Issue: Strange Tales # 121
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Dick Ayers 1st story & Steve Ditko 2nd
Publication Date: June 1964
Stan's calling in Plantman from the bullpen here (hey, it's baseball playoffs time, what do you want from me?). At this point he's developed a rogue's gallery for all of his primary players except Daredevil (who's only had two appearances at this point), so it's easy for him to rotate villains into the stories.
Plantman's origin is retold for those unfamiliar with his initial appearance.
Torch tells the rest of the Fan 4 that he wants to tackle the villain by himself, and the others agree. While I realize the reason Stan does this from a storytelling perspective (Torch is his star, and he should be taking center stage in this mag), I question the logic behind allowing this from a tactical standpoint. However, the stakes seem lower in the early Marvel Universe, and the threat of death seems less likely (Torch? Dying? Never!). So, maybe it's not such a big deal. Something to keep an eye on, though. And, Thing does provide a valuable assist in this issue by protecting Torch's girlfriend.
In the backup story, Dr. Strange tussles with Baron Mordo once again.
Plantman gets a new costume. Yes, this is him trying to look more serious.
Next: Tales of Suspense # 54