Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #120

Credits:

Cover Date: May 1964

Cover Artists: Jack Kirby, George Roussos

“The Torch Meets the Iceman!”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Jack Kirby

Inker: Dick Ayers

“The House of Shadows”

Plotters: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko

Scripter: Stan Lee

Penciller: Steve Ditko

Inker: Steve Ditko

What’s Going On?

The Human Torch and Iceman team up to fight some pirates, while Doctor Stranfe investigates a haunted house.

Details:

In “The Torch Meets the Iceman”:

  • Johnny takes Doris on a date: a boat ride around Manhattan Island.

  • In a coincidence, Iceman of the X-Men also decides to go on that very same boat tour!

  • The two heroes unknowingly interact when Iceman makes a pass at Doris, not realizing that she had a date. No major hurt feelings on either side, but both young men subtly show off their powers.

  • Soon after, their ship is attacked by pirates, led by Captain Barracuda!

  • It doesn’t take long for the Human Torch and Iceman to independently take action against the pirates.

  • The villains do a decent job of forcing the heroes to fight one at a time, but in the end, their teamwork is more than enough to stop the pirates.

In “The House of Shadows,”

  • A live TV show is planning to broadcast from inside an allegedly haunted house to prove that it isn’t actually haunted. Doctor Strange is among the spectators outside the house.

  • Just to be cautious, Doctor Strange decides to send his astral form inside the building to make sure that the TV reporter isn’t actually in danger. However, some mystical force prevents Strange’s astral form from entering!

  • Inside the house, something happens to the reporter, and he stops broadcasting. When Doctor Strange enters the house, he finds mystical forces trying to capture him…but Doctor Strange is too strong and breaks free!

  • It turns out that the house is not haunted. Instead, the house is an alien! Strange saves the reporter and banishes the house to its own dimension.

Is It Good?

Actually, this is one of the better issues of Strange Tales to date. The Torch and Iceman didn’t interact as much as I would have liked, but forcing Johnny to share the spotlight in his story meant that there were fewer opportunities for the writers to make him seem like a complete jackass. That, alone, is a win. The Doctor Strange story was more “weird” than “good,” but it was still a nice change-up from the past few Doctor Strange stories.

Continuity:

  • Jean Grey is seen accepting a date with Angel. While Jean doesn’t have a steady boyfriend at this point, it’s interesting that she dates Angel in a title they are guest-appearing in. It implies that Stan Lee sees Angel as her primary suitor at this moment in time.

  • This is the first meeting of Iceman and the Human Torch. It is also the first time an X-Man has met a member of the Fantastic Four.
  • This is the first appearance of Captain Barracuda.
  • It is worth noting that this is simply the Amulet of Agommoto, not the Eye of Agommoto. I don’t know the difference between them, but I do know that they are different.

  • This is the first appearance of the House of Shadows.

Comics Are Goofy:

  • “No one knows their real identities” may be technically true, Reed, but how hard is anyone trying? Iron Man knows where they live, as does the local ice cream man that gave Cyclops and Iceman a ride home in X-Men #2.

  • It’s worth noting that “swinging” had a different meaning in the early ‘60’s than it does today.

  • “Remember how I said that you flying too close to my ice makes it melt? You’re doing it again, and now I’m getting shot!”

  • Rolling giant snowballs across a flat surface doesn’t seem like the most efficient way to put out a fire or thwart pirates. Maybe I’m misunderstanding something.

  • I love that Iceman just walks home after the fight. That’s a totally normal thing to do.

  • This exchange amuses me for several reasons: the “zealously” guarded X-Men identities, the “imagine if we had talked to that mysterious man!” bit, and the notion of Iceman being a ladies’ man.

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