Monday, March 12, 2007

Strange Tales Annual #2

Here's an oddball early teamup of Spidey and the Human Torch. Marvel quite naturally wanted to establish some bond between their two teenage superheroes (at the time, this being before the debut of the X-Men).

The Torch had been a major character in the Golden Age for Marvel (then known as Timely) and he was also 1/4 of the Fantastic Four. Spidey was a new character, whose comic was then less than a year old. Strange Tales was the magazine that featured the Torch in his solo adventures. So one would think that Johnny Storm would at least hold his own in the teamup story. But it did not develop that way.

In typical Marvel fashion the story starts out with a fight between the two heroes because of a misunderstanding. But where DC would have ended it in a draw, Marvel decided to have one character win the fight:

And when they clash again, Spidey is prepared:

Of course, eventually he convinces the Torch that he is not responsible for the theft and they team up to fight the real criminal, the Fox. Although the Torch does save Spiderman in one memorable moment, for the most part it's Spidey following the clues, Spidey asking the questions, and the Torch mostly looking like an ornament. When it comes time to catch the villain, guess who does it?

And Peter handles this with his usual lack of class while in uniform:

The Human Torch co-starred with Spiderman in several adventures including a memorable run in ASM 17-19. But you could see the passing of the baton to the new guy in this story, in what obviously turned out to be a preview of things to come. The Torch ended up not a strong enough character to cover his own mag in the Silver Age, and eventually was squeezed out of Strange Tales in favor of Nick Fury Agent of Shield. And Spidey... well I guess you know that story.

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