Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Heroine Addiction : Wildfire

It’s pure fantasy on my part but I’d love to imagine this scenario. It’s 1941 and Quality Comics editor Ed Cronin brings Robert Turner and Jim Mooney into his office saying “Boys, I want you to give me a new strip that blends together Wonder Woman and the Human Torch!” Who’s to say it isn’t so because that is pretty much what they brought him with the character of Wildfire.

She premiered in the 25th issue of SMASH COMICS and though she never made the cover, the strip ran in those pages for 12 consecutive issues. In that debut we learn the story of Carol Vance. As a child she was living with her forest ranger father, in the backwoods. As a raging inferno is destroying everything, her frantic dad desperately tries to find her, before succumbing to the flames. Carol though is unharmed and strangely the tot is totally unafraid of the fire. It’s this attitude that impresses the powerful and god-like ‘Lord of the Flames’. The giant entity speaks “I shall spare you, oh fearless child … I now give you immunity against death or injury by fire and make you mistress of flame!” Rescuers arrive and are astonished to find that the babe has not only survived but that she is entirely unscathed. Word of the ‘miracle’ orphan girl make the papers and her story touches the hearts of the wealthy Martins, who take her in and adopt her. The series is actually set 15 years later, with Carol living the life of a beautiful socialite. But secretly she uses her mystic abilities to become Wildfire; the “nemesis of all that break man’s laws”.

In the Wildfire persona, Carol takes on the airs and grace of royalty. But she backs up her dedication with some amazing powers that include flight and an ability to make fire do her bidding. She can also throw flame darts and protect herself from bullets by using a shield of flame. But evildoers should be wary of her, as her judgment can be brutally harsh. For example take the fate of Mr. Raddo on the final page of this, her second adventure.

If you are of my age then you’ll know Jim Mooney for his tenure on the Supergirl strip. If you’re a Bronze Ager you might recall him as a Spiderman artist. Either way, I’m sure you would never call him a vanguard of ‘good girl art’. But after seeing this character you may want to change your mind. Wildfire is one of the sexiest characters to grace the pages of Quality Comics and is more in keeping with the stuff coming out of Fiction House. If I were a 13-year-old boy in 1941, I would have definitely stashed away SMASH COMICS 27 securely, if only for the splash page!


In Wildfire’s 12 story career she fought a few hooded menaces and costumed creeps but in this one she faces her only real super-villain; the Frog!

Finally here’s an episode where Carol is more Wonder Woman than Human Torch. For the most part she tames her foes with her superior athletic prowess and her fists!


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