Unsinkable Ship: The Endearing Appeal Of Spideytorch [Love & Sex Week]
I don't spend a lot of time seeking out fan-generated content or non-canon ships, possibly to my own detriment, but the pairing of Spider-Man and The Human Torch is one that I've become very invested in over the past year. Spideytorch not only helped me put a lot of important personal things in perspective; it gave me a way to appreciate how fan-art can have an impact on how different individuals approach canon stories.
As someone who approached my own bisexuality through comic books --- as I've written about for this very site --- it became important to me to seek out the representation that I never saw growing up, by looking in places other than officially licensed superhero stories. I had never really been drawn to reading fan-fic or seeking out fan-produced content before, but when I learned that people shipped Peter Parker and Johnny Storm, my knowledge of both characters pinged like a Mother Box, and I thought, "Huh, that makes total sense".
I could pull out a bunch of continuity touchstones to point towards how close the pair are --- such as Johnny insisting Peter join the Fantastic Four after his death --- but I think with ships like this it's more important to consider how they make you feel. The best ships are ones that make you realize there was something you were missing, and Spideytorch made me approach that continuity and the characters' relationships in a whole new light.
I first came across the Spideytorch ship via the fan art of Hannah Blumenreich, who is possibly the best Spider-Man writer of our generation. I reached out to Hannah to ask her why Spideytorch was the ship that she gravitated to, and what it is about Peter and Johnny's relationship that inspires her fan-art.
I think my appreciation for this ship came from my dissatisfaction with Spidey’s canon ships (which have never been terribly interesting) and also one of his more popular non-canon ships: Spideypool. I don’t remember how Spideytorch came to my attention, but it makes a lot of sense. They’re both such utter doofuses, and they clearly care for each other a lot. Also, who doesn’t love a good jock/nerd pairing? No one.
To me, it makes perfect sense that Peter and Johnny could, would, and should be boyfriends. Peter helps Johnny have a normal(ish) social life away from his family, and Johnny helps Peter relax and take the weight of the world off his shoulders. As Hannah said, they're both doofuses --- and yeah, they do prank each other on the reg --- but their relationship is built on a foundation of trust and mutual appreciation.