In the 1990s, Marvel commissioned a series of artists to reconceptualize some of its most well-known heroes – as well as some of its more overlooked, including the original Human Torch. One of the publisher’s oldest characters, the pre-Fantastic Four Human Torch was reimagined as part of Marvel’s Timeslip initiative, turning the character into a bringer of fiery vengeance.
Artist Phil Hester was commissioned to redesign the original Human Torch, which he did by taking the character all the way back to his Golden Age roots.
This version of the Human Torch, unlike his Earth- 616 counterpart, was designed to catch on fire, as a way of bringing fiery retribution to the Nazis.
The Golden Age Human Torch Was A Unique Character
Timeslip ran as a series of two-page spreads in Marvel Vision magazine during the 1990s. Phil Hester’s Human torch spread reveals that Doctor Phineas Horton, the Human Torch’s creator, was Jewish, and was tired of seeing the Nazis running rampant across the globe. Horton designed a Golem of sorts, a robot who rained fire and vengeance down on the Nazis, giving the fascists a taste of their own medicine. Furthermore, Horton created an army of Human Torch robots, who eventually ended the Nazi menace once and for all. The original Human Torch is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, first appearing in 1939’s Marvel Comics #1.
The Golden Age Human Torch Deserves More Recognition
Much like the Timeslip version, the Human Torch was built by Phineas Horton, though more for personal gain than fighting Nazis. When Horton unveiled the android to the world, its skin caught on fire. Not sure what to do with this unintentional result, Horton put the android back on ice for a bit. The Human Torch eventually would embark on a heroic career, becoming a member of the Invaders and an occasional Avenger. Despite being one of Marvel’s first characters, the Golden Age Human Torch receives very little respect. As the Golden Age of Comics began to wind down, and superheroes took a backseat to other genres, the original Human Torch was consigned to limbo.
When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby revived the character design for the first issue of Fantastic Four, they reimagined the Human Torch. The original character would not enter proper continuity until the 1980s, but even then his appearances have been limited. The character’s Timeslip redesign shows just how cool the Golden Age Human Torch can be. Phil Hester’s redesign acknowledges the character’s roots, while imagining a wildly divergent history for the Timeslip Human Torch’s reality, with his creator’s passion for vengeance burned so hot and bright that he created an army to match his vision. This dark redesign of a Marvel original is one of Timeslip’s greatest contributions.