One may think that when buying a book called 'the Torch' and marketed as a story about the original, android Human Torch, they might get a story about said Torch. What we have instead here is a book about Thomas Raymond, the Human Torch's side kick. Described as a mutant in the modern day, Thomas had powers identical to his heroic chaperone, which sort of seems to be what this tale is about.
You see, it picks up right after the really lackluster Avengers / Invaders twelve-part limited series that wrapped up a few months ago, where Thomas was resurrected thanks to the current Captain America's momentary use of the Cosmic Cube. It's sort of complicated, and involves not only time travel but reality alteration and the kind of blah-blah-blah science that sometimes makes comics annoying to read.
At least when heaped on top of each other in layers.
Anyway, we see Thomas, who died in the early days of the modern Marvel Universe, trying to adjust to the fact that he's not dead. He sees that his wife has married someone else (which is odd, since she was recently dating the original Human Torch before his own untimely death recently), and he can't seem to get a job. He definitely doesn't seem inclined to become a hero once again, seeing how they operate on television.
Which sort of puts another wrinkle on this series. For those of you who are 'continuity' minded, this story takes place during the 'Dark Reign' portion of Marvel Time, even though it immediately follows a series that took place well before the 'Secret Invasion' era. One supposes this book may be following a bit after Thomas' surprise resurrection, but it doesn't seem to in the narrative so it's a bit jarring.
Or maybe this Examiner is nerding out on the small details too much.
Either way, Thomas gets the bright idea to do something about the guy who murdered him, the Mad Thinker. You might thinking the Mad Thinker, he's some kind of genius, right? Well he is. Of course, there's that whole 'Mad' part to think about too, which is quite accurate. So as you can guess, when Thomas comes a calling on the Mad Thinker's new job site, the villain has several failsafes in mind to deal with would-be threats.
And he does. Knocking Thomas out, the Mad Thinker then does a biopsy of the poor, confused kid, and realizes that he has the same, fire-generating artificial cells in his body that the original Human Torch had. Which was weird, because Thomas was a mutant, and shouldn't be having those cells in his body. Unless they were used to alter him some, perhaps messing around with how his mutant powers should've been?
It's all mad-sciencey goodness... and gives us the reason for the Mad Thinker's next move.
Though he'd been commissioned to build a weapon of mass destruction, the Thinker puts this on hold slightly in order to follow up on what he'd found inside Thomas Raymond's body. He collects several of his Advanced Idea Mechanics (or A.I.M.) minions to join him on a ghoulish mission, one to collect the remains of the original Human Torch (well, he did show up in the book, if on the last page, and quite dead).
How much of the Torch's body remains functional remains to be seen, however, for it has been used and abused over the last few years. After he died in the last issue of the New Invaders, parts of the Torch's body were harvested to produce a strange, immolating virus in the pages of Captain America. And now, he's been dug up yet again. You'd think they'd bury his body in secret somewhere, like they did with Captain America...
This book feels a little bit more cohesive than the Avengers / Invaders limited series that came out a bit back, even though it has the same plotter - Alex Ross. Now, that could be while Ross is plotting this book, it's being written proper by Mike Carey, a solid writer known for his work on X-Men Legacy. Of course, since they have four less issues to work with, that may be why things are moving along a bit faster.
The book itself is $3.99, and is being published as a joint operation of Marvel and Dynamite, which is odd but sort of works out (this series' predecessor did the same thing). So if you like either company's output in general, this should work for you. While the Marvels Project just seems more 'fun', this book is definitely a must-have if you're a fan of Marvel's oldest characters.