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October 8, 2010

Retro-Read #27 Spider-Man/Human Torch

Filed under: Retro-Read — Doorman @ 7:38 am

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Number of Issues: 5
First Issue: March 2005 ($2.99)
Last Issue: July 2005 ($2.99)
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Ty Templeton

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Over the years, Spider-Man and the Human Torch have been enemies, rivals and friends. This series is a tribute to their ongoing relationship as it’s progressed through the years. Each issue is a one-and-done story that is told in a different Marvel Era and has no affect on the others. In the first issue (which takes place in the Silver Age), Johnny Storm hires Peter Parker to take pictures of him for the newspaper to increase his PR. But, when he gets captured by Doctor Doom, it’s up to Spidey to bail him out. Issue two takes place on the border between the Silver Age and the Bronze Age. Spidey & Torch decide to switch places for a day. Each figures that he can do the other’s job better. So, Spidey gets sucked into an exploration of a new dimension with the Fantastic Four …. meanwhile, the Torch has to stop Kraven the Hunter from releasing a new drug onto the streets.

In the third issue (the Bronze Age story), the Red Ghost tries to steal the Spider-Mobile from Spider-Man and the Human Torch. Years later (in the Copper Age story), the Black Cat lures Johnny Storm on a heist to steal something from the Wakandan history exhibit. Spidey and the Black Panther get involved for some fun hero vs hero action. And finally, in the last issue (the Modern Age story) the Human Torch learns Spider-Man’s true identity. This reveal allows for some cool story-telling to be seen for the first time as both heroes are able to open up completely and compare their lives with each other.

The Bad: This is one of the rare instances where the cover art is worse than the interior art.

The Good: Dan Slott continues to show off his familiarity with Marvel continuity by incorporating great dialogue that references it (much to the delight of long-time Marvel fans, like myself). He includes some fun references to those Hostess fruit pies ads and also adds in a neat cameo by Dan Ketch as a young kid. Templeton’s attention to details was well-researched and pays off in his costume designs for each era (although there’s one shot of Black Panther that looks a little too modern for the story’s point in time).

The Verdict: Wow! What a fun read this was. It reveals the true fondness that Slott (and thousands of fans, with him) has for these characters and the stories that have been created for them over the past four decades. It’s clear that these are comics created by true fans of the characters and that lends an important hand in creating great comics. Each issue wonderfully captures the era it takes place in and can be enjoyed independently of the others but as a whole, it creates a wonderful look at the relationship between Spider-Man and the Human Torch as it’s evolved over the years.

On Ebay: Spider-Man | Human Torch | Dan Slott | Ty Templeton

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