A Rising Son
Issue 64 continues a long standing tradition of allies being complete assholes to the X-Men when they first meet. It started with Namor back in issue 6, and since then there’s been a long line of future X-Men acting like total douchebags, including Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Banshee, Mimic, you name it. Even Spider-Man was a total prick. This issue introduces Sunfire, enemy of the state. He’s an international terrorist. I didn’t know that quite so many of them started off as super villains.
The X-Men detect a new, powerful mutant in New York City, and track it to a speaking ceremony at the United Nations. A Mr. Yoshida, a Japanese politician, is about to give a speech to dedicate a new monument. He seems pretty popular with the people, but Sunfire seems to know more about him. He flies over the stage and destroys the monument, creating a panic. In addition to flight, he has the power to create and weaponize fire. He’s a lot like the Human Torch, except flames don’t engulf his entire body. The X-Men step forward to take him down, but are caught off guard with Sunfire’s abilities. He injures Beast before he has a chance to escape. The X-Men return to the mansion, as Sunfire returns to a creepy uncle. Here we get a glimpse into his past and his motives.
Sunfire’s real name is Shiro, and his history is tied to the atomic blast on Hiroshima. The radiation slowly killed his mother, and he has never forgiven America for his loss. It is also the most likely reason for his mutant abilities. These abilities didn’t manifest until he was a young man, when his uncle took him to the ruins of Hiroshima. He tells Shiro to stick his hands into the soil, and when he does the radiation in the soil triggers his latent abilities. He is shocked to find that he can create and control fire. He declares that he will wear his country’s colors, assume the name Sunfire, and avenge his people.
The X-Men use cerebro to track Sunfire all the way to Washington D.C. They forced Hank to stay behind and rest up after their last encounter. He suffered burns to his face.
Shiro gets pretty loud and passionate ranting about America, just in time for his father to overhear him. His father is Yoshida, the politician from New York! He has very different views than his son, and he sees America as an opportunity for peace and prosperity. Shiro’s father and uncle represent two sides of a coin, opposing progressive and conservative views. His Uncle sees outside culture as a threat, and can’t let go of the past. Shiro’s father sees the future, and understands that America is offering a helping hand. Shiro has unfortunately adopted the dogma of his Uncle, and swears to show his father the truth. He plans to destroy America, and he’s starting with the Capitol Building.
The X-Men are prepared to stand in his way, and are ready when he strikes. Angel and Iceman are taken down rather quickly, leaving things to Scott and Jean. Scott is able to hold him back with optic blasts, allowing Jean an opportunity to distract him.
Shiro’s father shows up on the Capitol Dome, forcing Shiro to choose his path. If he wants to destroy America that badly, he’ll have to destroy his father along with it. His Uncle, however, isn’t about to give Shiro a moment to decide. He shoots Yoshido, who falls to his death right in front of his son. Sunfire makes his choice, sending a burst of fire as hot as the sun straight into his Uncle’s abdomen, murdering him.
Shiro’s father dies before him, with a final plea for Shiro to spread peace instead of violence. Repentant and grief stricken, Shiro barely has the chance to reconcile with his father. He regrets his life of destruction and hatred, able now to finally forgive America. His hatred has brought him nothing but pain, so he lets go of it.
He looks so shattered that the cops actually leave him alone. This guy has terrifying power, tried to assassinate a foreign politician, tried to destroy Congress, and even murdered a man in broad daylight. And yet the cops see his dying dad and they say, “We’ll wait over here son.” This guy is a terrorist! He’s a homeland security threat! Can you imagine if cops gave the Boston Marathon bomber a moment to mourn his brother before they bothered him? What dumb cops.
I was pretty excited to see this guy in action. He’s a great character, one of five or so “fire” characters in the Marvel Universe, and each are just a little different. Sunfire is from Japan, and his costume represents his culture. Unfortunately, it also sucks. The uniform he wears here is similar to the uniform that he is currently wearing in the pages of Uncanny Avengers, and I hate it. I can dig the red and the white. I like the flames and the rising sun. It’s that damn mask. Lose the shitty mask. It looks like Square Enix designed a vagina.
Then there is the matter of his terrorist activities. Many of the X-Men started off as villains because they were forced or tricked into a life of crime. This is not the case with Sunfire. You can argue that his Uncle tricked him, but Shiro is the master of his own destiny. No super villain lied to him or mind controlled him; he simply chose a dark path over a peaceful one. Still, he’s way cooler than Mimic.
Coming up: Space Invaders!