Make Mine '39

Carrying the Torch

Writer Scott Snyder talks about celebrating history with the HUMAN TORCH COMICS 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL

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By Jim Beard 1939—A year that conjures up visions of a different time, a different world and most definitely a different breed of super hero. To continue their 70th anniversary bash, Marvel's turning up the heat on one of the most original creations to born in that most trendsetting of years: the original Human Torch Out this May 6, the HUMAN TORCH COMICS ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL tells an all-new tale of Jim Hammond, the android known as the Human Torch, and his fiery beginnings. "It was [editor Jeanine Schaefer's] suggestion that I pitch a story about the original Human Torch," says author Scott Snyder of this celebratory one-shot. "The appeal was immediate. I've been a big fan of the Torch ever since [Alex] Ross' MARVELS came out in [1994] and prompted me to go back to some of the older lines featuring the Torch. "There's so much that's interesting to me about him. On the one hand, he's got this All-American college football look—he seems like this confident, glamorous hero—but

Preview art by
Scott Wegener

underneath he's like a one-year-old robot. The world [of 1939] is totally new and wondrous and infuriating to him. Plus, he's the world's first super hero, with all this pressure on him. Basically, he's a breed apart on all these levels." The Human Torch blazed for the first time in the classic MARVEL COMICS #1 in 1939 before graduating to his own title, HUMAN TORCH COMICS, in the fall of 1940. Many Marvel fans might be more familiar with Johnny Storm, the Fantastic Four's Human Torch, but Snyder looks forward to his story drawing a clear definition between the two firebugs. "It's funny, because to me at least, even though they look similar when engulfed in flame, Johnny and Jim seem sort of like polar opposites," the writer notes. "Johnny's got this great confidence to him; he's like a human hot rod and his abilities seem almost like an extension of that cocky, fearless attitude. But Jim is a stranger in the world. He's a robot under that human skin, and to me, there's always been something distant about him, even with Toro at his side in the old INVADERS title. "In this story, I wanted to make Jim really vulnerable, to focus on this isolation by highlighting his newness, his innocence and confusion in that first year of life. We used some visual touches to get at this: his room is like a teenager's; he's got a kind of boyish look to him. His flame is often blue, too. Plus, halfway through the story, we strip his

Preview art by
Scott Wegener

skin. One of my favorite things about the story is the chance it gives readers to see the Torch in all his 1930's robotic glory." Likewise, Snyder aimed to concentrate on the feeling of 1939 with a country on the brink of world war and just getting to its feet again after a devastating financial crisis. Luckily, MARVEL COMICS #1 and the Human Torch came along at a time when the world needed heroes and thus stars were born. "I'm really interested in the fact that the Marvel Universe began during the Great Depression—the notion that all these amazing super heroes were born during one of the darkest moments in the nation's history," Snyder muses. "That's one thing I tried to explore a bit in the story: the weird position the Torch is in, being the lone super hero in such difficult times, when everything's falling apart and people are turning on each other and him. "Also, I've always loved stories that explore the secret histories between characters. So I tried to make the world of the 1930's Marvel Universe a place where the ancestors of the modern Marvel characters exist. You catch glimpses of Warren Worthington I and Howard Stark, Tony's grandpa; I tried to throw in as many secret connections as possible."

Preview art by
Scott Wegener

In all, Snyder emphasizes the "human" in the HUMAN TORCH COMICS ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, a theme that he's no stranger to, as one can witness in his own prose work. "Officially, I have a sort of literary background," he states. "Most of the characters I write about are on the darker side, guys who often struggle with themselves a bit. What was so exciting to me about Marvel comics of the early 80's and 90's was the way the writers humanized these characters I already loved by showing their flaws, their doubts and frustrations and inner-turmoil. "My goal with the Torch was to try to come up with a story that would bring Jim face to face with his own inner demons, to show him at his most human, which is funny, seeing as he's stripped down to robot endoskeleton for most of the book. Still, to me at least, it's almost like he's at his most human when he's in robot form. Weird, but true." Before celebrating the HUMAN TORCH COMICS 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL on May 6, check out Jim Hammond's very first appearance on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited! Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes! Download episodes of X-Men: Evolutionicon now on iTunes!

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Comments

13 comments
fightingamerican
fightingamerican

To me, it was a pretty decent story... it just didn't seem to be a Human Torch story.I wondered when this story took place in the Human Torch cannon.Wasn't there a rather early falling out between The Torch and Professor Phineas T. Horton... and wasn't the public less adulated in the Torch's earliest days??To have him out dating, -- dressed in tux and tie, and so accepted and treated like a celebrity--with women declaring their love for him... seemed so wrong in tone for his early days.It seemed like this story was written by someone who doesn't have a clue about The Torch's earliest days.There wasn't a time where this story COULD have taken place, was there.???And the cover was very good... but The Torch looks more "robotic" than Android.Overall, ... it just SEEMED wrong.!!Personally, it was a big disappointment to me.

John_Holstein
John_Holstein

Instead of this story we could have gotten a HUMAN TORCH & JACK FROST team-up against Imperial Japanese Agents the FIRE-GOD[All-Winners Comics#11(win/1943-1944)Captain America story] & the WHITE MONSTER[ http://www.atlastales.com/sI/730 ][Complete Comics#2(win/1944-1945)Young Allies story]----Perhaps JACK FROST and the WHITE MONSTER are related to the ICE-MONSTER[ http://www.atlastales.com/sI/1367 ],the KING OF THE GLACIER MEN[ http://www.atlastales.com/sI/1405 ] and the ICE-CREATURES[ http://www.atlastales.com/sI/1402 ]---plus they both maybe faces in the crowd.Contrary to what was speculated in CAPTAIN AMERICA#384(4/1991) JACK FROST is NOT A DWARF FROST GIANT---lack of SUPER-STRENGTH is the PROOF of that( LOKI is a DWARF-GIANT and he has SUPER-STRENGTH ).SNOWBALL[Human Torch#21(win/1945)Human Torch story---if he/she doesn't have powers give him/her ICE-POWERS]. Or we could have had a HUMAN TORCH AND TORO battle against the GREEN FLAMES[Marvel Mystery Comics#4(2/1940)Human Torch story---2 of the GREEN FLAMES could have gained the ability to FLAME-ON in GREEN FLAMES],FIRE-GOD( see above ),FIRE-MONSTERS[Marvel Mystery Comics#14(12/1940),15(1/1941)Human Torch story vs. CULFLAM],VOLCAN/SUB-EARTH MAN[Mystic Comics#5(4/1941)Sub-Earth Man story vs. Bob Roland],FLAMING HATE[Marvel Mystery Comics#53(3/1944)Miss America story],FIREBRAND[Sub-Mariner Comics#25(4/1948)Sub-Mariner & Namora story],the BRAIN[Marvel Mystery Comics#18(4/1941)Human Torch story---has a "Human Torch-Suit" which makes him the Golden Age version of the Fantastic Four villain the Wizard ] and "HUMAN TORCH" & "TORO" imposters[Captain America Comics#63(7/1947)Human Torch story--2 of ASBESTOS LADY's henchmen who wore "Human Torch-Suits"].

John_Holstein
John_Holstein

Mr.Snyder your HUMAN TORCH story was touching but you MESSED IT UP BY MAKING THE Original HUMAN TORCH a ROBOT instead of an ANDROID which is what he is[ http://www.marvel.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=154523 ].Plus you got PROFESSOR ALBERT HORTON[Marvel Mystery Comics#92(6/1949)first name ALBERT given ]'s name WRONG.If PHINEAS THOMAS HORTON exist he is PROFESSOR ALBERT HORTON's brother and father of DORIS HORTON( niece of Albert Horton )[Marvel Mystery Comics#39(1/1943)Human Torch story---she appears with ALBERT HORTON( her uncle )].

ssnyder1835
ssnyder1835

hey guys - really hope you like the story. tried hard to make it strong. let me know! scott

davesharon
davesharon

Looks like manga art. Love the cover art; but the inside artwork is kind of cartoony.

tugrul.sahin
tugrul.sahin

I'm in awe! The interior art is so clean, but very nice. I want it!

SPNWareZ
SPNWareZ

The cover art looks awesome