Even though the guy in the Spider-Suit these days isn’t actually Peter Parker (it is Dock Ock inhabiting Peter’s body, a storyline that is so abhorrent to us that we still have a hard time discussing it) it really is only fair (if only to us) that we spend some time remembering better days, and there is no better collection of stories that does that than the hard cover collection Spider-Man & the Human Torch. This collection tells the story of the decades-long friendship between Peter “Spider-Man” Parker, and Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm, as related in a five-issue limited series from 2009. Two heroes, from widely different backgrounds: One, a lone superhero shunned by the media and sometimes wanted by the police and the second a celebrity member of the world-famous Fantastic Four. Yet, so close was the bond of friendship to become between these two men that eventually they trusted each other with their most guarded secrets and their families have also become intertwined. There has been no more enduring friendship in all of Marvel Comics.
Collected in this volume is the five-issue story of an unlikely pair of teens who — after each becoming imbued with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men (and occasionally clashing with each other) wound up becoming the very best of friends. Interestingly enough, other than their young age, and their membership in the superheroic community, these two couldn’t be further apart. One is a self-effacing, often reviled, loner, driven by guilt, and motivated by his profound sense of responsibility, while the other is a devilishly good-looking, hot-headed, chick magnet. Almost against their will, these two teens find themselves thrust together over and over. The reserved egg-head and science nerd who was more at home with test tubes and beakers than with other people, and the impulsive grease monkey who lived for fast cars and faster women eventually discovered that they had more in common with each other then they could have possibly believed. Both had an overriding sense of duty, and an absolute commitment to the safety of others.
Still, in spite of the fact that they were both among the first wave of Marvel heroes; it was clear from the onset that they were completely different characters. Spider-Man legend grew to become the corporate icon for the entire line, while The Human Torch was a member of Marvel’s first family of heroes. Still, they were so completely from opposite sides of the tracks that their adventures took them in entirely different directions. The Human Torch traveled from Earth to farthest reaches of the stars to universes in different dimensions, while Spider-Man mixed it up with street thugs and mobsters in the back alleys and on the mean streets of Manhattan.
And yet, somehow these two young men wound up becoming the very best of friends. Peter Parker and Johnny Storm: a pair of super powered teens in a world of adult costumed heroes and villains. From their first orchestrated altercation at the Baxter Building, to their landmark rendezvous on top of the Statue of Liberty down though the years to the present day; their friendship grew stronger and deeper until they have become more than friendly rivals, closer than brothers, and truly members of each other’s families.
Spider-Man and the Human Torch is written by Dan Slott, penciled by Ty Templeton and inked by Nelson, Tom Palmer, Drew, Geraci, and Greg Adams. Currently the regular writer on The Amazing Spider-Man, Slott began writing for such varied Marvel titles as Mighty Mouse, Original Ghost Rider, Venom: Sinner Takes All and Doc Samson. Templeton began his career in the mid-1980s with his first original comic series Stig’s Inferno, which ran for 8 issues through Vortex and Eclipse Comics.
What truly makes this combined tale work is that it weaves its way through previously-established Marvel Continuity, while telling a completely original story in such a way that both long-time fans of these two heroes as well as newcomers to the Marvel Univers can equally thrill to their exploits. Follow this pair of mismatched teens through the years – from the dawn of the Silver Age of Marvel Comics when they were both high school students to present day. Watch as their friendship evolves through the years, from their adventures in the Negative Zone to hooking up at the Coffee Bean; from girlfriends Dorrie Evans and Betty Brant to Crystal from the Inhuman Royal Family and Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Peter’s supermodel then-wife. The story runs the gamut from their initial clandestine meetings on the top of the Statue of the Liberty to the “real” reason that Paste-Pot Pete changed his name to The Trapster, it’s all here!
Spider-Man and the Human Torch is a trade paperback that collects Spider-Man/Human Torch #1-5, written by Dan Slott and illustrated by Ty Templeton.
Robert J. Sodaro has been writing articles and reviews for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular literature and book reviews.