Aug 28, 2011

Hunka hunka burnin' Hitler

Originally, I learned much of what I know about the ins and outs of comic book continuity by perusing quarter bin-scavenged issues of  Who's Who and The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. One tidbit that always stood out to me was something included in the entry for Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch (an artificial human from the 1940s, not the doofus on the Fantastic Four with the horrible sense of fashion). His write-up established that, at least in the Marvel universe, the Human Torch had been the one responsible for killing Adolf Hitler.

I'd always assumed that this fact was made up for a later story involving the character, maybe something that Roy Thomas (self-established champion of "Golden Age" characters, for better or worse) had done. But a year or two back, I picked up The Golden Age of Marvel Comics, a trade paperback reprinting a bunch of '40s and '50s Marvel superhero stories - and there, in the middle of 1953's "The Return of the Human Torch", I was greeted by this surprise.

The Flaming Hitlers would be a great terrible
band name. (Art by Russ Heath.)
So... huh. The original Human Torch really did kill Hitler in a Golden Age story. I was not expecting that. You'd think that would earn him an award, maybe a statuette or something. But, so far as I know, fans mostly know of him for the confusing history he shares with the Vision, a character whose only appearance I care about was the side-scrolling Avengers arcade game. (Also, that portrayal of the Torch's origin on this page is pretty crazy, even for 1953).

In summation: Jim Hammond, the man robot ambiguous artificial life form for all your Hitler-barbecuing needs.

1 comment:

  1. Before slighting Roy, remember that most of the retros and expansions of golden age characters done in the last couple of decades stem from his work with them. Not to mention his contributions to comic fandom way before Marvel even started publishing hero comics on a regular basis.
    I recommend any of the several fanzine histories that have been published by Bill Schelly through Hamster Press.
    The information about early fandom there is essential to understanding comics of yesterday and today.
    Nice blog by-the-by!