As a writer, I love reading or watching various media and pondering what I would do with this character or that one. It's my favorite creative past time and one of the big reasons I enjoy writing fanfiction. I think that's even half the reason I've written most of my fic. So I thought it'd be fun to write some thoughts on characters that I really enjoy, who I feel might have been neglected in one way or another. Sometimes, it might be an A-lister that I feel has never been used to their full potential. Other times, it may be a Z-lister who I feel is the next Squirrel Girl, just waiting to happen.
So the first I wanted to talk about is actually an A-list character, the one and only Johnny Storm.
While a student at Glenville High, Jonathan Lowell Spencer Storm was drafted to help crew an unauthorized space flight alongside his sister, her boyfriend Reed Richards, and Reed's best friend Ben Grimm. Hopefully you all know the story from here- the ship was bombarded with cosmic rays, all four crewmates gained superpowers, became the Fantastic Four and the Marvel Universe we know and love was born. Johnny was "gifted" with the powers to create and manipulate heat, specifically in flames. He could use that ability to fly and generate a powerful ultra-hot Nova blast. Johnny was the quickest to embrace his new found abilities, and fame. He was the Fantastic Four's most popular member, and early on battled everyone from Paste Pot Pete to Captain Barracuda to the Wizard. He was a celebrity superhero, before the concept really even existed any where else.
The character matured greatly in the 80's, marrying long-time friend Alicia Masters, battling depression after a young fan set himself on fire imitating him and attempting to complete college. He was heartbroken to learn that Alicia was actually a Skrull imitator named Lyja Lazerfist.
Johnny dated numerous women in the Marvel Universe- from normal girls like Dorrie Evans, to fellow superheroes like Namorita, daughters of supervillains like Cole Wittman and even was the gateway to introducing the Inhumans by falling for Crystal, sister of Medusa. Somehow Johnny has been unable to find lasting love despite all this.
In the most recent past, Johnny was killed saving Ben Grimm from the hordes of Annihilus in the Negative Zone. The warlord resurrected him, which proved to be his undoing, as Johnny eventually usurped him and took control of his forces. He returned to Earth and rejoined the Fantastic Four. Currently, he's powerless after helping his family turn back an extra-dimensional invasion.
Johnny is a totally fascinating character. He's a member of Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four. He was a celebrity long before celeb culture invaded our consciousness. He has been everything from an actor, to a singer, to a CFO, to a firefighter, to a racecar driver. He's a skilled mechanic, helping to build both the Fantasticar and the Spider-Mobile. And yet, he's only over starred in two volumes of his own solo series.
What I'd like to see from him
Johnny has been the star of the Fantastic Four at times, but he's never been the star on his own. He's always been dependent on the FF to some degree. It's time to give him an increased profile without Reed, Ben, and Sue. I don't think he needs to LEAVE the Four, but what's his "alone" time like?
He's the world's most famous superhero, at least in his head. While he doesn't need to go out and get a job, he needs to have a purpose. So why isn't he a full-time hero? While the FF isn't out fighting Galactus or exploring the Negative Zone, Johnny would be spending his day to do helping people. However, it's not all about responsibility, or guilt, or the kindness of his heart. It's all about his Q-rating. He's a genuinely good person, and has good intentions. But if he's faced with two situations, and has to make a choice, he's going to pick the one that makes him more famous. Or will he?
Of course, it seems like a simple choice at first, but as he gets more and more tangled in the world of celebrity, he has to find himself making the choice between good for him and people's genuine well-being. It's a great dramatic conflict that would make for a great story. Is Johnny the fame whore, or the hero?
And then we get into the second aspect I'd explore with him. It's time that Johnny met someone. He died. It could have been permanent. Frankly, he's lucky that Annihilus did him in, because he could come back with a renewed sense of purpose. If it had been another enemy, he might now have been so lucky.
So he's back, and he's alive. Where's his coping with that? Where's his renewed sense of purpose? Unfortunately, that hasn't happened quite yet.
One of the things that should be front and center in his mind is his love life. He was never the sort to settle down before, but he hadn't died before. He's faced with his mortality, what's next? What should he do with his future?
A lot of guys like Johnny, who have had a near miss with his life, would get serious about commitment. His longest lived relationship was with an alien invader for hell's sake! He would realize that it's time to find a girl he can truly be with, and not just show off and have fun with. Could it be one of his old flames? Maybe. It'd be fun for it to be someone new. A normal person that grounds him.
That's what I'd love to see from the Human Torch. What would you do?
And I'm open to suggestions of other characters you'd like to hear about from any media!