Human Torch, Negative Zone gladiatorPosted: 07/12/2013
Real fast and off topic, but we should stop being so critical, especially about superhero movies. I’ve actually heard people complain in Man of Steel that Lois Lane shows up exactly in the right place far too often to be believable, but they had zero problems an hour before that when a man singlehandedly holds up an oil tanker. We need to just enjoy our shared experiences, suspend our disbelief, and stop being so negative. Look, do I read comics I dislike? Oh goodness, yes — probably over half. But you’ll never hear me talk about them; we have enough of that on other websites.
Anyway, let’s delve into the Human Torch. He’s hard to relate to. The guy’s super good looking, popular with the ladies, extremely wealthy, and can turn into fire — his biggest fault being immaturity rather than anything majorly serious like alcoholism or building Ultron. Though over the past few decades, he’s grown quite a bit as a character. I mean, he’s still gorgeous, dates supermodels, and can shoot fireballs, but now he’s becoming a legitimate superhero on his own rather than Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman’s kid brother. And I’ll prove it today. Hopefully.
About two years, Johnny Storm died. It was sad. Though he did go out wonderfully, sacrificing himself to shut the Negative Zone’s gate so Annihilus and his bug army couldn’t take over the world. Here’s the scene from Fantastic Four #587, written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Steve Epting:
Spoiler alert: he dies. His ultimate ability, the “supernova,” is similar to an explosion from a small nuclear warhead, which certainly makes him formidable. Though a supernova can’t quite defeat a billion bad guys.
About a year later, he returns alive. Comic book death and whatnot. How does he do it? Well, Fantastic Four #600, written by Hickman and drawn by Carmine Di Giandomenico, will tell you. Here’s the death scene again but from a different artist:
First off, he definitely died. You should buy the issue for the full fight scene. But in the Negative Zone, death turns out to be not such a big deal. The bugs can fix it.
Like most evil bugs from strange dimensions, they entertain themselves by having prisoners fight in a gladiator arena. I always think I’d get tired of gladiators used as a plot point, but I’m proven wrong time and time again. Y’see, the difference between Johnny Storm and the other Fantastic Four members involves how they deal with bad situations. Frustrated and angry by the predicament he’s in, the Human Torch becomes a jerk. A huge jerk.
And with this first act of defiance begins the rebellion against Annihilus to ultimately escape the clutches of the Negative Zone and its horrors.
Well, eventually. This rebellion ended with Johnny being cut in half. Happens to the best of us. In case you don’t know, meet Annihilus, the Anthrosian alien that conquered the Negative Zone using his Cosmic Control Rod. Even without the weapon Annihilus remains super strong and tough, but with it he can manipulate cosmic energy to do all sorts of wacky stuff I don’t understand. From his first appearance forty-five years ago in Fantastic Four Annual #6, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby, the dude’s been bad news:
Luckily for the Human Torch, being in an alien gladiator prison brings some unexpected benefits: all his fellow inmates also have crazy superpowers. More than enough to take on Annihilus, just as long as they remove the Cosmic Control Rod from the bug’s hands. Thus the actual escape plan begins:
The plan doesn’t involve anything fancy. They aim for Annihilus, knock that weapon out of his hands, and grab it for themselves. Then they use whatever magic it contains to gain control of the Negative Zone. Sounds easy enough.
So does he do it? Does Human Torch, the young playboy superhero, defeat one of the most powerful and deadly of the Fantastic Four’s foes? No amount of worms’ll fix whatever wound Annihilus will deal onto our hero if he fails this grab. But y’know how these stories go. You read comic books.
Say hello to Johnny Storm, wielder of the Cosmic Control Rod, ruler of the Negative Zone, commander of a billion bug army, and now the most dangerous man on the planet.