Wildfire

+ ERG-1

Created by Cary Bates and Dave Cockrum

NAME + ALIASES:
Drake Burroughs of Earth, aka ERG-1

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Unnamed father (deceased), unnamed mother

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Legion of Super-Heroes

FIRST APPEARANCE:
As ERG-1: Superboy v.1 #195 (June 1973).
As Wildfire: Superboy v.1 #202 (June 1974)

JOINED: Superboy v.1 #201 (June 1974)

Wildfire II

NAME + ALIASES:
Drake Burroughs.
As Atom'X:
Randall Burroughs of Xanthu.
As Blast-Off:
Jahr-Drake Ningle

KNOWN RELATIVES:
None

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Uncanny Amazers, Legion of Super-Heroes

FIRST APPEARANCE:
As Atom'x: Legion of Super Heores v.4 #82
As Blast-Off:
Legionnaires #43
Merged: Legionnaires #50
As ERG-1:
Legion of Super Heores v.4 #125
As Wildfire: Legion: Lost #4

JOINED: Legion of Super Heores v.4 #125

E.R.G.-1

NAME + ALIASES:
Drake Burroughs of Earth, aka ERG-1

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Randall Burroughs (brother)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
None

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Supergirl & the Legion #33 (October 2007)

History

ERG rechristens himself. From Superboy #202 (1974).
Art by Dave Cockrum.

Drake Burroughs was an ordinary college student, with his mind more on girls than on his schoolwork. This is normal enough, but it can lead to disaster when you're an astrophysics major helping construct an anti-matter-powered spacecraft as part of a class project. Drake, clowning around, accidentally broke a safety device, and the engine suddenly discharged, smothering him with anti-matter and destroying his body. His mind, however, survived, as living anti-energy. Some consider him lucky to have survived. Others have considered him unlucky to be in such a state, presumably forever.

But if he could be said to be lucky to have survived, then he was certainly lucky to be, at that time, in the company of Professor Bothar Vultan, who happened to have a suit made to contain anti-energy. Professor Vultan managed to siphon Drake's energy into the suit, and it gave Drake human form once again. With the help of the Professor and his daughter Zera, he learned how to control his new form, and how to use it to perform superhuman feats, mimicking the abilities of many members of the Legion of Super-Heroes. What he did not learn was why the Professor had such a suit in the first place. (Legion v.2 #283)

This he found out too late. Burroughs left the campus to try out for the Legion of Super-Heroes as ERG-1 (an acronym for "Energy Release Generator"), and was rejected because he only showed the Legion his ability to copy the powers of Legionnaires, and refused to show them his unique ability, which each Legionnaire was required to have. Hoping to eventually convince them of his worth, he stowed away on a Legion cruiser when they went to Manna-5 to stop a machine called the Devourer from destroying the planert's agricultural output. He stayed in the background, but when it looked like the Machine was going to kill Colossal Boy, he revealed himself, and his unique power: the ability to release his energy in a massive power-blast through the face-plate of his containment suit. The Legionnaires assumed he died, and brought his empty suit to Legion headquarters as a memorial for the hero. (Superboy v.1 #195)

But energy can't be destroyed, and ERG-1 was still alive, albeit dispersed. It took him almost a quarter of a year to gather his energies and find his way to the Legion's Headquarters, where he tried to get back into his containment suit. He managed to do this just in time to save the Legion from the Molecule Master, an android that posed as a Legion applicant and tried to poison them. Burroughs was now accepted into the Legion, and renamed himself Wildfire. (#201)

He then went back to the campus, to tell the Professor the reason for his absence, but he had died. The containment suit had been for the Professor, who had a degenerative disease, and for whom anti-energy was the only cure. But Wildfire's months-long absence deprived the Professor of both his energy and the suit, and he died. Zera tried, half-heartedly, to kill Wildfire by draining his energy, but he was able to convince her that her father wouldn't have wanted her to do that. She agreed, but demanded that he never see her again. (Legion v.2 #283)

As a Legionnaire, Wildfire takes great interest in new recruits like those enrolled at the Legion Academy. He is also often the voice of dissent, challenging veteran members to defend their decisions and positions. After less than one year of such treatment, the Legionnaires voted him leader, to see if he could put his money where his voice-modulator was. (Superboy v.1 #225)

One of his first acts as leader was to bring Academy student Dawnstar to the team, partly for her valuable tracking powers, and partly because he was smitten with her ... a fact it took her several years to acknowledge. (#226) Wildfire did a reasonable job as leader, but the experience humbled him considerably, especially when the older members' advice proved pivotal in winning the Earthwar. (#241-245)

He retired his leadership after that year, but still remained in charge of new-member recruitment. His relationship with Dawnstar grew slowly, and in time, she returned his love despite the fact that it could never be consummated.

NOTES: Wildfire was originally created by Dave Cockrum and called Starfire. He was propsed along with a group of potential Legionnaires who would form an off-shoot called the Outsiders.

Wildfire referred to his parents as alive in Legion v.2 #263 (1980).

Jim Shooter on Wildfire: Bleah. How dull. A hothead, yes. A bright but juvenile person (?) who is dull, dull, dull. —Interlac (1976)

Tom & Mary Bierbaum on Wildfire: He always seemed like the flattest, most two-dimensional character of the lot. But in a way, he was the perfect character to take the role of the inevitable upstart, the loudmouthed newcomer who just doesn't understand or respect the greatness that proceeded him. I liked him a lot more as the traditional hero of his original couple appearances, and he was on his way to being one of my all-time favorites, until they came up with the Marvel-inspired hothead business. —Interlac (2000)

Legion 1.5 (v.4)

In the history that unfolded after the first Crisis (no longer valid),

He developed his relationship with Dawnstar, and in time, she returned his love, despite the fact that it could never be consummated. He was, for a while, able to control his energy-form without the containment suit, thanks to the help of Quislet, but his touch burned Dawnstar...and the two of them agreed that their love would never be complete. In addition, Quislet was soon forced to leave the Legion, and Wildfire was unable to keep his physical form without Quislet's help.

Wildfire's Legion career came to an abrupt end during the event known as Black Dawn, in which Doctor Regulus made the sun unstable, and he merged his energy with the sun's to fix the problem. He was presumed dead thereafter, but he reappeared shortly after Mordru's attempt at universal conquest. His anti-energy was still mixed with solar energy, and the only vessel he could find to contain his energies was the corpse of Sun Boy. He took it, and then covered it with one of his containment suits, and rejoined the Legion, keeping the shameful circumstances of his return secret, even while the Legion had to go on the run. But "NRG", as he called himself during this period, was forced to reveal his secret when, during Zero Hour, the Time Trapper revealed that the only ones remaining at the end of the universe were those who had both adult and SW6 counterparts, and Inferno wanted to know where his was. Drake explained what happened, and then disappeared in one final handshake with the younger Dirk...a sign of forgiveness for his desecration of the body.

Legion 2: Earth-247

Dumb'ass #1. From Legionnaires #49 (1997).

Dumb-Ass #2. From Legionnaires #50 (1997).
Art by Jeff Moy.

The Wildfire of universe-247 (which was destroyed in the Infinite Crisis) remains active with that team, wandering the multiverse.

The Wildfire of Earth-247 began life as two separate individuals, both members of rival teen groups. The first was Atom'x, a member of Xanthu's Uncanny Amazers. (Legion v.4 #82) The other, Blast-Off, a Legion reject who joined the Workforce. (Legionnaires #43)

When Mordru threatened the galaxy, all the major groups of teen heroes participated. In this mystical battle, both Atom'x and Blast-Off apparently lost their lives. (Legionnaires #49-50) No one could have guessed that both lads survived these attacks in the form of pure energy. Mordru's magic enabled their souls to inhabit this sentient energy, and the two of them were forever merged into a single entity.

This new entity's power flared up in response to a battle between Mordru and the Elementals. With the help of their ally, Dirk Morgna, the Legionnaires were able to spot and identify the energy as sentient. They rushed to preserve this form and placed it into a containment suit which allowed it to take humanoid form (more or less). The suit provided cohesion, and allowed the entity to express itself and experience senses. Only then did the Legionnaires learn its true nature. (Legion #) This new, merged person chose to call himself Drake Burroughs, a synthesis of their two previous names, Randall Burroughs and Jahr-Drake Ningle. (Legionnaires #76)

The new hero found himself most at home among the Legionnaires. At one their suggestions, he adopted the code-name "ERG-1" (Energy Release Generator). ERG was on-hand to battle the Blight's takeover of Earth, after which he was awarded Legion membership. This happy occasion was overshadowed by more tragedy, as ERG and several Legionnaires were lost in a rift in space. (Legion #125)

The voyage through this rift led the Legionnaires to another galaxy, and ERG's containment suit was destroyed. As disembodied energy, he drifted for an unknown amount of time until encountering the nomadic race called the Kwai. (Legion: Lost #3) The Kwai mistook him for a shooting star and followed him. Soon the Kwai found the Legion as well, and Kid Quantum  recognized ERG's energy signature. They restored him to a new containment suit and he rejoined them in the quest to return home. ERG also chose a new name, one coined by Shikari, the Legion's new Kwai friend. She called him Wildfire. (#4) After returning home (The Legion #1), Wildfire remained with the team, and has grown closer to Shikari.

It is plausible that Wildfire may be immortal, as energy can neither be created nor destroyed. But this condition was cast in serious doubt when his energies drew the attention of a Qwardian overmaster, Lord Thalon. There, from the antimatter universe, Thalon "stole" Wildfire's energies and conquered Qward. The Legion followed his energy trail to the antimatter universe and found Wildfire imprisoned inside a massive battery. They freed him with the help of Thalon's son, Vox. This experience was a mixed blessing. On the plus side, Wildfire found that in the antimatter universe he could manifest himself in a humanlike form, without a containment suit. But when Brainiac 5 investigated the incident further, he found that Wildfire's energies were not infinite. In fact, the Qwardians had drained a significant amount of him and Brainy advised him that each subsequent use would bring him closer to death.  (#34)

In this timeline (which no longer exists), Wildfire may have found a way to reverse his energy loss. Tales of the future alleged that he survived to become the inspiration for successive incarnations of the Legion.

75th Century 

Wildfire's first team.

The second team. From Legion v.4
Annual #7 (1996). Art by Mike Collins.

Even after watching as all his friends aged and died, the immortal Wildfire remained committed to the concept of interplanetary cooperation. 4500 years after the formation of the Legion, Wildfire attempted to keep the spirit alive, but his dream was hindered by the ever growing spread of xenophobia throughout the galaxy. The Legion of this time consisted foremost of Wildfire's confidants, Membrain, a telepathic creature; and Gizi and Ziga, his aides on Rimbor. For many centuries, Wildfire had failed to stop the destruction of whole suns, which occurred every 100 years. His latest team would fail to stop the cannon again. Its members all perished in the attempt, in part because of their mistrust of one another. They were Metrox of Colu, Graft of Durla, Nervosa of Bismoll and Phase of Bgztl.

Membrain survived and restored Wildfire's energies to a new suit on Rimbor. After this, he delved deep within his own memories to get at the root of the original Legion's success. He concluded that the members' interpersonal relationships were key to that bond. His next team was built on pairs of young heroes from different planets: Magno-Boy and Lodestone of Braal; Triad-III and Triplicate of Cargg; Argent and Silverwing of Renii; and Shape and Shift of Durla. As planned, some of these members developed feelings for one another, and this team worked much better together. But it would not be 100 more years until the next appearance of the sun-cannon. The cannon's creators were in fact the Durlans, and their members in the Legion betrayed Wildfire. His team succeeded in stopping them and destroying the cannon at last. Their success inspired , resulting in the destruction of the cannon... and hopefully, a new beginning to interlanetary communications and a new United Planets.  (Legion v.4 Annual #7)

» SEE ALSO: Legends of Dead Earth Annuals

843-863rd Centuries

Many many millennia later, in the 843rd century, Wildfire still continued his crusades, allying with that era's Superboy. During a bombing incident on Earth, he was fundamentally altered when his energies were taxed to the extreme. Wildfire's form lost cohesion and he was placed into a sarcophagus on Braal; he was then called the Wildflame. The Wildflame would impart its memories to anyone who could bear to enter his presence. A thousand years later, in 85,271, this duty fell to the leader of the Justice Legion L, Cosmicbot. The Wildflame told Cosmicbot about Superboy's telekinetic abilities, which led the Justice Legion L to summon that Superboy from one thousand years in their past for his help. (Legionnaires #1 million)

Over the next millennium, Earth scientists created "tesseracts," spatial warps that are bigger on the inside than the outside. They populated the tesseracts the same as any planet. In one of these worlds, Earth Tesseract 63060, all people were similar and most activities were extremely mundane. Art and imagination were frowned upon, sinful even, in the year 86,271. The Wildflame survived here as well, now contained inside a flat rune depicting the members of the past Justice Legion L. This rune was discovered by three youths, Dav, Chec and Vara, who saw within it the universe's potential for diversity. Dav's father scolded hiim for his blasphemous discovery. But when Dav tried to destroy the rune, he released the Wildflame, who told the story of the Justice Legion L a thousand years earlier. This story was too much for the three youths; their doctors concluded that they were delusional. But the Wildflame sparked again and transformed them into the newest generation of Legionnaires. (Legion #1 million)

» SEE ALSO: DC One Million Event

NOTES: Olivier Coipel on Wildfire: When I redesigned Wildfire, I wasn't sure if people would react to him in a positive way but once I looked at my helmet design for him, I knew I he had the look he needed! I would like to see him more with Ultra Boy, since both big guys are so alike and I wonder if they'd get along as friends it'd be interesting. —Comic Book Resources

Legion 3: Earth-Prime

The Drake Burroughs of Earth-Prime is thus far only a Legion ally. He goes by the name E.R.G.-1.

E.R.G.-1 is a metahuman composed of antimatter. With the help of his brother, Randall, Drake gradually gained control over his energy form, but he used a containment suit for the energies and periodically immersed himself in an "enrichment tank" to maintain cohesion. (Brainiac 5 would later hypothesize that Drake never really needed his brother's treatments, but that Randall used this to keep Drake under his thumb.) At some point, he applied for Legion membership, but a stray stone shattered his containment suit and he was thought lost.

The Legion did not encounter E.R.G.-1 again until on a mission to Lallor. Although the Legion came on other business, they soon found themselves trying to prevent Drake from killing the President of Lallor. Lallor was a world in the midst of a civil war, arguing over the prospect of joining the United Planets. Lallorian rebels hired E.R.G. and Randall to settle the matter for them. (#31, 33)

While Shadow Lass tried to use her diplomatic experience to smooth over tensions, E.R.G.-1 struck at the President. (#34) Timber Wolf and Atom Girl were able to stop him and presented Drake with evidence that his brother did not have his best interests at heart. Drake realized the error of his ways, and accompanied the Legion back to Earth. Brainiac 5 intimated to Atom Girl that he thought E.R.G.-1 would make a good Legionnaire. (#35)

Brainy later admitted that part of the aim of this mission was, in fact, to save E.R.G.-1 from his brother. (#36)

+ Powers

With the aid of his containment suit, Wildfire can expel and conduct his own super-powerful energies. Outside the suit, he has limited mobility and communication.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:  

  • ...

» SERIES: