Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Saga Of The Human Torch!

Following on the heels of 1988's The Saga of the Sub-Mariner we get the four-issue limited series The Saga of the Original Human Torch.

Having recently been brought back to life (yet again) in the pages of West Coast Avengers, the hero is ripe to have his somewhat complicated story told. In the first issue we get a detailed retelling of his origin from Marvel Comics #1 by Carl Burgos when Professor Phineas Horton reveals his "monstrous" creation to the world, an android who erupts into flame upon contact with oxygen. Eventually that power is brought under control by the Torch who is given a quick eduction in his tomb, hidden away from a fearful public. He breaks lose and soon comes into conflict with the hoodlum Sardo. But all the time he finds he admires the police and seeks to follow a mission of service as they do.

He eventually finds a partner in Toro, an orphan who it turns out was affected to some extent by the Torch's power. The two battle domestic crime and even join The Invaders and take the war to the Axis powers overseas.

The Human Torch and Toro eventually confront the dicator Hitler himself and burn the evil man to death, though as we learn his vile mind is preserved by Arnim Zola. The Torches then work apart for a while as Toro deals with the illnesses of his foster parents. Torch gets a new partner in the beautiful figure of Sun Girl though their time together is brief. The work with the All-Winners Squad follows during which the duo fight alongside two more different Captain Americas.

Eventually the Human Torch is tricked by thugs and is confined in a coffin which fails to hold him an atomic bomb test rips through the area. Quickened by this atomic might he rises from the tomb and finds himself in the 1950's where he eventually locates Toro who has been brainwashed into working for the Communist North Koreans. The two partner again and battle several weird criminals before the Torch's flame begins to go out of control and he must bury himself once again aided by Toro. The saga ends with a mention that eventually he will be discovered by the Mad Thinker.

Told with brutal efficiency by Roy Thomas and rendered beautifully by Rich Buckler aided by Danny Bulanadi and Alfredo Alcala on inks, this is a romp. It lacks the scope of the previous Sub-Mariner series,  but then the Torch's story is a shorter one, though definitely we needed one more issue to complete it. As always Roy is intent on straightening out the confusions which come from decades of stories, and he does that as far as I can tell.

We desperately needed one more of these "sagas" dedicated to Captain America, but it was not to be. Either sales didn't support the notion or Roy wasn't interested. Having the third of Timely's "Big Three" handled with the encyclopedic effort revealed in these sagas would've been dandy. It's unfortunate it didn't happen.

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