Human Torch Fights A Galactic Pandemic in 1954, at Auction

Marvel first attempted to reboot its Golden Age superheroes during the early Cold War era in a rather unassuming and directionless title called Young MenYoung Men #24 cover-dated December 1953 was the beginning of that short-lived attempt.  This revival featuring Captain America and Bucky, the Human Torch and Toro, and the Sub-Mariner and Namora lasted across five different titles for 23 individual issues cover-dated from December 1953 to October 1954.  Among these, Men's Adventures #28 may be one of the most difficult to get, coming near the end of this short-lived revival and also as the final issue of that series.  There's a Men's Adventures #28 (Atlas, 1954) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages in today's 2021 October 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122141 from Heritage Auctions.

Men's Adventures #28 (Atlas, 1954) featuring the Human Torch.
Men's Adventures #28 (Atlas, 1954) featuring the Human Torch.

The Human Torch feature in Men's Adventures #28 is a fascinating departure from the typical Superheroes vs Communists that characterized this revival — choosing instead to focus on a Cold War staple of another kind with UFOs.  But instead of leaning into the Cold War UFO trope where the saucers are an obvious stand-in for Communist invaders, writer Joe Gill chooses to make the story a meta-commentary on the trope itself.  Gill is an enormously underappreciated and clever writer who would also contribute Cold War-era comics hallmarks such as the co-creation of Captain Atom and Peacemaker.  He tips his hand here with the opening caption: "This is a story of terror… terror that swept a country… a world! Terror that turned a thinking people into a terrified mob, an instrument of destruction, molded to viciousness and intolerance! This is a story that could happen… tomorrow!"

As the story unfolds, we find that UFOs are appearing in America's skies at the same time that a pandemic is sweeping the world.  The country blames the UFOs for the virus, thinking that it's a prelude to invasion.  But when the Human Torch and Toro investigate, they find that the aliens have been tracking an intergalactic plague spread by cosmic dust, and have in reality come bearing a cure for humanity.

Men's Adventures #28 is surprisingly difficult to get for a vintage Marvel superhero comic book and seems to be non-existent in high grade. There are only 17 entries for the comic on the CGC Census, with none higher than CGC 6.5.  That makes the Men's Adventures #28 (Atlas, 1954) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages a good get, and it's up for auction in today's 2021 October 10-11 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122141 from Heritage Auctions.

Men's Adventures #28 (Atlas, 1954) featuring the Human Torch.
Men's Adventures #28 (Atlas, 1954) featuring the Human Torch.

Men's Adventures #28 (Atlas, 1954) CGC FN- 5.5 Off-white to white pages. Captain America, Sub-Mariner, and Human Torch stories. Last issue of the title. Namora, Toro, and Bucky appearances. Carl Burgos cover. Bill Everett story and art. Dick Ayers and John Romita Sr. art. Overstreet 2021 FN 6.0 value = $513. CGC census 10/21: 1 in 5.5, 2 higher.

View the certification for CGC Certification ID 1974580013 and purchase grader's notes if available.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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