Thursday, July 8, 2010

Marvel History Post 26: Strange Tales # 103

Issue: Strange Tales # 103 Writer: Stan Lee/Larry Lieber Artist: Jack Kirby Publication Date: December 1962 Brief Summary: A Mr. Bentley is trying to build homes on top of a swamp, and it's not going very well. An old man tells him it's because of the swamp demons. No, not this guy! Houses keep sinking, and Torch goes to investigate. He waits at night, and sees the old man and some alien looking creatures use a ray on the ground to turn it soft. Torch follows them, and the old man turns out to be one of the aliens. The alien has a gun which extinguishes the Torch's flame, and then the alien transports him to the fifth dimension. The aliens explain that they have been planning to conquer our world, and have been keeping humans away from the gateway between the two worlds in the swamp. They trap Johnny in a tub of water, but a pretty alien girl comes to rescue him. She and some of the aliens are opposed to the plans to invade earth. Torch agrees to help them. First up, they destroy the aliens' arsenal. Well, not all of it. The alien leader Zemu (no, he's not a Disney character...oh wait, actually he is) attacks with his tank corps, which Torch defeats. Torch then writes a message in the sky for the people to unite against tyranny and oppression and become communis...whoops, too far. Anywho, Zemu is defeated, and the people of the fifth dimension vow not to invade Earth. Torch returns home with visions of alien girls dancing in his head. Commentary: One of Stan's frequent ploys as a writer is to have a seemingly benevolent figure, or someone who is painted as the victim, actually be the villain. We saw this in Journey into Mystery with the Protector, and we see it in this issue with the old man becoming one of the aliens. There has been a lot more of an examination of Torch's powers so far in the MU than those of the Invisible Girl. An exploration of her abilities, which are the most powerful in the group, will come later. Quick Hits:
  • The alien love interest for the Torch is named Valeria. We may see that name again at some point.
Favorite Panel: The answer is Stan Lee. Next: Tales to Astonish # 38