Strange Tales #125: Flamin' 'Eck 54
Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee
Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers
Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman
Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen
I feel that the repeated dunking and denying Johnny of his powers through wetness (both literal and metaphorical) shows the problem with having Namor as the antagonist in a flame-powered character's solo strip. If Strange Tales hadn't evolved into having The Thing as a permanent guest star, it's hard to imagine how the Human Torch could have achieved anything in this story. Unfortunately, Marvel hadn't yet progressed to the point where they could willingly lampshade Johnny's uselessness, so even with Ben Grimm around to carry the action, everything's still played depressingly straight.
I need to talk about Johnny's power usage, however, as it's one of the most brutal and disturbing examples of what the Human Torch could (but almost always chooses not to) do. Johnny uses his heat to directly burn Namor's shoulders, shrugging off as 'king-size sunburn' what is actually a nasty contact burn. I'm rather glad this is an aberration, rather than the start of something regular.
Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm