Two guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

X-amining X-Men #64

"The Coming of Sunfire!"
January 1970

In a Nutshell
The X-Men battle Sunfire

Editor: Stan Lee
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Don Heck 
Inker: Tom Palmer 
Letterer: Artie Simek

Plot
In New York, the X-Men's mini Cerebro unit alerts them to the presence of a new, powerful mutant. At the United Nations, Japanese statesman Saburo Yoshida is unveiling a new peace monument when the gathering is attacked by the mutant Sunfire. The X-Men arrive and battle Sunfire, but he flees when the police arrive. Sunfire, the son of Saburo, meets with his uncle and expresses doubts about their mission to attack America. His uncle reminds him of Hiroshima and the vows he swore.


Later, Cerebro leads the X-Men, searching for Sunfire, to a diplomatic car headed towards the airport. Suspecting Sunfire is part of Saburo's party, they follow the group to Washington DC. On his way to deliver a speech, Saburo sees his son changing into his Sunfire costume, but Sunfire ignores his father's protests. He proceeds to attack the Capitol building, planning to level it, and the X-Men intervene. Saburo goes to the roof of the building, challenging Sunfire to kill his own father and telling him his uncle is sick. Sunfire's uncle, seeing that Sunfire is torn, shoots Saburo, who falls from the Capitol. As Sunfire dives for his father, he blasts his uncle, killing him. As Saburo dies, he begs his son to live for peace.

Firsts and Other Notables
Sunfire (aka Shiro Yoshida) makes his first appearance. As the name suggest, he has heat/fire based powers. Though the villain of this issue, he will eventually join the X-Men in Giant Size X-Men #1 but leave shortly thereafter, and rejoin briefly in the early 00s as part of an ad hoc group assembled by Jean Grey. Sunfire is the fourth and last significant X-Men character introduced in the period between the Lee/Kirby run and the Claremont years (the other three being Banshee, Lorna Dane and Havok). He remains a recurring and somewhat adversarial ally of the X-Men, who basically shows up any time the team gets anywhere near Japan. 

Don Heck fills in for Neal Adams and turns out a fairly serviceable impression of Adams (with a little John Buscema thrown in).

A Work in Progress
Due to Marvel's sliding timeline, most of the details surrounding Sunfire's origin as the child of a Hiroshima survivor determined to avenge Japan's defeat in World War II are tacitly ignored these days.

On their way home from the Savage Land, the X-Men stop at their midtown Manhattan apartment base (presumably Cyclops' apartment from when the X-Men were disbanded, but that's just a guess) before returning to the mansion upstate.

The X-Men are still using the confiscated Sentinel airship to get around.

Ah, the Silver Age
Something tells me the bombing of Hiroshima wasn't quite as tidy as this.


Sunfire's big "stick it to the Americans" scheme of burning down the capital is a little out of balance. Destroying the Capitol building < dropping two atomic bombs on Japan.


For some inexplicable reason, Cyclops takes on Sunfire alone, telling Marvel Girl to stay back, despite the fact that she more or less took down Magneto last issue.


As Sunfire attends to his dying father, the police politely agree to give the guy who was just trying to destroy the Capitol, endangering thousands of lives in the process, some space.


Build up your Vocabulary with Beast
Halcyon (hal-see-uhn), adj. 1. calm; peaceful; tranquil: halcyon weather. 2. rich; wealthy; prosperous: halcyon times of peace. 3. happy; joyful; carefree: halcyon days of youth.

  
Build up your Vocabulary with Beast Sunfire
Perfidy (pur-fi-dee), noun. 1. deliberate breach of faith or trust; faithlessness; treachery: perfidy that goes unpunished. 2. an act or instance of faithlessness or treachery.


Human/Mutant Relations
Iceman saves some civilians from Sunfire's attack at the UN, confusing some bystanders.


It's in the Mail
It takes all kinds: someone actually writes in to complain about Neal Adams' art. 


Teebore's Take
When originally written, the idea of a Japanese villain motivated by the outcome of World War II was novel and worth exploring, though now it stands out more as a curiosity of its time. Still, this isn't a bad little done-in-one. Sunfire's struggle between his raving xenophobic uncle and his moderate, modern father isn't exactly subtle, but it does give the character more depth than most villains of the day got. I haven't ever read anything suggesting that Roy Thomas (or anyone else at Marvel) had any plans for Sunfire beyond this one-off issue (he next appears in an issue of Sub-Mariner), which makes it simply a happy coincidence that Thomas portrayed him as sympathetic enough that when Len Wein went scouring for international mutants to star in Giant Size X-Men #1, Sunfire was usable.

8 comments:

Falen (Sarah Ahiers) said...

i have a weird like/dislike of sunfire. On one hand, he's badass and japanese, on the other hand, he's kind of an asshole.

Also, this post made me laugh multiple times. I especially enjoyed your "destroying the capitol building < dropping 2 atomic bombs"

Teebore said...

@Falen: On one hand, he's badass and japanese, on the other hand, he's kind of an asshole.

Yeah, he's kinda cool, but he can definitely be an asshat.

He actually reminded me of Zuko in this issue, with Sunfire's Uncle like Zuko's dad and Sunfire's dad like Uncle Iroh.

Also, this post made me laugh multiple times. I especially enjoyed your "destroying the capitol building < dropping 2 atomic bombs"

I aim to please! Glad you liked it.

Anne said...

first i clicked on every other link (like subscribe to feed and create a link) before my hand finally was able to click on the comment link. dur

Second, i used to always get Sunfire and Sunspot confused in my younger days.

The comment Sarah mentions cracked me up as well

And the letter writer just sounds like a whiny douche

Teebore said...

@Anne: Second, i used to always get Sunfire and Sunspot confused in my younger days.

Yeah, I can see that. It also doesn't help that Sunspot looks like he should have the same powers, but instead is just strong.

And the letter writer just sounds like a whiny douche

Yeah. I get that art is subjective and all that, but I just don't get how anyone could like Werner Roth more than Neal Adams.

I mean, I can see how classic Silver Age art like Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko is based around different sensibilities than modern art and someone could say "I appreciate their work but like artist X better" but, well, Werner Roth is no Kirby or Ditko.

Ah well, I guess it's just an example of changing tastes. We like Neal Adams art BECAUSE Neal Adams art informed so much of what we accept as the modern comic art we're used to, but for some readers back then, it probably seemed scary and different.

Blam said...


Due to Marvel's sliding timeline, most of the details surrounding Sunfire's origin as the child of a Hiroshima survivor determined to avenge Japan's defeat in World War II are tacitly ignored these days.

I think soon not only will Tony Stark have been wounded in Afghanistan, but the Fantastic Four will have been bombarded by cosmic rays trying to win an Ansari X Prize and Sunfire will have vowed vengeance on America for Gwen Stefani appropriating Harajuku culture.

VW: firefib — Lying about arson.

Teebore said...

@Blam: I think soon not only will Tony Stark have been wounded in Afghanistan, but the Fantastic Four will have been bombarded by cosmic rays trying to win an Ansari X Prize and Sunfire will have vowed vengeance on America for Gwen Stefani appropriating Harajuku culture.

Haha! Indeed. Stark's origin has slowly moved (from "Vietnam" to the more vague "Southeast Asian conflict") so much that Afghanistan can't be far away. Even the Ultimate universe appropriating the first Gulf War as it's backstory setting is quickly becoming dated.

Anonymous said...

Yes the comical narratives are always enertaining, as to the subject of sunfire, highly under rated in my opnion and has yet to meet his potential in the ever reoccuring "re-take" on established characters. over the years we have seen him develop an anti-hero in the sense of first appearing so in AOA and again in the earth 616 stream as being the embodiement of famine. Though the extent of his powers never being determined in marvel publishing it was stated that his flight speeds were in excess of 'Angels' who is notd of aerial speeds of 150 mph as well as having fire manipulation on par with that of the human torch whom i a faithful comic reader would consider to be marvels poster boy for pyromania. I suppose in short this rant was only my attempt of being sunfires hype man. Maybe doing so will inspire others to look a little deeper into how well his character unfolded..........also neil adams is a bum, with the exceptons of batman odysey. Its the only example of neil adams works I got no quarrel with

Teebore said...

@Anonymous: as to the subject of sunfire, highly under rated in my opnion and has yet to meet his potential in the ever reoccuring "re-take" on established characters

Agreed. Sunfire is a character who's never quite reached his full potential. I'd love to see him get developed via a regular stint on the X-Men some day.

also neil adams is a bum, with the exceptons of batman odysey. Its the only example of neil adams works I got no quarrel with

Agree to disagree there; I love Adams' run on X-Men as well as his few Avengers issues, and while I haven't read his entire Batman run, I've enjoyed what I've seen.