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COMIC LEGEND: The DC villain Firefly was accidentally confused with the DC villain Firebug and became a fire-based villain.
Reader Glenn S. wrote in awhile back to ask:
The Batman villain called the Firefly, aka Garfield Lynns, was originally depicted as using light-based tricks in his crimes, rather like Dr. Light. At some point, he started being depicted as being an arsonist instead. This figured heavily into the Batgirl Year One miniseries, so it wasn’t even that he started using fire, he was depicted as always having used fire. I think it might have begun around the time of Knightfall. However, there had been a Batman villain called the Firebug who used fire in his crimes. So I’m wondering if maybe there was some confusion about Firefly’s “powers” and he ended up being depicted as an arsonist by mistake, a depiction that has continued to this day.
Here’s Firefly as he first appeared in Detective Comics #184 (created by France Herron and Bill Sprang)…
This Firefly even popped up in a post-Crisis story in Outsiders…
Here’s Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan’s revamp of the character in Detective Comics #661 during Knightfall…
And here is Firebug, a Vietnam vet (demolitions expert) who takes revenge on buildings in Gotham City that he blames for the death of his family (lead paint killed his sister, a broken floor killed his father and his mother died of a heart attack while stuck in a broken elevator)…
So DID Chuck Dixon perhaps confuse the two characters when he revamped Firefly?
I asked Chuck about it, and he explained that no, there was no confusion. He had been aware of the original character since he read about him in Batman Annual #3 as a kid. He just felt that the character’s powers were not interesting enough, so he figured he’d revamp him as a pyrotechnics expert rather than a lighting expert.
And the revamp definitely worked wonders, as the character has become quite the mainstay of Batman’s Rogues Gallery, even being adapted more than once into other media, like the original Batman: The Animated Series.
Thanks for the question, Glenn! And thanks so much for the information, Chuck!
Check out the latest edition of my weekly Movie/TV Legends Revealed Column at Spinoff Online: Did Quantum Leap seriously correctly predict Super Bowl XXX?
On the next page, was a Star Trek character unapproved for usage after the character had already been previousy approved AND drawn into an issue?
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