“Prisoner of the Wizard”
Cover Date: November 1962
Writer: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Dick Ayers
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
What’s Going On?
A brilliant man, known only as the Wizard, has accomplished enough to make him rich and famously intelligent (and crafty!), but he seeks one more achievement — to defeat the Human Torch.
The Wizard tricks the Torch into a trap and then proceeds to impersonate the Torch and commit crimes to ruin the Torch’s reputation. When the Torch finally breaks free, the Wizard gives Torch a difficult choice: the Wizard is about to destroy the only proof that the Human Torch did not commit those crimes, which leaves the Torch three options — he can kill the Wizard (but heroes don’t kill!), he can willingly reveal his secret identity to the Wizard (who will make it public!), or he can let the evidence be destroyed. What will the Human Torch do?
Is It Good?
It’s better than last issue, but still pretty dumb. I’m hating the notion of the Human Torch having a secret identity, and the notion of the Wizard — a reputedly brilliant intellectual — going after the Torch seems like such a bizarre choice. The Wizard doesn’t challenge the famous Mr. Fantastic? Or the smartest brain on Earth (according to the alien Toad Men), Bruce Banner? Or the scientist tasked with developing anti-radiation gas, Henry Pym? Oh, well. I generally liked the art in this issue, but what is with the Wizard’s face? I know Kirby likes to make his villains ugly — especially when they are foreigners — but the Wizard looks almost deformed, and no character mentions it!
- The Human Torch still has a secret identity, and villains want to know what it is.
- The Human Torch teams up with Invisible Girl, making this the first time Marvel heroes have teamed up outside their own title in the Silver Age.
- This is the first appearance of the Wizard.
- The Torch was defeated (temporarily) by chemical fire retardants and asbestos. Again.
- We have a new diagram! This one explains the Wizard’s Human Torch costume.
Comics Are Goofy:
- Wow, the Wizard (disguised as the Torch) sure is rebellious.
- The Wizard’s plan is so stupid. He’s going to defeat the Torch to…prove his superior intellect? Couldn’t he just challenge the Torch to a spelling bee? And why bother trying to frame the Torch? Is it to blackmail him into revealing his identity? If yes, why not just use some of that chemical fire retardant on Johnny’s face?