Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #113

Credits:

Cover Date: October 1963

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Sol Brodsky, Don Heck

“The Coming of the Plant Man!”

Plotter: Stan Lee

Scripter: Jerry Siegel (credited as Joe Carter)

Penciller: Dick Ayers

Inker: Dick Ayers

What’s Going On?

A disgruntled gardener is fired for ignoring his duties in favor or trying to communicate with the plants. When his communication device is hit by lightning, he found that he could communicate and control plant life.

Naturally, he uses his newfound abilities to try and gain control of New York City. Just as naturally, the Human Torch tries to stop the villain.

Is It Good?

Not really. Plant Man is a joke of a villain, but he does become a recurring low-tier Marvel baddie, so there’s some historical significance to the issue, at least.

Sub-Plots:

  • Johnny’s newest girlfriend, Dorrie Evans, is not a fan of Johnny’s superhero exploits. This thoroughly confuses Johnny.

  • The first time he faces the Human Torch, Plant Man utilizes planet moisture to put out the Torch’s flames.

  • Johnny eventually defeats Plant Man by creating enough heat to cause the plants to wilt. The plants, blaming Plant Man for their distress, break his control device.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Plant Man. It’s odd that his origin is given in this issue, but they never mention his real name.
  • The Plant Man’s plant gun (or whatever he calls it) is destroyed by the end of the issue.
  • This is also the debut of Doris “Dorrie” Evans. I think she winds up being Johnny’s most notable “civilian” girlfriend of the Silver Age.

 

Comics Are Goofy:

  • You’d what, Johnny? Fly away? Tell her off? Man, I really wish he had finished this sentence.

  • Plant Man’s powers — at their most basic — are reasonably cool. However, some of the ways he uses those powers a laughably nonsensical. Why would leaves make a quality replacement key?

  • Let’s say that I agree that plants are sentient. Why would flowers pay attention to a safe combination, and what part of their anatomy watched it happen?

  • Right, Johnny, this is much weirder than the aliens that were destroying a subdivision, or the guy whose illustrations came to life, or the guy who used paste to commit crimes.

  • In defense of Johnny in the above panel, he was defeated by the dew of plants. As that is clearly not a real thing, I can see why he’d hesitate to share.
  • Plant Man plans to conquer New York City, then the planet, and then…space?!? The man is not lacking ambition, at least.

  • I have to question Plant Man’s strategy here. How does he expect leaves to defeat a guy that is on fire?

  • …and that is a terrible pun, Johnny.
  • Love’s…not…a competition!

Well, That Aged Poorly:

  • Correction: there is a way to “figure out a female,” Johnny. It involves talking to her.

Behind the Scenes:

  • The always interesting Nick Caputo has a blog post that features an alternate cover to this issue, taken from a British digest-style reprint comic. Apparently, Marvel sent them an early copy of the cover, before it was altered for production. Notice that the Torch is not blaming “wet dew” for his problems here, and that the bushes are making mean faces. I like this original cover much better.

  • It is also worth noting that Caputo credits Sol Brodsky for altering some of Kirby’s pencils here, and Heck with the inks. The Marvel Wikia credits neither.

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