Wildfire fights a wild fire. Artist: Jim Mooney.

WILDFIRE

Medium: Comic books
Published by: Quality Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creators: Robert Turner (writer) and Jim Mooney (artist)
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When DC Comics bought Quality Comics titles and characters in 1956, it laid claim to a vast array of properties, potentially ranging from The Human Bomb to Marmaduke Mouse. But not everything that came to them from that source could be used. Wildfire, one of the very early female superheroes, was deemed among them when writer Roy Thomas (The Invaders, The Liberty Legion) wanted to use her as part of The All-Star Squadron's opening line-up. The Legion of Super Heroes had a member with that name, so she was nixed on grounds of being a possible source of …

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… confusion to readers. (Thomas replaced her with Firebrand, took him out of action early on, and replaced him with his sister, also called Firebrand, who, he decided, happened to have the very same super powers as Wildfire.)

Those powers were just like The Flame's, only more so. He had certain powers over fire, but hers were more extreme. She could also, like The Human Torch (but in his case, less so) generate flames from her body. She could even, like the other Human Torch, at least in his early years, make things out of her own fire, and use them for purposes other than burning stuff. For example, she could make a flaming bow appear in her hand, and shoot arrows made of fire at bad guys. She got the powers when her parents were killed in a forest fire, and the fire god involved bestowed them on her. She was named Carol Vance at the time, but was later adopted into the wealthy Martin family.

This happened in Quality's Smash Comics #25, where she shared the back pages with The Jester, Midnight and Bozo the Robot, with The Ray on the cover. She was the replacement for Chic Carter, a detective there since the first issue, who was being transferred to Police Comics (and who, by the way, was just then joining the trend of assuming a costumed identity, The Sword). The date was August, 1941 — the same as the debuts of Harvey's The Black Cat, Holyoke's Miss Victory, Lev Gleason's Pat Patriot, Bell's Nelvana of the Northern Lights, and Quality's own Phantom Lady; and four months before All American/DC's Wonder Woman.

Her introductory story was written by Robert Turner, who also co-created K the Unknown/The Black Owl for Prize Publications (Fighting American, Frankenstein) and Stars & Stripes for Centaur (The Masked Marvel, Speed Centaur). The artist was Jim Mooney, known for female superheroes from his long stint on Supergirl to what some say is the definitive look of Ms. Marvel. Wildfire was his first.

Wildfire wasn't a major character at Quality. In fact, she lasted only until Smash Comics #37 (November, 1942), and not once did she appear on the cover — not even in one of as many as eight small insets. Turner and Mooney did her stories from beginning to end. #38 introduced Yankee Eagle, who, despite the fancy name, was just a uniformed Army man, in her former position.

Even at DC, the closest she came to a place in the sun was when an accident of nomenclature kept her out of The All-Star Squadron.

— DDM

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Text ©2007-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.