This is the third installment in a series highlighting each of the four superheroes who inaugurated the Marvel Universe in the Fall of 1961. We’ve already covered the Invisible Girl and The Thing. Today we take a look at the modern Human Torch and his introduction in Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961).
The most striking thing about the debut of the MU’s first teenage superhero is how little control he has over his powers. In his first appearance, he spots the FF’s emergency flare signal from inside the hot rod he is working on; a passion he admits is only second to his calling as a hero. Instead of stepping out of the car before “flaming on” he flies through the roof leaving the vehicle a molten mess. No sooner does he take to the sky then a squadron of US Air Force jets converge on him to investigate the flaming object over Manhattan. So unused to the powers bequeathed to him by the cosmic rays he was recently exposed to, he can’t avoid melting the planes from around their surprised pilots. The pilots parachute to safety as the planes plummet toward the city below. It’s left to Mr. Fantastic to save his bacon when a guided missile is on his tail and again when Johnny is about to plummet to his death.
Never fear, by the end of issue #1, the new Human Torch is the one who ultimately fends off the menace from the cover (Giganto) and seals up the Mole Man’s monsters in their underground lair by melting the rock surrounding the passage to the surface. By issue #4, the Human Torch has such precise control over his powers that he can use them for a job as delicate as giving the Sub-Mariner a shave.