is needed. It works well for me.

I've done that when I was making huge posts on another site because several times it would glitch while I was typing and my entire post would vanish. Apparently it happened because every time they added new hardware it was incompatible with existing hardware on the site and they had to keep getting them to work together.

I do that too, because the site sometimes will glitch and a long message is gone. It takes some tweaking and then sometimes some editing, but it's better than having a long reply disappear.

BTW, Ron, I edited down your long reference posts, which take up a lot of room and don't need to be repeated. It's usually better to cut and paste a key point than include the original post in the reply. I don't know if you did that deliberately or it was part of the glitch, though.

-- MSA

I've seen a lot of posts with the same cover reprinted several times when someone replied to a post.

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