Human Torch

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For the original Golden Age Human Torch, see Human Torch (android).
Human Torch
Detail, cover of Fantastic Four #542[date missing]
Art by Adi Granov
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)
Created by Stan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter ego Jonathan Lowell Spencer "Johnny" Storm
Species Human Mutate
Team affiliations Fantastic Four
Future Foundation
Fantastic Force
Herald of Galactus
Fantastic Four Incorporated
Notable aliases The Torch, Invisible Man
Abilities Fiery form that enables flight, serves as damage shield
Pyrokinesis
Ability to absorb heat energy
Skilled race-car driver, auto-mechanic, and designer

The Human Torch is a fictional character, a superhero that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. He is a founding member of the Fantastic Four. A similar, unrelated character of the same name and powers had been created in 1939 by writer-artist Carl Burgos for Marvel Comics' predecessor company, Timely Comics.

Like the rest of the Fantastic Four, Jonathan "Johnny" Storm gained his powers on a spacecraft bombarded by cosmic rays. He can engulf his entire body in flames, is able to fly, can absorb fire harmlessly into his own body, and can control any nearby fire by sheer force of will. "Flame on!", which the Torch customarily shouts when activating his full-body flame effect, has become his catchphrase.

The youngest of the group, he is brash and impetuous in comparison to his reticient and compassionate sister, Susan Storm, his sensible brother-in-law, Reed Richards, and the grumbling Ben Grimm.

In the early 1960s, he starred in a series of solo adventures, published in Strange Tales. He is also a friend and frequent ally of Spider-Man, who is approximately the same age as the Torch.

Chris Evans portrayed him in the 2005 film Fantastic Four, and its 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. In February 2014, Michael B. Jordan was cast to play Johnny Storm in the upcoming 2015 The Fantastic Four.

Publication history[edit]

Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961). For some time, the Human Torch appeared as a regular character in a backup feature in the title Strange Tales.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Growing up in Glenville, New York, a fictional Long Island suburban town, Johnny Storm lost his mother due to a car accident from which his father, surgeon Franklin Storm, escaped unharmed.[1] Franklin Storm spiraled into alcoholism and financial ruin, and was imprisoned after killing a loan shark in self-defense. Johnny Storm was then raised by his older sister, Sue Storm.

A panel from The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961) (left) shows the Human Torch as drawn in his first adventure. The depiction was altered when the story was reprinted in Fantastic Four Annual #1 (1963) (right), to conform to how the Human Torch was depicted from The Fantastic Four #3 onward. Original pencil art by Jack Kirby and unconfirmed inker. Alterations by Sol Brodsky.[2]

At age 16, Johnny Storm joined his sister and her fiancee, Reed Richards, in a space flight in which cosmic radiation transformed those three and spacecraft pilot Ben Grimm into superpowered beings who would become the celebrated superhero team the Fantastic Four. Storm, now with the ability to become a flaming human with the power of flight and the ability to project flame, dubs himself the Human Torch, in tribute to the World War II-era hero of that name.[3] In The Fantastic Four #4, it is the hotheaded Storm who, briefly walking out on the others, discovers an amnesiac hobo whom he helps regain his memory as the antihero Namor the Sub-Mariner, one of the three most popular heroes of Marvel Comics' 1940s forerunner, Timely Comics. That character has gone on to appear in starring roles into the 2010s.

Though a member of a world-famous super-team, Storm still lived primarily in Glenville and attended Glenville High School, as depicted in his concurrent solo series in the anthology comic book Strange Tales, starting with issue #101. That series depicts him as maintaining a secret identity, although retroactive continuity later revealed[when?] that his fellow townsfolk were well aware of his being a member of the Fantastic Four and simply humored him. This series introduced what would become recurring the Fantastic Four foes the Wizard (born Bentley Wittman)[4] and Paste-Pot Pete, later known as the Trapster;[5] As well, Storm had his first team-up with his superhero opposite number, the teenaged Iceman, in Strange Tales #120, and met another teenaged superhero, Spider-Man, in The Amazing Spider-Man #1. Despite their early misunderstandings, the Torch and Spider-Man eventually became good friends and friendly competitors, with Spider-Man revealing to Storm his secret identity.

In Storm's home life, Mike Snow, a member of the Glenville High wrestling squad, bullied Storm until an accidental flare-up of the Torch's powers scarred Snow's face. Despite their animosity, Snow concealed the incident, blaming the injuries on a prank gone wrong and maintaining Storm had actually saved his life that night by flying him to the hospital.[citation needed] While Mike tried to move on with his life, Storm did the same, dating fellow student Dorrie Evans, beginning in Strange Tales #113, although she eventually grew tired of his constant disappearances and broke off their relationship in Fantastic Four #45.

College[edit]

The Human Torch adopted a red and gold costume in Fantastic Four #132-159, in emulation of the Golden Age Human Torch. Panel from Fantastic Four #132 (March 1973). Art by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott.

After graduating high school, Storm enrolled at New York City's Metro College in Fantastic Four #35 (February 1965). There he befriended his roommate Wyatt Wingfoot.[6] Shortly after this, he and the Fantastic Four first encountered Galactus and the Silver Surfer.[7] Wingfoot joined Storm and the Fantastic Four on a trip to Wakanda, Africa, where they first encountered the Black Panther[8][9] and helped him defeat Klaw.[10] He also met the original Human Torch.[11] Around this time, Storm met the young Inhuman Crystal.[12] It was love at first sight, and Storm, along with the rest of the Fantastic Four, helped her overthrow the mad Inhuman prince Maximus.[13] Their love was passionate but short-lived, as Crystal returned to the city of Attilan and eventually married Quicksilver,[14] the son of Magneto, eventually bearing his child.[15] Storm was crushed, but tried to move on. Hoping to catch up on old times with Dorrie Evans, he found that she had married and had two kids since they had broken up.[volume & issue needed] Despite dropping out of Metro University, Storm remained friends with Wingfoot, who often participated in the Fantastic Four's adventures and who was later romantically linked to the She-Hulk.[16] When Sue and her husband Reed were separated, Storm joined the Thing, Medusa and Thundra in a staged battle against the rehabilitated Namor in an effort to bring the couple back together. Their ploy worked.[volume & issue needed]

Storm eventually began a romance with what he thought was Alicia Masters but was eventually revealed to be a Skrull, Lyja, posing as Masters.[17] In the interim, they married.[18] Storm later discovers "Alicia's" true identity, and that Lyja is pregnant with his child. He then witnessed her apparent death of Lyja, and rescued the real Alicia from the Skrulls.[19]

Storm briefly joined his nephew Franklin's Fantastic Force team, where he battled his otherdimensional counterpart, Vangaard (formerly Gaard), convincing him to abandon his mission of eliminating redundant realities by showing him the hero he could become.[volume & issue needed] Lyja posed as student Laura Green and dated Storm to stay close to him; Storm recognized her when they kissed, though he did not share this until later.[volume & issue needed]

With the rest of the Fantastic Four engaged in the otherdimensional Negative Zone, Storm is forced to recruit a temporary Fantastic Four team consisting of Ant-Man (Scott Lang), Storm's on-and-off girlfriend Namorita, and the She-Hulk.[volume & issue needed]

Outside career and anti-registration movement[edit]

Seeking an acting career, Storm was cast as the Old West hero the Rawhide Kid, but producers reconsidered and gave the role to Lon Zelig (actually the Super-Skrull). After working mostly in a few television shows, Storm also spent some time as a firefighter at the behest of his former classmate, Mike Snow, but when Snow moved away after his wife turned out to be a psychopathic arsonist and seemingly died, Storm left the job (though he later returned to the profession during a period when the Fantastic Four was short on cash). Sick of her brother's directionless life and near disastrous pranks, Sue forced him to take a job as the Chief Financial Officer for the Fantastic Four, Inc. Storm was shown to use his power to further harass Ben and slack off, although it soon turned serious. Infighting and betrayal resulted in the patented unstable molecules threatening most of the world, a threat ended with Storm's leadership of the franchise.[20]

After a major battle with Doctor Doom, Reed attempted to claim Latveria for the Fantastic Four, an act that turned the United States government and his own team against them. This led to Ben Grimm's death and the subsequent break-up of the rest of the team. Storm took to fixing cars for a living and hallucinating heavily that Ben was still alive. Grimm's death did not last long. Storm and his family traveled to Heaven, where they met God himself, who looked like Jack Kirby.[21]

Over the Internet, Storm meets a young woman, Cole, whom he learns is the daughter of one of the Fantastic Four's oldest enemies, the Wizard; after a confrontation with that supervillain, who escaped with Cole, Storm remains hopeful of meeting her again.[22]

An alien named Zius came to Earth,[23] the location of Susan Storm, the one being in the universe who could nullify his Galactus-proof planet-cloaking invisibility shield. Zius threatened to destroy the planet if Sue did not sacrifice herself, but Reed used his power gun to switch her powers with Johnny's and tricked Zius into leaving the planet. As he left orbit, Galactus destroyed Zius's spaceship and claimed Storm as his new Herald, the Invisible Man. The cosmic power he was imbued with let him understand whatever he analyzed, leading him to a new appreciation and love for his family. Not wanting to lead Galactus to populated worlds, the Fantastic Four and Quasar managed to make Galactus human for a time. Storm's power cosmic faded, though a remnant of it caused the Fantastic Four's powers to be temporarily transferred to four random New York City residents.[24]

During the 2006-2007 "Civil War" storyline, in which the superpowered community were split over the Superhuman Registration Act, which required them to register with and become agents of the US government, Storm and his sister became allied with the underground rebels, the Secret Avengers.[25] Shortly afterward, during the "Secret Invasion" company-crossover, the shape-shifting extraterrestrial Skrulls intensified their clandestine infiltration of Earth. Storm was briefly reunited with his former Skrull girlfriend, Lyja. Though part of the invading force, she finds she still has some feelings for him, and does not carry out her mission of sabotage. She returns to her people, unsure of herself and of any future relationship.[26]

Death and return[edit]

In the conclusion of the 2011 "Three" storyline, in Fantastic Four #587 (March 2011), the Human Torch appears to die fighting a horde of aliens from the otherdimensional Negative Zone. The series ended with the following issue, #588, and relaunched in March 2011 as simply FF.[27][28][29] Spider-Man took the Torch's place on the team,[30][31] as requested in the Torch's will.[32]

It is later revealed that the Human Torch was revived by a species of insect-like creatures that were implanted in his body by Annihilus in an attempt to force Storm to help open the Negative Zone portal. However, although Storm refused, Annihilus gained a means of access when an alternate dimension Reed Richards opened the portal for him, forcing Storm to escape and lead a resistance against Annihilus with the aid of his fellow prisoners. Upon the Negative Zone portal opening, the Human Torch meets Spider-Man on the other side wearing the costume of the Future Foundation, promptly asking the webslinger what he is wearing.[33] Reed determines that Johnny has been on the other side of the portal for two years from his perspective. Johnny aids his friends by summoning the Annihilation Wave — now under his command — to confront the Kree armada currently threatening Earth.[34]

Due to an infection that he lacked immunity to during his time in the Negative Zone, Johnny has lost his powers, forcing him to stay in a halfway house following the dissolution of the FF as, without his powers, he is 'just another blonde-haired, blue-eyed celebrity', as noted by his agent.[35]

With Spider-Man return to his old self, Johnny was seen laughing at his favorite bar while watching TV when the medias are recording at a naked Spider-Man.[36]

Romance[edit]

The Human Torch has been involved in several romantic relationships throughout the years, including, but not limited to, the Inhuman Crystal, member-in-training and future Galactus herald Frankie Raye, the Skrull agent Lyja disguised as Alicia Masters, and the Atlantean Namorita.

Crystal dissolved her relationship with him due to the adverse effects of pollution within population centers of Homo sapiens.[37] Frankie Raye ended her relationship with him when she accepted Galactus' offer to become his newest herald.[38]

Lyja, while in the disguise of the Thing's former girlfriend Alicia Masters, carried on a long-term relationship including marriage with the Torch,[39] until it was revealed that her true nature was as a Skrull double agent.[40] Although the two attempted reconciliation after it was learned that their "child" was actually an implanted weapon to be used against the Fantastic Four,[volume & issue needed] they ultimately parted on less than favorable terms.[volume & issue needed]

Torch's brief relationship with Namorita lasted until he pursued a career in Hollywood.[volume & issue needed] He has also had relationships with civilian women.

Powers and abilities[edit]

Storm gained a number of superhuman powers as a result of the mutagenic effects of the cosmic radiation he was exposed to, all of which are related to fire. His primary ability to envelop his body in fiery plasma without harm to himself, in which form he is able to fly by providing thrust behind himself with his own flame, and to generate powerful streams and/or balls of flame. He can also manipulate his flame in such a way as to shape it into rings and other forms. Even when not engulfed in flame himself, Storm has the ability to control any fire within his immediate range of vision, causing it to increase or decrease in intensity or to move in a pattern directed by his thoughts. Additionally, he is able to absorb fire/plasma into his body with no detrimental effects. He has shown the ability to detect heat signatures (infra-red vision).[citation needed]

The plasma field immediately surrounding his body is sufficiently hot enough to vaporize projectiles that approach him, including but not limited to bullets. He does not generally extend this flame-aura beyond a few inches from his skin, so as not to ignite nearby objects. Storm refers to his maximum flame output as his "nova flame," which he can release omnidirectionally. Flame of any temperature lower than this cannot burn or harm the Torch. This "nova" effect can occur spontaneously when he absorbs an excessive amount of heat, although he can momentarily suppress the release when necessary, with considerable effort. Storm can also direct momentary beams of "nova heat" as a weapon.[citation needed]

Storm has demonstrated enough control that he can hold a person while in his flame form without his passenger feeling discomforting heat. His knowledge extends to general information about fire as well, supported by regular visits to fire-safety lectures at various firehouses in New York. In one instance when poisoned, Storm superheated his blood to burn the toxin out.[41]

Storm's ability to ignite himself is limited by the quantity of oxygen in his environment, and his personal flame has been extinguished by sufficient quantities of water, flame retardant foam, and vacuum environments. He can reignite instantly once oxygen is returned, with no ill effects.

Very early in his career, as seen in The Fantastic Four #1-2, Storm was depicted as transmuting his body itself into living flame; in all subsequent appearances his power consists in the generation of a flaming aura.

Storm was trained in hand-to-hand combat by the Thing, and is skilled in the use of his superhuman powers in combat. He is also a skilled race-car driver, auto mechanic and designer.[citation needed]

Other versions[edit]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • The Human Torch did not appear in the 1978 Fantastic Four animated series and was replaced with a robot called H.E.R.B.I.E.. An urban legend states this was because the producers were afraid children would imitate the Torch by setting themselves on fire. This legend was propagated by Marvel itself, which mentioned it in a couple of issues of the magazine Marvel Age;[citation needed] as well as when an issue of Fantastic Four (Fantastic Four #285 Dec. 1985) depicted a child setting himself on fire to emulate the Torch, leaving the Torch with doubts about his appropriateness as a role model. In fact, the television rights to the Human Torch had been separately licensed, although never actually used, for a television pilot movie by Universal Studios and this prevented the use of the Torch in the series.[citation needed] For the same reason, the Human Torch was supposed to be one of the main characters on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but Firestar was created in his place.[42]
  • The Human Torch and the rest of the Fantastic Four appeared in the Secret Wars episodes of the mid-1990s Spider-Man animated series. Quinton Flynn provided the Torch's voice in these episodes as well.

Films[edit]

  • The Human Torch/Johnny Storm is played by Chris Evans in the big budget 2005 movie Fantastic Four. In the film, he is an intelligent, but arrogant, young man in his early twenties who loves extreme sports. He is the brother of Susan Storm, who works within Von Doom Industries as Victor von Doom's chief of the Science Department.
  • Chris Evans reprises his role as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. When his sister's wedding is interrupted by the Silver Surfer, Johnny pursues the Surfer and loses the subsequent confrontation. Due to his contact with the Surfer, Johnny is thereafter able to switch powers with any of his teammates through physical contact. This change thwarts their attempt to trap the Silver Surfer when he accidentally switches powers with Reed. However, when Doom steals the Surfer's board and powers, Johnny uses his change to absorb the powers of the entire team, using Sue's invisibility and his own flame powers to sneak up on Doom before overpowering him with the Thing's strength and Reed's elasticity. He loses the ability to switch powers when he makes contact with the Surfer for a second time.

Video games[edit]

  • The Human Torch is one of the Fantastic Four members who make an appearance in Spider-Man for the SNES.
  • The Human Torch featured prominently in the 2000 Spider-Man video game, voiced by Daran Norris. The Torch makes numerous appearances in cut-scenes throughout the game, and is last seen dancing with the Black Cat.
  • The Ultimate version of the Human Torch appeared in the 2005 Ultimate Spider-Man game, voiced by David Kaufman. The player, as Spider-Man, had to race the Torch through New York.
  • Whilst he does not appear in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, there are billboards for a car wash company, which Johnny has endorsed.
  • Human Torch is available as downloadable content for the game LittleBigPlanet, as part of "Marvel Costume Kit 2".[50]

Radio[edit]

  • In 1975, Bill Murray played Johnny Storm in a daily radio adaptation of the early issues of Fantastic Four. The show lasted for 13 weeks.[54]

Toys[edit]

  • Human Torch appeared as an 8-inch action figure in Mego's World's Greatest Super Heroes toy line in the 1970s.

Reception[edit]

The Human Torch was ranked as the 90th greatest comic book character by Wizard magazine.[55] IGN ranked the Human Torch as the 46th greatest comic book hero, stating that even though the youngest member of the Fantastic Four routinely basked in the glory of his celebrity status, he also proved himself in his many adventures with both the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man.[56]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fantastic Four #32 - "Death of a Hero"
  2. ^ Fantastic Four Annual #1 at the Grand Comics Database.
  3. ^ The Fantastic Four #1
  4. ^ Strange Tales #102
  5. ^ Strange Tales #104
  6. ^ Fantastic Four #50
  7. ^ Fantastic Four #48 - "The Coming of Galactus"
  8. ^ Cronin, Brian (September 19, 2010). "A Year of Cool Comics – Day 262". Comic Book Resources CSBG Archive. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
  9. ^ Fantastic Four #52-53
  10. ^ Fantastic Four #56 - "Klaw, the Murderous Master of Sound"
  11. ^ Fantastic Four Annual #4
  12. ^ Fantastic Four #45 - "Among Us Hide the Inhumans" (December 1965) (1st appearance of Crystal)
  13. ^ Fantastic Four #83 - "Shall Man Survive?"
  14. ^ Fantastic Four #150 (September 1974)
  15. ^ Fantastic Four #240
  16. ^ Fantastic Four #275
  17. ^ Fantastic Four #269-270
  18. ^ "Dearly Beloved," by Roger Stern, John Buscema, and Sal Buscema. Fantastic Four #300 (March 1987).
  19. ^ Fantastic Four #357-358
  20. ^ Fantastic Four vol. 3 #65-66
  21. ^ Fantastic Four #509-511
  22. ^ Fantastic Four #514-516
  23. ^ Fantastic Four #517-519
  24. ^ Fantastic Four #520-524
  25. ^ Millar, Mark. Civil War #4, Marvel Comics, October 2006
  26. ^ Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #1-3
  27. ^ Ching, Alber (January 25, 2011). "Associated Press Spoils 'Fantastic Four' #587 Hours Before Comic Goes on Sale". Newsarama.com. 
  28. ^ Ching, Albert. "Hickman Details FANTASTIC FOUR #587's Big Character Death", Newsarama, 25 January 2011
  29. ^ Moore, Matt. "After Half Century, It's 1 Fantastic's Farewell", Associated Press via ABC News, January 25, 2011. WebCitation archive.
  30. ^ Khouri, Andy (9 February 2011). "Fantastic Four Get a New Name, New Costume and an Old Spider-Man". ComicsAlliance.com. 
  31. ^ Hanks, Henry (11 February 2011). "Spider-Man replacing Human Torch on new 'FF' team". CNN.com. 
  32. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #657
  33. ^ Fantastic Four #600
  34. ^ Fantastic Four #601
  35. ^ Fantastic Four (vol.5) #8
  36. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man (vol.3) #1
  37. ^ Fantastic Four #105, Dec. 1970
  38. ^ Fantastic Four #244, July 1982
  39. ^ Fantastic Four #300, March 1987
  40. ^ Fantastic Four #357, Oct. 1991
  41. ^ Spider-Man/Human Torch #2
  42. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (April 28, 2014). "Ranking the Spider-Man Animated Series". IGN. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  43. ^ "Marvel Super Hero Squad Voice Cast". Comics Continuum. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  44. ^ "Monsters No More". Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.. Season 1. Episode 24. June 29, 2014. Disney XD.
  45. ^ Fleming, Michael "Fox sets 'Fantastic' reboot", Variety, August 31, 2009.
  46. ^ "Michael B. Jordan Signed On For 'Fantastic Four'". vibe. October 21, 2013. 
  47. ^ Kit, Boris. "Fox Chooses 'Fantastic Four' Reboot Stars". 
  48. ^ Denick, Thom (2006). Marvel Ultimate Alliance: Signature Series Guide. Indianapolis, Indiana: Brady Games. pp. 30, 31. ISBN 0-7440-0844-1. 
  49. ^ "Extensive Cast of Voice Actors Unveiled for Super Hero Squad Online". Retrieved February 12, 2012. 
  50. ^ "Marvel Costume Kit 2". Sony. Archived from the original on December 30, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  51. ^ "Fantastic Four Pinball". Marvel.com. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  52. ^ "Human Torch joins Marvel Heroes". Marvel Heroes. 2012-07-11. Retrieved 2012-07-19. 
  53. ^ Parsons, Arthur (April 18, 2013). "HULK Smash!!!!". LEGO. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  54. ^ Monaco, Steve (2005-01-13). "Bill Murray as . . . The Human Torch? - Minneapolis / St. Paul News - Steve Monaco - Couch Pundit". Blogs.citypages.com. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  55. ^ "Wizard's top 200 characters.". Wizard. republished at Herochat.com, 18 May 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 
  56. ^ "Human Torch is number 46". IGN. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 

External links[edit]