- A kid died today, Sue, died because of me. Because I never stopped to consider what the Human Torch might mean out in the real world.
- -- Johnny Storm
Appearing in "Hero"
- Fantastic Four
- Edwin Jarvis
- Wasp (Janet Van Dyne)
- Joss Kinkaid (Only appearance)
- Ms. Welsh (Only appearance)
- Dr. Janet Darling (Only appearance)
- Bob Hanson (Only appearance)
- Sheila Hanson (Only appearance)
- Don (First appearance)
- Campbell (First appearance)
- Cooley (First appearance)
Races and Species:
- New York City
- Avengers Mansion
- Location of the Four Freedoms Plaza (Under Construction)
- Alicia Masters' apartment
- South Queens Hospital for Sick Children (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Hero"
Dr. Janet Darling has to finish writing up a report about Thomas Hanson, a 13 year old boy who recently died of third degree burns. Looking at the fact sheet in her typewriter, Darling rips it out and decides that there is more to the story that has to be told...
Thomas Hanson an introverted young man who was obsessed with his hero the Human Torch. One day, his fellow student trades the latest article on the Torch to Thomas in exchange for his lunch money for a month and doing his math home work and book reports until Christmas. Hanson agrees and is given the magazine, running late for class the boy begins trying to secretly read the magazine in English class while his teacher Ms. Walsh is reading the works of Robert Frost. She confiscates the magazine and asks him to see her after class. Walsh learns about the boys hero worship and suggests that he try to live in the real world, and to teach him a lesson takes the magazine away and throws it out. As Thomas walks home his classmate trips him up and reminds him that he still has to pay up his lunch money every day and do his assignments.
Returning home, the young boy finds that his parents are going to be away all night on business but takes delight in the fact that that evenings episode of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" features the Human Torch. Tommy decides to try and call his idol, and surprisingly manages to get through to Avengers Mansion. When the phone is answered by the Avenger's butler Jarvis, Jarvis informs Tommy that the Torch is away on a mission with the rest of the Fantastic Four. Tommy tells Jarvis to leave a message for the Torch that Tommy Hanson called and that he only wanted Johnny to know his name.
Falling asleep on the living room floor, Tommy is woken up by the sound Joss Kincaid working on a new radio control jet that runs of a special jet fuel that he had cobbled together himself. When Joss's beeper goes off, he asks Tommy to put away the fuel while he calls his office but warns the boy to be careful because the stuff is so flammable he suggests that it might turn him into the Human Torch. While Joss was merely joking, the boy looks ominously at the can of experimental fuel.
One month later, the Human Torch arrives at the former site of the Baxter Building where Reed Richards is overseeing the construction of their new headquarters which will prove to be bigger and more technologically advanced than their original. While Reed explains the advantages their new base will have, he cannot help but bring up his growing concerns over the Beyonder being active on Earth. When Dr. Darling arrives looking for Johnny, she almost tumbles down into the foundation, but is saved by Johnny. She explains that she has a young boy in her burn ward whom has been under her care over the past month who has not long to live and has asked to meet his idol the Human Torch. Johnny, sympathetic about he boys mortality, agrees to accompany her, but exercises his discretion to not use his flame powers in proximity of the burn ward.
Arriving at the hospital, Johnny meets with the severely burned Tommy Hanson who is in the company of his parents. Fading fast, Tommy tells the Torch that he did it to be just like him. As the boy slips away, Johnny is mortified by what he was told and repeats the boy's dying words to everyone gathered. Johnny is slapped across the face by Tommy's mother and the Hanson parents blame the hero for their sons death, Mr. Hanson going so far as attempting to use his influence to ruin the Human Torch's reputation. Led out of the hospital, Johnny, filled with remorse and sorry is about to Flame On and fly away when he realizes that he cannot and calls for a taxi.
At the home of Alicia Masters, Alicia shows off her sculpture of the She-Hulk she recently done for She-Hulk and Sue. She-Hulk is impressed and asks Alicia to make one of her human form now that she can no longer change back to her Jennifer Walters persona. When Johnny enters the room, he tells Sue, Alicia and She-Hulk that he is quitting his career as the Human Torch. The others are shocked and listen as Johnny explains what happened. Despite their efforts to convince him to not give up his career, Johnny cannot be budged on the issue.
Suddenly, the Beyonder appears, and despite She-Hulk's attempt to stop him he teleports the Torch away. The Beyonder has decided to show the Torch a reason never to give up on his career as a super-hero. He takes him back in time and shows him Tommy Hanson's life. Showing Johnny the lonely boy's life and explaining that he should not blame himself for Tommy's passing as through his hero worship of the Torch Tommy truly lived. These words manage to convince Johnny not to give up his career.
.... Finishing her report, Dr. Darling turns it over to her superior who finds the story odd but entertaining. When he asks questions about who the Beyonder is, she explains that Johnny declined to explain who he was. When asked what final words she has on the case, Janet can recall a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald: "Show me a hero, and I'll write you a tragedy."
Secret Wars II continues in Secret Wars II #6...
- The Fantastic Four all last appeared in Secret Wars II #5 where they joined an army of heroes who tired to battle the Beyonder.
- This issue marks the beginning of construction for the Four Freedoms Plaza the new headquarters of the Fantastic Four following the destruction of their old headquarters the Baxter Building in Fantastic Four #278. Construction is completed in Fantastic Four #296.
- Tommy is not the only person to immolate himself. Later Theodore Bannion does the same thing himself. His uncles, Daniel, Herb, and Thomas Bannion joined up with AIM to become the Seekers as seen Iron Man #214. They became more focused on destroying the Torch after Thomas died in Fantastic Four #342.
- This is not really Alicia Masters but a Skrull spy named Lyja. Per Fantastic Four #358, Lyja took Alicia's place during the events of Fantastic Four #265 in order to infiltrate the group.
- She-Hulk mentions how she recently lost her ability to change back into human form. This happened in Marvel Graphic Novel #18 and remains the status quo for years until She-Hulk #1.
- The Beyonder appears here between the events of Doctor Strange Vol 2 #74 where Doctor Strange tries to get the Beyonder out of a depression, and Secret Wars II #6 decides to become a champion and takes on Death itself.
- No letters page is published this issue.
- This story ties in with Secret War II.
- In the letter collumn published in John Byrne's Next Men # 22 (January 1994), John Byrne reveals that he had originally planned that Dr. Darling would reveal the truth to the Human Torch, but he had to include the character of the Beyonder as a cross over to Secret Wars II. He even suggested to the FF editors that he would redraw all the scenes which featured the Beyonder free of charge if they decided to reprint the story.
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