Who's Sunburst?

Who's This? The Japanese superhero on page 21 of Who's Who vol.XXII.
The facts: Before his Who's Who entry, Sunburst appeared in exactly one storyline, running in New Adventures of Superboy from #45 to #47 (1983), and then had a cameo in Crisis on Infinite Earths #12. He was created by Paul Kupperberg and Alex Saviuk.
How you could have heard of him: After Crisis, his history seems to have been pushed forward to more contemporary times, and (as per his Who's Who entry), Rising Sun replaced Superboy in those pre-Crisis stories. Grant Morrison introduced a new version of Sunburst in Doom Patrol #26 who is essentially Japan's answer to Booster Gold. He fights the Brotherhood of Dada, and may be killed doing so, but we don't know what his connection to Takeo Sato is. Sato is definitely a founding member of  Big Science Action though, a Silver Age Japanese JLA seen in Final Crisis (yes, with Rising Sun).
Example story: New Adventures of Superboy #45-47 (1983) by Paul Kupperberg, Alex Saviuk and Kurt Schaffenberger
To me, Sunburst isn't a particularly obscure character because his issues of New Adventures are among the first comics I ever got. I came for Dial H for Hero and stayed for Superboy. I do acknowledge that he appeared in only one story spread over three issues (plus Crisis, but everyone was in that) for him to get an entry. And remarkably, even this one story never actually happened. Maybe someone planned on using him soon, or wanted to include more ethic variety in Who's Who. It might even be that he was used as an exercise in showing how the post-Crisis universe's history could retroactively include characters who appeared with erased characters. I don't know. Maybe we can think about how Rising Sun would have fit this story as we go through it...

Clark is enjoying a Japanese superhero movie with his girlfriend Lisa (what, not Lana? Dude, you gotta find some New Adventures of Superboy in the quarter bin), specifically a Sunburst movie, Clark's favorite.
These kinds of movies have just started showing in America so... what's the date? Well, considering that Superman is an eternal 29 in 1983, his teenage adventures have to take place 14 or 15 years earlier. In fact, according to a newspaper headline, Rod Laver just won Wimbledon, which makes it either 1968 or 1969  (his two most likely titles). But the headline that interests us most is buried in the international news section:
Clark is a good boy, so he tells his folks before he leaves for Japan (and Pa Kent alone to deal with aggressive mall builders trying to force local businesses in Smallville to close). Superboy can't speak Japanese, of course, or rather, can't YET.
If you're looking for scenes that DIDN'T happen with Rising Sun, this one is certainly a contender. I can only imagine Superboy has a stash of dictionaries somewhere he can access with X-ray vision easily. Super-learning powers... activate! Lord, public school must be torture for him. After making contact with the police, Superboy goes out to find Sunburst and does, right after a jewelry store robbery. Right away, you can tell this movie hero come to life is doing what he does for some greater reason, and he's prepared to kill Superboy or destroy Tokyo to do it!
The solar powers don't hurt Superboy much, though Sunburst can shine bright enough to make the Teen of Steel see spots, but he's got other tricks in his arsenal. Some do sound a little rude though.
Cough. Cough. But is he action star Takeo Sato, or just some copycat/movie fan? Clark takes a tour of Mifune Studios (cute reference, but I still think of it as Toho), but fails to use super-eavesdropping to hear this exchange that proves Sato actually does have the powers of Sunburst.
Where IS Clark at this time? Getting lunch.
Come on, Clark. Don't you have a super-palate or something? I'm calling it: This is Scene that didn't happen to Rising Sun #2. Later, Sunburst is being told to go rob more stuff my gun thugs, and this brings him into conflict with Superboy again. This time, only Sunburst flies away from the battle. In the last chapter, we discover the mobsters are holding his parents, and that he has untold powers... like shredding paper!
And creating "eruptions" of pretty much any kind.
This isn't exactly the same as when he blew a hole in the ground and created a volcano... Well, maybe it's an application of the same power that gives him flight, hand me a No-Prize. Once again, Sunburst escapes, but this time Superboy's happy about it. See, back in chapter 2, when he was punched into a truck, he learned Sunburst's secret.
He follows Sunburst back to mob, and has a foolproof plan to prevent the baddies from tripping the button that will blow up Sato's parents. FOOL. PROOF.
Yes, that's right. His plan is to outrace the detonation signal and block it before it hits the relay antenna or the bomb. Only then does he rescue the parents and beat up the baddies. As a reward, the Satos tell him their boy's origin story, but Takeo comes out of it thinking his powers are a curse (even though they made his career, and maybe he could better protect his loved ones WITH them), but Superboy has a solution for that too. Super-hypnosis!
That's Rising Sun Couldn't Do That Moment #3, but Who's Who says he did do it. It just didn't take because Sunburst was active by the time the Crisis hit. So why not just retcon that bit? And really, why bother at all if you're NOT going to use Sunburst much at all over the next few decades? Only Morrison ever seemed interested...

Who else?
I think I'm ready to move on. Maybe save the Sun Devils for the second lap. I've done Super-Chief in Reign of the Supermen. And I'll be damned if I do every crappy Outsiders villain like Syonide. They ALL suck and would force me to read an Outsiders story. Who's Who vol.XXIII is on tap next.

7 comments:

American Hawkman said...

I believe that the comic tie-ins to the 90s live action Superboy TV show had a take on this story as well. It should be noted that Sunburst' s death in CRISIS has been retconned into being what caused the heroic Dr. Light to change her personality, rather than Supergirl' s.

Siskoid said...

He's really been given a kind of strange importance, hasn't he?

American Hawkman said...

Very much so. He's probably the best single example of what an obscure character can be repurposed for as continuity rolls on.

Martin Gray said...

Oooh a supernaturally hard body, want one!

So who tooks Sunburst's continuity spot if he took Superboy's? I say none of these issues happened. The idea that Sunburst had all Superboy's adventures is ludicrous, sometimes DC tried too hard -if you're going to dump the continuity, dump the continuity. If Sunburst >was< Superboy, why the need for the Time Trapper to create a Pocket Universe, the LSH would've been looking for Takeo to mind****, not Clark.

Oh, and wouldn't the sun bursts have make Superboy stronger?

And speaking of Superboy, what an arse, super-hypnotising Sunburst without asking first - I expect his parents were dead within minutes of Clark leaving to tell his US friends about Sushi.

Siskoid said...

No, Rising Sun took Superboy's place, not Sunburst.

And he only take Superboy's place in THIS adventure. Anything happening in another country is probably now some Global Guardian's purview. Stuff in Smallville just didn't happen at all.

Martin Gray said...

Oh, right, Sunfire!

Siskoid said...

STOP TROLLING ME!

 

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