Strange Tales (Vol. 1) 1962 Year in Review

Image from Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #101.

How Many Issues?

Just three with superheroes: #101-103, published monthly.

Creative Team:

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Larry Lieber

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Was It Good?

No, it wasn’t. I get why Torch got his own feature; he was Marvel’s only teenage superhero at this point (Spider-Man had debuted, but did not appear again in ’62). But they went in exactly the wrong direction with this title. It should be how ridiculously amazing and weird his life as a celebrity superhero is. Instead, we get Johnny spending most of his time in this title trying to keep anyone from discovering that he is the Human Torch. It’s dumb, and it’s boring. At least we got an out-of-character Wizard to debut in these issues; that’s something worth noting, at least.

What About the Sub-Plots and Continuity?

It can be fun to track the minor story points throughout a year’s worth of comics to see what ideas were developed and which were quietly dropped.

  • Johnny wants to preserve his secret identity, which is a complete joke. The writers try to explain away the friends that knew Torch’s identity in Fantastic Four #4, but they ignore Johnny being recognized as the Torch in public in Fantastic Four #2 and being recognized by Congress in Fantastic Four #7.
  • The Human Torch can create fire duplicates of himself, which he can then control remotely.
  • The Human Torch can control flames near him, and he can control the amount of smoke fire generates.
  • For unknown reasons, the Wizard sees the Human Torch as a rival. I am pretty sure that transferred over to Mr. Fantastic pretty quickly, but it feels weird for an intellectual character to feel threatened by Johnny Storm.
  • According to the diagram of his home in Strange Tales #101, Johnny spends enough time experimenting with chemicals to necessitate a small lab area.
  • Asbestos is only used in two of these three issues to try and stop Johnny. And here I thought it would be overused!

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