Comic Book Review: The Torch #3

Alex Ross’ Dynamite Entertainment has produced many good comics. In addition to their work with Project Superpowers, they have teamed up with Marvel for Avengers/Invaders and this comic. I expect the Torch to be another quality production.

Creative Team
Story: Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Mike Carey
Script:Mike Carey
Artist: Patrick Berkenkotter
Color Art: Carlos Lopez

Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The Mad Thinker is glad to be back to work. A.I.M. has hired him to produce a weapon capable of leveling cities. Soon after starting to work for A.I.M., the Thinker is attacked by Tom Raymond (he was the original Human Torch’s partner). Tom is subdued and serves as inspiration to the Thinker. The Thinker has the original Torch’s body exhumed. He is able to rebuild the Torch with a few improvements. He includes Compound D in the rebuilding process. It causes the person to follow the Thinker’s commands.

On an A.I.M. research platform, reports start coming in that the trial run of the Torch was a success. The directors are pleased. On the deck, the Torch is being briefed. An A.I.M. agent orders him to destroy a gas pipline. The Torch flames on and flies off.

From his cell, Tom Raymond watches. Now his powers are beginning to return. He uses a small flame to start burning through his shackles.

Mr. Toussaint confronts the Thinker in his lab. Toussaint intended to shoot him but was not able to hold onto his gun. The Thinker slipped him Compound D. Now he is under the Thinker’s control.

Over Estonia…the Torch is destroying the Estonian air defense.

In the cell…Tom has used his flame to free himself. He jumps a guard from behind and overpowers him.

Toussaint asks the Thinker if Compound D is the real weapon. Compound D suppresses the host’s nervous system substitutes his commands. Toussaint says the Directors will stop the Thinker. Thinker says the Directors will be too late. His projections show that he needs 12 hours to produce the necessary amount of the compound. Full production began 10 hours ago.

The Thinker orders Toussaint to take his gun and kill himself. Toussaint cannot help himself.

Torch is killing many in his attack. Tom shoots the device being used by the A.I.M. agents who are ordering Torch. Torch pulls up and falls into the water. Tom takes out many of the agents before they hit him from behind. He is knocked out.

The coastline fo Estonia is in flames. Torch recovers and flies up out of the water. One of the agents is mouthing off to Tom. He is holding a gun on him. He askes if Tom is going to beg for mercy. Tom says “do it”. Then he says “do it Jim”. The Torch flies in from behind. He says the agents made him kill and now they will pay. He blasts the deck. Tom is engulfed in the flames. Tom says thank you.

The Torch burns his way into the Thinker’s lab. The Thinker presses a button on his watch. It teleports him away. The containers holding the Compound D are damaged. The compound washes down over Toussaint. His eyes open. They are glowing red.

The base is in flames. The compound flows into the water. It flows down into a group of Atlanteans. Namor is caught in the compound. He comes out of the shadows. His eyes are glowing.

The Good: The cover caught my attention. This was one of my favorites of the year. The vision of the 2 flaming hands reaching for each other as they burn through the old comic book cover is one that jumps off the rack at you.

The Torch being turned into a weapon was believable. Since he is an android, it is possible to bring him back as a weapon. He makes a great weapon. He could be a terrifying sight for the people who are being attacked. The flaming creature that destroys things with fire balls would be intimidating.

The idea of A.I.M. hiring a villain called the Mad Thinker is appropriate. A.I.M. would respect someone who uses their mind as their greatest weapon.

Just like a villain, when the Mad Thinker is done “reprogramming” the Torch he decides to reprogram people through the use of Compound D. I liked the way the creators showed the effects of Compound D by the way the Thinker is able to order Toussaint to stop his attack and kill himself.

I expected Toussaint to find a way to break free of the Thinker’s control. In the late 1700s, Toussaint L’ouverture led the Haitian Revolution (Rokk likes it when we use the word Revolution in a review). In that Revolution, Toussaint led enslaved Africans to victory and abolished slavery. It is ironic that his modern day name sake would die as a slave to another.

A.I.M. choose as it’s target the country of Estonia. According to Wikipedia, it is a country that gained recognition for its adaptation of new technology. Maybe A.I.M. was afraid that it might develop into a threat to them.

Berkenkotter and Lopez turned in some great images. From the shots of the Torch’s attack on Estonia through the chilling picture of the possessed Namor, the did a good job conveying Carey’s story. The storytelling is good and flows naturally. They are equally adept at showing the emotions of the various characters through their faces.

I am looking forward to seeing where this story goes next. The Torch is definitely upset.

The Bad: On occasion, the backgrounds are thin. If a little more time was spent filling in the backgrounds, it would be an even better art job.

Overall: Another fine effort from the Dynamite Entertainment studio. They have earned my respect with the various comics they created. I am putting anything they produce on my pull list.