|First appearance||The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)|
|Created by||Stan Lee
|Alter ego||Jonathan Lowell Spencer "Johnny" Storm|
|Team affiliations||Fantastic Four
Herald of Galactus
Fantastic Four Incorporated
|Notable aliases||The Torch, Invisible Man|
|Abilities||Fiery form that enables flight, serves as damage shield
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.
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.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Romance
- 4 Powers and abilities
- 5 Other versions
- 6 In other media
- 7 Reception
- 8 References
- 9 External links
|This section requires expansion. (April 2010)|
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
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (February 2011)|
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. 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.
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. 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) and Paste-Pot Pete, later known as the Trapster; 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. 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.
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. Shortly after this, he and the Fantastic Four first encountered Galactus and the Silver Surfer. Wingfoot joined Storm and the Fantastic Four on a trip to Wakanda, Africa, where they first encountered the Black Panther and helped him defeat Klaw. He also met the original Human Torch. Around this time, Storm met the young Inhuman Crystal. It was love at first sight, and Storm, along with the rest of the Fantastic Four, helped her overthrow the mad Inhuman prince Maximus. Their love was passionate but short-lived, as Crystal returned to the city of Attilan and eventually married Quicksilver, the son of Magneto, eventually bearing his child. 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. 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. In the interim, they married. 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
An alien named Zius came to Earth, 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.
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. 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.
Death and return
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. Spider-Man took the Torch's place on the team, as requested in the Torch's will.
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. 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.
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.
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. Frankie Raye ended her relationship with him when she accepted Galactus' offer to become his newest herald.
Lyja, while in the disguise of the Thing's former girlfriend Alicia Masters, carried on a long-term relationship including marriage with the Torch, until it was revealed that her true nature was as a Skrull double agent. 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]
Powers and abilities
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).
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.
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.
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.
In other media
- The Human Torch was a regular character in the 1967 Fantastic Four animated series. He is voiced by Jack Flounders.
- 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; 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. 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.
- The Human Torch appears in the 1994–95 Fantastic Four animated TV series. He is voiced by Brian Austin Green in the first season and by Quinton Flynn in the second season.
- 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.
- The Human Torch appears in the 2006 Fantastic Four animated TV series. He is voiced by Christopher Jacot.
- A version of The Human Torch appears in the animated series The Super Hero Squad Show, voiced by Travis Willingham.
- The Human Torch appears in the animated TV series The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. He is voiced by actor David Kaufman, who reprises his role from Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2.
- The Human Torch appears in the Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. episode "Monsters No More", voiced by James Arnold Taylor.
- 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.
- The Human Torch makes a guest appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for the Game Boy and PlayStation 2.
- The Human Torch (along with the rest of the Fantastic Four) has a cameo in Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage for the SNES and Sega Genesis systems.
- 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 Human Torch appears in his own game for the Game Boy Advance titled Fantastic 4: Flame On.
- Johnny is a playable character in the Fantastic Four video game based on the 2005 movie, voiced by Chris Evans with Quinton Flynn reprising his role in bonus levels, and in the video game based on the 2007 movie Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, voiced by Michael Broderick.
- 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.
- The Torch also appeared as a playable character in the Electronic Arts-produced title Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects, voiced by Kirby Morrow.
- Human Torch appears as a playable character in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, voiced by Josh Keaton. His classic, Ultimate, original, and modern costumes are available. A simulation disk has Human Torch fighting Paibok. He has special dialogue with Black Widow, Hank Pym, Thing, Crystal, Uatu, Karnak, Wyatt Wingfoot, Black Bolt, and Shocker.
- David Kaufman reprises his role of Human Torch who appears in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2.
- 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 a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, voiced by Antony Del Rio.
- Human Torch is available as downloadable content for the game LittleBigPlanet, as part of "Marvel Costume Kit 2".
- Human Torch appeared in the virtual pinball game Fantastic Four for Pinball FX 2 released by Zen Studios.
- Human Torch appears as a playable character in the 2012 fighting game Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth.
- 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.
- Human Torch appeared as an 8-inch action figure in Mego's World's Greatest Super Heroes toy line in the 1970s.
- Human Torch has appeared in the Marvel Legends toy line, in series 2, in the three version of the Fantastic Four box set ( the ordinary, variant and the Wal-Mart special).
- Though it a different character, the Inhuman Torch (Kristoff Vernard) appeared in the House of M box set.
- The Human Torch is the eighteenth figurine in The Classic Marvel Figurine Collection.
The Human Torch was ranked as the 90th greatest comic book character by Wizard magazine. 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.
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