December 6, 2006

Marvel Comics Presents #83 [1991]

"The Matchstick And The Moth" is an 8-page Human Torch story with plot and pencils by Ditko and inks and script by Erik Larsen. The story features a one-shot villain, the Moth, a woman who has some sort of vaguely defined power that makes her able to temporarily snuff out the Torch's flame powers. She works with two criminal types, posing as a crime victim to lure the Torch in and capture him. She thinks that there's a big-boss promising a million-dollar payday for capturing the Torch, but while she's out of the room the Torch overhears that in fact they're planning to double-cross and kill her. The Torch is able to escape their trap, and tries to warn the Moth, but she douses his powers again before the criminals (rather stupidly) reveal the double-cross. She gets shot, but manages to rescue the Torch who musters up just enough power for one last attack, and then she dies with some metaphor about Moth's getting too close to a flame.

A decent enough story, nothing too memorable, but I do like the way that Ditko draws the Torch, both in and out of flames. Plus you get a lot of great sneering faces on the criminals. Larsen's inks worked a lot better than I'd have expected, although I think they'd have worked better with some slightly less slick flatter colouring.

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