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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Beatriz DaCosta
Fire
of the Justice League

Beatriz Bonilla da Costa is the DC Comics superheroine best known as "Fire," the most prominent Brazilian superhero in the DC Universe. She originally used the codename "Green Fury," was later known as "Green Flame," and finally settled on her current codename "Fire."

As is the case with a large proportion of the Brazilian population, Fire was raised as a Catholic and retains a Catholic self-identity.

In addition to being Catholic, there is a largely forgotten religious aspect to Fire's origin. Originally, her super-powers were ascribed to Brazilian mysticism. This mystical aspect of her powers has either been forgotten or retconned away, and is not referenced in contemporary publications.

Below: Fire and Maxwell Lord discuss Fire's website, which features pictures of her aflame and apparently unclad, but not actually naked. [Source: Formerly Known as the Justice League #1, published by DC Comics (2003), page 10; reprinted in Formerly Known as the Justice League trade paperback (2004), page 14; written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, pencilled by Kevin Maguire, inked by Joe Rubinstein.]
Fire poses for her website, which she discusses with Maxwell Lord

After appearing for many years as the Brazilian representative to the DC Comics international super-team known as the Global Guardians, Fire became incorporated into more mainstream DC Comics continuity when she joined the Justice League International and later became a mainstay member in some US-based incarnations of the Justice League. She also was featured as a member of Maxwell Lord's short-lived team the "Super Buddies," and she became a member of the international law enforcement force Checkmate.

As a Catholic, Fire has never been portrayed as particularly devout. But this may be due, in part, to the religion taboo that prevalent in mainstream comics at the time she was introduced, and is not necessarily an indication that she is a "lapsed" or "non-practicing" Catholic. (This taboo prevented most overt portrayals of real-world religiosity.) Fire's Catholicism has never been an important part of stories featuring her, and is certainly not central to her character in the way it is with some of her Catholic colleagues, such as Blue Devil, Huntress and Doctor Mid-Nite. Nevertheless, Fire has generally been portrayed as a fairly ethical, upstanding person throughout most of her superhero career. Some of Fire's behavior might be viewed as questionable from a strict Catholic viewpoint. For example, at times she seems to have a penchant for exhibitionism. She also has tendencies toward vanity and selfishness. But relatively speaking, Fire has been morally conservative in most ways.

Fire's normally bright, bubbly character darkened somewhat and she engaged in ethically questionable behavior after she joined Checkmate in the One Year Later period (2006). Her Catholic upbringing and sensitivities conflicted with her behavior. For example, Fire felt deep remorse after participating in a military operation that resulted in the deaths of many enemy combatants, despite the fact that she was acting as a government-sanctioned soldier and the people who died were bloodthirsty terrorists. Fire was sensitive to the sanctity of life (a Catholic teaching), even though she was participating in what could be classified as a "just war."

Eventually this change in Fire's character culminated in her murdering a villain in order protect her father. Fire was jailed for her actions and subsequently began trying to return to being the person she usually is, rather than the killer she had become.

From: "Fire (DC Comics)" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_(DC_Comics); viewed 15 June 2007):

Beatriz Bonilla da Costa had originally been bequeathed with her powers due to Brazilian mysticism and was the President of Wayne Enterprises' Brazilian Branch. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, her history was altered so that she had followed an unusual career path, starting as an amateur model on the beaches of Rio, then becoming a showgirl and stage performer before finding herself serving as a top secret agent for Brazilian government's Espiaos Nacionales. In the course of one of her missions, Beatriz was trapped in a pyroplasmic explosion that endowed her with the unusual power of being able to exhale an eight-inch burst of fire. She assumed the identity of the Green Fury then soon changed it again to Green Flame. She joined the international superhero team the Global Guardians, of which she was a long-standing, loyal member. (Secret Origins #33)

...Shortly after changing her name to Green Flame, the Guardians' UN funding was withdrawn in the wake of the formation the Justice League International. Miss da Costa convinced her teammate and best friend Icemaiden into joining her to apply for JLI membership... Beatriz reamained with the JLI for the rest of its existence - in fact she served the longest tenure of any JLI member. She also took up modelling and agreed to do a swimsuit calendar. (Justice League International #67) She soon learned that Booster Gold had bankrolled the calendar, and she burned all the copies... Ice was tragically killed by the Overmaster. (Justice League Task Force #14) As Beatriz tried to cope with this loss, she briefly considered inappropriate romantic relationships with Ice's former beau, Guy Gardner and with Nuklon...

Fire eventually tried to retire from super-heroing and establish a career as an internet glamour girl when Maxwell Lord talked her and several other former JLI members into reforming as a group of "heroes for the common man" called the "Super Buddies"...

In one adventure with the Super Buddies, Fire and the others were given the opportunity to rescue Ice's spirit from Hell (or a similar dimension). But as in the Homeric tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, Fire could not resist looking behind her at Tora, which caused Ice's spirit to vanish. During the Super Buddies' time in Hell, Etrigan the Demon suggested that it was Fire who was fated to die instead of Ice...

Nearly one year later, after the Crisis, Checkmate was reformed under the supervision of the United Nations and Beatriz became the Black King's Knight. (Checkmate #1) Though she no longer reported to Waller (who was made White Queen), Waller blackmailed Bea with evidence against her father and forced Bea to serve on secret covert mission. (Ibid #11) Fire's demeanor was greatly changed in the transition back to a Black Ops Intelligence Agent. Waller had previously implied that Beatriz actually enjoyed the violence and depravity that was a part of her job. (OMAC Project Special) In fact, Bea had been trained how to kill by her father as a girl. (Checkmate #11-12)

Despite her past as a dutiful soldier and daughter, Bea clearly expressed her remorse over taking part in a Checkmate mission that resulted in the deaths of as many as 50 Kobra agents. (Ibid #2) Waller once again blackmailed Fire into covering up a coup in Santa Prisca (home of the villain, Bane). There Fire killed Colonel Computron for Waller in order to protect her father, Ramon daCosta. Bea's father had once been named Col. Ramon Corvalho. In the mid 1970s, under a right wing military dictatorship, Corvalho ordered thousands of innocent deaths in Operation: Condor, a South American counter-terrorism program. He was never caught and Beatriz had always kept his secret.

When the murder of Computron was exposed by fellow Knight Tommy Jagger, Fire was jailed. After a visit from her superior, the Black King, Col. Taleb Beni Khalid-Isr, Beatriz agreed to turn over her father to international authorities for war crimes. Khalid had convinced her to act as the superhero that he'd chosen for his Knight.

Beatriz is a very clever, pushy, and charming young woman. What she lacks in power she more than makes up for in pure cunning. She's probably a little more self-interested than most heroes, and has a well-developed sense of vanity. But she uses this to her advantage. She has launched a successful web site featuring provocative pictures of herself.

Discussion

From "He's strong! He's powerful! He's fantastic! And he prays!" forum discussion page started 1 October 2002 on ToonZone.net website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-50423.html; viewed 11 January 2006):

LadyM
10-01-2002, 03:29 PM

I don't know that religion is really ignored in comic books. I'd say it turns up at least as much as it would in a regular series of novels or a TV series. Moreso, even.

Other characters whose religions I'm familiar with:
Fire is Catholic
Nuklon is Jewish...
[More are listed]

From: "NY Times outs Batwoman. DUH SPOILERS!!!!!" forum discussion, started 27 May 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-27770.html; viewed 23 July 2007):

DEWLine
May 28th, 2006, 08:16 PM

I've long thought of Batman (Bruce at least) as Anglican (Episcopalian for people in the USA). Blame it on [the graphic novel] Holy Terror.

I know: some people will see me as committing the "error" of seeing Christianity as a collection of tradition/groups embracing a wide spectrum of philosophies sharing common history. That Catholicism (Fire, Capt. Atom, Huntress II, etc.), Anglicanism (Richard Craemer), Methodist (Amanda Waller), etc. traditions all jointly constitute Christianity.

I don't see that as an error.


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Webpage created 11 January 2006. Last modified 23 July 2007.
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