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Five Goofiest Moments in the Human Torch Feature in Strange Tales #106-110

Every day this month will have the five goofiest moment from a five-issue stretch of a particular comic book run. Once a week it will be the ten goofiest moments of a ten-issue stretch. Here is a list of the moments featured so far.

Today we’re looking at the next five Human Torch stories from Strange Tales. All five issues were plotted by Stan Lee and inked by Dick Ayers. #106-107 were scripted by Larry Lieber while #108 and 109 was scripted by Robert Bernstein and #110 was scripted by Ernie Hart. Dick Ayers penciled #106-107 and #110 while Jack Kirby penciled #108-109.

As always, this is all in good fun. I don’t mean any of this as a serious criticism of the comics in question. Not only were these writers certainly never imagining people still reading these comics decades after they were written, great comics often have goofy moments (Kirby/Lee’s Fantastic Four is one of the best comic book runs of all-time and there were TONS of goofy stuff in those 100 plus issues!).


Johnny often had new powers. This one might not technically be a NEW power, but it is awfully odd looking (from #108)…

In #109, Johnny sees some cranky old guy known as “the sorcerer” yelling at some kids to get off of his property. Johnny decides to teach him a lesson..

I dunno about the logic of your position there, Johnny. It WAS his own property, after all. I guess Johnny doesn’t believe in the idea of private property. How did the John Birch Society fail to find out about this?!?

In #108, the bad guy is a painter with magic paint that makes things that he draws comes to life. Check out his exceptionally goofy origin…

5. This puff lives IN the sea!

This bit from #107 would be higher except that I think Namor actually debuted this power in a previous issue of the Fantastic Four…

Either way, it’s still pretty darn goofy!

4. “Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

I love Johnny’s over-elaborate explanation for why he can flame on right after being submerged underwater…

It’s like he’s trying to convince us of something he doesn’t even believe.

3. Overthinking things there a bit, Johnny…

In #108. the Painter’s plans appear to be a success…

but wait!!!

So, beyond how overly complicated Johnny’s plan is – why didn’t he just destroy the painter’s paint LAST NIGHT if he was in the painter’s hideout with the painter asleep?!?

2. Nice duds…

In #106, the Acrobat convinces Johnny that he should leave the Fantastic Four and join the Acrobat in the Torrid Twosome. Check out Johnny’s awesome costumes for the group…

A beret, Johnny?!? A beret?!?!

1. Johnny’s Identity Crisis…

As you know from last time around, one of the goofiest things about the early issues of Johnny’s solo stories is that Stan Lee decided that Johnny should have a secret identity, even after establishing that he didn’t in Fantastic Four.

Well, in #106, Lee decided to give in to the silliness of the idea…

Funny stuff.


So the Painter painted Sue attacking Johnny… while she’s invisible? How does one paint an invisible person? (Or did he use the “dotted outline” method? And, if so, would the fake Sue actually be invisible, or show up with the dotted outline herself? Am I overthinking this way too much…?)

So, did Carl Zante grow up to become Batroc the Leaper?

I think the Sorcerer’s origin in #109 is a lot goofier than the origin of Wilhelm Van Vile, the Painter of 1,000 Perils. Van Vile at least found some cool alien stuff underground, the way a cheesy B-movie supervillain *should*. The Sorcerer, on the other hand, is just some cranky old dude who somehow buys Pandora’s Box — the actual, mythological one — in his house. And it’s full of weird imps which he uses to rob banks, until he accidentally exposes himself to the one that causes fear, and gets too scared to keep being a supervillain. Not to mention that he tries to kill the Human Torch with the Imp of Flame. Next to all that, “magic alien paints that create real things found deep underground” is positively tame.

I’ve had Strange Tales #108 for years now and always wanted to see the return of the Painter. Thanks for bringing him back into the comic conscious. (Ooooookay, so he never was in the comic conscious, but I always thought someone would use him again.)

Johnny did most of the work while Reed kept all the dough? Has the U.S. or the city of New York been paying the FF for saving them time and again?

I wrote an essay on the distinctive style of 1 million BC paintings. It is like writing a paper on why breathing is important … so very obvious.

The Painter did return in Web of Spider-Man #74-6, where he was apparently now a genuine (very avant-garde) “artist” of sorts out to freeze New York City as some kind of aesthetic statement. He was also crawling with little bugs that seemed to speak to him in a strange alien language; when he and his aides, the mutant dancer Bora (from Moon Knight v.1 #35) and Spark (from..uh, Web of Spider-Man #74-6) were beaten by Spider-Man and the Human Torch, the Painter exploded into a mass of the little bugs. Whether that was Van Vile, the aliens he saw in the paintings, or something still weirder remains to be seen.

Omar, you forgot the best part: unless I’m remembering wrong, weren’t his superpowered henchmen called The Avant Guard? (Or at least that’s what it said on the cover.)

WOW, I never knew! Thank you kindly!

Alright, since you guys are obviously Marvel nerds like myself (Web of Spidermen 74, wow, i mean if you own that, wow) has Namor ever used his puffer fish abilities since?

Wow – Some 60’s Kirby art I’ve never seen! Thanks Brian!

I didn’t know that when you swim underwater, your body becomes “saturated.” Thanks for clueing us in, Johnny.

I’m a fan of the fake FF attacking (fake?) Johnny… with a grenade.

When Johnny said Reed kept all the dough, it could be that Johnny’s money was put into a trust that he couldn’t use yet, since he was a minor at the time.

I was shocked that Johnny would address his friend and his sister as ‘Mister Fantastic’ and ‘Invisible Girl’ instead of using their actual names like he normally does. But since it was just a painting of Johnny, I guess he should be expected to be a little out of character (especially since Johnny’s not an artist).

Wow, Johnny was kind of a douche back then, wasn’t?

I love one of the clues Johhny used to figure things out. “You beach had no litter baskets”…

Hugo Sleestak

May 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

My favorite goofy moment on this page was the one in which the Painter was showing his picture of the FF attacking Johnny, and the Thing is hauling this safe around to toss at him. Love it.

I love the origin of the Painter, though … it’s as if he was lucky at finding stuff, just like the Mandarin, only the Mandarin’s rings were cooler somehow.

I’ve always thought it would be fun to play with this particular “secret” identity notion – a small-town hero who THINKS he has a secret identity. In fact, EVERYONE knows the “secret,” but they like the hero and don’t want to hurt his feelings, so they just play along.

The worst part of it was that Johnny lived with his sister, Sue, at the time. She was not using a secret identity. It was widely known, IIRC, that she was the Invisible Girl. So, here we have the Invisible Girl of the Fantastic Four, living in a small town with her brother and the Human Torch, another member of the FF, constantly shows up in that same small town. Just how did Johnny think he could maintain a secret i.d. under those circumstance? Either he thought the townspeople were stupid or Johnny is the Dumbest Superhero Ever.

Wait… Namor “possesses the powers of all the creatures living beneath the sea”…?

I didn’t know that.
That would have to include electric shocks through the skin (electric rays, numb rays); poison barbs (stingrays – look, just don’t touch rays, okay?, sea urchins, lion fish, scorpion fish, ); various other contact poisons (blue-ringed octopi, jellyfish); fast camouflage (cuttlefish); bio-luminescence (angler fish and others), sonar (dolphins), several rows of teeth (sharks)…
Oh, and telepathy and projecting images from their eyes (tele-fish – not real-world, but they exist to Namor) and breathing fire (Godzilla exists in the MU, too!)

I might’ve actually seen him use the electric shock one (in Byrne’s run?)

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