Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #109

Credits:

“The Sorcerer and Pandora’s Box”

Cover Date: June 1963

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Robert Bernstein (Credited as R. Berns)

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

Cover Artist: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

The local hermit, known by the townsfolk as “The Sorcerer,” is known as the town crank. Little do the locals know that he is a practitioner of the Dark Arts, and that he has obtained and unlocked Pandora’s Box! Will the Human Torch be able to overcome all the evils of the ancient world?

Is It Good?

No, this is bad. This is another awful one-off villain with a ridiculous backstory that the Torch defeats because…reasons.

Sub-Plots:

  • Johnny wishes he could quit school so he could be a full-time superhero.
  • The Sorcerer uses the evils (or “imps”) in Pandora’s box to commit a number of crimes without being detected.

  • Of course, the crimes were all in the immediate area, so the Torch figures out that the creepy Sorcerer may be worth checking into.
  • In the face of defeat, after having his flames smothered by a flood (from Pandora’s Box), Johnny asks if he can choose the evil that will kill him. The Sorcerer complies, Johnny chooses death by fire, and promptly absorbs the fire and defeats the Sorcerer.

Continuity:

  • Depending on how you look at it, this issue may be the first appearance of the Eternal/Avenger Sersi. She is called “Circe” here.
  • The evils that are still inside Pandora’s Box are the imps of hatred, forgetfulness, sleepiness, disease, laziness, fear, foolishness, paralysis, ice, fire, and floods, among an undisclosed number of other evils.
  • Johnny is apparently on the high school basketball team. That somehow doesn’t seem fair to me.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • Who honestly believes that Johnny Storm is spending 5 hours a night on homework?

  • I love that the writers got the story of Pandora’s Box exactly backward here. You don’t put things back in the box! That’s the whole deal with Pandora’s Box!

  • Johnny, you’re being a jerk. The Sorcerer chased some kids off of his private property, and you respond with “if strangers can’t walk through your private land, then neither can you”?

  • Who needs shades of grey in their characters, when you can go for full-on evil?

  • Nobody tell Johnny about thermophilic bacteria.

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Ben Grimm, poster boy for toxic masculinity.

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