Friday, September 12, 2014

Spaaaace Torrrrrch

Whenever we see the Human Torch flying around in outer space:

Well, isn't this guy the Human Torch? How does Johnny Storm get away with surviving in airless, freezing space without a spacesuit? It's not like the Watcher is always around to, er, "watch" his back:

So let's try to win one of those Marvel no-prizes, and come up with an explanation. And it's going to be a tough nut to crack--because sometimes Johnny needs to be protected from space the old-fashioned way:

...and sometimes he doesn't.

We know that Johnny can operate as the Torch underwater, thanks to one of Reed's (hopefully) patented inventions that he somehow always keeps at the ready:

And even so, there was usually a time limit to these kinds of aids. And, for the Torch, limitations on how effectively he could use his flame while underwater:

Let's assume that, by the time the FF went after the Skrulls in order to retrieve the Thing, Reed had worked some of the bugs out of his spray, allowing the Torch a little more latitude in the use of his power in an airless environment:

Alright--so Johnny can both breathe and blaze in outer space, thanks to Reed. That just leaves the harsh temperature--which, if he's shaded from the sun, can plunge as low as -455° F. Given that he has to be careful not to exhaust Reed's protection for him, can the Torch blaze hot enough to survive in that kind of cold?

Gosh, it doesn't look like a no-prize is in our future. Marvel probably doesn't give them out for half-baked attempts at an explanation. So we might as well sink further into the quicksand, and fire up another segment of:

Let's go back to when the Torch's flame was blazing out of control due to the demonic event known as Inferno:

At least Johnny no longer has to worry about the lack of oxygen, especially if Reed isn't around to hose him down with oxo-spray. But when he's trapped in deep space within sight of Mercury, this probably isn't the time to remind him that his flame doesn't propel him at nearly the speed he needs to find his way back home:

But, about that oxygen thing. Sure, his flame can burn without it--but without Reed's help, how is Johnny supposed to breathe? See if you can make sense of his explanation:

If I'm understanding Johnny's reasoning correctly: his flame burns without oxygen, which means he won't suffocate. But, didn't he hopscotch over a key point in his dash to draw a conclusion? Where, exactly, is he then finding the oxygen that he needs to breathe? Kang certainly didn't drop a tank of O2 and a mask overboard. Maybe the lack of oxygen has already affected this guy's ability to think clearly?

Perhaps Johnny is concluding that, since his flame doesn't need oxygen, then he can somehow negate his human body's dependence on oxygen because he's, I don't know, one with his flame (as he seemed to appear when he first manifested his power as the Torch). So what's he worried about? That means he doesn't need to eat, and he won't age, so he can fly back to Earth (or anywhere else) no matter how long it takes, and survive.

Since I see you all rolling your eyes at my explanation, you're thinking Johnny should suffocate, after all.  I can't say I disagree with you--but given the effort I've made to give the guy a little breathing room, I think I've more than earned that no-prize here.  Though it would probably serve me right if it turns out to be a coupon for oxo-spray.


Murray said...

Johnny should have hated outer space or underwater the way Iron Man would hate a place without electrical power or Daredevil would hate a cathedral bell tower going full blast. But, no, Stan and Jack wanted to have their flaming cake and eat it, too.

Trying to explain all these space scenes is one thing, but then one has to jump 180 degrees and go back to Earth. Johnny has been doused with fire hoses, blown out like a candle by mega muscle, and just about every way a person would expect fire to quenched. He's been held captive in various fish bowls of liquid. So few of these would really work, or only momentarily, if he brought his own fuel/oxygen to the game.

No, solving this tangle deserves way more than a venerable No-Prize.

Anonymous said...

This is a head-scratcher, all right. What we need is the guy who won a no-prize by explaining why the Hulk's pants were always purple (gamma radiation's effect on cotton fibers).
That guy was a genius.
What bugged me was the fact that the entire Negative Zone was room-temperature and had breathable air. But I guess that's another post! mp

Comicsfan said...

Murray, I suppose we can console ourselves with the possibility that Reed hasn't yet stumbled on a way for Johnny to provide himself with an oxygen layer whenever he has need of one, rather than having to step up for a dose of oxo-spray. After all, once that genie is uncorked, it's out for good, and Johnny could soar into outer space whenever he wanted. I didn't exactly sign on for the Adventures of Space Torch. :)

mp, since so much about the Negative Zone is contrary to the physical laws of our universe, I'm willing to let an environment that looks like outer space but isn't slide. As for Banner, perhaps we can just chalk it up to Banner liking the color purple. Maybe that even goes for the movie.

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