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Wildfire is a fictional DC Comics superhero. Created by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum, the character debuted in Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #195 (June 1973). The story is set in a fictional universe's 30th and 31st centuries.
Wildfire was immediately popular with readers. At that time, the editors of Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes held periodic elections in which readers could choose the Legion's leader. Soon after his introduction, Wildfire was elected to that post. In-story, Wildfire actually lost the election to Superboy, but as no candidate had received a majority of the votes, the membership decided that the Legion needed a member who was available full-time rather than the time-travelling, part-time Kryptonian member.
Fictional character biography
|First appearance||Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #195 (June 1973)|
|Created by||Cary Bates (writer)
Dave Cockrum (artist)
|Alter ego||Drake Burroughs|
|Team affiliations||Legion of Super-Heroes|
|Abilities||Composed of "anti-energy"; super strength, flight, energy blasts and manipulation, minor object conjuration|
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (April 2009)|
Wildfire was originally Drake Burroughs, an astroengineer. While he was working on a new propulsion system, the unit's safety valve snapped and discharged a blast of anti-matter energy. Burroughs was engulfed instantly but somehow his consciousness survived and Burroughs found himself transformed into a being of pure anti-energy.
Fortunately, his colleagues had on hand a containment suit that could be used to keep Drake's anti-energy from dispersing. Once confined to a specific area, Drake's energy form stabilized and became self-regenerating. He again possessed a semblance of humanoid form; however, he had no mouth, eyes, nose, or ears, but rather a blank metallic faceplate, and lacked the senses of taste and smell. Drake also had vast super-powers, comparable in scale, though not specific expression, to those of a Kryptonian or Daxamite. Some of his powers included super-strength, near-invulnerability, flight at faster-than-light speeds, various enhanced vision powers including x-ray, the ability to create simple, pseudo-solid energy constructs like a Green Lantern (though not nearly as elaborate), the ability to absorb outside energy sources, and the ability to change size from giant to homunculus to normal. Most potent of his abilities was the power to fire energy blasts. He was reluctant to use that ability because of an accident in which he nearly killed his former girlfriend.
Calling himself ERG-1 (Energy Release Generator 1), Drake decided to petition for membership in the Legion, thinking his litany of powers would guarantee his admittance. To his surprise, he was turned down because all the abilities he demonstrated were duplicates of those of Mon-El, Colossal Boy, Chemical King, Phantom Girl, and Shrinking Violet; he had not demonstrated his energy blasting or manipulation abilities because he was afraid he could not control them safely (at this time, the Legion's bylaws required that each member possess at least one superpower no other active member did). Anxious to prove his abilities, he followed several Legionnaires on a mission to a planet called Manna-5. On this mission, Colossal Boy was knocked unconscious by an enemy machine and none of the other Legionnaires present (Phantom Girl and Chemical King) had the power to save him. ERG-1 destroyed the machine, but expelled his entire energy form from his containment suit. Because his energy form was invisible, the Legionnaires assumed he had been killed in saving Colossal Boy and that ERG-1 had not demonstrated his energy powers earlier because they could only be used once.
However, ERG-1 was alive. By now, his energy form was stable enough so that he could survive without his suit, though he could neither take humanoid form nor communicate with anyone. He followed the Legionnaires back to Earth where they put his containment suit on display. Upon reaching the Legionnaries' headquarters he managed to regain the suit and, in the usual heroic fashion, save the Legion from another menace. He was then admitted to the team and adopted the name Wildfire.
Over time, Wildfire lost many of his powers. This was partly because of the trauma of the explosive exit from his containment suit. In addition, his original containment suit was eventually destroyed and subsequent copies were not as versatile. His later suits were also not nearly as durable and it was easier to cause him to be expelled from it. Even so, he always retained his flight, energy absorption, energy projection, and super strength, and was commonly considered among the four most powerful Legionnaires along with Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy.
Initially, Wildfire and Superboy were rivals and actually fought over the position of team leader. Wildfire acquitted himself well in that battle, establishing that his raw power was comparable to a Kryptonian's. As leader, Wildfire got mixed reviews. Though he was decisive and a gifted tactician, his poor people skills swiftly alienated many of his fellow members (though not, ironically, Superboy; at the conclusion of a particularly rough crisis, he told his one-time rival that he had become "one hell of a leader"). He led the Legion through the Earthwar and Omega crises but was defeated for re-election by Lightning Lad.
Shortly after becoming leader, Wildfire recruited a young Amerindian mutant, Dawnstar. He soon became enamored of her, but for years theirs was a love-hate relationship. It was clear to their teammates that they were extremely fond of each other, if not actively in love, but Dawnstar would not admit to her feelings. Wildfire, in return, was often passive-aggressive in his treatment of her. It was eventually revealed that Dawnstar did reciprocate his feelings. However, she feared that she would never know physical love since Wildfire did not possess a physical body.
Some time later, the Legion admitted an extra-dimensional being named Quislet. Like Wildfire, Quislet was an entity of pure energy and required a containment device to survive on Earth; unlike Wildfire, though, Quislet's condition was natural to his species. He taught Wildfire how to control his energy form without needing the containment suit. In this new form, Wildfire was much closer to human, being visible, tangible, and possessing facial features. However, his body was still so hot that his mere touch burned Dawnstar. The two star-crossed lovers attempted to consummate their passion, but Wildfire could not bear to cause his beloved pain (though she was willing to attempt to bear it). He might have attained greater control of his temperature given further lessons with Quislet, but before he could do so, Quislet's own containment device was destroyed and he was forced to return to his own dimension. Quislet had been surreptitiously assisting Wildfire to maintain physical form, and after he left, Wildfire quickly lost the ability to maintain his form. He resumed use of the containment suit. He remained in that form for some time; eventually, in post-Crisis continuity, he used his powers to reignite Earth's sun, and eventually his consciousness ended up in Sun Boy's corpse, a condition he maintained until the Legion reboot.
|First appearance||Legionnaires #74|
|Alter ego||Drake Burroughs|
|Team affiliations||Legion of Super-Heroes
Amazers (Atom'X only), Workforce (Blast-Off only)
|Notable aliases||ERG-1, Atom'X (Randall Burroughs), Blast-Off I (Jahr-Drake Ningle)|
|Abilities||Composed of thermonuclear energy|
Following Zero Hour, Wildfire was absent from Legion comics for some years, and when he returned, it was with a drastically different origin.
In a fight with Mordru, Atom'X (Randall Burroughs) and Blast-Off (Jahr-Drake Ningle), members of the Uncanny Amazers and Workforce respectively, were seemingly killed by the villain. However, some time later, several Legionnaires noticed energy patterns in the area, and Umbra was able to contain the energy long enough for them to realize that it was sentient. However, when they retrieved it to a laboratory they found it contained the inseparable minds of both Atom'X and Blast-Off. Although Umbra in particular was disgusted by the forced integration, they successfully contained the energy long enough to create a containment suit for it, and the new being took the name Drake Burroughs after his forebears and the codename ERG-1.
Shortly afterward, ERG-1 was one of the Legionnaires lost in a spacial rift - although he suffered a traumatic experience as his containment suit was ripped open by the rift.
When Element Lad had returned the other Legionnaires to normal space, albeit becoming separated from them in time in the process, ERG-1's energy leeched into space too, congealing as a "star" noticed by Shikari's nomadic people, the Kwai, which led her to discover and accidentally revive the other Legionnaires, who had been held in suspended animation. Soon afterward, while the Legionnaires met the Kwai, Kid Quantum noticed that the "feral star" the Kwai had been following was in fact ERG-1. Brainiac 5, with the Kwai's help and materials, managed to create a new containment suit for him, restoring a semblance of form to him. In addition, the time spent alone in space had merged his two minds into one. Shortly afterward, he took the name Wildfire after a mistranslation by Shikari.
Some time after they returned to their home galaxy, however, he was captured by Qward and used to power their whole planet for a considerable period. Though his power was great, it was finite, and after his rescue, he was left so weakened by the experience that the threat of running out of energy became a real and ongoing threat to him.
Drake was eventually introduced into the "Threeboot" continuity in the "The Quest for Cosmic Boy" storyline. This version of Drake has the same abilities as the previous versions, and his containment suit is identical to the one he used in pre-Zero Hour continuity. This version of E.R.G.-1 was believed to have been destroyed when his containment suit ruptured during his try-out mission. However, his energy was collected and reconstituted by his brother Randall. This E.R.G.-1 was manipulated by his brother to become an assassin, but that was eventually stopped by Brainiac 5 and Atom Girl. He was later seen fighting the creatures from the Intruder Planet.
One year later
A version of Drake resembling his original incarnation appears in the "The Lightning Saga" crossover in Justice Society of America (vol. 3) and Justice League of America (vol. 2), unwillingly masquerading as a statue in the Fortress of Solitude. He reveals that his containment suit is actually the Red Tornado's robotic shell and indicates that he has at least some of the Red Tornado's memories.
By the end of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, this version of Drake has finally entered into a relationship with Dawnstar.
In DC's New 52 reboot, Wildfire, along with Dawnstar, Chameleon Girl, Tellus, Tyroc, Gates, and Timber Wolf are all stranded in the 21st Century after apprehending a time-travelling terrorist. This new series, also titled Legion Lost ran for 16 issues and dealt with the characters' feelings of being trapped in a (to them) primative society and having to fit in while not changing their future. In this version Wildfire wore a more armor-like suit of red & black instead of the original orange and red.
- A version of Drake appeared in Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #7, under the Legends of the Dead Earth banner. This Drake claims to be the last living Legionnaire from the long dead planet Earth, his energy powers having rendered him immortal. Drake's origin is much the same as his original counterpart. While the book implied that this was the future of the post-Zero Hour Legion, Drake's backstory conflicts too greatly with that of the version of Wildfire that was introduced in later in the series, along with certain elements that never occurred in the main series, such as the introduction of Quislet and Reflecto, and a new character called Galaxy Girl, into the Legion. This Drake has led various teams of Legionnaires in battle against a group of terrorists who have been blowing up stars and planets in order to keep the rest of the universe separated from one another, but the members he recruits continue to die on their missions because of their prejudices. The only three surviving members who still aid him are Rimborians, Gizi and Ziga, and an alien named Membrain. Drake, up until that point, suffered some memory loss, and by undergoing sensory deprivation and having them restored, he decided to recruit teenagers. This is a successful move, as his new team is able to stop the terrorist group, revealed to be Durlans, from destroying anymore stars and move on to help reunite the universe as the United Planets.
- A version of Drake called Erg plays a Tin Woodsman-esque role in Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #5, The Long Road Home. The story was released under the Elseworlds banner.
In other media
Wildfire appeared in an episode of Justice League Unlimited titled "Far From Home". He has a small, non-speaking part.
- Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #34-35
- Legion of Super-Heroes #50 (March 2009)
- Justice Society of America (vol. 3) #5
- Justice League of America (vol. 2) #9
- Justice League of America (vol. 2) #10