Comics : Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #119

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: 2002.

Background...

Spidey drops by to give the Human Torch a bit of advice... for all the good it does him.

In Detail...

"The Rabble Rouser!"
Strange Tales (Vol. 1) #119 (Story 1)
Apr 1964 : SMURF 010.900 : SM Cameo
Summary: Spider-Man Cameo
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Artist:  Dick Ayers
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 Reprinted In: Essential Human Torch #1
Articles: Doctor Strange, Human Torch

A communist agitator called the Rabble Rouser uses his way with words to convince crowds that the Human Torch is a menace to society, then employs his "will-sapping wand" to make sure they stay that way. As the Torch watches the action from the thirty-fifth floor of the Fantastic Four's headquarters, Spider-Man swings by. "Hi, Smokey-Boy!" he says, "I just heard the Rabble Rouser! You sure aren't on his most popular list, son!" He lands on the ledge and adds, "I'm an old hand at having people pan me, so I thought I could give you a few tips on how to keep it from getting your goat", but the angry Torch shoots flames at him and says, "When I need help from you, sonny boy, that'll be the day. Now crawl back under your stone before I really lose my temper."

But things get worse for the Torch. The Rabble Rouser convinces the mayor to ban the Torch's flame in the city. The Torch angrily flies across the river to New Jersey. With the Torch safely out of the way, the Rabble Rouser (who aspires to "become another Castro!") uses "a modified version of a Red prototype sub-surface vehicle" to travel underground, emerge through the street right in front of a motorcade and kidnap the visiting Prince Nagamo, "one of America's staunchest allies". The Torch, back in the city, witnesses this abduction but dares not break the law by flaming on. Soon, however, the mayor himself appears, and gives the Torch emergency permission to flame on.

The Torch flies underground and tracks down the Rabble Rouser. He destroys the "sub-surface vehicle" but is so weakened in the process that he is easy prey for the Rabble Rouser's will-sapping wand. The RR convinces the Torch that he cannot flame on. But, just as he has the Torch in his power, the Rouser is distracted by a rock thrown at him by Prince Nagamo. The Torch uses the moment to karate-chop the Rouser's hand, knocking the wand away from him. In the ensuing fight, the Torch picks up the wand and uses it to convince the Rabble Rouser that he is "loyal to America".

In the aftermath, Prince Nagamo recommends to the city that the Torch be allowed to use his flame again. This motion is passed. With his flame returning, the Torch heats up his hand and melts the Rabble Rouser's will-sapping wand. "So ends the menace of the Rabble Rouser's powerful mesmerizer," he says, "and good riddance!"

In General...

A wonderfully dopey Silver Age anti-Communist tract. They don't make them like this anymore, people.

Overall Rating...

Three and a half webs.