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Human Torch #11

Posted: Saturday, April 10, 2004
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Karl Kesel
Artists: Howard Porter (p), Norm Rapmund (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Plot:
As Johnny is called to a oil rig platform in the middle of the ocean, he finds a worrisome accident has occurred as the scientists were messing about with the Negative Zone. Johnny then discovers that his former flame Namorita was taking part in this experiment, and that her exposure to the Negative Zone has resulted in the creation of an antimatter double, that is looking to make contact with her. As Johnny works to prevent this potentially world destroying contact, the reasons for his breakup with Namorita are also spelled out.

The Good:
I had completely forgotten about the relationship between Johnny and Namorita, so this is a pretty good sign of the impact that it made on me the first time. Now it's not a bad pairing as the two have the type of personalities that I can see being drawn to each other, but than again Johnny has the type of personality that I can see being drawn to most female characters in the Marvel Universe so the relationship is largely dependent on the Namorita being open to Johnny's clumsy advances. This issue nicely presents the idea that both characters are in love with each other, but that they are also both so stubborn in their line of thinking that neither one of them is willing the budge from their position. Now the idea that Namorita doesn't want to be the fifth wheel in the Fantastic Four nicely plays off the idea that she has spent her life trying to emerge from the shadow of Namor, and as such she's not looking to bury herself under another one. It's also quite easy to understand why Johnny wouldn't be willing to leave the Fantastic Four, as not only is it a comfy nest that he can run back to when the outside world gets too rough, but the simple rule of the Fantastic Four is that it will always revert back to its original four lineup no matter what changes are made to it. In the end this results in a fairly powerful little moment where we see Johnny and Namorita recognize that their relationship is never going to advance any further than it already has. I also enjoyed the idea that the people of Atlantis have finally stepped up to the plate and recognized they have access to highly profitable technology.

Howard Porter has been pretty busy as of late as he steps in to deliver a guest-issue on this title, and while I wasn't overly impressed by his work on this week's issue of the "Flash", I found his work on this issue held up better, as the action sequence has a wonderful sense of energy to it. I mean the art does a fantastic job on the scene where Namorita is pulling away from the wall to join her antimatter double, as I loved the sense of attraction that is visually conveyed when we see the restraining braces are beginning to buckle under the pressure as Namorita strains against them. The scene where Johnny carves a section out of the oil rig platform was also a great piece of art, and the visual of the antimatter double is also pretty cool as it visually sells the idea that it is a disaster waiting to happen with its chaotic energy appearance. My only quibble with the art is that Namorita's costume doesn't mesh all that well with her blue skin.

The Bad:
I found myself openly questioning the idea that Namorita or anyone else in the scientific community would look upon the Negative Zone as a secure environment to send people. I mean I realize Johnny has made multiple trips to the place and as such he likely has a more prejudicial opinion of the dangers that exist in the Negative Zone, but given the numerous attempts by others to breach the negative Zone have resulted in cataclysmic disasters, or the escape of a number of entities whose sole objective upon arrival is to destroy and/or enslave the native population of the planet, one would think that the word would've circulated around the scientific community that breaching the Negative Zone is a very bad idea. The simple fact that matter from the Negative Zone coming into contact with matter from their universe could result in a world shattering event should also have scientists taking a hard look at other dimensions before they settle on the highly problematic Negative Zone. Now I realize it's a comic book plot device, and the Negative Zone makes for an instantly recognizable threat, but it's getting difficult to look the other way when we see these experiments hinge upon such dangerous science. Plus when one considers that the Marvel Universe has literally dozens of teleporters, one would think the science would've traveled down the study of these proven successes rather than this haphazard effort. I also have to wonder why contact with the deck of the oil rig by the antimatter entity wasn't enough to set off the chain reaction?

Come On Baby, Light My Fire:
This issue is a pretty solid done-in-one adventure that picks up a loose end from Johnny's past and manages to neatly tie it off, as we learn why Johnny's relationship with Namorita hit the skids, but also why it's not likely to resurface in spite of the two clearly being in love with each other. Karl Kesel does a capable job of spelling out why these two are not going to become a couple, while at the same time it does leave the door open for the relationship element to resurface, as feelings are clearly in place. The action that plays out in the background is the result of some rather questionable comic book science as we join a group of scientists who have foolishly decided to use the Negative Zone as a storage site for their teleportation experiments, which as Johnny quickly points out is a ridiculously foolish idea. Still, the idea that Namorita is being drawn to her antimatter double manages to create an intense bit of action, and the scene where Johnny carves a section out of the tanker was a solid display of power. The scene where he extinguishes the fire was also an impressive little moment.



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