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Human Torch Comics Vol 1 31

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Appearing in "He Gambled on Death"Edit

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Synopsis for "He Gambled on Death"Edit

The Gambler has lost his final game of cards and has decided to start gambling in a different way: placing bets on the success of criminal plots around the city. Elsewhere in the city, the Human Torch and Toro give chase to Big Jim Caffrey and his gang, who attempt to escape in a speed boat but are easily captured. When the news its the newspapers, underworld criminals begin to lament the loss of a criminal mastermind. Entering a shady bar, the Gambler meets with some of Caffrey's and wagers for a hundred grand that Big Jim will be free by the next afternoon. The gang members find this hard to believe and agree to his bet.

The next day a doctor visits Big Jim in prison and tells the guard that Jim is suffering from Asiatic Cholera and convinces the guard that he needs to lock down the prison to halt infection while he brings Jim to medical care. However, this is a trick plotted by the Gambler, and the phony doctor succeeds in fleeing the prison with Big Jim. When the authorities realize what has happened it is too late and they call in the Human Torch and Toro to help with the manhunt for Big Jim. Taking the case, the Torch and Toro begin searching the haunts regularly frequented by Big Jim and his men.

Meanwhile, at Big Jim's hideout, the Gambler gets his pay off and wagers that he can assist the gang into breaking into the Farmer's Bank, a bank that is supposedly burglar proof at four to one odds. Big Jim, surprised at this wager accepts. Later, the Human Torch and Toro spot one of Big Jim's men placing a bet with a crooked diner owner and follows him when he leaves in a car. While at the Farmer's Bank, the Gambler uses a voice thrower to convince the bank owner that there is somebody trapped inside the vault. He then convinces the banker to allow him to call a safe cracker, unaware that it is one of Big Jim's men. When the safe cracker opens the safe, the Gambler knocks out the bank owner just as Big Jim and his men storm the bank shooting down the guards. However, the robbery goes awry when the Human Torch and Toro manage arrive. They manage to round up the entire gang except for the Gambler and Big Jim's girl.

Sore from his losses, the Gambler then puts out his biggest wager ever: the death of the Human Torch and Toro. Eventually word gets back to the Torch who soon begins patrolling the city with Toro to catch the Gambler. They learn from the stool pigeon that the Gambler is headquartered aboard an old river boat and rush there. When the two heroes come crashing in, the Gambler is ready for them, unleashing a gas that douses their flames and knocks the two heroes out. However, when the girl enters the room, enough of the gas gets out to revive the Torch, who easily knocks out the Gambler. However, as he and Toro are attempting to knock out the girl, the Gambler activates an explosive rigged roulette wheel, intending to die instead of face prison. The Torch and Toro flame on and rush out with the girl as the boat explodes, killing the Gambler on board. As the ruined ship sinks to the bottom, the Torch remarks to Toro that this is another example that crime does not pay.

Appearing in "Troubador of Terror"Edit

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Synopsis for "Troubador of Terror"Edit

The Sub-Mariner and Namora are swimming through the ocean when they hear a beautiful song. They follow the source to a yacht. Aboard is a musician named Vladimir Borsch who is playing one of his old songs "Death in Venice". As he plays the party is suddenly crashed by a masked man calling himself the Phantom Troubador, who accuses Vladimir of stealing the song and making a fortune off of it before shooting him dead in cold blood. Hearing the shots from outside, the Sub-Mariner and Namora rush aboard and clash with the Troubador and his men. Breaking free from the attack, the Troubador dives overboard tossing an explosive laden guitar at them, forcing the two Atlanteans back as the Troubador escapes.

When questioning the party guests they learn that Vladimir had no known enemies and that he used to be the member of a quartet of musicians. Suspecting they might know who killed Borsch, they look up the names of the surviving members of the quartet and begin tracking them down. They first pay a visit to Leo Briggs, a violin player, as he is performing at a concert in a waterfront ampitheater. However, as the performance stars the Troubador reappears. Briggs recognizes his attacker but before he can reveal who he is, Briggs is shot dead. Sub-Mariner and Namora arrive too late to stop the murder and clash once more with the Troubador and his men. However, the Troubador once more escapes by creasing Namor's skull with a bullet, stunning the hero long enough for the Troubador to escape once more.

With the only surviving members being married couple Jim and Luella Clegget, Namor and Namora rush to their estate. However, the Troubador has already arrive and playing the song "Death in Venice", both Jim and Luella recognize the Troubador as their old colleague David Larnum, a shock as they believed that David had drowned years ago. Larnum explains that he survived the shipwreck they believed claimed his life and lived on a deserted island for a number of years before finding his way back to the mainland. There he had learned that they took his song and made it famous and decided to take revenge against those who stole his work. Jim and Luella try to reason with him, explaining they published the song in his memory believing him dead. When the Troubador refuses to listen Namor and Namora come crashing through the window and easily knock out the Troubador and his gang. Several days later, Namor and Namora rush to shore once more to see Jim and Luella put on a performance of "Death in Venice".

Appearing in "Man Who Could Foresee Doom"Edit

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Synopsis for "Man Who Could Foresee Doom"Edit

When jungle explorer Vincent Roberts goes missing his lover, the wealthy Alice Graham, insists on going to see Swami Krishina, a supposed mystic who claims to speak to the dead, to learn if he is alive or dead. When she tells this to her friends the Human Torch and Toro, they try to caution her against going, in the event that Krishina is really a fraud, but Alice won't listen. The Torch and Toro decide the best thing they can do to avoid Alice from being bled dry by a chestier is to try and find Vincent themselves.

The Torch and Toro's hunch prove right as Swami Krishina is really a fraud that uses intricate props, special effects and actors to give the illusion that he is summoning the spirits of the dead, and he is prepared and eagerly awaits to swindle Alice Graham of her fortune with his false tales of Vincent Robert's fate. When Alice pays a visit, the Swami uses his tricks to "conjuring" an image of Vincent in the jungle being felled by a poison dart being shot by a native. Convincing Alice that Vincent is dead, Alice asks the Swami to summon his spirit back so she might see him again. When she offers to pay any price for this "dangerous task", the Swami tells her to come back the next day.

Meanwhile, the Human Torch and Toro arrive in Africa and track down Vincent's last known location. Asking one of the natives they learn that Vincent had been taken ill but is now on the mend. Finding Vincent recovering in a hut they explain what happened and fly him back to the United States before the Swami can swindle Alice out of her fortune. As the Swami prepares to receive Alice for her visit the next day, the Torch, Toro and Vincent break into the Swami's parlour. They knock out the actors posing as Vincent and decide to give the Swami a good scare and force him to confess. When the Swami calls forth his actor posing as Vincent, it is the real Vincent who appears. Pretending to be a spirit, he calls out the Swami for defiling his eternal rest, sending the phony into a panic and he confesses to putting on the act. When Vincent reveals that it was all a ruse, the Swami tries to flee as he is reunited with Alice. However, before he can escape the Torch and Toro easily round him up and explain how he was so easily able to fool Alice with is tricks and special effects.

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Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 First and only known appearance to date besides flashbacks



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