Review by Ian Keogh
From the earliest days Marvel fostered a relationship between Spider-Man and the Human Torch on the basis of them both being teenage superheroes in New York. Theirs has always been a competitive friendship, but one based on respect, and over five stories Dan Slott and Ty Templeton investigate how that friendship has developed over the years.
It’s a clever set of stories, steering away from the obvious. It would be all too easy for Slott to define their meetings in terms of Johnny Storm’s confidence, and there is something of that, but he also supplies neat little touches such as Johnny’s envy at Peter’s closeness with Aunt May being so different from his own childhood. We see Spider-Man deputising in the Fantastic Four and the Human Torch teaming with the Black Cat in what are not a series of straight team-ups. It’s not essential, but for fans who’re curious beyond the clothes and technology, Slott provides small clues defining when the stories take place. In the first when Aunt May tells Peter Parker he has a visitor, his assumption is that it’s the Mary Jane girl she keeps trying to set him up with, nailing it as early in the careers of both heroes. Johnny wearing a red costume in the third story combined with an appearance for the Spider-Mobile is equally telling, while Spider-Man’s black costume is seen later.
Because the team-ups jump forward through time, Templeton adapts his art, not only to the changing times, but the period looks of the artist drawing the characters at the time. This isn’t via straight swipes of Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby, but nice little homages to the likes of John Romita or Gil Kane. He’s an under-rated artist, and is enjoying himself with these stories.
So should everyone else. They’re a lot of fun, and isn’t that what superhero comics are supposed to be?