Cross-contributed to 80-Page Giant…
Originally, I learned much of what I know about the ins and outs of comic book continuity by perusing quarter bin-scavenged issues of Who’s Who and The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. One tidbit that always stood out to me was something included in the entry for Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch (an artificial human from the 1940s, not the doofus on the Fantastic Four with the horrible sense of fashion). His write-up established that, at least in the Marvel universe, the Human Torch had been the one responsible for killing Adolf Hitler.
I’d always assumed that this fact was made up for a later story involving the character, maybe something that Roy Thomas (self-established champion of “Golden Age” characters, for better or worse) had done. But a few years back, I picked up The Golden Age of Marvel Comics, a trade paperback reprinting a bunch of ’40s and ’50s Marvel superhero stories - and, in the middle of 1953’s “The Return of the Human Torch”, I was greeted by the above surprise.
So… huh. The original Human Torch really did kill Hitler in a Golden Age story. I was not expecting that. You’d think that would earn him an award, maybe a statuette or something. But, so far as I know, fans mostly know of him for the confusing history he shares with the Vision, a character whose only appearance I care about was the side-scrolling Avengers arcade game.
(Also, that portrayal of the Torch’s origin on this page is pretty crazy, even for 1953).
So, yeah. Jim Hammond: the
man robot ambiguous artificial life form for all your Hitler-barbecuing needs.
Scan from The Golden Age of Marvel Comics. Art by Russ Heath.