Human Torch #2
Issue(s): Human Torch #2 (Human Torch and Sub-Mariner stories only)
Anyway, this debut of the Torch's own book is significant for the introduction of Toro, the Human Torch's kid sidekick with the exact same powers. The story wastes no time with set-up; the Torch arrives at a circus to find a boy in flames and yet unharmed by them (my scans for the Torch story are from the Fantasy Masterpieces reprint).
The Torch teaches Toro the ropes...
...and also beats up a malcontent circus strongman...
...before we hear a little of Toro's backstory. His mother and father were killed in a train accident in which Toro was the only survivor.
He was immediately found by a nice couple who happened to be fire-eaters at "Pop's Traveling Circus".
Based on the fact that Toro survived the train accident unscathed and an anecdote about how he used to pull baked potatoes out of the fire for his friends...
...they decide he's worth recruiting into their act. Toro, the grisly death of his parents already a distant memory, happily agrees.
Toro's backstory will be expanded upon in the Invaders, revealing that Toro's father actually used to work for Dr. Phineas Horton, the creator of the Human Torch, and that the Torch had actually visited Toro's pre-train death family in the past. The Invaders story also says that the boy's name was always Toro, even though here it says that the fire-eaters gave him that name (which makes more sense).
In the late 60s, when this story was reprinted, there was speculation by fans in the letter pages that Toro was actually a mutant.
After fending off a second attack from the strongman, who has recruited some thugs and also stolen a "rayon gun" from a circus professor that temporarily disables the Torches' powers...
...the story ends with "Pop" excitedly planning on how he can exploit Toro's newfound abilities.
The Human Torch seems fine with this, in contrast to his reaction to Professor Horton's similar ambitions in the Torch's first appearance.
I'd like to see the market research on kid sidekicks. Everyone hates them, right? Kids don't need to see another kid in a comic to enjoy it when the main character is a dude who can turn into flames, fly, and fry people with fireballs. But it was such a common occurrence to add a sidekick, clearly someone thought they were necessary..
The Sub-Mariner part of this story was reprinted in an issue of Marvel Milestones.
Despite the title of this story, the Sub-Mariner only spends a few panels in New York this issue before reading a newspaper article about some sabotages in the Baltimore harbor and heading there to help out.
He discovers a German U-boat sinking American ships, and he tries to get the local authorities to do something about it, but the US is not yet at war with Germany and so they're afraid to do anything.
Namor therefore takes matters into his own hands.
It's interesting to see that Namor expects to be treated with distrust and rationally pre-empts it.
He's very clearly a good guy in this story, however. No ambiguity about it. This story and others like it are contradicted by The Marvels Project, which had Namor as an irrational enemy of the US until Pearl Harbor.
A newspaper sub-head says that Namor is from the Antarctic Icelands.
I love seeing advanced Atleantean technology, like his fleet of Aerial Subs.
Also, it's funny seeing him looking clean-cut in jeans and a nice shirt, even while under water.
The "Marvel Milestones" format had gotten a little weird by this time. They used to tell you right on the front cover why they thought a story was significant enough to be reprinted. This issue's headline feature is a reprint of the British "Spectacular Spider-man Adventures #114", which i'm fairly certain isn't in continuity. It also contains Uncanny X-Men #213, which at least is the issue where Psylocke is invited to join the X-Men. But i don't really know what the thought was behind reprinting this particular Sub-Mariner story. Reprinting the main story from Human Torch #2, the first appearance of Toro, would have been more appreciated.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Fantasy Masterpieces #11 / Marvel Milestones: Captain Britain, Psylocke & Sub-Mariner
My guess as to why this was reprinted? Because that shirt of Namor's must have been an inspiration to Flint Marko. I mean he probably went to a store and got the same shirt in green after seeing this in the news. And the rest...is history.
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 23, 2012 6:17 PM
They already tried the Norman Osborn/hair connection; don't give them any more ideas.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 23, 2012 11:28 PM
Mostly was just joking. Besides Namor is cooler in that shirt than he was in a suit and tie several years later. (he's the prince of Atlantis, why would he need to wear that sort of thing?)
Posted by: Ataru320 | September 25, 2012 8:20 PM
I think Namor's shirt here actually was an inspiration to a (much) later character: Quentin Quire's gang uniform included a red-and-black striped shirt, derived from an old Daily Bugle front page. Quentin's is more of a rugby shirt with big thick stripes, but the guy in the Bugle image is clearly Namor-inspired (check the ears and the haircut) and Grant Morrison is an avowed fan of the GA Namor stories, so I'm betting it was meant as a callback.
Posted by: Bob Violence | December 16, 2013 12:09 AM
That Bugle image comes straight from X-Men 14 - http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/uncanny_xmen_1416.shtml
Posted by: S | December 16, 2013 2:09 PM
That's embarrassing, especially since I read the pre-Claremont stuff just last year. Still curious that the guy in the picture has Namor's ears and the widow's peak. Was it already publicly known that Namor was a mutant? (Also curious is the fact that Quentin's haircut is supposedly modeled on the guy in the picture's, even though it's nothing like his. Artist-writer miscommunication?)
Posted by: Bob Violence | December 17, 2013 12:40 AM
Fnord, you say Namor reads about sabotage in Boston, but the panel has Namor talking about going to Baltimore.
Posted by: Thanos6 | April 26, 2015 6:50 PM
Whoops, thanks Thanos6.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 26, 2015 7:06 PM
Comments are now closed.
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