TITLE: Strange Tales Issue #116
YEAR: January 1964
COMPANY: Marvel Comics
Writer: Stan Lee
Drawn by Dick Ayers
Letterer: R. Holloway
Back in 1951, Marvel Comics would unveil its horror anthology, “Strange Tales”. While popular, because of the Comics Code which was established in 1954, the code prohibited graphic horror, so no vampires, zombies or monsters were allowed to be featured.
In 1962, the series would switch over to showcasing superheroes and the stories would be split into two stories of about 12-to-14 pages. And the first superhero to be prominently featured was the Fantastic Four’s Johnny Storm a.k.a. The Human Torch beginning with issue #101 and The Thing would become a co-star in issue #123.
But possibly the most significant hero introduced was in issue #110 as Dr. Strange by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, a character that was featured and readers demanded more Dr. Strange stories. And eventually, Human Torch and the Thing’s run on “Strange Tales” would end in issue #135 and Human Torch was replaced by Nick Fury.
With issue #116, the story begins with the Puppet Master wanting to destroy the Fantastic Four by having them fight each other.
The Puppet Master created a Human Torch puppet and using his telekinesis power, he is able to control Johnny Storm. And what Puppet Master does is having Johnny visiting Alicia Master, the Thing’s girlfriend (who also happens to be the stepdaughter of the Puppet Master) and start flirting with her, to her surprise.
And of course, who catches Johnny being fresh with his main squeeze, The Thing. And immediately the two start fighting each other. It’s an interesting battle between The Thing and the Human Torch, and while these two characters have gotten at each other’s throats in the past, it’s interesting that after Secret Wars and the Thing staying on a planet which helps revert him to a human form, she ends up dating Johnny Storm and the two were to get married in issue #300.
But overall, a fun action-driven storyline.
The second story features Dr. Strange and Nightmare has kidnap the souls of humans, hoping it would lure Dr. Strange to his world and finally defeat him. But can the Nightmare defeat the Sorcerer Supreme?
I absolutely enjoyed reading “Strange Tales” and it made me interested in searching for more issues starring the Human Torch and the Thing. If you have a chance, check this issue out!