Lighting the Torch
Hotheaded teenager Jonathan Storm and his older sister Susan went to live with their aunt after their mother’s death in a car accident and their father’s incarceration for manslaughter. The two met genius scientist Reed Richards and joined him on a secretive space flight to prove Reed’s theories, but all three and their pilot Ben Grimm absorbed powerful cosmic rays while in space and crash-landed back on Earth.
Crawling from the wreckage of the space vehicle, Storm suddenly grew exceedingly hot and watched in great surprise as he spontaneously burst into flames. Incredibly, due to the cosmic ray exposure, he didn’t burn but found he could control the flames across his body and use them in various ways. Together with the other three, who also changed forever from the rays, Storm became a member of the family of explorers and adventurers dubbed the Fantastic Four and gave himself the codename “Human Torch” in honor of the World War II hero of the same name.
Storm can ignite plasma across his entire body to become a literal human torch and control the resulting flames to an incredible degree. While he himself does not feel heat from the fire, he can project intense amounts of it or as little as he wishes and even shut off the flames to his head or arms or legs to allow others to touch him or to be able to manipulate objects without burning them. By increasing heat around himself, he can reach “nova” level, an output of heat beyond measure and devastatingly destructive.
His flames can also be flung or shot outwardly from his body in different ways, such as short contained bursts, streams, sheets, and ropes. The Torch may even fly by manipulating his flames to launch himself and become lighter than air. These powers arrive through mental concentration so if Storm becomes unconscious the flames will disappear. Likewise, if he’s exposed to water and other liquids or robbed of oxygen in his immediate area, he cannot maintain his fire.
Moths to the Flame
Storm’s outgoing personality, brash attitude, and handsome features have attracted others to him since he was a young teenager, most especially females. Undoubtedly, the closest connection he claims to anyone in his life would be his sister Sue, who virtually raised him in the absence of their parents. The Storm siblings have seen many challenges to their familial love, but in the end they would sacrifice their lives for each other.
The closest friend Johnny possesses of all would be Ben Grimm, the Fantastic Four’s strongman and heart. The Torch and the Thing squabble nearly constantly like children and purposefully try to get each other’s goat, but Storm and Grimm remain as close as brothers and know each other through and through. To a lesser extent, Reed Richards also stands as a brother figure to the Torch, but the two’s relationship has never extended as far as that between Johnny and Ben.
Among Storm’s many girlfriends and lovers, perhaps only Crystal of the Inhumans and Lyta the Skrull could be counted as true friends of his. The Torch has seen countless adventures with the two women, and has allowed the romantic love he once felt for both to evolve into solid companionship and camaraderie. As to male friends, the hero Spider-Man ranks high on that score, being about Storm’s age and also possessing a forthright drive and eclectic sense of humor.
Johnny Storm enjoys the acquaintance of nearly all of Earth’s other colorful heroes, but often times most of them keep him at arm’s length, and not just due to his flames.
A Light in the Darkness
The Fantastic Four has earned many enemies throughout the years, but chief among them stands Doctor Doom. Although Doom’s main hatred is reserved for Reed Richards, he views the Human Torch through a similar lens due to his association with Richards, but almost never truly sees the young hero as a real, credible threat. For his part, Storm distrusts Doom and will always set his fire against the Latverian monarch’s many plays for power.
Unlike many other super heroes, the Human Torch cannot claim more than a few direct “arch-enemies,” though he did fight several foes in solo adventures, such as the Trapster, the Wizard, and Hydro-Man. In addition, despite Storm’s aid in reviving his memories after a long bout with amnesia, Namor the Sub-Mariner could never be counted as a fan of the fiery hero, most likely due to his being a member of the Fantastic Four and the inevitable rivalry between “fire” and “water.”