The Last Human Torch Story

Here’s the answer to a weird bit of Golden Age trivia: which two long-running super heroes debuted in 1939, had their last solo story in 1949, and featured the character’s origin in both that first and last issue of their anthology titles? The answer is the Flash and the Human Torch. (Somebody will point to FLASH COMICS #1’s January 1940 cover date, but that book went on sale in late 1939, shortly after MARVEL COMICS #1)

By 1949, the super hero fad had largely run its course, and even the mainstay super heroes were disappearing from the newsstands. At the same time, enough years had passed so that the young readers of the era may have been unfamiliar with the beginnings of these heroes, how they got their amazing powers and came to be. So there were suddenly a lot of origin story recaps in 1949, including this one from the final issue of MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS featuring the Human Torch. This would wind up being the final Human Torch story of the Golden Age.

The credits on this final Torch story are unknown at present.

It’s worth mentioning that while modern stories make it a central part of the character, the fact that the original Human Torch was a synthetic android was something that really hadn’t been mentioned since his second or third story back in 1940–almost all of the readers of the era assumed he was just as human as anybody else. (Heck, it said so right in his name.)

This whole story is a relatively faithful adaptation of the first Torch story from MARVEL COMICS #1, with a few of the details changed. I’ve no idea, for example, what the significance of August 12th, 1940 is, but by tat time the Torch would have been active as a super hero. Also, what are the odds that the Torch leaps into the pool of a random gangster just at the moment that gangster is shaking down Professor Horton inside the house?

In the original story, Professor Horton isn’t involved in any of this business with Sardo.

The tag line at the end of the story promises more about the early days of the Human Torch in the next issue–possibly they were planning on recounting the origin of his flaming sidekick Toro? But alas, it was not to be.

The issue also included this editorial, one of a number that appeared during this period in response to the growing concern about the content of comic books which would eventually lead to the Senate Subcommittee hearings and the formation of the regulatory Comics Code.

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