Characters Appearing: Doris Evans, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing
Strange Tales #132 (Human Torch)
Issue(s): Strange Tales #132 (Human Torch story only)
This is the only one of Strange Tales' Human Torch stories that doesn't give at least a Plot credit to Stan Lee (although he has a prominent and leading Editor credit). The writer is Larry Ivie, who from the little i can gather was an EC artist (actually, see Mark's comment), and this was his only Marvel work.
Fooled by the Editor credit, i didn't realize this wasn't written by Stan when i first read it, and i was surprised by the extra self-deprecating tone. It's a horrible story, but the fact that it sort of acknowledges that fact is interesting.
A Mr. Pearson of NASA approaches the FF looking for help with a mission that involves a scientist, Professor Jack, who has recently come under suspicion. The project involves putting giant magnets in space to keep satellites in orbit. All of NASA's other astronauts are busy with Project Gemini.
Johnny is chosen by process of elimination (with criteria such as the Thing is too heavy and NASA doesn't want the "notoriety of a girl astronaut on this particular job").
Dorrie Evans is not pleased that Johnny has been honored with this selection.
Johnny is given the secret identity of Doug Brown, a name that Pearson seems to think up on the spot. Luckily the convincing brown overcoat makes up for any suspicion.
Meanwhile, in what is definitely the best panel of the issue, the Thing tries to encourage Dorrie to stick to her decision to break up with the Torch.
Unfortunately she really does want to get back with him, so the Thing reluctantly agrees to go interrupt Johnny's important job to tell him so. He arrives just in time to prevent Johnny from getting murdered in a space-magnet related incident.
The Thing makes a Q*Bert noise after rescuing Johnny.
Trying to hide the fact that a member of the Fantastic Four showed up out of nowhere to help "Doug Brown", Mr. Pearson shows up and identifies the Thing as Dr. Josiah Verpoorten, again with an audible "er" (The name is clearly a nod to John Verpooten, Marvel's production manager).
After Professor Jack is out of earshot we get the second best panel of the issue (and it's a close second).
From there, we get some more hijinks as Professor Jack turns out to not be fooled by the Thing's disguise.
He also goes with "slow working acid" as his deathtrap for Johnny, who survives by waiting until he hits earthfall and then transforming back into the Torch.
The two heroes then make quick work of the villain before exhibiting severe bipolar symptoms in a matter of panels.
Johnny, clearly not at all exhausted by a long day of going into space and then having to fly home under his own power, runs back to Doris to take her to a football game. Trying to out Stan Lee Stan Lee to the last, Ivie even throws in a reference to the Merry Marvel Marching Society before demonstrating what fickle mysteries chicks are.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Johnny references the events of Fantastic Four #37 in this issue, so this has to take place after that, but before the big run from FF #38-43.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Essential Human Torch
Larry Ivie wasn't as EC artist, but he was probably involved in EC proto-fandom and at this time he was working with Wally Wood. He did some uncredited art on Wood's later Daredevils. Larry's color comics credits are sorta sparse; most of his writing/art appeared in SF digests & magazines, horror b&w magazines, and fanzines.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 17, 2012 6:05 PM
Strangely enough, in a short interview in the Marvel-centric fanzine Forbush Gazette #1(12/66) Stan Lee states about Larry Ivie: "He does not work for us, and he never did!"
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 22, 2012 5:51 PM
Larry Ivie also co-scripted Avengers #14 (with Larry Lieber), under the assumed name of Paul Laiken (as per the Marvel Comics Database).
Posted by: haydn | March 3, 2014 10:21 PM
Thanks, Haydn. I've updated the credits on Avengers #14.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 3, 2014 10:25 PM
The GCD database gives Stan Lee and Bob Powell plotting credits on this issue, and Larry Ivie gets only a dialogue credit. GCD gives no explanation as to where they get this extra information. The splash page gives full writing credits to Larry Ivie, as per the review.
It reads like Ivie aped Stan's dialog style without copying it directly. "Overtoasted marshmallow" and "walking kumquat" read like original insults but they're still true to character.
Posted by: James Holt | August 21, 2016 7:28 PM
I placed the last three Torch Thing stories from Strange Tales between FF#37 and 38.
Posted by: Bobby Sisemore | October 31, 2016 10:28 PM
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