Born as Drake Burroughs, Wildfire was originally an astroengineer. While he was working on a new propulsion system, the unit’s safety valve snapped and discharged a blast of anti-matter energy. Burroughs was engulfed instantly but somehow his consciousness survived and Burroughs found himself transformed into a being of pure anti-energy. Housed within a protective bodysuit that gave him a humanoid form, Burroughs discovered that he had developed vast powers because of his new energy state. Dubbing himself ERG-1 (Energy Release Generator 1), he applied for membership in the Legion but was turned down due to the fact that most of his powers were duplicated by others. Following the Legion on a dangerous mission in hopes of proving himself, he ended up expending all of his energy to save them. Since nothing was left behind but his empty containment suit, the Legion assumed he was dead. In truth, however, he was merely trapped in an invisible energy state. Eventually, he found his way back into suit and, taking the name Wildfire, he became a valued member of the Legion.
Traditionally, Wildfire is considered one of the most powerful Legionnaires (along with Superboy, Mon-El and Ultra Boy). He served time as leader of the team and, despite his brusque manner and cocky attitude, is considered one of the hearts of the team.
Along the way, he fell in love with Dawnstar. It took a long time for her to admit her feelings in return but eventually they became one of the major couples within the team. I think it was this that really made him a favorite of mine. I’ve never really liked the “jerk” heroes (like Green Arrow, Hawkeye, etc.) that so many other fans love… but Wildfire was different because of the tragedy of his physical situation. He can’t touch or feel anything… he’s stuck in a suit. Obviously, this causes problems with Dawnstar since they can never have children or even be truly intimate. As such, she’s broken off their relationship several times, in order to try and find a more suitable match for herself. The most heart-wrenching of these moments came in issue 283, where a group of Legion cadets who think Wildfire is a jerk watch from the sidelines as Dawnstar leaves Wildfire behind, citing their physical incapability. Morose, Wildfire detonates his containment suit, unable to deal with the pain he’s experiencing.
When the real Legion returned a few years ago (I’m referring to the pre-Crisis Legion as the real one), Geoff Johns immediately put an emphasis on the Wildfire/Dawnstar relationship. The two of them were among the heroes trapped in the modern day in the Legion Lost series that ran in the early days of the New 52.
There were other versions of Wildfire in the post-Reboot version of the Legion and so forth but none were as good as the original. Wildfire’s doomed, tragic romance with Dawnstar is currently still ongoing, even though the Legion has lost their title for now.
Our sidebar art today is from the deviantART page of StockmanArt. Go and tell him how cool he is. Obviously, the image in the center is by the amazing Keith Giffen and comes from LSH # 283.