Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #114

Credits:

Cover Date: November 1963

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers

“The Human Torch Meets Captain America”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

“The Return of the Omnipotent Baron Mordo”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

In the “The Human Torch Meets Captain America,” well, I think you can guess the plot from the title. Some of the Torch’s friends tell him how excited they are that Captain America has returned, and is making an appearance at the Glenville auto show. Naturally, being a superhero that loves cars, Johnny is interested.

There is something suspicious about this Captain America, though, and it is up to the Human Torch to figure out what it is.

In “The Return of the Omnipotent Baron Mordo,” the evil Baron Mordo tries to snag Doctor Strange in a death trap. Strange battles Mordo, with some assistance from a magical neophyte.

Is It Good?

Actually, this is pretty okay. The Human Torch story is dumb, but it was ridiculous enough to be entertaining. The Doctor Strange story wasn’t great, either, but it was different enough from the Torch story to seem refreshing. Of course, art from Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko doesn’t hurt, either.

Sub-Plots:

  • A pair of criminals try to steal a car from the auto show. Both Johnny and Captain America attempt to stop the crooks, but Cap doesn’t welcome Johnny’s help.

  • Johnny loses his temper —- and control over his powers —- around his girlfriend, Doris.
  • Captain America later breaks the car thieves out of prison.

  • While the police and Human Torch chased the escaped car thieves, Captain America robbed the bank.

  • The Torch eventually catches up to “Captain America” and discovers that it was actually his old enemy, the Acrobat, all along!

  • Baron Mordo tricks Doctor Strange, trapping him with a vapor candle.

  • Strange escapes by mentally compelling a woman to come to his aid.

  • Doctor Strange engages Baron Mordo in a mystical battle on (what I can only presume is) the astral plane, and Strange is victorious.

Continuity:

  • This is the first appearance of Captain America in the Silver Age. Of course, it isn’t really Captain America, but it was used to gauge interest in a character revival (which famously happens four months later, in Avengers #4).

  • Sue seems to think that Captain America was just a comic book character, and not a real (in the Marvel Universe) person. This is weird, because Cap’s World War II history is usually portrayed as being public knowledge. Also, Sue knows and likes Namor, and he famously teamed up with Captain America in the Invaders.

  • Captain America’s costume is colored correctly on the cover, but the interior pages have him wearing red underwear.

  • Johnny can create a flaming scythe to…I guess cut through things?

  • A villain uses asbestos (again!) to stop the Torch.

  • This is the first appearance of Victoria Bentley. Victoria has an innate talent for sorcery.

  • Doctor Strange refuses to mentor Victoria Bentley.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • This scene is great for several reasons. First, this is a great counter-argument to every time Johnny brags about how well he can control his powers. Second, I like that Doris is upset about her mother’s lovely linoleum floors; I bet they’re covering some ugly original hardwood floors. Finally, Doris apparently keeps the local flooring company on retainer, since she knows their phone number and doesn’t need to introduce herself.

  • Only in comics does the person with a space-age floating base/escape rocket/satellite choose to rob a small-town bank —- especially in a town where a famous superhero is known to live.

  • I can’t believe this is the first time someone has defeated the Torch with a mop to the face!

  • I don’t think science works like that, Johnny.

  • Wait…this means that Doctor Strange wasn’t trapped by the candle, and didn’t need to drag Victoria into this mess, right? If Mordo’s magic doesn’t work on Doctor Strange’s mental projection, then everything preceding this moment was just for show! He endangered her for no real reason!

  • Does that last panel indicate that Mordo is sporting pigtails?
  • Also, Doctor Strange’s mental projection apparently travels faster than a trans-Atlantic flight, but only by about fifteen minutes.

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