Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #106

Credits:

“The Threat of the Torrid Twosome”

Cover Date: March 2018

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Larry Lieber

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: Dick Ayers

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, unknown inker (see “Behind the Scenes” section for more info)

What’s Going On?

Carl Zante, the Acrobat, approaches Johnny with a proposition: if he and Johnny formed a crime-fighting team, they would take equal credit for their victories, and split all reward money they earn.

Zante argues that the Human Torch is undervalued in the Fantastic Four, as the most powerful member and star of the group. Johnny agrees to form the Torrid Twosome with Zante, but Zante has ulterior motives.

Is It Good?

While it is funny to see the ongoing “secret identity” subplot dropped so quickly, this is generally a pretty dull issue. I am already tiring of Johnny’s brattiness.

Sub-Plots:

  • Johnny had been putting a lot of effort into maintaining a secret identity for the Human Torch, but he wasn’t fooling anyone. The whole town knows that he is the Human Torch.

  • Johnny asks Reed for a salary (this is the same month that Spider-Man did the same thing!), but Reed insists that the team’s profits be funneled toward scientific research. Johnny quits the team in a huff.

  • On their first mission, Zante told the Torch that they needed to break into a bank vault to save an employee that was locked inside and suffocating. Zante lied; he wanted to rob the bank and was using the Torch to melt through the vault’s metal door.

  • Suspecting trouble, Invisible Girl has the rest of the Fantastic Four meet at the bank, to back Johnny up. They foiled the robbery attempt, but let him capture Zante on his own.

  • Johnny is welcomed back to the Fantastic Four. He probably should have apologized, but I guess the rest of the team are mature enough to let it pass.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Carl Zante, the Acrobat.
  • This is the second time Johnny quit the Fantastic Four.
  • Asbestos is, once again, the bane of Johnny’s existence. This time it’s in liquid form, which I didn’t know was a thing.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Oh man, do I love how hard the secret identity sub-plot is being dropped here! There were times in the past few issues where people would ask Johnny things like “I wonder where the Torch went,” and it turns out they were just humoring him the entire time! That is beautiful. Brian Cronin did a good column on it for his Abandoned Love series at CBR.

  • Orange and green, with a beret? Quite the fashion sense, Mr. Storm! P.S. You’re an ass.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Man talk, baby.

  • WHAT ABOUT SUE? She’s your sister, Johnny! Don’t dismiss her like that!

  • I didn’t realize that “whistling in the dark” could mean “completely full of crap.”

Behind the Scenes:

I couldn’t determine who inked the cover to this issue. The Marvel Wikia only listed Kirby as the cover artist, but he didn’t typically ink his own work (at this point, anyway), so I thought it was unlikely that he didn’t have an inker. I looked online, but couldn’t find a consensus. Marvel.com stuck with the sole Kirby credit. My Comic Shop states that it is a Kirby/George Roussos collaboration, while the Grand Comics Database says Dick Ayers was the inker. I think Ayers makes the most sense, since he did the interior art and had been inking Kirby’s covers for Strange Tales, but I can’t find anything conclusive online.

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