In Death is not the End, we spotlight the outlandish explanations for comic book characters (mostly super-villains) surviving seeming certain death.
Today, based on a suggestion from my pal, Chris (who is currently blogging his way through the entire history of the Marvel Universe), we discuss the bizarre story of how, for a time there, the Human Torch apparently KILLED his creator, Professor Phineas Horton!
Okay, it all began with the introduction of the Human Torch in Marvel Comics #1, by Carl Burgos. Professor Horton is distraught - he's finally invented a real life android and the thing can't stop catching on fire!
He tries to get rid of the android, but it frees itself and not only stops some criminals, but figures out a way to keep himself from constantly being on fire. He tells Horton this and Horton is thrilled. Think of the money they could make with this! That angers the Torch and he burns a hole through Horton's ceiling and heads off, vowing to never be exploited and to only stop bad guys or whatever.
Okay, so here's the hook. Marvel Comics continued as Marvel Mystery Comics, and in the second issue, after a really good one-page recap of the first issue, Burgos reveals that the Torch burned down Horton's place, KILLING THE PROFESSOR!
Here's the weirdest thing - no one seems TOO put off by this. For instance, the Torch is then framed for a series of murders of race car drivers and he's all, "I'm innocent!" but we already established that he killed Horton!
So, at the end of the story, when he gets a confession from the real race car killers, the cops are all, "Whoops, our bad! Sorry we thought you were a murderer!"
But as far as we know, he IS a murderer! What the what?!?
So anyhow, the Torch eventually gets his own comic book series and in the eighth issue (by artists Allen Simon, Harry Sahle and Al Gabriele), the villain Python is freed from prison and goes to work for the Nazis. He hunts down Professor Horton who, everyone knows, is not really dead...
So right there, they just offhandedly reveal that Horton's death was faked this whole time.
The Python then tortures Horton until he tells him what he needs to know AND lures the Torch to his lab...
There, the Python uses a machine to turn Torch into a Nazi-serving monster...
Horton then helps Namor and Toro in their quest to stop the Torch....
Horton becomes a semi-regular supporting cast member from this point forward, until the Torch's feature ends.
Thanks for the suggestion, Chris!
If anyone else has a suggestion for a future Death is not the End, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!