Human Torch

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For the original Human Torch, see Human Torch (android).
Human Torch
Human Torch.png
Cover art of Fantastic Four #542 (Jan. 2007) by Adi Granov.
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961)
Created by Stan Lee (writer)
Jack Kirby (artist)
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
Avengers Unity Division
Notable aliases Invisible Man
Abilities Fiery form that enables flight, serves as damage shield
Pyrokinesis
Heat energy absorption
Resistance to extreme heat

The Human Torch is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is a founding member of the Fantastic Four. A similar, unrelated character of the same name and powers was 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, fly, absorb fire harmlessly into his own body, and 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 reticent and compassionate older 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. Human Torch is also a friend and frequent ally of the superhero Spider-Man, who is approximately the same age.

Jay Underwood played him in the unreleased 1994 film The Fantastic Four, Chris Evans portrayed him in the 2005 film Fantastic Four, and its 2007 sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Michael B. Jordan portrayed him in the 2015 film Fantastic Four.

Publication history[edit]

Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the Johnny Storm version of the Human Torch first appeared in The Fantastic Four #1 (cover-dated Nov. 1961), establishing him as a member of the titular superhero team.

Additionally, he starred in a solo feature in Strange Tales #101-134 (Oct. 1962 – July 1965),[1] an eight-issue series, The Human Torch (Sept. 1974 – Nov. 1975), reprinting stories from that solo feature,[2] a 12-issue series, Human Torch (June 2003 - June 2004) by writer Karl Kesel and penciler Skottie Young,[3] and the five-issue team-up series Spider-Man / Human Torch (March-July 2005) by writer Dan Slott and penciler Ty Templeton.[4]

He co-starred in two one-shot comics, Spider-Man & the Human Torch in... Bahia De Los Muertos! #1 (May 2009), by writer Tom Beland and artist Juan Doe,[5] and Incredible Hulk & the Human Torch: From the Marvel Vault #1, a previously unpublished story from 1984, originally intended for Marvel Team-Up by plotter Jack C. Harris, scriptwriter and artist Kesel, and breakdown artist Steve Ditko.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

At 16, Storm joined his sister and her fiance, 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, with the ability to become a flaming human with the power of flight and the ability to project fire, dubs himself the Human Torch, in tribute to the World War II-era hero of that name.[9] In The Fantastic Four #4, it is Storm who 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, returning him to modern continuity.

Though a member of a world-famous team, Storm still lived primarily in Glenville and attended Glenville High School. Here he thought he maintained a secret identity, although 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[10] and Paste-Pot Pete, later known as the Trapster.[11] In Storm's home life, Mike Snow, a member of the high-school wrestling squad, bullied Storm until an accidental flare-up of the Torch's powers scarred Snow's face. Storm dated fellow student Dorrie Evans, although she eventually grew tired of his constant disappearances and broke off their relationship.[12]

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.[13] There he befriended his roommate Wyatt Wingfoot.[14] He also met the original Human Torch of the 1930s and 1940s.[15] Around this time, Storm met and fell in love with Crystal, a member of the superpowered race the Inhumans.[16] After their relationship ended, Crystal returned to her native city of Attilan and eventually married the superhero Quicksilver,[17] Storm, crushed, attempted to move on, finding that his high-school girlfriend, Dorrie Evans, had married and had two children..[volume & issue needed] Storm dropped out college but remained friends with Wingfoot, who often participated in the Fantastic Four's adventures.

Storm eventually began a romance with who he thought was Alicia Masters but was eventually revealed to be an alien from the shapeshifting Skrull race, Lyja, posing as Masters.[18] In the interim, they married.[19] Storm later discovers "Alicia's" true identity, and that Lyja is pregnant with his child. He then witnessed Lyja's apparent death and rescued the real Alicia from the Skrulls.[20]

Storm briefly joined his nephew Franklin Richards' Fantastic Force team, where he battled his otherdimensional counterpart, Vangaard (formerly Gaard). Lyja posed as student Laura Green and dated Storm to stay close to him; Storm recognized her when they kissed, though he did not reveal this to her until later.[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 alien Super-Skrull). After working mostly in some television shows, Storm also spent some time as a firefighter at the behest of his former classmate, Mike Snow,[volume & issue needed] but when Snow moved away after his wife turned out to be a psychopathic arsonist and seemingly died, Storm left the job. He later returned to the profession during a period when the Fantastic Four was short on cash.[volume & issue needed] Frustrated with her brother's directionless life and near- disastrous pranksterism, his sister compelled him to become chief financial officer for the Fantastic Four, Inc. Infighting and betrayal resulted in a near-catastrophe, ending Storm's position.[21]

After a major battle with the supervillain dictator Doctor Doom, Fantastic Four leader Reed Richards attempted to claim Doom's Latveria for the Fantastic Four, an act that aliented the United States government and his own team. This led to team-member Ben Grimm's apparent death and the Fantastic Four's subsequent dispersal. Storm took to fixing cars for a living. Grimm later was revealed to be alive.[22] 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 remained hopeful of meeting her again.[23] For a time, Storm became the herald of the powerful cosmic being Galactus, becoming the Invisible Man after switching powers with his sister and team-mate, Susan Richards, the Invisible Woman.[24]

During the 2006–2007 "Civil War" company-wide crossover, in which the superpowered community is split over the Superhuman Registration Act, which required them to register with and become agents of the US government, Storm and his sister allied with the underground rebels, the Secret Avengers.[25] Shortly afterward, during the "Secret Invasion" company-wide 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. Storm eventually escapes, and Richards determines Storm was on the other side of the portal for two years from his perspective.[33]

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.[34] Frankie Raye ended her relationship with him when she accepted Galactus' offer to become his newest herald.[35]

Lyja, while in the disguise of the Thing's former girlfriend Alicia Masters, carried on a long-term relationship including marriage with the Torch,[36] until it was revealed that her true nature was as a Skrull double agent.[37] 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.

The plasma field immediately surrounding his body is 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.[38]

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.[39]

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.

Storm was depicted as transmuting his body itself into living flame in the first two issues of The Fantastic Four. In all subsequent appearances, his power consists in the generation of a flaming aura.

Other versions[edit]

In other media[edit]

Television[edit]

Film[edit]

  • Jay Underwood played Johnny Storm in the unreleased Fantastic Four film produced by Roger Corman.
  • 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 younger 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 older 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.
  • Simon Rex portrayed the Human Torch in the spoof film Superhero Movie (2008).[43]
  • Michael B. Jordan portrayed Johnny Storm in the 2015 film Fantastic Four.[44][45][46] While Johnny Storm is still the son of Franklin Storm, Susan Storm is his adoptive sister. He gains his powers following a visit to Planet Zero. Since the incident, the scientists working with Franklin Richards designed a special suit that helped Johnny to master his powers. After Victor von Doom returned from Planet Zero and was making his way back to the Quantum Gate to further his goals, Johnny was devastated when Victor killed Franklin Storm. Johnny later helped Reed, Susan, and Ben fight Victor.

Video games[edit]

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.[53]

Toys[edit]

Reception[edit]

The Human Torch was ranked as the 90th greatest comic book character by Wizard magazine.[54] 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.[55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Strange Tales at the Grand Comics Database.
  2. ^ The Human Torch, Marvel, 1974 series at the Grand Comics Database.
  3. ^ Human Torch, Marvel, 2003 series at the Grand Comics Database.
  4. ^ Spider-Man / Human Torch at the Grand Comics Database.
  5. ^ Spider-Man & the Human Torch in... Bahia De Los Muertos!' at the Grand Comics Database.
  6. ^ Incredible Hulk & the Human Torch: From the Marvel Vault #1 at the Grand Comics Database.
  7. ^ Fantastic Four #32 - "Death of a Hero"
  8. ^ Fantastic Four Annual #1 at the Grand Comics Database.
  9. ^ The Fantastic Four #1
  10. ^ Strange Tales #102
  11. ^ Strange Tales #104
  12. ^ Various issues, Strange Tales #113 to Fantastic Four #45 (Dec. 1965)
  13. ^ Fantastic Four #35 (Feb. 1965)
  14. ^ Fantastic Four #50
  15. ^ Fantastic Four Annual #4
  16. ^ Fantastic Four #45 (Dec. 1965)
  17. ^ Fantastic Four #150 (Sept. 1974)
  18. ^ Fantastic Four #269-270
  19. ^ "Dearly Beloved", by Roger Stern, John Buscema, and Sal Buscema. Fantastic Four #300 (March 1987).
  20. ^ Fantastic Four #357-358
  21. ^ Fantastic Four vol. 3, #65-66
  22. ^ Fantastic Four #509-511
  23. ^ Fantastic Four #514-516
  24. ^ Fantastic Four #517-524
  25. ^ Millar, Mark. Civil War #4, Marvel Comics, Oct. 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 (February 11, 2011). "Spider-Man replacing Human Torch on new 'FF' team". CNN. 
  32. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #657
  33. ^ Fantastic Four #601
  34. ^ Fantastic Four #105, Dec. 1970
  35. ^ Fantastic Four #244, July 1982
  36. ^ Fantastic Four #300, March 1987
  37. ^ Fantastic Four #357, Oct. 1991
  38. ^ Strange Tales Vol. 1 #112/1
  39. ^ Spider-Man/Human Torch #2
  40. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (April 28, 2014). "Ranking the Spider-Man Animated Series". IGN. Retrieved April 29, 2014. 
  41. ^ "Marvel Super Hero Squad Voice Cast". Comics Continuum. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  42. ^ "Monsters No More". Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Season 1. Episode 24. June 29, 2014. Disney XD. 
  43. ^ (March 19, 2008), "[collider.com/superhero-movie-4-movie-clips-and-the-trailer/ SUPERHERO MOVIE – 4 Movie Clips and the Trailer]," Collider (retrieved June 21, 2016)
  44. ^ Fleming, Michael "Fox sets 'Fantastic' reboot", Variety, August 31, 2009.
  45. ^ "Michael B. Jordan Signed On For 'Fantastic Four'". vibe. October 21, 2013. 
  46. ^ Kit, Boris. "Fox Chooses 'Fantastic Four' Reboot Stars". 
  47. ^ Denick, Thom (2006). Marvel Ultimate Alliance: Signature Series Guide. Indianapolis, Indiana: Brady Games. pp. 30, 31. ISBN 0-7440-0844-1. 
  48. ^ "Extensive Cast of Voice Actors Unveiled for Super Hero Squad Online". Retrieved February 12, 2012. 
  49. ^ "Marvel Costume Kit 2". Sony. Archived from the original on December 30, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2012. 
  50. ^ "Fantastic Four Pinball". Marvel.com. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  51. ^ "Human Torch joins Marvel Heroes". Marvel Heroes. 2012-07-11. Retrieved 2012-07-19. 
  52. ^ Parsons, Arthur (April 18, 2013). "HULK Smash!!!!". LEGO. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  53. ^ 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. 
  54. ^ "Wizard's top 200 characters.". Wizard. republished at Herochat.com, 18 May 2008. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 
  55. ^ "Human Torch is number 46". IGN. Retrieved May 19, 2011. 

External links[edit]