Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #104

Credits:

“The Human Torch Meets Paste-Pot-Pete!”

Cover Date: January 1963

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Larry Lieber

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

In a bit of bad luck, the villainous Paste-Pot-Pete decided to rob the very bank that Johnny Storm was inside as a customer. Fortunately for Pete, Johnny did not want to reveal to his fellow bank customers that he is, in fact, the Human Torch, so he stayed incognito and the villain escaped. As soon as he had some privacy, though, Johnny transforms into the Torch and hunts Paste-Pot-Pete down.

Is It Good?

No, it’s not even close. Paste-Pot-Pete, with his paste gun and paste bucket, is presented as a legitimate threat and he escapes in the end!!! Johnny’s secret identity sub-plot is getting mind-numbingly stupid as it progresses, too.

Sub-Plots:

  • To preserve his secret identity, Johnny creates a flame duplicate and has it follow Paste-Pot-Pete. It is too difficult to give the duplicate complicated commands (like “stop the bad guy”), but it can follow baddies.

  • Paste-Pot-Pete steals a missile, with the intent of selling it to the highest bidder.

Continuity:

  • Johnny preferred to maintain his secret identity instead of immediately confronting a villain.
  • Johnny’s flame duplicates can complete simple tasks, even when they are out of Johnny’s line of sight.
  • This is the first appearance of Paste-Pot-Pete.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • This is false. Paste-Pot-Pete is not fantastic, and his weapon is neither unbeatable nor super.

  • Paste-Pot-Pete has the worst code name in Marvel Comics thus far into the Silver Age, and he probably has the worst character design, too. The hat and tie combo are ridiculous. The collared jumpsuit is ugly. A two-handed weapon is impractical for a thief. I don’t even know where to begin with the paste bucket (Why isn’t the supply tube toward the bottom of the bucket?!?).

  • Johnny, stop being dumb. You are bad at secret identities.

  • Johnny had the opportunity to stop Paste-Pot-Pete at the bank, but he opted to maintain his secret identity. This led to Pete assaulting civilians and military men, as well as his theft of the missile. None of this is framed as “Johnny made a poor choice,” either.
  • How does Johnny’s flame duplicate keep following Pete? It followed Pete, even as he evaded police. It’s not like Johnny was responsible for all of the duplicate’s movements; the duplicate made choices and actions independent of Johnny’s command. Are these duplicates sentient beings? Do they have souls? Do they die when Johnny dismisses them?
  • No, it’s not, Pete.

  • Good lord, Torch! What are you doing? Why are you giving him so much time?

  • Why didn’t you do this first, Torch?

  • No, that’s not how paste works. It is not a replacement for a grappling gun.

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