Max Finkelstein, better known as Carl Burgos, began as a background artist and inker for the Harry 'A' Chesler studio in 1938. When he eventually pencilled and inked his first full story, a Count Rocco tale, it appeared in Centaur Publications' Star Comics V2, #2 (March of 1939). He next created three minor features for Centaur: Air-Sub DX and Rocky (Stoney?) Dawson, both debuting in Amazing Mystery Funnies V2, #4 (April 1939), and the Iron Skull in Amazing-Man Comics #5 (September 1939).
Carl, along with fellow creator Bill Everett and others, soon left Chesler to form a rival studio, Funnies, Inc. The new studio's first commission proved the worth of the firm immediately, and established the cornerstone of the publisher that would one day become perhaps the most prolific producer of comic books in history, Marvel Comics.
When the landmark periodical Marvel Comics #1 was released in October of 1939, two of three of the company’s most popular Golden Age Heroes debuted; Bill Everett's Submariner and Carl Burgos's own The Human Torch (Captain America, the other member of Timely's big three, would debut elsewhere). The Human Torch would become Timely's first big hit, and receive his own title (one of the first superhero's after Superman to be so honored) sometime in the Fall of 1940. He would later acquire a poorly realized kid sidekick, Toro. Below are a few panels from the very original origin of HT in Marvel Comics #1:
Despairing that the android would never be able to control its powerful flame, it is decided to contain him in a few tons of concrete. Before long, however, the concrete shatters and the Torch emerges in flames. He will eventually gain full control of his powers and become a more or less standard superhero.
(Note: The image above is an unpublished 1941 Carl Burgos HT sketch.) While there were quite a few superheroes in the Golden Age with fire-derived abilities (Wildfire, The Flame, Pyroman, etc.), none were as well-conceived or as aesthetically dynamic as The Original Human Torch (the present day Human Torch of Lee and Kirby's Fantastic Four is a less-inspired reworking of the original concept). Burgos joined the US Army Air Force in 1942 and served for the duration, so the story presented here, from All-Winners #8, Fall 1942-43, is probably not his work (can anyone help with establishing proper credit for this story?). It is, however, a good read, with Hermann Goering, Hitler's own Iron Man, prevailing upon his Fuehrer to invade GB and have done with it already. The Nazi plan; freeze the English Channel and skate to London. Can HT & T triumph against ice? What do you think?