The Human Torch can no longer turn off his powers and will “flame on” forever. Here’s why this is a good thing (and why Marvel should never “fix” it).
Marvel’s Human Torch of the Fantastic Four has changed forever, and Marvel would be wise to never change him back. Out of all the members of Marvel’s First Family, Johnny Storm has arguably undergone the least amount of character development since his debut in 1961, remaining the team’s egotistical hothead who starts fights rather than finishes them. That all changed with Fantastic Four # 34, in which the Human Torch can no longer control his powers, forever turning him into a fiery pillar of tragedy – and Marvel should keep it that way.
The Fantastic Four, along with various other superheroes, are invited to Doctor Doom’s wedding. The team is hopeful that Doom has turned over a new leaf, and Doom even asks Reed Richards to be his best man, suggesting he is at least on the path to forgiving Mr. Fantastic for his responsibility in the accident which caused Doom’s horrific facial scars. The wedding goes well – but at the moment when vows are meant to be exchanged, Doom’s bride Victorious admits sleeping with Johnny Storm before the wedding. Everyone is shocked (except Namor, who laughs hysterically).
The wedding dissolves into chaos as Doom attacks all in attendance and a massive battle breaks out. While Doom eventually decides to allow the Fantastic Four to live, he punishes Johnny Storm by using a machine to permanently activate his powers, turning him into “… a true Human Torch.” Thanks to Doom (or rather, thanks to Johnny’s own idiocy), the Human Torch glows red-hot and can not eat food without burning it to a crisp, stay close to anyone who is not properly shielded or durable (like Susan or Ben) and can not even cry, as his tears instantly turn into steam.
For five issues now, Johnny Storm can not even walk around others without a protective suit (and despite Reed’s best efforts, they keep melting). Johnny is seemingly incapable of learning a lesson, but this is the best development to happen to him in years; it is a suitable punishment for a social, outgoing type who puts his own needs before others. Writer Dan Slott appears to think the same way, as Johnny has already grown since his encounter with Doom, apologizing to Reed for his impatience when the team leader prioritized saving the universe during the Reckoning War before aiding his friend.
The magic possessed by Doctor Doom is terrifying, but in this instance it may actually help the Human Torch in the run. Johnny desperately needs to grow up and become a better person. The “Forever Human Torch” may be beneficial to the Fantastic Four… but he can never get too close to anyone ever again.
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