The Torch just keeps turning up in early Spider-Man (To Steve Ditko’s increasing frustration until he takes full control of the plot), I’m not sure he needed yet another appearance added. Al Veyr & Pam Eklund back on inks. On page one, Spider-Man is swinging around with a jewel thief he just caught when The Human Torch buzzing him, saying he has to get to LaGuardia Airport “because it was the first!”
Spidey heads to Gracie Mansion, which LaGuardia was the first to occupy, and finds people running out in a cloud of gas. For once, our man webs himself an extra layer of mask and is unaffected. He thinks the gas is harmless, meant to cause panic rather than harm, but finds the emitter and chucks it into the water just to be sure. Headed for school, Spidey lets us know The Wizard used to use his great intellect to be a TV personality, doing amazing feats, but then superheroes stole his spotlight, and now he’s out to humiliate The Torch. The kids at school are excited about it, with Flash typically rooting for the good guys. Peter finds a note from May in his math book telling him she made him an eye appointment before she left, and he worries about that some more before Flash’s radio tells him The Wizard’s next clue for The Torch, which is he’ll “strike at the only building in Manhattan that doesn’t belong.” Peter fakes sick and heads to The Guggenheim (A Frank Lloyd Wright design, “right” so it isn’t wrong), which is encased in a force field. Torch is mad to arrive and find Spider-Man on the case.
Torch’s flame can’t get through the field, but the heat is eventually enough to melt the generator through it. With that solved, he wants Spider-Man to leave, until a rep from the mayor’s office flags him down to tell him they’ve set up a panel of experts to solve all the clues. Torch is offended that they don’t think he can do it, and takes on Spider-Man as his partner.
Intrigue! There’s a montage of the two heroes stopping more and more dangerous stunts, and then we cut to JJJ ranting about how The Big Man & The Enforcers are running wild around the city and he needs photos. Don’t worry, we’ll get to them. Betty mentions what Spider-Man & Torch are up to, and JJJ thinks maybe Peter’s getting pictures of that. Betty seems unhappy about the danger he might be in. And as she worries about that, Spidey & The Torch are being attacked by missiles. Spidey says they need to go on the offensive, and soon they’re in Reed’s lab, where Spider-Man hopes to build a device that’ll triangulate the signal from The Wizard’s pirate broadcast the next time he reveals a clue. He’s just getting it done with the next clue comes in, something he says is “beneath even you, Torch:” “Always walking the plank.” Spider-Man gets it, but says they’ll have to split up.
The robots aren’t all the tough, but they’ve already done enough damage to make a mess. Torch takes care of them as Spidey tries to fix things up, but of course, a train appears down the tunnel. The heroes switch jobs so The Torch can weld the track pieces back together just in time, while Spider-Man finishes off the robots. This is a pretty fast-paced issue, I must say. Zooming out of the subway, the heroes use the gadgets Spidey made to zero in on The Wizard, broadcasting from a van moving through the city.
And I bet they succeed, too! Maybe we’ll find out next time.