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Phineas Horton (Earth-616)

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Quote1 Phineas Horton was like a modern day Prometheus, stealing fire from the heavens and handing a human torch down to man. Quote2
-- Human Torch (Jim Hammond)
 

Phineas T. Horton was a brilliant scientist whose legacy is the creation of the original Human Torch android. Despite creating one of the most legendary heroes of World War II, he would be a man who would live in obscurity due to his obsession of obtaining fame.

Early Career

Horton's earliest recorded appearance was circa 1929 when he moved to the town of Timely, Wisconsin to work for Victor Timely Jr. (who in reality was time traveler Kang the Conqueror). There Horton would use the advanced technology available to him to create a solar gem, which he would utilize to power his creation of synthetic humans, as well as the "Horton Cell" the basic building block of artificial life.

He would later work with Fred Raymond and James Bradley. The former to develop fire proofing methods and the latter create a synthetic body. His research would be secretly funded by the government, however they would pull out helping Horton and Bradley would leave with a prototype they were working on.[3]

During the 1939 World's Fair, Horton hope to unveil his newest creation a synthezoid called the "Vision of Tomorrow" before the press. However a flaw would spark due to a problem with its thermogenic cells that dealt with the incredible heat it generated. In the confusion, Kenneth Laumer, as spy for the Nazi's would steal the solar gem from the robot.[4]

Human Torch

Weeks after this incident, Horton unveiled his project to the press in New York calling his creation the Human Torch. When he showed to the gathered press that his creation would burst into flame when exposed to oxygen, they published the story and a combination of public outcry, pressure from the Scientists Guild, and a presidential order[5] forced Horton to seal his creation in an airless cylinder sealed in cement.[6] Horton, not wishing to give up on his experiment had it to learn through education tapes until a crack in the cement caused air to leak in[7] and the Torch freed himself. When the Torch was blamed for destroying a warehouse owned by the Acmen Warehouse, Inc. Horton accompanied the police in investigating. Witnessing as the Torch gained control of his flame after being exposed to nitrogen, Horton learned that the Torch was manipulated by criminal Tony Sardo. The Torch was cleared of all charges, and released into Horton's custody. However, when the Torch learned that Horton only sought fame and fortune, he departed to seek a crime-fighting career.[6][8]

Professor Horton

First appearance of Prof. Horton

In the summer of 1942, Horton was working for the United States government when he was targeted by Adolf Hitler who had the Python broken out of Alcatraz in order to use Horton to either destroy or control the Human Torch. To this end, the Python forced Horton to lead the Torch into a trap in which the hero was trapped in the cylinder he was first created in. Exposing him to the device caused the Torch to become a massive flame creature loyal to the Python. Horton aided the Sub-Mariner and the Torch's sidekick Toro in stopping the Python and restoring the Torch to normal.[9] In 1943, Horton sought the Torch and Toro's aid in protecting his niece Doris from Nazi spies as she was smuggling a list of the spies names back from Sweden.[10]

Horton convinced the Torch to return to working with him after restoring the Torch's skin after it was destroyed battling an Operation: Re-Birth experiment gone wrong. Realizing Horton was still only looking for fame, the Torch departed and burned down Horton's lab, but the scientist survived.[11]

Much later, Nazi scientist Sigmund Fell would reverse engineer the solar gem technology stolen by Kenneth Laumer years earlier creating the Gremlins for Nazi Germany. Horton would enlist the aid of the Torch and other wartime heroes into destroying the Gremlins, destroying all but one. Horton would not divulge to the Torch the Gremlins shared linage with him.[12]

Post World War II

Still seeking fame with his inventions, Horton would attempt to create yet another android, Adam II. However, this android would prove to be evil and subdue Horton, replacing him with an android duplicate. Adam II would plot to replace politician John F. Kennedy with an android duplicate as part of a bid to take over the world. This plot would be discovered by the Human Torch and his partner Toro who would free Horton and destroy Adam II and his android minions with aid from the newly form All-Winners Squad.[13]

Phineas would sire a daughter, who produce a granddaughter Victoria Anderson, although he would not get acquainted with his granddaughter until recent time.[14] The identity of his daughter, and her biological mother remain unrevealed. Whatever the history may be, Horton either divorced, separated or was estranged from this woman as he would soon get into a relationship with Lanette Raye and marry her, taking up the name Thomas Raye. When Lanette would die a year later leaving Phineas would be left to raise her daughter from a previous marriage, Frankie, he would eventually develop alcoholism.[2]

Modern Age

When Frankie was 14, the heroic Fantastic Four revealed themselves publicly and Horton was furious to learn that it's youngest member Johnny Storm took on the mantle of Human Torch, thinking it an insult to the original (who had seemingly perished in the 1950's). He would become determined to create a new Human Torch android, and enlist young Frankie to help him. Taking her to a warehouse where he kept a great amount of his equipment they worked until a chemical was spilled on Frankie giving her the ability to burst into flames. Horrified by this, Horton would hypnotize Frankie into forgetting the incident, develop a fear of fire, and would leave her to raise herself sending money and correspondence as well as a costume that would be absorbed into her skin that was fire proof -- something he also hypnotically made her forget.[2]

While in hiding, Horton would learn that one of the Gremlin androids from the war had survived, and would record a message in a solar gem and leave it to his granddaughter Victoria hoping that should he die before the Gremlin became a threat, one of his previous creations could stop it's menace on his behalf.[12]

By this time, Horton would be residing in Stamford, Connecticut living near poverty as a simple repair man and delving further into depression and alcoholism. He would be kidnapped by the mad robot Ultron-5 who would seek to force Horton to revive the recovered body of the Human Torch (actually a temporal duplicate created by Immortus). He would rebuild the Torch into a new form. However when he would refused to reprogram the Torch's mind, Ultron would slay him.[15]

Legacy

The reprogrammed temporal duplicate of the Human Torch would become the heroic Vision who would become a long standing member of the heroic Avengers.[16] The body of the original Human Torch would be recovered by the West Coast Avengers and continue to operate as a hero for years.[17] Frankie Raye would romance Johnny Storm, remember her abilities and ultimately become a herald of Galactus.[18] Victoria Anderson would end up going to Penn State, and when the Gremlin would target the Vision, she would aid him in destroying it.[14]

The chronal duplicates of the Human Torch were orchestrated by Immortus to guide the Avengers in a way he saw fit. To this end, he also had one of his Space Phantoms pose as Horton after his death to disavow any relation between the Vision and Human Torch.[19] This ruse was not revealed until recent times.[20][21]


Abilities

  • Super-Genius Intelligence: Professor Horton was a brilliant scientist working in the fields of genetics and biochemistry far beyond the standards of the mid 20th Century.[22]
  • Hypnosis: Professor Horton was trained in hypnosis.[2]



  • Horton was a driven man. He was obsessed with gaining the glory he felt he deserved as the creator of the first android. He was also obsessed with his creation, the original Human Torch. Of the 3 Scientists' Guild members who came to see Professor Horton,one resembles Professor Philo Zogolowski and one resembles Doctor Joshua Williams.[6]
  • In Marvel Mystery Comics #92, Professor Horton is named Albert and the story also contradicts much of his established history.
  • Horton's death was depicted during a trek through time by the Vision and synchro-staff to unlock his origins. Horton later resurfaced alive but greatly aged in West Coast Avengers Vol 2 #44, indicating Vision's recollections were faulty. Avengers: Forever #8 reaffirmed Horton's original demise, while explaining the WCA Horton as a Space Phantom working to further Immortus's schemes.

Discover and Discuss

Footnotes

  1. confirmed in Avengers: Forever #8
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Fantastic Four #238
  3. Invaders Vol 2 #1
  4. Avengers Icons: The Vision #1
  5. Marvels Project #1
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Marvel Comics #1
  7. Marvels #0
  8. Saga of the Original Human Torch #1
  9. Human Torch Comics #8
  10. Marvel Mystery Comics #39
  11. Human Torch Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1
  12. 12.0 12.1 Avengers Icons: The Vision #3
  13. What If? #4
  14. 14.0 14.1 Avengers Icons: The Vision #2
  15. Avengers #135
  16. Avengers #57-58
  17. Avengers West Coast #50
  18. Fantastic Four #239-244
  19. West Coast Avengers Vol 2 #44
  20. Avengers: Forever #8
  21. Profile completed with notes from [1], [2], and Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #14
  22. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #14
  23. Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z hardcover Vol. 14



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