FIREBALLMedium: Comic Books
Published by: MLJ/Archie Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creators: Unknown writer and Paul Reinman (artist)
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Fireball was MLJ Comics' representative among fire-themed superheroes, alongside Fox's The Flame and Quality's Wildfire. (The greatest among them was, of course, Marvel's Human Torch.) Fireball blazed onto the scene in Pep Comics #12
(February, 1941). Pep had debuted a year earlier with The Shield, America's first flag-draped hero, on the cover, and a couple of relatively minor super guys in the back pages.
After its first year, management at MLJ (whose other well-known characters included The Black Hood and Mr. Justice) decided Pep could use a little revamp, so they threw out a couple of series. Gone were Fu Chang (an Asian-American detective with minor super powers), replaced with Danny in Dreamland; and The Press Guardian, traded out for Fireball. Apparently, the thinking was, something dangerous and visually appealing would interest more readers than relatively esoteric issues involving rights and responsibilities.
In any case, Fireball started out as Ted Tyler, a fireman (normal, not this kind). One day, he had the misfortune of coming face-to-face with the arsonist who had started the fire he was fighting, who knocked him unconscious and left him to die in the flames. But in one of those mishaps that superhero readers had become familiar with, Ted had fallen into spilled chemicals, which gave him the power to absorb and control flames. He could even make his body so hot, bullets would simply melt when they struck him. (But since they retained their kinetic energy whether solid or liquid, it's hard to see how this would keep them from penetrating his skin and killing him anyway.)
Afterward, Ted went into the superhero business, specializing in fire-related crimes. He fought arsonists, both those who set fires for profit and those who did so just because they like fire; and criminals who use fire as a tool. From #13 on, he was a regular in Pep Comics. His secret was known only by girlfriend Hedy Harris, the fire chief's daughter. In all his appearances there, his writer was unknown but the artist was Paul Reinman (Boy Buddies, John Force).
But he wasn't there all that long. In #21 (November, 1941) he was replaced by Jolly Roger, who led a band of airborne Nazi fighters along the lines of Blackhawk or Sky Wolf, and Fireball moved out into the land of defunct superheroes. Before long, the publisher's entire inventory of heroes joined him, and the company's output became dominated by the likes of Archie.
Two decades later, the superheroes were back — practically all of them, in fact. In Mighty Crusaders #4 (April, 1966), in a story aptly titled "Too Many Superheroes", over a dozen — Blackjack, Bob Phantom, The Firefly, etc. — came out of retirement all at once. Fireball was one of several in that story who were never seen again.