“The Return of the Wizard!”
Cover Date: February 1963
Plotter: Stan Lee
Scripter: Larry Lieber
Penciller: Jack Kirby
Inker: Dick Ayers
Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers
What’s Going On?
The Wizard breaks out of prison, with the express purpose of defeating the Human Torch. The Wizard challenges the Torch in television, and the Torch answers the challenge.
Is It Good?
Not really! The ridiculousness of the Wizard’s death traps keeps it from being awful, but his motivation and master plan are so stupid.
- The Wizard was humiliated when he realized that the Human Torch (and Invisible Girl) has tricked him in Strange Tales #102. The Wizard wants revenge!
- The Wizard’s plan, after breaking out of prison, is to return to his home and challenge the Torch to come to his house.
- Johnny seems unable to back down from the Wizard’s challenge, even when his sister makes a good point.
- If you had the question of “Why don’t the Fantastic Four team up against the Wizard?”, the answer is “Because the guys don’t wanna.”
- Sue follows Johnny and winds up getting captured.
- Compare this panel from this issue…
…to these panels from Strange Tales #102.
It makes a difference who says what in this scene, doesn’t it?
- Johnny is still making flame duplicates, but for some reason cannot control this one to do anything but stand there.
- Johnny is impervious to artillery shells.
- The Wizard tries to defeat the Torch with asbestos!
- Johnny can now make functioning constructs out of fire (and he also didn’t explode the bomb by dropping it in fire).
Comics Are Goofy:
- He makes it sound like a prisoner strolling through the prison hallways has an easy path to escape.
- I want to know what the best-case scenario is for the Wizard here. He escapes from prison, defeats the Human Torch, and…then what? His whereabouts are known, the police are already surrounding his home, and anyone who defeats the Torch would inevitably have to face the rest of the Fantastic Four. What was his exit plan?
- Johnny can survive nerve gas by…encasing himself in fire? How is that different than his normal state of being covered with flames?
- What is going on with the Torch and these Green Lantern-esque tricks? A flame saw? Really?
Well, That Aged Poorly:
- Obviously, Johnny couldn’t thank his sister for backing him up (again) against the Wizard. Instead, it’s casual sexism for the win!