The Saturday Morning Soapbox Revisited | September 7, 2019

This past week, I spent getting back to publishing work instead of legal affairs that consumed all of my time the previous two weeks.

I find that everything requires my full attention nowadays and so I switch from one style or application of writing to another whenever I feel burned by one or the other. Taking breaks from writing to do more varieties of writing. Seems obsessive. Sure is.

I can think of a whole pile of worse that I could get into right now I’m sure. It could always be worse. In this weeks pick, Stan talks about some things that could be and sometimes are worse. He handles things with class and grace, the way we would expect of him.

When I opened the old time machine a very special favourite of mine leapt out at me. I wondered why it hadn’t struck me before.

Perhaps I hadn’t got into “H” in the first Marvel box on the rack.

 

 

Maybe things always happen for a reason.

 

What about a confused soul, hatched from the nothingness…

Something, someone; built on the dreams and aspirations and from the mind of a brilliant and feeble human?

It could be worse for one like that, to be thrown into a world that is alien and unknown. Forced into a world where the language, the shapes, the forms and people all seem mysterious, strange and incomprehensible.

It would be a very scary place I would imagine for a solitary soul to be placed – wrenched into – a situation, and a life so painfully brutal and unforgiving; but also one that reflects only fear and mistrust but misunderstands and even hates you.

1939 gave us the first glimpse of such an artificial life form, thrown into the modern world; in comic books.

 

Timely Comics turned out The Human Torch.

Jimmy Hamond was an artificially created being, endowed with amazing powers. The androids’ composition makes for violent reaction when exposed to oxygen from the atmosphere. As I re-read this rendition of the origins and dug around for more info I found that from the beginning, The Torch had all the qualities we recognize in almost all “Super Heroes” right from the start, from the moment of his creation and during his very first appearances. 

As I flipped through this old favourite of mine, I was prompted to go to google and read more about the obscure origins of this first of the true ‘Super‘ heroes.

I hadn’t really looked into the history of the character very deeply before. 

Everything happens for a reason as I was saying before, and of course in the middle of my dig on the Torch, I find that he was the perfect toon, with the perfect backstory for the coming of the age of the “Super Hero”.

He battled another early super being – Sub-Mariner– to the delight and fascination of early comic book readers everywhere.

As I dug deeper I learned that he was the Marvel workhorse of crossover and special appearances.

The Human Torch – ‘Jim Hamond’ – helped introduce more heroes and villains to readers than just about any other comic book toon. He was the king of the crossovers for nearly 60 years.

Why wasn’t he very popular on his own?

Not many long running series were ever done on the character even though he appears time and time again after his re-introduction with the FF in the 60’s.

I’m not sure in any case of course, but when this four part mini came out in 1990, I snapped it right up.

This mag hasn’t been opened since I brought it home and read it that day.

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t remember the book being so vibrant and colorful. For me, it is a glimpse of the artists in that mainstream back there, still holding on, displaying and mimicking the old masters, just before comic books changed forever. 

The last of the classically inspired greats were passing their prime and the industry would soon pass into new directions, with more vibrant and spectacular personalities and exposure. This was the strange quiet before the coming of the storm.

This four part Human Torch series is a homage of sorts and it was poised on the edge of a new beginning, a frightening time for some to be sure.

 It reminded me of a poem I like by Robert Browning – ‘The Darkling Trush’.

It seems no matter the calamity; others, always try to find some kind of foundation out of the destruction and misery, something to hold on to.

Some, always keep looking for a tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

This is hero stuff isn’t it?

And so the story of Jim Hamond has always been a story of another tomorrow, of a transformation of monumental transitions.

Age to age.

Family to family.

Crisis to crisis.

He’s been there all along in different forms, following the times and shaping them as he passes through.  

I’ll take each issue over the next few weeks and discuss some of the different crossovers, shifts in theme, tone and approach to this character.

I’ve been working on “crossover” stuff myself for our Indie-Sphere. I’ve written and scripted a few books that relate to and fit seamlessly into some of the more popular indie titles that many of you know out there.

I haven’t written the main characters mind you, although it would be easy enough for them to appear. I’ve written satellite protagonists and antagonists around some of the most interesting IPs’ out there with some minor villains and miscreants to fill out the worlds I find out there.

It is a great creative exercise to delve into someone else’s lore and try and pay very close attention to keep within the lines. Having those boundaries for me aren’t constrictive or controlling, their comforting and reassuring when approaching the writing of someone else’s material.

It is empowering to know that some questions have been answered in a ready made world.

So I have been excising some creative energies playing and working on these types of ideas and materials for fun and to try to get to know the creators and their materials a little better at the same time. 

I’ll leave you with an old advert from the issue, some old farts out there will remember this old 8-bit gem.

See you next week with The Human Torch #2. Enjoy!!!

 

Mike Rogers

Cryo-ed GenXer. Collector of Edwardian era books and histories. Copper and Dark Age comic collector. Confused and irritated resident of the 21st Century madhouse. Resident observer and collaborator on Indie-Sphere happenings. Need some help on a project or perhaps some exposure here ? DM @60Recce