In Iron Man, the Avengers villain Korvac just brought back the very first Marvel hero, but he still isn’t quite back to his old self just yet.
WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Iron Man #9 by Christopher Cantwell, Cafu, Frank D’Armata and VC’s Joe Caramagna, on sale now.
Before Steve Rogers ever picked up Captain America’s shield, Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch, was Marvel’s first real hero. Now, this android has been literally unearthed by the Avengers villain Korvac in an attempt to find an ally in his quest for godhood.
With Iron Man on his trail, Korvac would need someone capable of holding off Tony Stark and whoever else he brought with him. To do that though, he would have to improve Jim’s fighting capabilities well beyond what they were before he became so mechanical. And when that failed, he made sure there was a way to control him.
Jim Hammond was introduced in 1939’s Marvel Comics #1 by Carl Burgos, he was the original bearer of the Human Torch title, yet ironically was an android made entirely out of a synthetic material named Horton Cells that allowed him to burst into flames on command without harming his body. However, the synthetic body that Jim had become so accustomed to was destroyed in Invaders #7 by Chip Zdarsky, Carlos Magno, Butch Guice and VC’s Travis Caramagna, during a botched rescue mission led by Captain America into the Red Skull’s lair. In an effort to give Jim a new body, Tony developed one for him, but this new body had none of the human designs that allowed Jim to blend in seamlessly with society.
This is why Korvac found him in isolation. After everything he had been through and lost, Jim wanted to be left alone. He prevented Jim from incinerating him by revealing that he was actually the fourth iteration of the same android design that created Jim. In effect, Korvac was Jim’s “brother” and he wanted to share his vision of the future with his family. In exchange for Jim giving him the time of day though, Korvac would rebuild Jim’s android body.
He was doing more than that, however. Korvac’s design used Horton Cells much like Jim’s old body did, but due to the passage of time and design models, Korvac’s android body was significantly more advanced than Jim’s ever was. This means that Jim’s new body is much more powerful than his original, potentially meaning that right now, Jim Hammond is the strongest he’s ever been.
But the catch was witnessing Korvac’s vision for tomorrow. In Korvac’s mind, he could speak of his plans and proselytize them, but he could never truly convey what it felt to witness them as he did to other people. Ultimately he decided to upload his “mental augmentations” to Jim’s brain. Fortunately for the world, Jim didn’t buy into Korvac’s mission. But his “brother” had already made preparations in case this family reunion didn’t go as hoped.
Jim attempted to stop Korvac, putting his new powers to quick use and proving that they still worked just as well now as they did then. But before he could put an end to Korvac’s designs, he was stopped by Korvac’s bodyguard, Basil. He placed a control disk on Jim, shutting him down and placing the newly restored android under Korvac’s complete control. So while in this state, Jim would have no awareness of what was happening to him and he could be controlled remotely by his captors.
It was a moment that was cut short. If what Korvac says is true, then Jim’s new body is the strongest he’s ever had. Couple this with his own abilities and he has the potential to be a serious threat to his successor. Korvac got the muscle he needed but failed to secure the brother he wanted.
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