Strange Tales #113 opens with Johnny Storm facing his most difficult challenge thus far: a woman who doesn’t think he’s God’s gift to women. I have to say this definitely caught me by surprise to find a female character that doesn’t immediately swoon at the sight of the Human Torch. While, I found it funny that Johnny Storm was struggling so mightily over the fact that Doris is not taken with his magnificent self, went on far too long (two whole pages even).
After this, the scene switches over to Samuel Smithers, the gardener who had previously been fired by Doris father previously because apparently he was more concerned with trying to make plants smarter than actually cutting them. Naturally, this leads to a vow of vengeance by Smithers. Luckily for him, a lightening bolt struck his shear-like instrument, which successfully increases the intelligence of plants and also allows him to, conveniently, also control the plants and have them follow his every order. While the way Smithers obtains his powers is typical silver age cheesiness, the power is at least interesting. Although, I think it probably would’ve been more effective if it was Smithers rather than the shears that was actually the source of power.
Unfortunately, Smithers is no Poison Ivy and that becomes readily apparent when he dubs himself Plantman and goes about framing Doris’ father and thus enacting his vengeance, which was actually a pretty straightforward and sound plot. Unfortunately, things basically take a massive dump after this point. It all starts with the Human Torch running across the Plantman, at which point Plantman just shout out that he was the one who did the frame job for no reason at all. What then unfolds over the next seven pages is probably the lamest battle that I have yet seen in these pages; especially when you think about that fact that with the Human Torch’s power over fire should make this a one sided affair. I mean after all the Human Torch has been able to flame on under the ocean, so some damp seaweed shouldn’t give him any problems, right?
In the end, Strange Tales #113 manages to accomplish two things. The first is it introduces yet another villain who wants to take over the world, which makes you wonder if they ever read about how that turns out for all the previous villains. The second thing it does is it continues to cement the Human Torch as being an incredibly egotistical character who thinks he is the greatest thing to happen to women. Really, this issue is just incredibly forgettable and it really lacks any kind of satisfying conclusion.
- Cover Artists:
- Writers: Stan Lee, Joe Carter
- Pencilers: Dick Ayers
- Inkers: Dick Ayers
- Letterers: Sam Rosen