Flamin' 'Eck

Strange Tales #127: Flamin' 'Eck 60

 Strange Tales #127, page 11, panel 1

Strange Tales #127, page 11, panel 1

Strange Tales #127: Flamin' 'Eck 60

Written by the Overlord of Originality… Stan Lee

Illustrated by the Archduke of Action… Dick Ayers

Inked by the High Priest of Highlights… Paul Reinman

Lettered by the Lama of Lexicography… Art Simek

Given that the Mystery Villain is Reed Richards, it's clear that by allowing himself to be captured by Johnny's flaming cage, he's just humouring his young brother-in-law-to-be. Especially as he doesn't immediately walk through the non-bars of the non-cage and continue the fight.

Still, at least this panel marks our last excerpt from this terrible, terrible comic.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #127 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 59

 Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33, page 10, panels 3-4

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 59

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

I feel like the ridiculousness of Johnny being able to flame on underwater has already been covered, so let's give a quick examination to his activities, and answer the burning question (pun intended): Can you make steam underwater? I looked at three pages of google search results, and the answers were inconclusive. Although I do have some good recommendations for subaquatic computer games available on an online game distribution platform.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 58

 Fantastic Four #33, page 7, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33, page 7, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

The conceit of this issue has the Fantastic Four battling to save Namor and Atlantis from invasion by Attuma, but without Namor ever knowing that he had assistance. To save time getting the team underwater, and to do so without giving them lots of breathing equipment, the creators come up with an aerosol spray that allows them to breathe underwater. But breathing is one thing - what about Johnny's flaming powers?

Thankfully, Reed's oxo-spray also resolves this. Thanks to the extra oxygen which has permeated his skin (and definitely not been used in any metabolistic reactions), Johnny can now flame on underwater (and extra-flame on out of water). As the title of this trope states, flamin' 'eck.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir! 

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 57

 Fantastic Four #33, page 2, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33, page 2, panel 4

Fantastic Four #33: Flamin' 'Eck 57

Script: Smilin' Stan Lee

Art: Jolly Jack Kirby

Inks: Chucklin' Chic Stone

Lettering: Amiable Art Simek

Normally, I'm calling Johnny out for unlikely or downright stupid uses of his flame powers. Today, I'm crediting Johnny with using some intelligence. Thankfully, this is Fantastic Four issue - I point blank refuse to credit Strange Tales Johnny with any intelligence whatsoever.

Having been tasked with scouting the New York coastline for unusual marine activity - a job resulting from the discovery of an unknown underwater creature from the deepest part of the ocean, which makes me think that this is less 'critical reconnaissance' and more 'keep the boy busy' - Johnny notes that it's getting dark, and sets up some flares to help him search. It's not showy, it's grounded in as much realism as you can expect from 1960s Marvel, and it's good.

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #33 on our thirty-seventh episode: Yes, Mr Lister, Sir!

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flamin' 'Eck 56

 Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 15, panels 1-2

Amazing Spider-Man #18, page 15, panels 1-2

Amazing Spider-Man #18: Flamin' 'Eck 56

Written by Stan Lee, Author of The Fantastic Four

Illustrated by Steve Ditko, Illustrator of Dr. Strange

Lettered by Sam Rosen, Letterer of… Patsy Walker?!!

I can give a pass to Johnny using his flame to create a giant '4' logo above the centre of New York to summon the nearby members of the team. I'm a lot less likely to do the same for an entire message, written in the sky above the centre of New York, that can be read all the way out in Forest Hills.

Traditional skywriting letters are approximately 3000 feet tall, and last for no more than a couple of minutes. These letters are approximately two feet tall, and no indication is given as to how long they last. Assuming that they behave similarly to their smokey counterparts, then it's very lucky that Peter wasn't somewhere out of sight of the sky for those couple of minutes. Like, say the little Spider-Boy's room. And let's not get into how great Parker's eyesight is, being able to clearly read these letters from  a distance of about 10 miles...

Check out our coverage of Amazing Spider-Man #18 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Fantastic Four #32: Flamin' 'Eck 55

 Fantastic Four #32, page 11, panel 6

Fantastic Four #32, page 11, panel 6

Fantastic Four #31: Flamin' 'Eck 55

Story by: Stan Lee (Who has never been more dramatic!)

Illustrations by: Jack Kirby (Who has never been more thrilling!)

Inking by: Chic Stone (Who has never been more realistic!)

Lettering by: S. Rosen (Who has never been more than an hour late!!)

When a lot of plot needs to happen, there often isn't room for tropes to make an appearance. In the intervening pages, a mysterious figure has arrived from space, taken the place of the incarcerated Franklin Storm (sending him to outer space for safe-keeping), broken free from prison, assumed the identity of the Invincible Man, and started attacking downtown New York.

How could this villain possibly be stopped? With giant flaming staves, that's how! Staves! Made of fire! With totally physical properties that prevent movement! For sure!

Check out our coverage of Fantastic Four #32 on our thirty-sixth episode: John Byrne Quits Comics

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' Eck 54

 Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 4

Strange Tales #125, page 11, panel 4

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

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' 'Eck 53

 Strange Tales #125, page 8, panel 4

Strange Tales #125, page 8, panel 4

Strange Tales #125: Flamin' 'Eck 53

Written by Word-Slingin' Stan Lee

Drawn by Picture-Sketchin' Dick Ayers

Inked by Ink-Splatterin' Paul Reinman

Lettered by Pen-Pushin' S. Rosen

So, Johnny's flame powers are so weak that he cannot dry his uniform without assistance from the sun. At the same time, his flame is so strong that it can cause intense temperature change through dozens of feet of sea water, disintegrating the sea kelp that the Thing had been trapped within, and forcing Namor to retreat? 

I hate to say that this book has all the hallmarks of a rushed, space-filler, but it's clearly that nobody was paying a huge amount of attention to it before or after it hit the stands...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #125 on our thirty-fifth episode: House of the Fallen Storm

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck #52

 Strange Tales #124, page 13, panel 3

Strange Tales #124, page 13, panel 3

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck #52

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

And... we're back. After nearly a full year, in which we've launched a Patreon, set up a new website, started regular comic reviews, and continued on our mission to cover every Fantastic Four comic ever printed, the Fantastic Four tropes blog (formerly the Fantastic Flame On) is back. A huge thanks to every Patreon supporter who helped us get to our milestone goal that included the return of the blog.

We'll be producing new content three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Every now and again, we'll mix things up with the continuing Guardians of the Galaxy reviews, and there'll be some special posts next week to coincide with our 200th episode. But these aside, it's time to get back to the mission of covering every Flame On, and more.

We were in the middle of Strange Tales #124, in which the Human Torch and The Thing found themselves battling Paste-Pot Pete. As the story continued, the two inevitably found themselves defeated and entrapped by the superior abilities of paste. With paste outmanoeuvring them at every turn, there can only be one way to cancel out the all-conquering paste.

Yes, the only way that the clearly unbeatable paste can be beaten is with Johnny creating a a flaming arrowhead and hurling it at Paste-Pot Pete's paste tube, denying him his fight-winning paste. Well, hurrah and huzzah for Johnny's improbable flame powers!

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck 51

Strange Tales #124, page 10, panel 2
Strange Tales #124, page 10, panel 2

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck 51

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

Ah, the infamous panel where Johnny was possessed by the Phoenix Force 13 years before its creation.

Or...

The infamous panel where Johnny inadvertently proves and disproves the theories regarding conservation of energy. Ignoring the fact that the kinetic motion of the car's engine provides the energy to recharge the battery which is used to start the car itself, Johnny decides that he can expend his flame whilst creating new flame energy to store within him to use in the future. He's literally creating energy out of nothing.

Sometimes, Stan's pseudo-science hits the right level of believability. Other times, it's pure crap.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck 50

Strange Tales #124, page 3, panel 1
Strange Tales #124, page 3, panel 1

Strange Tales #124: Flamin' 'Eck 50

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

As we make our way through the final 10-or-so issues of Johnny Storm's solo adventures in Strange Tales, we're going to see logic (not a quality seen in abundance, admittedly) become scarcer and scarcer. Here's a good example of a panel which should never have been drawn, and which should have been picked up by anyone involved in the creative process from the penciling onwards.

Having had half of his house destroyed by The Thing's refusal to use the front door, Johnny then decides to some on-the-spot spot-welding to repair the damage. So, he uses his intense heat and flame to repair his very obviously wooden house.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #124: Property Damage 31 / Flamin' 'Eck 49

Strange Tales 124, page 1, panel 4
Strange Tales 124, page 1, panel 4

Strange Tales #124: Property Damage 31 / Flamin' 'Eck 49

Written by: Smilin' Stan Lee

Illustrated by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Inked by: Peerless P. Reinman

Lettered by: Adorable Art Simek

Our streak of The Thing destroying everything in his wake continues as we return to our favourite Silver Age punching bag, Strange Tales. This opening sequence sees Ben decide to give Johnny a wake-up call by... er... lifting a side of his house off its foundations, presumably destroying the structural stability of the house. Judging by the way that rear wall doesn't change angle, there has to be a massive gaping crack somewhere along the side of the house as well. As Andy most likely said at the time, this makes no sense. And it still doesn't.

We've also got yet another flaming lasso, easily my least-favourite thing in the entirety of Strange Tales (and beyond, as evidenced by its appearance in the comic covered on this week's episode). At least this is 1964, and we can pretty much guarantee that the walls are lined with asbestos, explaining why Johnny can throw his flame around in such a cavalier fashion.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #124 on our thirty-third episode: Bad Horse, Bad Horse, with special guest host David Walker

Strange Tales #123: Flame On 69 / Flamin' 'Eck 48

Strange Tales #123, page 13, panels 4-6
Strange Tales #123, page 13, panels 4-6

Strange Tales #123: Flame On 69 / Flamin' 'Eck 48

Written by: Stan Lee ('Nuff Said)

Illustrated by: Carl Burgos (Who was first to draw The Torch, way back in the Golden Age of Comics)

Inked by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Smilin' Sam Rosen

Our look at the debut of The Beetle concludes here. Johnny gets a 'Flame On' so underwhelming that I wonder if anyone involved in that panel remembered that this was a catchphrase. Sam Rosen gets some credit for using a heavier brush stroke for these words, but it barely stands out at all.

More interesting is the unusual use of flame that comes from this, as Johnny creates a ring of fire where the Beetle is burrowing away. The wheel excavates the area, exposing the villain. I'm calling it our because earlier in the story, the Beetle had no problem flying or using the asbestos on his armour to withstand the heat. Here, because there's only one page of story left, he just decides to give up and submit to the teen hero.

Can you imagine how ineffective Zemo's Thunderbolts would have been if he'd have recruited this version of The Beetle?

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #123 on our thirty-second episode: Now With Genuine People Personalities

Strange Tales #123: Flamin' 'Eck 47

Strange Tales #123, page 8, panel 7
Strange Tales #123, page 8, panel 7

Fantasticast Four #29: Flamin' 'Eck 47

Written by: Stan Lee ('Nuff Said)

Illustrated by: Carl Burgos (Who was first to draw The Torch, way back in the Golden Age of Comics)

Inked by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Smilin' Sam Rosen

We're currently recording episodes covering Fantastic Four comics from 1972. Strange Tales is long-gone, and despite the wildly inconsistent quality of Stan Lee's writing during his brief return to the title, a lot of the tropes from the early days of the Fantastic Four are no longer relevant. Whilst I may miss the ridiculous usage of asbestos, I really don't miss the implausible uses of Johnny's powers.

Thankfully nothing in the Air Walker saga is as insane as Johnny deciding to wrap The Beetle in a blanket made of fire to heat him up as opposed to, say, just hurling fire at him. Nice to see that the colouring appears to have been done in felt-tip as well...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #123 on our thirty-second episode: Now With Genuine

We are eligible for nomination in the first UK Podcasters Award, in the Games & Hobbies category. Across the month of July, you can visit http://ukpodcasters.com/directory/podcast/the-fantasticast/ and click the nominate button. You can nominate us once per day between now and the end of the month, and we would be very grateful if you would be able to do this.

Strange Tales #123: Flamin' 'Eck 46

Strange Tales #123, page 6, panel 3
Strange Tales #123, page 6, panel 3

strange tales #123: flamin' 'eck 46

Written by: Stan Lee ('Nuff Said)

Illustrated by: Carl Burgos (Who was first to draw The Torch, way back in the Golden Age of Comics)

Inked by: Darlin' Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Smilin' Sam Rosen

It was a bit hard to work out where this one was going. The Beetle decides to defend himself against the Thing's wall-based attack by picking up a pot of hot soup, which was casually simmering away, and hurling it at Ben. Johnny decides to step in and, instead of evaporating the soup with his flame, he instead chooses to absorb the heat from the water, making it cold.

It's an unusual choice, and depicted poorly by Burgos. Is that soup, or is it lava? Is it heading for Johnny, to extinguish his flame, or to Ben, to presumably burn him? Either way, battling against a vat of Campbell's Condensed hardly makes for one of the most riveting Human Torch battles.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #123 on our thirty-second episode: Now With Genuine People Personalities

We are eligible for nomination in the first UK Podcasters Award, in the Games & Hobbies category. Across the month of July, you can visit http://ukpodcasters.com/directory/podcast/the-fantasticast/ and click the nominate button. You can nominate us once per day between now and the end of the month, and we would be very grateful if you would be able to do this.

Strange Tales #122: Flamin' 'Eck 45

Strange Tales 122 Flamin' 'Eck 44
Strange Tales 122 Flamin' 'Eck 44

Strange Tales #122: Flamin' 'Eck 45

Rapidly written by Stan Lee

Speedily sketched by Dick Ayers

Instantly inked by Geo. Bell

Lazily lettered by S. Rosen

As I'm going through this story, I'm finding that I have absolutely no recollection of it. I don't remember the asbestos-lined caravan. I have no memory of the special shower which dries Johnny out by blasting him with steam. This story feels completely new to me.

Sadly, this also means that I don't remember this moment where Johnny uses an asbestos rope - the same rope which previously caused his flame to die out instantly - to grapple one of his fireballs and... er... hurl it at one of the Terrible Trio. Quite why he needs to do this when he's previously been able to control his fireballs with an unlikely degree of accuracy is truly beyond me.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #122 on our thirty-first episode: Just Three Of The Guys, with special guest-host Shawn Engel.

Strange Tales #121: Flamin' 'Eck 44

Strange Tales #121, page 13, panel 3
Strange Tales #121, page 13, panel 3

strange tales #121: flamin' 'eck 44

Written in the sensational style of Stan Lee

Drawn in the marvellous manner of Dick Ayers

Lettered by: Art Simek

For me, one of the best things about this period of Strange Tales is that the stories are so bland, there's very little for me to pull out and post. At least under the terms of this blog, otherwise the panel where Johnny, under attack from acorns, is extinguished whilst crying 'Too many of them! Covered in dew! So moist!' would be a definite contender.

So, we instead get this panel from later on in the story where Johnny decides to call for the police, not the Fantastic Four, by using the 'Four' signal. He's somehow managed to alter his flame so that instead of cracking the glass of the conservatory and setting fire to the building, it passes harmlessly through the roof and into the sky. I have no idea how he achieved this...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #121 on our thirtieth episode: Horny Namor

Strange Tales #120: Flamin' Eck 43

Strange Tales #120, page 12, panel 7
Strange Tales #120, page 12, panel 7

strange tales #120: flamin' 'eck 43

Deftly Written by: Stan Lee

Dazzlingly Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Dramatically Inked by: Dick Ayers

Distinctively Lettered by: S. Rosen

I'd attempt to recap the plot of this issue, but it's one of the most tedious of the Human Torch solo strips, so I won't bother. Instead, things have progressed to the point where Johnny feels that the Barracuda and his men are such lame villains that he can break out the flaming lasso and attempt to restrain them this way. Rather surprisingly, this works, although the lasso doesn't tighten, instead forming a floating wing at waist-height that the several of the thugs feel restrained by.

If I'd have known just how many lassos there would be in these books when I started this blog two years ago, I'd have given them their own category...

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #120 on our twenty-eighth episode: Bailey's Iceman Podcast with special guest-host Michael Bailey

Strange Tales #120: Flamin' 'Eck 42

Strange Tales #120, page 9, panel 9
Strange Tales #120, page 9, panel 9

strange tales #120: flamin' 'eck 42

Deftly Written by: Stan Lee

Dazzlingly Drawn by: Jack Kirby

Dramatically Inked by: Dick Ayers

Distinctively Lettered by: S. Rosen

We're back to Strange Tales, as Jack Kirby draws his final Human Torch solo strip. It's not a great story, being notable for introducing the third-rate Sub-Mariner villain Barracuda, and teaming up the Human Torch with Iceman from the X-Men. If you've read the pre-Crisis story featuring the first meeting of Batman and Superman (the one on the cruise ship, brilliantly re-told in Superman/Batman Annual #1, with extra-added Deathstroke and Deadpool), then the basics of this issue will be very familiar.

Of course, neither Superman nor Batman attempted to defeat the villain by hurling fireballs seemingly at random towards the wooden deck they were standing on, being unable to generate fire from their bodies, and having a health respect for the flammability of wood. Even with Iceman on hand to extinguish any stray flames, it seems like an incredibly stupid thing for Johnny to do.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #120 on our twenty-eighth episode: Bailey's Iceman Podcast with special guest-host Michael Bailey

Strange Tales #118: Flamin' 'Eck 41

Strange Tales #118, page 13, panel 1
Strange Tales #118, page 13, panel 1

strange tales #118: Flamin' 'Eck 41

Story: Stan Lee

Art: Dick Ayers

Lettering: S. Rosen

With the Wizard making his escape into the skies, Johnny decides to use a flame lasso to try to catch him. We'll leave aside the physical logistics of using a lasso comprised of flame, and instead look at the logistics of using a lasso in this situation. Based on the relative size of the Wizard, he must be at least a quarter of a mile away from Johnny. Even if Johnny had the skill to successfully land a lasso, could he do so over such a distance?

Well, of course the plan fails - he misses, and the Wizard floats helplessly into the sky, where he'll suffer a horrific Silver Age death. Meaning that we'll assume he dies but find out in a flashback in a different title the unusual coincidences that led to his survival.

Check out our coverage of Strange Tales #118 on our twenty-fourth episode: An Enfant Terrible Is Not Literally A Terrible Infant