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What seems to be a trend the death of a comic super hero has become the norm. Last year of course was the death of the world’s greatest detective, (which in all fairness he was alive but just in a different era but I digress) Batman. Prior to that there was the fall of America’s favorite super solider Captain America. Then a Final Crisis befell Martian Manhunter and who could forget Night Crawler’s mishap with Bastion’s arm. Even the Blue Beetle bowed out quality with the help of a well fired head shot. Throughout all of that there are encompassing and forgetful deaths of B, C and even D list characters; yes we’re looking at you Ryan Choi.
When iconic characters that have been around for fifty plus years like Jonathan Storm, you’re dealing with death on another level. But maybe you’re not? Is this really a moment in comic book history? This is “Mr. Flame On”, Johnny Storm. He never really had his own book (other than a few Strange Tales in 62’ and The Human Torch: Burn mini back in 05’). When he’s not a part of the core 4, he’s shoe-horned with every other hero *chough* Spiderman as the side-kick guest star.
As major events happen in the Marvel U, Johnny is barely in the mix. Civil War; he gets his ass beat with his girlfriend in a bar and then tries to step to the Hulk and gets his ass beat again. Secret Invasion; he hangs out in the Negative Zone with a Skrull that is his old girlfriend Lyja, while learning that they were going to bomb the Baxter building. After stopping them Johnny needs to go sort things out with their relationship.
In MC2’s Fantastic Five (Human Torch, Thing, Psi-Lord, Grimm) he tried to lead the group while Sue and Reed where missing in action in the Negative Zone. But Reed comes back and Johnny and the two can’t get along. They butt-heads and Johnny basically throws a fit because he wants to lead the team. If that’s not a big deal, he’s also married to his longtime girlfriend Lyja, a member of the Skrull race.
The best thing that ever happened to him as a character in the Marvel U alternate was in the Age of Apocalypse alternate reality where he didn’t become the Human Torch at all. He just basically hung out and flew planes until Apocalypse’s army showed up and killed him. Now he meets his end stopping a horde of Negative Zone monsters preparing for a second annihilation wave. But hands down his most embarrassing moment was when the news covered his poor control over his finances.
No matter what time line or reality Jonathan Lowell Spencer is placed in he was never a major player in the Marvel U and thus his death in Fantastic Four #578 holds no real impact. Everywhere he went he was a whinny, cry baby and do nothing that didn’t matter. A D-list character through and through that just happened to be around since the 60’s while riding the coattails of Marvel’s first family.