Who's Fire Lad?

Who's This? A sneezy hero.

The facts: A founding member of the Legion of Substitute-Heroes (as per LSH #306, March 1963), Fire Lad could breathe fire from his mouth, which meant he was shit out of luck if he wanted to join the proper Legion so long as Sun Boy was a member of the team. The reason given was that the power was too dangerous and uncontrollable in an oxygen-rich atmosphere. Whatever. Fire Lad served the Subs well, turning into a punchline that would sneeze and destroy stuff when they were turned into a comedy act. In the Five Years Later era, many Subs, now competent, became rebel fighters against the Dominion's secret invasion of Earth, and would then (finally!) be folded into the Legion. One cover cameo aside during the Reboot, Staq isn't seen again until the Retroboot hits Action Comics (again with an older and more competent Legion of Subs).
How you could have heard of him: Some may remember the Subs appearing in The Brave and the Bold revival (issue 35), or his non-speaking cameo on the LSH cartoon series. Maybe even one in the Batman '66 comics. Most won't.
Example story: Legion of Super-Heroes #29 (May 1992) by Keith Giffen, Tom & Mary Bierbaum, Jason Pearson and Al Gordon
When dealing with the Legion of Substitute-Heroes, they usually act as a unit, with spotlights for each in the body of the issue. And they tend to be about losers making good (or in the 80s, losers making worse). Let's skip to 5 Years Later to see them at their most competent, as resistance fighters on Dominion-controlled Earth. Staq probably has the easiest power to make useful - he's essentially got dragon breath - but there are shades of his former C-list status in that he's portrayed with a lisp.
That's Chlorophyll Kid with a stutter. It's a small thing, and not consistent with past appearances, but it's the bone thrown at their former incarnations. And now, dragon breath:
According to the dialog, this is the biggest fireball he's every spewed. A lot of the Subs' trajectory in this series is about them just feeling confident enough to succeed. Insecurity was the enemy all along. Speaking of overcoming insecurity, a stark naked Monica Sade shows up and takes Staq hostage (as per the cover), but that's because she doesn't know they're on the same side.
So Fire Lad becomes a pretty cool customer - pun intended. Which is nice because his powers were a little too traditional - give or take his lack of control and need for allergy medication - compared to some of the sillier Subs. He kind of got lost in the crowd. But here, he's a resistance cell field leader and it suits him.

Who's Next? The Nuclear Man.


googum said…
I think I'm conflating this with something Giffen maybe didn't write, but the Subs fell into the same trap Ted Kord did: played as punchlines for so long, when they did do something heroic or competent, it immediately had to be overshadowed by something terrible happening. In the Subs case, they're successful in their resistance...and then Earth blows up. (Do we even see them again after that? They got off Earth, right?)
Siskoid said…
Yes, after Earth is destroyed, the Subs help people resettle and train super-powered UFP militia recruits. In this version of continuity, they are part of the team that moves the Pocket Earth during Zero Hour. They of course reappear in the Reboot and Retroboot eras.
Matthew E said…
I don't think that's Bounty; I think that's teleporting assassin Monica Sade.
Siskoid said…
Yes you're right.