The Torch of Liberty was a costumed hero who fought Nazi forces during World War II. He appeared in Hellboy: Seed of Destruction as a cameo, as a nod to John Byrne.

Character History[edit | edit source]

Torch of Liberty was created by John Byrne and featured in the backup story to Danger Unlimited #1–4 (February–May 1994). The Torch was also featured in Torch of Liberty Special (January 1995). These stories reveal his origin as a soldier in World War II Europe, brought to great heights through trauma in combat.

The Torch of Liberty was present during the "Hellboy Incident" of December 23, 1944.[2] The Torch of Liberty gave Hellboy his pistol, though he claimed he was the worst shot he had ever trained.[3]

Publication History[edit | edit source]

In the early days of Dark Horse's Legend imprint, John Byrne (Next Men/Danger Unlimited), Art Adams (Monkeyman and O'Brien), and Mike Mignola planned for their creations to exist in a shared universe. This is why Byrne's Torch of Liberty (from Danger Unlimited) appears in Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1 and Hellboy appears in Byrne's Next Men #21. Monkeyman and O'Brien appeared as a back-up in Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1–4. Abe Sapien also had an extensive role in the Babe 2 two-issue miniseries (a John Byrne comic which is set in the shared universe of Danger Unlimited) with a small cameo involving Hellboy.

However, Mignola recalls that the three creators realized early on that this was a problematic idea and it was better that they each have their own universes. It would have been too difficult for them to coordinate it all. The Torch's appearance in Seed of Destruction is an artifact of the abandoned shared universe plans. The Chained Coffin also had a reference to this shared universe in its original version, but this was removed for the color release when it was collected in trade paperback.

Mignola has said if he had thought of Lobster Johnson back then, he would've used him in the opening of Seed of Destruction.[4]

Future Appearances[edit | edit source]

Because the character is owned by John Byrne, it is extremely unlikely that he will ever show up in a Hellboy story again. In response to a fan letter, editor Scott Allie stated:

The Torch of Liberty is the property of John Byrne, not Mike or Dark Horse, so, in order to keep these books all owned by Mike, we use characters he made up. John's busy elsewhere, so the Torch is gone if not forgotten.[5]

On the topic of the Torch's appearance in Seed of Destruction, Mignola has said:

I thought it was cool to have one superhero guy—kind of a throwback to my Marvel Comics stuff, little World War II Captain America hanging out with GIs. I always wanted to have that. And since John had created this Captain America-ish character, I thought, “Well, this is just perfect.” But now, I never want to go back and take it out, and John never told me to take it out. We acknowledge it’s there, but we just don’t talk about it too much.[6]

Notes[edit | edit source]

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