Friday, January 16, 2009

She ran calling Wildfire

I enjoy many things about my Bombshells! commissions, not the least of which is the kick that the artists seem to get from drawing bomber nose art homages featuring Golden Age superheroines. At the top of the list for me, though, is the chance to celebrate these classic, often forgotten characters from comics' formative years.

Take, for example, Wildfire, drawn here in all her Bombshellosity (it's a word; look it up) by Scott Rosema (Space Ghost; Solar, Man of the Atom). You can click the image to get a better view.

Something of a female Human Torch, Wildfire made her first appearance in 1941, in Quality Comics' Smash Comics #25. She was created by writer Robert Turner and artist Jim Mooney, the latter of whom reportedly modeled her appearance after his first wife. Wildfire enjoyed a twelve-issue run in Smash before fading from the scene.

Many of Quality Comics' superheroes have resurfaced in recent decades in the pages of various DC Comics titles, inasmuch as DC purchased the publishing rights to Quality's oeuvre when Quality closed up shop in the 1950s. At least one member of the old Quality gang — namely, Plastic Man — evolved into a mid-level star at DC. The others, for the most part, have been used to crew DC's retro-themed super-teams, the Freedom Fighters and All-Star Squadron.

Except for Wildfire.

You see, at the time when writer Roy Thomas first resurrected the Quality heroes in the 1970s, DC already had a character called Wildfire — a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes whose original code name was ERG-1. So instead, Thomas created a female version of the Golden Age hero Firebrand (who had little in common with Wildfire, beyond their somewhat similar noms de guerre) and gave her Wildfire's powers. So far as I'm aware, the first Wildfire remains banished to comics oblivion.

Until today, that is.

And that's your Comic Art Friday.


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