The Human Torch was an android created by Professor Phineas T. Horton for scientific purposes. At a press-conference unveiling, however, Horton's creation burst into flames when exposed to oxygen, and, with human-like sentience, personality, and awareness, rebelled against his creator. Public outcry led to the Torch's being sealed in concrete, which Horton did until he could find a way to control the android's flames, though he eventually escaped due to a crack that let oxygen seep in. While the Torch then inadvertently caused parts of New York City to burn, he eventually learned to control his flame and vowed to help humanity.
He would join other heroes as war broke out in Europe, and later in the Pacific, to fight the Axis powers. During this time he acquired a young partner, Thomas "Toro" Raymond. Toro was the mutant son of two nuclear scientists whose exposure to radiation gave him the ability to control fire. The Human Torch also joined the police force as part of his "human cover" under the name Jim Hammond. He would later drop the human name and serve the police force outright as the Human Torch, fighting villains and his off-and-on foe, the Sub-Mariner. During World War II Jim helped allied forces and the Invaders fight the Axis powers. Near the end of the war, Jim came face-to-face with Adolf Hitler and killed him with his bare hands.
After the war the Torch was placed in deactivation sleep in the Mojave Desert; an atomic bomb test awoke him. Learning that Toro had been captured by the Soviets and brainwashed, the Torch rescued his old partner and learned that the nuclear bomb's radiation had made his powers both much stronger and more unstable. Eventually, fearing he would become a danger to those around him, the Torch flew back out into the desert and went nova, using up his energy reserve and effectively deactivating himself. The Mad Thinker later rebuilt the Torch, restraining his flame and editing his memory so he would forget having been a hero, then sent him after the Fantastic Four. Jim soon fought with the new Human Torch at the Thinker's behest, though he was loathe to actually murder him. But the rest of the four soon appeared, along with Wyatt Wingfoot, and captured him, transporting him back to the Thinker's lab with Lockjaw's help. There, the original Torch rebelled against the Thinker, refusing to be a party to murder, and the Thinker used his computer, Quasimodo, to fire a ray that shut off the invisible coating of protective nitrogen cells, which kept his flame in check, and he burned himself out. A duplicate of his body was later created by the time traveler Immortus; this copy was obtained by the villainous robot Ultron, who used it to create the Vision, an android who went on to join the Avengers
The Torch was revived again by the Scarlet Witch — who was searching for answers about her husband, the Vision — and Ann Raymond, widow of Tom "Toro" Raymond. He served the Avengers for a while before losing his powers to save the former superheroine Spitfire. His powers gone, he decided to settle down with Ann Raymond. He became the CEO of Oracle, Inc., a company run by Prince Namor. From there, he served as "boss" to the mercenary group Heroes for Hire, while being secretly manipulated by the Master of the World. When the group disbanded, he went off on his own, before being asked to become the head of V-Battalion upon the retirement of Roger Aubrey, the Destroyer.
Recently, while on leave from the V-Battalion and working with the new Invaders, he became attached to Tara, a recently-constructed female android based on him, whom he came to regard as a daughter of sorts. He also struck up a renewed acquaintance with Spitfire to the dismay of her beau, the current Union Jack, while beginning to show signs that his powers were regenerating.
Unfortunately, Tara was revealed to be a plant, created by the Red Skull, with overrides on her developing personality allowing the Invaders' enemies, the Axis Mundi, to use her as a weapon against the team. Refusing to believe that she was truly gone, he found himself able to flame on again, and tried to channel the heat from her system to shut her down before she overloaded and killed all the Invaders, herself included. While he was able to stop her meltdown, his own systems could not handle the sheer heat, and he flew high into the atmosphere before detonating.