Monday, March 2, 2015

The Human Torch vs. Ground Zero

Yikes! Things look dire for the Human Torch, after a battle with the Eel leaves him with a miniature radioactive atomic pile to deal with!

Otherwise known as (what else?) "Project X," the miniature "atomic pile" (machinery which would later become better known as a nuclear reactor) was developed by famous inventor Charles Lawson, who rigged its satchel with a safeguard that the Eel unfortunately didn't consider in his theft of the device:

Once the Torch defeats the Eel, he has the same problem the Eel did--the imminent detonation of a deadly atomic blast, which his flame molecules have already alerted him to. (Wait--so his flame molecules are like a fiery spider-sense?) We've already seen the bomb go off--so the surrounding area is likely toast (and charred toast, at that), unless the Torch's desperate plan succeeds. But what's he doing all the way up in the stratosphere? Let's rejoin him just after the crucial moment and find out:

Unknown to Johnny, though, the powerful blast has blown open the door to another case of:

The place to probably start dissecting Johnny's totally whack plan is his decision to zoom into the stratosphere to initiate it--a minimum altitude of 33,000 feet. Let's first assume that Johnny even made it to the stratosphere.  That means that Johnny will have to exert his power downward 33,000 feet (assuming he didn't zoom higher!) in order to catch the blast before it had a chance to scorch the surrounding area. To give you an idea of what kind of distance we're talking about here, look up in the sky and see if you can imagine where the ozone layer is--then raise your sights another 10km. Or have a look at the space shuttle Endeavour as it hovers near the upper limit of the stratosphere (about 50km):

It should go without saying that the oxygen Johnny needs to sustain his flame (to say nothing of remaining alive) would have been exhausted well before reaching the stratosphere.

But this is mostly nitpicking. If I were a teenager, and I had a split-second to come up with a plan for dealing with the repercussions of an atomic blast--one that involved soaring to a great height--"stratosphere" is probably the word that would have first come to mind for me, as well. Suffice to say that Johnny is heading to a really high altitude.

That leaves us with the second part of his plan. Let's say for the sake of absolute LUNACY argument that Johnny can extend his power that far, that he can absorb the magnitude of heat and radiation released by an atomic explosion, that he can force the blast to radiate upward rather than outward across the land. If by some lapse of reasoning we accept all of that, then he would surely have done the same thing when the rest of the Fantastic Four was in danger from the detonation of a Q-bomb that the Wizard was going to use to destroy them. But in both cases the question would persist: How is this kid still alive? This little stunt would be better suited to X-Ray of the U-Foes, and even his chances would be 50-50.

After absorbing the full force of the atomic explosion, not only has Johnny avoided his skin being instantly sheared from his bones, but he also has plenty of power left to reach super-nova level force and expel the harmful forces at a safe altitude:

(Whoops--guess it was the stratosphere, after all.)

And as Johnny's life hung in the balance, it fell to Reed to dust off a half-completed project and work out its bugs in time to pull Johnny back from the brink of death:

Fear not, all's well that ends well for Johnny "Atomic Pile" Storm, whose power made a mockery of science but whose fellow residents near Ground Zero aren't complaining.

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