As many comic book fans have already heard, Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, was recently cut down in battle in Fantastic Four #587. That’s why the team here and Comic Booked has decided to honor his recent death by making him our Character Of The Month for February 2011! Though he may have flamed off permanently in the comics, the Human Torch is still very much alive here on Comic Booked!
For those of you that haven’t been paying attention for the last fifty years (and shame on you for that!), Johnny Storm is the Human Torch; the fire powered member of the Fantastic Four. Johnny gained his powers alongside his sister Sue and the rest of the Fantastic Four while a space shuttle they were on was bombarded with Cosmic Radiation! The Human Torch can manipulate fire, fly, and turn his entire body in a walking fireball! The Human Torch was created by the classic writer/artist team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, first appearing in Fantastic Four #1 back in 1961.
Johnny Storm had a rough childhood, growing up with his older sister Susan in Glenville, NYA. While they were still young, their mother was killed in a terrible car accident; leading their father Franklin down a dark and twisted path of drinking and gambling. Franklin was eventually arrested for the murder of a loan shark, who he had killed in self defense. After Franklin was locked away, Johnny and his sister were sent to live with their Aunt.
While Johnny was still a teen, he and his sister met a young scientist named Reed Richards, and volunteered to go on an experimental rocket which Richards had designed. The rocket was created to help mankind travel throughout the galaxy, but unfortunately for its crew (which consisted of Johnny, Sue, Richards and the ships pilot Ben Grimm) the ship was not properly shielded from cosmic radiation and came plummeting back down to the earths surface. Luckily the entire crew survived the crash, although they would all soon realize that nothing would ever be the same. The four of them had all been changed by the cosmic radiation on a molecular level, giving them each their own unique set of superpowers! Johnny suddenly burst into flames and soon after realized he could fly. The four of them decided there and then that they would use their newfound powers for good; and thus, the Fantastic Four were born!
Being the youngest of the group, Johnny was generally considered the rebel; often disobeying orders and making decisions without thinking. Johnny was glad to have these new powers, but strongly disliked having to take orders from Reed, who had assumed the position of team leader. This combined with Johnny’s quick temper often led to conflict amongst the teammates; causing Johnny to quit the team on various occasions over the years.
While he was a member of the Fantastic Four, Johnny often had his own adventures. Oddly enough, these adventures have lead to the team’s rogues gallery growing exponentially as many of Johnny’s enemies, such as The Wizard, started targeting the team itself as a way to get to him. Johnny also teamed up with fellow-superhero Spider-man fairly often over the years.
Johnny’s Biggest Adventures
Following various encounters with the Mole Man, the Frightful Four and the Inhumans, the team encounters their greatest enemy to date; Galactus, Devourer of worlds. Johnny was selected specifically by the Watcher to retrieve a grand weapon that could defeat Galactus that had been hidden away for some time. After retrieving the weapon, the ‘Ultimate Nulifier’, Johnny threatened Galactus with it; causing Galactus to leave the planet alone for the time being. Years later, Galactus would return, needing to consume the Earth to survive. Johnny’s girlfriend at the time, the also flame-powered Frankie Ray, volunteered herself to become Galactus’s next herald in exchange for his sparing the Earth again. Galactus accepted the offer, granting Frankie the Power Cosmic. Frankie, now calling herself Nova, led Galactus off into space to find a new source of sustenance so that he could survive; leaving Johnny and their relationship behind on earth.
Following the Secret Wars, Reed Richards and Johnny’s sister Susan get married and decide to take some time away from the team. Ben Grimm, known as The Thing, takes charge of the team, inviting Crystal of the Inhumans and Ms. Marvel to join the team in their stead. Johnny, who also recently got married to Alicia Masters, is torn between his former love Crystal and his new wife Alicia. Things worked out in Johnny’s favor though, as Reed and Sue returned not long after they left and Crystal (as well as Ms. Marvel) left the team.
Upon Reed and Sue’s return, it is revealed that Alicia is actually a Skrull named Lyja, and that the Skrull have kidnapped the real Alicia; having taken her back to the Skrull homeworld. The Fantastic Four travel to the Skrull homeworld and rescue the real Alicia with some help from Lyja. Once Alicia is safe, Johnny wants nothing to do with Lyja, despite that she has now been branded a traitor to her race for having helped the Fantastic Four. Lyja disappeared for a time, only to appear again later after teaming up with Devos the Devastator and Paibok the Power Skrull to come after Johnny for revenge. During this fight, Johnny goes Super-Nova for the first time and starts the Empire University Fire.
After the fire is taken care of, Johnny becomes a wanted man with much of the superhero community seeking him out for questioning. Johnny eventually has his day in court after having been hunted by the Secret Defenders, Daredevil, Silver Sable’s Wild Pack and his old pal Spider-man. A team of the Human Torch’s enemies, consisting of Huntara, Paibok, Klaw and Devos see this as the perfect time to attack and take Johnny out once and for all! Fortunately for Johnny, their assault was shortlived, as a good chunk of Johnny’s superhero friends were standing by during the trail and quickly leapt to his aid!
The Adventures Continue
After the Infinity War and Onslaught events, everything seemed like it was finally getting back to normal. Then the superhuman Civil War happened. In the early days of the Civil War, Johnny was attacked and severely beaten in a nightclub by a mob of people that were outraged by the events in Stamford and wanted to take it out on anyone they could. When he finally awoke in a hospital, the Fantastic Four had split up in many ways. Johnny sided with his sister Sue on Captain America’s anti-registration Secret Avengers team. When the Civil War ended, the team got back together and Reed and Sue took a leave of absence to rekindle their love on a honeymoon; leaving Storm and the Black Panther to help out the team while they were away.
Over time, the stability of the Fantastic Four began to weaken. Johnny decided to try out a few other potential careers, spending some time as a film and television actor and as a New York City Firefighter before returning to the team. The strength of the team was tested even further when Reed Richards attempted to take over the country of Latveria after a recent battle with the country’s ruler; Doctor Doom. Reed’s attempted takeover of the small country caused a major misunderstanding with the United States government and turned the rest of the team against him. The team finally disbanded again after Ben Grimm was killed during Reed’s attempted takeover. Johnny returned to his old love of automobile repair, although he was plagued by hallucinations that Ben was not dead. It was later revealed that Ben was in fact alive and had been returned to his normal physical state. Once everything blew over, including Ben being back to ‘normal’ as the rock hard Thing, the team got reformed again.
The next major threat the team dealt with came in the form of an alien scientist named Zius, who had developed a cloaking device to hide planets from Galactus. Zius deemed the Invisible Woman’s powers to be a major threat to his plans and demanded that she give her own life to save countless others from Galactus. In order to save Sue, Reed created a special machine to swap Sue’s powers with Johnny. The plan worked, fooling Zius and causing him to leave. Unfortunately, Galactus was not so easily fooled. Galactus destroyed Zius and proceeded to claim Johnny as his new herald; planning on using Johnny’s new invisibility powers to find the planets that Zius had already hidden from him. While Johnny was given a portion of the Power Cosmic by Galactus, he was not mentally altered as most of the previous herald’s had been, so he managed to keep many planets hidden from Galactus anyway. Eventually, Johnny was rescued by the rest of the Fantastic four, who were aided by Quasar.
A second Annihilation Wave, commanded by the head of the Cult of Annihilus, fought the Universal Inhumans. The later breached the Negative Zone portal inside the Baxter Building while being lead by Kid Annihilus himself in an attempt to start the Second Great Annihilation War. Johnny did all he could as the Human Torch and managed to hold them off until the gateway to the Baxter Building could be completely sealed off. To the dismay of the rest of the team, Johnny was cut down by the Arthrian cultists almost immediately after the door was sealed; ‘flaming off’ once and for all.
Powers & Abilities
- Heat Absorption- Johnny’s body is covered by flaming plasma that protects him from flames and heat. He can easily absorb fire and explosions.
- Flight – As the density of his body changes, Johnny’s body becomes lighter than air, giving him the capabilities of flight. He is also extremely maneuverable.
- Fire Control- With his flames, Johnny can create shapes and objects out of flame. He can also control any fire within his range of vision no matter how it formed. Johnny can also control which parts of his body he has in flame in order to touch someone or something that he doesn’t want to burn.
- Super Speed- The Human Torch can easily break the speed of sound while in flight.
- Energy Output- The plasma field around Johnny’s body produces intense flame which can be raised and lowered in temperature. The heat can easily dissipate most projectiles.
- Blast Power- The Human Torch can create streams or balls of flame and use them as projectiles. Special attacks include the Nova Flame, a multi-directional attack capable of over 1,000,000 degrees Fahrenheit and the Nova Heat, an offensive beam of heat rivaling the heat of a normal star.
- The Human Torch requires oxygen to use his flame powers. Without it, he would not be able to flame on or would be soon extinguished.
- The Human Torch burns through energy rather quickly depending on his energy expenditure. Special attacks such as the Nova Flame could easily deplete his energy reserves.
- It takes incredible focus to control his heat powers and must be a constant thought. Johnny has learned well over the years to control this power.
A major thanks to the guys over at Comic Vine for the info! Don’t forget to keep Johnny Storm in your thoughts this month by picking up the final issue of Fantastic Four, #588!