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Monday, December 30, 2019

Signaling Sunfire

Numerous skirmishes filled the pages of Defenders #8-11 and Avengers #115-118, as members of both teams fought over an artifact known as the Evil Eye.

My favorite chapter in the multi-part drama came in Avengers #117 (Nov. 1973), when Sub-Mariner and Captain America battled on the coast of Japan. The setting made a fitting backdrop to remind readers how the the two heroes had been allies during World War II.

The modern-day conflict became all the more heated with the surprise appearance of Sunfire. The patriotic hero warned Sub-Mariner and Captain America to take their feud away from Japanese shores. While acting as both outsider and antagonist, Sunfire was symbolic in numerous ways:

  • Like Captain America, Sunfire wore his nation's flag as a costume, drawing attention to the world at large.
  • Sunfire's flame powers contrasted with Sub-Mariner's water-breathing … and were reminiscent of the original Human Torch who had teamed up with Cap and Subby during the Golden Age of comics.
  • Having first appeared in X-Men #64 (Jan. 1970), Sunfire's presence in the midst of the Avengers/Defenders War furthered the presence of mutants at a time when only reprints appeared the pages of the X-Men (#67-93).

In other words, Sunfire was the perfect guest star for Avengers #117.

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