Uncanny X-Men #64
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #64
Roy Thomas has said that he had the idea for Sunfire as early as 1966 (per Thomas' intro to Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men vol. 3, proposed alongside a female Banshee). Did Thomas see his opportunity to introduce the character closing fast, or is it just a coincidence that it happened right near the end of the original series?
Sunfire, aka Shiro Yoshida, is a mutant with a direct connection to Hiroshima (which would complicate things from a sliding timescale perspective). His mother was badly injured there when the bomb was dropped during World War II, and died a few years later.
His father has since become a diplomat dedicated to healing the rift between Japan and the West, but Shiro's uncle, Tomo Yoshida, is rabidly bitter over the nuclear attacks, and he's able to manipulate Sunfire into attacking the UN while his father is visiting.
The X-Men are on hand to stop him...
...but not before Sunfire's father is killed by Tomo. Sunfire responds by killing his uncle.
The X-Men regret not being able to reach Sunfire in time, saying "maybe the next one".
Sunfire is pretty powerful. When he's first detected by Cerebro, it's said that "it's just possible that he's the most powerful mutant we've yet encountered". Probably a bit of an exaggeration, but he is able to handle the entire team of original X-Men. His heat overpowers Iceman's ice.
And he's able to outfly Angel.
(Which is really the problem with Angel. All he can do is fly, and not even as well as other people who can do something else and fly. The poor guy even nearly gets sucked into an airplane engine in this issue.)
Heck is clearly going for some Adams-esque panel layouts (Jean! Scott! Watch out for that car that's about to fall on your head!)...
...and Tom Palmer's inks help a bit.
Sunfire can be kind of annoying in some of his future appearances, but the groundwork for an interesting angle as a somewhat reformed hyper-nationalist is established in his debut.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The X-Men seem to have stopped in Manhattan (or are at least passing through) on their way back from last arc's visit to the Savage Land. They haven't yet arrived home at Xavier's school, where, as we'll see next issue, Havok and Polaris are anxiously waiting for them.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAngel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Sunfire 1970 / Box 5 / Silver Age
1970 / Box 5 / Silver Age
Maybe it's mostly Palmer's inks, but I think Heck really raised his game for this, and it shows. He drew in Silver Age style so much that it's a revelation to see him take to Adam's more modern style.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | January 31, 2013 12:19 AM
Sunfire is a great character. Name is awesome. Great costume. Intriguing personality. Good use of powers, and a unique twist on the "fiery guy" that Marvel is already famed for. It's too bad he was a seldom used character for twenty years or so. I think he would have a good permanent addition to some team.
Posted by: Chris | February 1, 2013 10:07 PM
Though it's not cannon by any stretch, the "Wild C.A.T.S./X-Men: The Silver Age #1" comic would take place between UX #63 & 64. Angel is wearing his blue & white costume, they still think Professor X is dead, and they're in Madripoor staying in one of Worthington's houses (which is where they may have detoured to on their way back from the Savage Land). It's interesting because it has Sinister taking a genetic sample from Marvel Girl (which he does again in X-Men/Spider-Man #1 and I believe yet a third time in another comic but I've forgotten which one), Jean decides to continue her modelling career (which she began in UX #48 and picked up again after UX #94) and she mentions that Beast is taking a job at "Rand" which may or may not be Brand Corp as seen in Amazing Adventures #11.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | August 21, 2013 4:16 AM
Never seen this one before; really great work from Dashing Donnie (yes, definitely going with the new paneling style) and Palmer's inks keep it visually consistent with the Adams issues.
Funny that Sunfire becomes such a raging nationalist after seeing what happened to his dad.
Posted by: Dan Spector | July 9, 2014 5:14 AM
If Thomas was thinking about this character (Sunfire) for a while, the timing of his introduction was quite serendipitous. Noted author and playwright Yukio Mishima would attempt to stage a hyper-nationalist coup in Japan at the end of 1970. With its failure, he committed ritual suicide.
I feel like relative to Gruenwald's political hobbyhorses, Thomas's aren't discussed as much. But it seems a conciliatory approach towards Japanese people was a running theme - as over his career he introduced a number of Japanese anti-authoritarian/anti-nationalist characters, like Tsunami for DC. He also addressed the issue of Japanese internment in All-Star Squadron.
Of course he indulged in stereotypes and tropes, but I do think his approach was a lot more sophisticated, and clearly in-tune with the threat of resurgent/latent authoritarian nationalism - while acknowledging the existence of a diverse society that includes many who reject it.
Posted by: Cullen | July 10, 2014 1:48 AM
Thomas also addressed internment in Invaders #26-28.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 10, 2014 10:21 AM
Even though he always act like a hot-headed jerk, I have always liked Sunfire and never thought he was used enough.
Heck's art is better than usual, except in that last panel he makes Scott look like he's about 45.
"What's that pulling sensation?" Way to be aware there Warren.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 29, 2015 7:36 PM
@Cullen: Which hobbyhorses of Gruenwald's are you referring to;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | January 30, 2015 3:26 AM
Palmer really jazzed up Heck's pencils!
This is a great costume design.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | August 8, 2016 3:13 AM
Comments are now closed.
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