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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Ah yes, I stand corrected.  As I was writing that description, I drew a blank, turned to the guy sitting next to me, and asked him what the mythological beast was that had horns and cloven hoves, but walks upright like a man. HE supplied minitaur, which I accepted without questioning it.  He didn't know what or who I was talking about, comic wise.


I agree that Crystal is more witchlike than anything else. With a  healthy dose of Romeo and Juliet thrown in.


Given the sequence of Medusa being introduced to round out the Frightful Four (who choses a name like that, anyway? Not Magneto...) and then about a year goes by, with some fan reaction to her appearances encouraging Stan to expand, I can't think that he had anything more in mind when he designed her. Jack knew mythology too, and so there's NO indication that she was anything more than a strong woman villainess to round out the FF's foes.

The fact that Johnny lets her go both at the end of #36 and again in #43, and then more obviously #44...shows that they were working on a romance for Johnny with a 'bad girl'.  I just can't imagine where it would have gone from there. (I suspect Thunderella and Ben were a similar idea...)

Johnny's statement that mutants living under NYC MUST be known to the X-men is frought with error.  Johnny has no reason to suspect that...considering that he's met the x-men twice...once at Reed & Sue's wedding, and once in X-men #13 where he pulls their fat out of the fire with the first confrontation with Jaugernaut.

 

The idea that this might have spawned a future storyline with Morlocks is an interesting notion, but I'm not sure the ideas are connected anywhere.  But we should ask Chris Claremont and H.G.Wells.

 

I'm not familar with Blue Bolt, nor the similarities with BlackBolt or the Inhumans.  Was this something in Kirby's past?

It's hard to believe the Human Torch's Strange Tales would be 'much maligned'.  They have a real charm.

 

There's Kirby's strange early Silver Age art, which is nothing like his sleek sci-fi Sinnotty FF work, nor his heavy dark crackly Fourth World work.  The Kirby art is strangely .... tentative, for someone who's work is normally so emphatic.

 

My first exposure to these stories was the Pandora's Box one which was reprinted in a UK Hallow'een Horror special.  Those were freaky weird little demons that escaped from that box!

 

Then you have the Beetles, Jerry Seigel, Kirby & Lee.  Not a bad line-up of interesting names.

 

It's a while since I read them - that would be in the 90's when the dinky little Essential came out - but Dorrie sounds like a fine level-headed girl if she was trying to keep Torchie at arms length.  He's a doofus.  Then her good sense and coolness towards him would make her look all the more interesting to Johnny, who's not the brightest of sparks, ironically enough.

 

The one thing that kept boggling my mind was the amount of asbestos Johnny exposed himself to in the 60's.  Even his house and all its furnishings were made of the stuff!!  He should have died of cancer of the everything long ago.

 

These stories definitely have a different feel even to most of the Marvel comics of the time, and probably do seem more like SIlver Age Superman in their charming daftness.  At the time, I found them a very refreshing read compared to a lot of the dreary angst-ridden, murder-obsessed modern comics. 

 

It might be time to dig out the Essential for a wee look again....

 

I'd say Goodman was onto something when he thought the Human Torch was a good luck charm.  He caught lightning in a bottle twice with the character!

"Blue Bolt", from Novelty Press's title Blue Bolt, was Kirby's first series with Joe Simon. (Toonopedia's page on the character is here.) Simon created the feature; Kirby started to work on it with the second issue. While they were working on it Blue Bolt's chief opponent was the voluptuous Green Sorceress, who was a would-be conqueror. The two were depicted as mutually attracted.

 

There was a lot of reuse of Golden Age names in the Silver Age ("Daredevil", "Black Widow", "Captain Marvel" and so on), so I thought Black Bolt might've started out as the idea of a hero called "Black Bolt" and been developed from there. Blue Bolt could fly and had super-strength. He was also the leader of an army organised to fight the Green Sorceress. Black Bolt isn't much like him, but he was depicted as the most formidable of the Inhumans, could fly, and was likewise a leader.

By the way, you can pick up copies of the Essential Human Torch for just $3 from tales of wonder.  They had plenty on hand. I bought two... one for me, and another to donate to our local library's growing collection of comics and graphic novels.

The cover of FF #47, "Beware The Hidden Land", the way the rocks and cliffs are drawn gives one the impression that the FF have stumbed upon, not a city in the mountains, but an UNDERGROUND city.  I've often heard Jack did the covers first, which makes me wonder if the plan wasn't changed in mid-issue.  The concept does feel like it might have been a reuse of the BLUE BOLT set-up.  For that matter, Kirby had already done this with "Kala, Queen of the Underworld" in TALES OF SUSPENSE #43.

Aye, but who wrote those stories?

Plus, we had already seen mole man, Tyrannus (in Hulk #6) and the humanoids, Kazar & the hidden land in DD & X-men... etc.  Underground cities/civiliations aren't that rare a concept.

I don't think you're right about the FF #47 cover, Henry. The shading behind the city represents mountains in the distance, and there's a mountain road at the bottom left of the copy box.

Which brings up a good question.

After presenting the origin (the first origin) of the Falcon, he eventually got co-billing with Captain America starting someplace in the mid-120s.   Exactly how many issues did he share the masthead with Cap?  From when to when, issue-wise?

(I'm betting he was removed sometime around when cap went Nomad, OR when Falcon changed his costume colors to red and white, instead of green and orange.)

Philip Portelli said:

That issue, Strange Tales #114 (N'63) was supposedly done to test the waters for Captain America's return but Avengers #4 was cover-dated March'64! Clearly that's not enough to properly measure fan reaction so it wasn't to see if readers wanted Cap back but to familarize them with Cap as they were reviving him. With the Human Torch (concept) and Sub-Mariner (character) successful in the new Marvel Age, they did both with Cap. He was the same character but now a man out of time and mourning (perpetually it seemed) Bucky's death.

Yes I know! Bucky wasn't really dead! But since this is on the Mister Silver Age page, then, yes, Bucky was really dead!

I first read this story in Captain America #216 (D'77) which was an interim issue after Kirby's run. The Human Torch got "Falcon" co-billing status which I thought was neat!

The Falcon's name was added to the cover logo with #134 (he'd returned the previous issue), and his image was added to the cover logo with #143 (when the frame cover format was adopted and Cap's image also became part of the logo). Both continued to appeared until #222, but the Falcon's name and image were omitted from the logo of #193 (Kirby's return), his name was omitted from the logo of #200, and his name and image were replaced by the Human Torch's on #216 (Kirby's last issue was #214).

 

The Falcon's image didn't appear on the contemporary covers of Captain America Annual #2 and Giant-Size Captain America #1, which reprinted stories from Tales of Suspense. They also didn't appear on the two original Captain America Annuals that Kirby did during his solo run, which didn't use the Falcon. The same is true of the Captain America's Bicentennial Battles tabloid.

I read Essential Human Torch sometime in the past five years, and I remember really enjoying it. Well, I enjoyed the early stories by Lieber and Kirby. It started to drag after a while, but those early stories were special in their way. I loved the nascent, undefined state of Marvel comics at the time. You didn't know where they were going to go, and these stories represented that. In some ways, they read like a '50s anthology series with a superhero dropped into them -- reminds me of the early Ant Mans in Tales to Astonish. Yes, there was a lot of silliness, such as Johnny daydreaming in class and being zapped into the Fifth Dimension -- or whatever. And the barely recognizable early incarnations of Paste Pot Pete and the Wizard. But there was a lot of charm, too.

I was unfamiliar with Martin Goodman's affection for the Human Torch character, but I do know that Stan had ambitions of a teenage superhero -- as the title character, not as a sidekick -- taking off. The Torch seemed like the first attempt, and it failed for many reasons. The stories weren't all that great, and Johnny never have a ton of charisma -- he's just know for being a hot-headed (ha, ha) teenager. But the idea of a teen superhero did take, somewhat unexpectedly, with Spider-Man.

Spidey's debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 came out the same month as Thor's in Journey into Mystery #83 and the introduction of Henry Pym's Ant-Man identity in Tales to Astonish #35. The Torch's series began in Strange Tales #101 the next month. So Spider-Man was apparently created as part of Marvel's expansion of its superhero line in the wake of the success of Fantastic Four. I do think he was probably seen by Lee as a second iteration of his teen hero idea. Possibly, Marvel went with the Torch's series in Strange Tales instead of continuing his.

Thank you, Luke,  that was extremely complete!  (Do you get the impression that Kirby didn't know what to do with the Falcon, or that maybe he just didn't like him? Who was editing the book during Kirby's return run on it?)

Luke Blanchard said:

The Falcon's name was added to the cover logo with #134 (he'd returned the previous issue), and his image was added to the cover logo with #143 (when the frame cover format was adopted and Cap's image also became part of the logo). Both continued to appeared until #222, but the Falcon's name and image were omitted from the logo of #193 (Kirby's return), his name was omitted from the logo of #200, and his name and image were replaced by the Human Torch's on #216 (Kirby's last issue was #214).

 

The Falcon's image didn't appear on the contemporary covers of Captain America Annual #2 and Giant-Size Captain America #1, which reprinted stories from Tales of Suspense. They also didn't appear on the two original Captain America Annuals that Kirby did during his solo run, which didn't use the Falcon. The same is true of the Captain America's Bicentennial Battles tabloid.

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