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Issue 49: Firestar

Mike: I'm like, I'm just going to turn off your internet access if you keep doing this. I will do it from my phone.

Jessika: I have the power, sir.

Mike: I, ah, have the right.

Jessika: Hello. Welcome to Ten Cent Takes, the podcast where we defeat our foes with a directed microwave laser one issue at a time. My name is Jessica Frazier and I'm joined by my co host, The Radioactive Researcher. Mike Thompson.

Mike: Hello.

Jessika: Hello. You feeling radioactive this evening? I don't know how you should be feeling.

Mike: I don't know, man. I keep reading stories about Elon Musk and so that gets me pretty hot and bothered.

Jessika: I go between laughing and crying with that, so I don't know if that's your reaction.

Mike: Yeah, it's around there, um, with occasional bouts of anger, migraines.

Jessika: Oh, so that's what those are. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I'm getting those too. Well, the purpose of this podcast is to study comic books in ways that are both fun and informative. We want to look at their coolest, weirdest and silliest moments as well as examine how they're woven into the larger fabric of pop culture and history. If you're enjoying the show so far and want to help us grow, it'd be a huge help if you'd rate and or review us on Apple podcasts, because that really helps with Discoverability this week, we are going back to our ingsty teen years and learning about the, uh, marvel mutant fire star. We'll delve into her explosive history, follow through her own miniseries, and retrace her steps through other comic and media appearances. Stay tuned for this character's surprising fiery origin.

Mike: Um I don't know. You you said angsty teen years and there's a lot of angst, but I'm not so sure about teen.

Jessika: Well, we'll get to that, I suppose. But before we do, before we light into that topic, Mike, what is one cool thing you've read or watched lately?

Mike: For once, I'm coming at ah, you without a comic book. Cool. Sir and I wound up watching a movie this past weekend called highway to Hell. It is kind of like, um, a b horror comedy adventure from the early ninety s. And it's starring Chad Low and Christy Swanson and Patrick Bergen. It was one of those movies where they made it and then I guess it just sat on the shelf for a while and they gave it this really limited theatrical run and then it became a bit of kind of a cult classic on M video. The basic premise is that Chad Low and Christy Swanson play Charlie Sykes and Rachel Clark and they're this young all American couple who decide to run away in a lope in Vegas. And it's that trope of the couple who has a few bucks between them but lots of big dreams. And then while they are on the road to Vegas, they take this abandoned back road and Rachel is kidnapped by the, uh, helcop who is like, this weird. I'm not sure if he's like a golem or a zombie or what, but he's very cool in terms of creature effects. So Charlie ends up going to Hell with the help of this mysterious gas station attendant named Sam, who has also encountered the Hell cop. And then he and his dog have to travel the landscape and eventually rescue Rachel. And it was shockingly really good. Like, we were surprised at how much we enjoyed this. The visuals for Hell are really neat. Like, they really did a lot with kind of desert landscapes unsurprisingly. They filmed a lot of it in Arizona mhm. And there's also a ton of just really cool practical effects. There's some great cameos, like Jerry Stiller and Ben Stiller and Ben Stiller's sister. I think her name is Amy. They all show up as random characters throughout the movie. Gilbert Godfrey has this minor year role as Hitler where he's just sitting there. I was sitting there and I was like, um, gilbert Godfrey is Hitler, you son of a bitch. I'm in.

Jessika: I was imagining the screaming and I'm like, actually, though, no, it's pretty good.

Mike: So that scene in particular takes place with this, like, casino called Hoffas, and it's run by Jimmy Hoffa, and there's a museum or a palace with a bunch of things on display. And you see things like an apple with a bite taken out of it. There's a lot of smart, subtle little things that they did. And then what really took us by surprise, though, is how good the writing was. And it makes sense because I looked it up and it's written by Brian Helgland. Who he's the guy who did the screenplace for La. Confidential and Mystic River. So, like, some pretty serious talent. And it really comes out when the devil finally shows up. And he has some lines that are actually really kind of beautifully tragic. And yeah, it was one of those movies that was very weird, very cool, and honestly, it felt way better than it had any right to be. So if that sounds like something that you're interested in, go check it out on prime.

Jessika: Yeah, actually it does. I might have to check it out. He kind of had me at Gilbert Godfreddess Hitler after I thought about it for a second.

Mike: Right?

Jessika: It did take a second, but I was on board.

Mike: It's one of those things where you're like, I don't know. Anybody is Hitler. You're like, um and then you're like, Wait, all right.

Jessika: Yeah, that's kind of what I did.

Mike: No, this is one of the few instances where that actually works pretty well. Uh, I'm guessing that you have a comic book to talk about.

Jessika: I do have a comic book, yeah. I was just reading comics before we recorded this or before our recording right now. So I recently read through the first two volumes of Radiant Black, but then I found out that there was a Radiant Red trade paper back and my local comic shop just happened to be doing a 50% off trades deal. So you go got a copy of volume one and it's just as fun and emotional as Radiant Black. And it's from Image Comics in 2021. Written by Cherish Chen, co written by Kyle Higgins. Art uh, by David Lafuente, colors by Miguel Muerto and lettered by Diego Sanchez and Becca Carey. And it of course follows satelli, who, through being at the wrong place at the wrong time, ends up being blown up and coming into contact with the red void that both saved her from the explosion and gave her superpowers. Now Satomi is off to deal with her fiance, who struggles with a gambling addiction, applying for grad school, and trying to plan a wedding, potentially. What is the superhero to do but cause a little chaos to get what she needs, maybe rob a bank or two? It's a great read and it's actually really hard to kind of watch the struggle that Satomi is put through by the person who's supposed to care about and support her the most. He's kind of been lying to her. Not kind of, he's been lying to her and hiding things and it's really hard. It's really hard to watch emotionally. M so her journey as a developing superhero combined with a financial trouble she finds herself in, makes her for a really interesting kind of origin story for her character. So it's an interesting story. I highly recommend this series, including the Radiant Black series. It's been really good, man.

Mike: It's like turning into a whole shared universe too. I've only read the first couple of issues of Radiant Black and they were solid. I liked them. Mhm but Lance from Comic Bookkeepers is really into that whole shared universe and it keeps on growing.

Jessika: Well, I've got good news for you because I'm actually going to loan you the first two volumes of Radiant Black because I'm finished reading them.

Mike: All right, next time I laid on me, my body is ready.

Jessika: Those are already in a pile waiting for you. And I mean, if we're being honest, I'm going to be done with radiated writer by that point too. So that's going to be right in the pile for you, too.

Mike: Nice.

Jessika: Well, what do you say? Do we want to beam on into our main topic?

Mike: Yeah, I'm done with that.

Jessika: Okay, so today's topic is Marvel's Firestar, and we'll be talking about her history as a character, including a surprising origin story, the Firestar miniseries that Mike and I read for this episode and where she shown up in other comics and properties. But before we get into it, I wanted to explain why we're even doing this topic to begin with. Nice little primer. And as most of our topics do, this one was conceived from the dollar bins at one of our local comic book stores, the Outer Plains this is that rad moving sale that we've talked about in the past that Mike and I went to. We made off, like, the comic goblins that we are. And one of the things I'm always looking for is topics for this show, and particularly if I can find an entire series, because I really don't want to go hunting for this stuff. I do, and I don't really part of it is the hunting is more like, what random shit can I find? Not like, God damn it, now I need to find, like, numbers one, three, and four of this stupid ass mini series or whatever. So and sometimes you get lucky. They're right next to each other, but sometimes you get really lucky, and people have combined them into one solid pack. And that is what happened for me that fateful day. And I'm really happy that I found this series because I'm a big fan of mutants in the Marvel world and the X Men. So this has been a love of mine since the 90s, so this is just perfect. The animated TV show was one of my first nerd loves, as it were. And I know we've talked about that.

Mike: Before, which is fitting. I know this character's origin and how she came about good.

Jessika: So maybe you won't be surprised, but I was, and I'm sure some of our listeners will be as well. We can't surprise you, Mike. You know everything. Also, top of the order. Let's go through some resources. I used the Wikipedia site on Firestar. I was on Hero, the character profile for Firestar ComicVine, and an article that I'll reference later on in the show. So firestar and give a name. Angelica or Angel Jones. While this character is more widely known at this point for her appearances in comics, she actually was created by Dennis Marks, Dan Spiegel, Christie Marks, John Ramita SR. And Rick Holberg for the NBC animated TV series Spiderman and His Amazing Friends, with her first appearance being in 1981. Yeah, so clearly you already knew that. Did you watch that show?

Mike: I did. So I've talked before about how I would spend summers visiting my relatives in Texas. And the thing is, because it's hot as balls in Texas in the summer, we would spend a lot of times indoors. And so I was the only kid on my mom's side of the family in that immediate group. And so a lot of times they would just rent me cartoons and stuff. So a lot of the old Marvel and DC cartoons on VHS as well as any movies or anything that was appropriate. But yeah, there was this there was the Fantastic Four cartoon, some other stuff that were pretty regular parts of my summers there. I think around the same time, they had the Fantastic Four show where they didn't have the rights to the Human Torch, and so they created, like, Herby the Robot and I believe they created Firestar because they originally wanted the Human Torch. They could have that Fire and Ice theme, but they didn't have the rights to the Human Torch.

Jessika: That does make sense.

Mike: I think this is, again, something that I'm pulling from my memory. So it's very possible that I've got it all mixed up.

Jessika: But that does make sense because Ice Man was the other hero that was alongside Spiderman in this series. So that does make a lot of sense of having kind of the dynamic of the dual elements, as it were.

Mike: Yeah. And in the comics, Spiderman and the Human Torch are actually really tight friends. At least at one point. They were roommates in one of the Jonathan Hickman comics.

Jessika: That's adorbs. I love that for them. I wonder who the messy roommate was.

Mike: Oh, it was the Human Torch, 100%.

Jessika: Oh, okay, great. Yeah, I was going to say I'll.

Mike: Have to show you that issue. I, uh, think it's on marvel unlimited. It's very good.

Jessika: I like that. So Firestar was voiced by Kathy Grover, and this character in particular started off being able to control all forms of heat. Speaking of heat, what rhymes with heat but a treat? And I have a treat for you, my friend. I have a link right here. I'd love for you to queue it up.

Mike: All right. Spiderman and his amazing friend and Firestar.

Jessika: M, they're just teenagers, but apparently they have the ability to make all of this light furniture.

Mike: Spiderman and his amazing friend. Okay. And we talk about the fact that I guess they're sharing, like, a studio apartment, but there's only two beds. There's only two beds in this, like, shared living area that they because they've got, like, the built in bookshelves. They've got, like, the beds, and then they're playing board games right next to the beds. And then all of a sudden there's a crisis and they pull a switch. Kind of like, uh kind of like Batman used to do in the old 60 TV show. And then all of a sudden, all the equipment transforms. I'm like, first of all, like, they're supposed to be what? Like college kids? Like living together, like roommates. Like, computers were so expensive back then. We have talked about this on the episode where we discussed the radio check TRS computer comics. Mhm. Computers were so prohibitively expensive back then.

Jessika: There's no way these kids that's what I'm saying. It's like, there's no way these kids had this much equipment unless they fucking stole it.

Mike: Here's the other thing. They're not getting that security deposit back after all that custom work they do in the apartment.

Jessika: They put holes in the floor, and they definitely don't live above anyone.

Mike: No, it's charming. Uh, it's one of those things where you watch it and it just kind of takes you back to that era of wholesome superhero cartoons before everything got all dark and gritty and Batman murdered people uh, yeah.

Jessika: Fucking Batman. I fucking hate Batman. Okay, I'm sorry.

Mike: Actually, I take that back. Batman murdered people even back in the 30s. There are comics on that. But I don't know, but before the.

Jessika: Era of Zach Snyder oh, Jesus. Zach Snyder. Don't hit us up. He's never going to hear this. It's fine. So, fun fact, in an interview in 2002 from with Dennis Marks, he stated that Angelica Jones's name was taken from one of his ex girlfriends.

Mike: Good times.

Jessika: M all right. M. So her history on the show not the ex girlfriends, uh, Fire stars, uh, her history on the show looks a little different than that of the Firestar comics. So in the TV series, Firestar's origin story involves more teen drama, but of a different variety. Where Angelica had been bullied in school, was nicknamed Miss Angelica Jinx by a bully named Bonnie. This was due to mishaps of Angelica's powers starting to manifest, but after being unjustly accused of stealing one of the school's trophies, she became the Firestar for the first time when making Bonnie talk, so to speak, with her powers. Um, she was uninvited by Professor Xavier to join the X Men after she was expelled from school for torturing a student for information with her mutant powers. No big deal.

Mike: She was just 20 years too early for the Bush administration.

Jessika: Oh my god, they would have loved her. So, uh, she's described as being a former member of the X Men in the show, and apparently has a playful on screen flirtation with Ice Man, but actually dates Peter Parker and has a one episode fling with Sunfire. So it's a whole thing. The Animated Series Spiderman and His Amazing Friends ran from 1981 to 1983 with a total of 24 episodes over three seasons. This version of Firestar is also the first to appear in comics. There was a oneshot comic with the same name as The Animated Series, but this version of the comics does not bleed into the actual Marvel Comics continuity.

Mike: Yeah, it's one of those things where it's kind of like Harley Quinn or Batman beyond where these characters appeared originally in The Animated Series tie in issues before they joined the mainstream continuity.

Jessika: Right? Yeah, exactly. So the Fire star that we know from the comics first appeared in Uncanny Xmen number 193, and then was given her own miniseries as a way to further establish the history and canon of the character. This is the miniseries that we are covering today. The first part of the miniseries actually covers the character's discovery of her powers and how they first manifested. Published March through June of 1996. Written by Tom DeFalco tommy DeFalco penciled by Mary Wilshire inked by Steve Leeloha lettered by Ors and L Lois colored by De Grazianas Edited by Anne Nosenti. Editor in chief was old Jimboy shoots.

Mike: Old Jimmy shoots.

Jessika: Jimmy shoots. So Angelica Jones is the 13 year old daughter of Bart Jones. Who works in a nuclear power plant.

Mike: I think they're pretty vague on that. Yeah, they don't explain it a lot. They make it seem like he's pretty blue collar, too.

Jessika: Yeah, but somehow he's moving around a lot.

Mike: Yeah. And that's the thing, is the way that they frame it, it sounds like he's kind of doing more manual labor than anything else. I don't know. Whatever.

Jessika: Yeah, it's strange. Um, he's a single father whose elderly mother helps him out with raising his child. Angelica is shown to be an outcast who's pretty regularly bullied at school. She moves around a lot. Like we mentioned, the catalyst of her powers manifesting comes in the form of her nana passing away suddenly and being bullied extra hard at school and having the ice sculpture she had spent a lot of time on be destroyed by the bullies on campus.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: So after an incident where all of the other sculptures were discovered to be completely melted down, angelica was discovered by the White Queen. Emma Frost multivac mainly because Professor X's cerebral was, like, broken that day. Did they try turning it off and then back on again? Did they try that?

Mike: It wasn't a thing back then. They were god damn it. They sent Shadowcat to find the tools too. That was the best part.

Jessika: There was drama. It was weird.

Mike: Well, and the other thing is that, first of all, it makes no sense because it's like, oh, Cerebro is broken that day. They fix it so they miss the first flash for power. And then Emma Frost group tracks her down. But the thing is, they don't track her down for months because they have to wait for her powers to manifest more and more until they can finally hone in on her.

Jessika: Um.

Mike: I don't know. I've got thoughts, man.

Jessika: It was weird. It was very strange. And then Professor Xavier shows up, like, just as Emma Frost is in the house. And he's like, she's gotten to her first. And it's like, wow, you didn't try very hard, did you? It's like it's like not wanting to go into the same room as an ex. That's how it felt, man.

Mike: Okay, so that was one of my notes. Professor X gives up real quick on this. He's like, oh, no, that poor girl. She's doomed. Oh, well, I guess I'm going to move on to the next underage new bile mutant that I can track down and coerce. Uh, Professor X is problematic. I will die on this hill.

Jessika: He is problematic. No, I agree with that. There's no hill. You don't need to die. I agree with you.

Mike: Yeah. The other thing that's weird is that each of these issues is framed as taking place one year later. So it starts off with her as she's 13, and then 14, and then 15, and then 16. She looks like a full grown fucking adult when she is 13, as do M. All of the other end quotes high school students.

Jessika: Yeah, except for the one dopey dude that they have is her first kiss. He's a dopey ass motherfucker, but he does kind of resemble a teenager still because he's like legy and awkward.

Mike: Yeah. Uh, I think that was cannonball from the New Mutants.

Jessika: I knew you would know who that was. I was like, I'm not going to go bother looking.

Mike: Yeah, anyway, he's awkward. Yeah, but that was the thing. Those were all characters that were well established that had looks designed for them. But man, it's real weird. Especially when Emma Frost will drop her psychic collision and be parading around in her Hellfire Club outfit, which is it's lingerie and a cape. That's all it is. It is a white themed dominatrix outfit. The Hellfire Club costumes of that era are extremely problematic. Thank you, John Byrne.

Jessika: Yeah, exactly. So Frost swooped in and love bombed Angelica, inviting her to join the Massachusetts Academy, which was, of course, the rival school to Professor X's School for Gifted Youngsters. And of course, by the time Professor X got to Angelica, frost already had her convinced to go to her own mutant school. Side note, Angelica's father was not cool about the whole your child is a mutant thing. And it very much had unsupportive parent of an LGBTQIA two S plus vibes to it.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, that was a real common theme with Newton back in that period of time.

Jessika: Exactly. Yeah. They were a standing metaphor for the alphabetamalfia, etc. So it does make sense. But yeah, Bart's like, yeah, no problem. Take this child away from me. Perfect.

Mike: Yeah, yeah. Where he's like, I don't know how to deal with her.

Jessika: Exactly. It's like my guy. You've been dealing with her this whole time. So anyway, let's just say it makes for a very stressful time. When Angelica visited home for a very brief time. Uh, they didn't even last through the whole visit, but Bart pretty much let his color show at that point.

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: So while studying at the Massachusetts Academy, angelica is learning about her powers, which basically are that she can manipulate the microwave energy around her, can direct it and pinpoint it, uh, like a laser, and can heat and cause fire and explosions. By concentrating, she can also fly pushing off of the ground using the same microwave energy, which makes her very speedy.

Mike: Mhm.

Jessika: And during her training by Frost, she is basically being brainwashed. I hate the X Men. With both in school as well as mental indoctrination.

Mike: Yeah. Frost is like sending nightmares and stuff to her.

Jessika: Oh God, it was so bad. Yeah. Nightmares about different members of the X Men attacking her, about them being evil and out to get her. And Frost also worked really hard to make sure that she was isolated from her peers, telling her that she was unable to do anything without permission, without a chaperone, and telling her that she was dangerous to be around and really making the other students feel the same so as to keep her from joining in social gatherings. And then when she does try to join in, things inevitably go wrong and her powers manifest in a dangerous or destructive way.

Mike: Yeah. And I never really quite understood that. They kind of explained it later on where they're like, well, we didn't want her getting close because she's going to be kind of a suicide bomber, sort of with this mission that we're planning. But it was very I'll explain to.

Jessika: You the way that I saw it. To me, this whole thing that she was doing had cult indoctrination written all over it. This is the way that they indoctrinate people into colts. Like, they love bomb you at first. They tell you how amazing you are. They tell you about how amazing their organization is so that you want to be involved. And then they start brainwashing you and they tell you things that aren't true. But now you've trusted them, and you've also spent so much time with them that you have this, um, cost fallacy of, like, well, I have spent so much time that I don't want to have wasted all of that time. So you continue to be involved. But also being isolated from her peers means that the only person that she's taking any direction from and who that she can trust is Frost, which is what colts do as well. They isolate you from your outside sources so that you don't have anyone else to trust. So, yeah, all of this stuff is really classic cult indoctrination. And then she's also making her sleep deprived. She's causing her to have nightmares. This is all classic cult shit.

Mike: I think overall, your analysis is spot on. The one thing that's weird to me is that Frost sits there and basically love bombs Firestar throughout her entire training process. But all of the hellians who are her equivalent of the New Mutants or the X Men, she sits there and is, like, grueling and awful, too. She sits there and will give them psychic blasts when they don't do well in their training sessions.

Jessika: Yeah. That's a way to isolate her from her peers. Still, she's isolating her from her peers and she's love bombing. So that, again, she's the only person that Firestar is going to trust.

Mike: Yeah. Okay.

Jessika: They do these same kind of tactics in a, uh, boot camp for the military as well. So example of the way that things kind of went awry and her social kind of gatherings when she is allowed to go. There was a dance where the Massachusetts Academy and Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters were gathering together at the Massachusetts Academy, during which time, not only did Angelica have her first kiss with that dopey boy with cannonball, you said from Professor X's school, but the school barn burned down and apparently killed Angelica's favorite horse. And it was attributed to Butterm, um, because she had very much been the horse girl at the academy. The fire was also assumed to be her own fault. It really wasn't. Um, but it was assumed to be. And I don't believe the horse actually died either. I think they moved the horse, but they made it look like the horse died to further antagonize her. Again, that's another cold tactic. It's bad.

Mike: It's all bad. And the whole thing with the dance was also very weird, where Professor X is sitting there and the New Mutants has to go to this dance where he's like, well, she's my sworn enemy, but it's probably okay. She probably won't try anything with all those students around. I'm like my guy. What is this nonsense?

Jessika: She won't try anything at her own school. What do you mean she won't try anything at her own school? This is her home turf. This is the best place to try anything. That's a stupid sentiment, Xavier. You're not smart. You're not as smart as you think you are. So Butter Rum didn't I don't know that he actually died, but that's the vibe I can't remember. She feels very guilty about it for the longest time. So after the drama with the ball and the dead horse, frost is, of course right there to comfort her, you know, to continue building that idea that she's the only one who Angelica can trust. So then Frost is training Angelica, who at this point has been at the school for like three years, but really is being brainwashed to be an assassin because Frost wants Angelica to kill her current foe, the Black Queen. What a basic rivalry, honestly. And so there's an assassination attempt, heavy quotations on Frost's life while she is with Angelica. It makes this dramatic little brush against the top of her forehead. She gets a little graze on her forehead for the dramatics. So she tells the girl that the Black Queen was behind At Stadium, that she saw it in the forefront of the assassin's mind before he took off. And so Frost basically sends off Angelic on a suicide mission to kill the Black Queen, but making her think it was her own idea. And while this all is at play, her bodyguard, Randall Chase, starts suspecting that Angelica is being fucked over by Frost and starts looking out, forming a plan to try to get Angelica out. However, he gets captured because Frost is psychic. He gets the living shit kicked out of him and just barely escapes with his life, but dies in Angelica's arms after telling her about Frost deception. So, after a battle, uh, where she bests Frost and scares her to teach her a lesson, angelica fucks off back home, where she reconciles with her father.

Mike: We have to talk about that for a minute, because at the end of that battle, Frost is like, who knows where she went to? And then she's hanging. Out with her dad. I'm like, I don't know, man. Like the naive teenager. Of course she ran home to her dad. Come on.

Jessika: She went home? Jesus Christ. Uh, yeah, sometimes. And don't you own some sort of a machine that can tell you where she went? Isn't that where we began?

Mike: Aren't you one of the most powerful psychics on the planet? Come on.

Jessika: Jesus Christ. I know, right? So, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. Uh, what are your thoughts about the mini series?

Mike: Yeah, you know, I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. And I think my main issue is that it feels like one of those CW supernatural romance shows by way of the 1980s. It's a lot of melodrama, it's a lot of teenage mean girls. It's very much that trope of the girl with all the power who doesn't realize how powerful she is. And the final act comes into said power.

Jessika: You take off her glasses and she's beautiful. Oh, I'm sorry.

Mike: She'S all that moment. But I do feel like Firestar herself in this is very passive as a character for most of the miniseries. She is someone who spends almost all of her time on the page, kind of letting things happen to her rather than taking direct action. But that said, I did like the character that she becomes at the end, as well as that final battle between her and Emma Frost. I thought it was great. I thought it was a lot of fun. I really liked confident, badass, trained as an assassin, firestar really kind of letting loose. But the thing is, we only get that in the last couple of pages of the final issue.

Jessika: Exactly.

Mike: Um, and I talked about the issues with the fact that, like, we have very adult looking teenagers in high school and the Cringy Hellfire Club costumes. I would have liked to see Firestar actually used as like a saboteur or an assassin for a little while before everything comes undone. M, I would have liked to see her used a bit more as Emma Frost's knife in the dark, rather than just something that she was sharpening for so long. Yeah, um, they did that with, uh, the character X 23 in her origin story, and it was really great. Like, they showed her being a really ruthless killer. And I thought it was really slick the way that they did that and kind of reconciling everything. But at the same time, this was the 1980s, and I don't think they were really going for something with quite that much depth.

Jessika: Yeah, potentially not.

Mike: It's also very weird to see her as such a naive character. Like I said, I watched the original cartoon when I would say with my relatives in Texas, and then she was college age and she was pretty confident in that series. And then when I was reading comics with her, it was in The New Warriors in the 90s, which was written by Fabian Deesa and drawn by Mark Bagley. She was drawn as this very confident, you know, 20 something woman who really could kind of stand up for herself. And she had a couple of cards in the Marvel Universe trading series that were pretty cool. She had pretty baller looks and seemed like a real powerhouse. And I think that's something that I'm still trying to kind of reconcile a little bit with the series. Like, I've been trying to figure out who this miniseries was for because it's not actually all that exciting. There's not a lot of action. It's a lot of teenage girl drama with some powers thrown in. Mhm I think they were trying to tap into that young girl market that was interested in dolls and action figures, action dolls, because this came out in, like, 86, and that was right after JeM and The Holograms had started airing. It was a little bit after shera had started airing. And I mean marvel. Their animation studio was working on Gem and the Holograms. I think they had plans for Firestar to be one of those cross media properties where they could have sat there and marketed her as a toy, as an animated character, as a comic character, if it had done really well. Mhm clearly it didn't take off the way that they wanted to. Yeah, I could be way off here, but the timing kind of syncs up, and so I don't think I'm wrong, but I could be.

Jessika: Yeah. And I thought it was okay, too. I think, to your point, it wasn't super exciting. I thought it was nice to have a female superhero, but I also felt that she was really passive and she didn't really have much control over her own destiny. She really just got jerked around most of the time and was finally able to make a decision at the end. But she wasn't even presented with choices at the beginning. She wasn't presented with the choice of being with the X Men or being with the Hellfire Club. She was just kind of put into the situation. And Xavier fucked off once he figured out that his ex was in the room. I don't know, it just felt a little lazy. Professor Xavier is a little lazy.

Mike: But yeah, like, what the fuck, Chuck? Like, that was one of my big issues. I mean.

Jessika: Yeah.

Mike: Uh man I think it would have been a much stronger storyline if he had gotten there right at the same time and tried to convince her and somehow Emma Frost convinced Firestar that Professor Ax in his school was the wrong choice, that it was, that there was something evil about him. I think it would have worked way better, as opposed to, oh, no, she just showed up and managed to get there first.

Jessika: Yeah. So on that same vein, how do you think the character might have been different if Cerebro had been functional that day? I guess, and Professor X had gotten there first.

Mike: I think she would have been, in certain ways, the same character. I think she has that basic kind of kindness to her, and she's a people pleaser at heart. I think she would have been the same horse girl that we saw at the Massachusetts Academy. I mean, in certain ways, I was the horse girl. I wanted to spend more time with my dogs. I liked animals more than people. Half the time. I was very isolated from kids in my school. I get it. I think she would have been a lot better socialized because the X Men don't operate on that same you can make the argument that the X Men are a cult themselves, but at the same time, they're a bit more of a family unit.

Jessika: Well, she at least would have had people of her peers that she would have been interacting with, and she would.

Mike: Have been more confident. She would have been better socialist. She certainly would have had less trauma.

Jessika: Oh, yeah. I'm more and more thinking that Emma Frost is, like, the absolute most evil character. How she was, like, really mentally fucking with this girl. I was like, that's some really heinous and devious bullshit.

Mike: Well, and that's the thing, is, Emma Frost at this era was a very two dimensional character. If she had a mustache, she would have been twirling it.

Jessika: Yeah, definitely. It was a little over the top sometimes.

Mike: And these days, Emma Frost is actually a very fun character, especially as she's part of Gracoa and all that. Yes, she still dresses in outfits that are very sexual, but at the same time, they're incredibly stylish now. And the hellfire club. It's weird. And I like what they've turned it into now, where it's kind of like the black market for kakoa. And the other thing is, they did this whole thing where she was trying to assassinate Celine, and Celine shows up for a couple of pages and she's kind of like ditzy airhead. And the thing is, even at this point in time, they have established in the Marvel continuity that Celine is thousands of years old and that she is a truly kind of like nightmarish energy vampire or life force vampire being. I don't know. I think that's another thing that I'm really grumpy about, is they did Celine dirty, and she's a great villain when she's used well.

Jessika: Yeah, I think a lot of things would have been different. I think Professor X may have been a better messenger to Angelica's father about her powers and her kind of gift. And I think the rift between them may have been less tumultuous. Regardless of Bart's first thoughts on mutants prior to knowing this about his daughter. And it also means a lot that Frost wanted that isolation for her anyway, so she wasn't going to foster any good relationship between her or between her and her father. It would also be interesting to go back and look at what was happening in the issues that took place in the time frame that she was at Frost School. Like, in what situations could her powers have been helpful to the X Men while she was at that school, in any of those situations? So it's just kind of an interesting thing to ponder. Which of the X Men do you think would have been the best to relate to or to teach Firestar if she had gone to Xavier school? And I don't care about the time frame, just like generally, if they have been with the X Men, who do you think would be a good X Men to kind of be a mentor for her?

Mike: It would have been Shadow Cat, no question. Um, also super young at the time when she came to the school. And she had powers that required a lot of discipline for her to control. I think Shadowcat's natural state is that she's not solid. Like, she phases through things naturally, so she has to concentrate to stay solid. And that was kind of a big thing at the end when Firestar is talking to her dad and she's reconciling with him, which was actually a nice moment, but she sits there and talks about how she can control her powers. It just takes a lot of work. Kitty has Lockheed, who is her pet Purple Dragon, which I think Firestar would have been all over. She would have loved to have an animal to hang out with in her dorm room. And then the other thing is that Kitty is really smart and Firestar is told that she wasn't smart and that she was a klutz. And I think being friends with Kitty would have changed that because I know Kitty would have been her study buddy and helped her catch up on schoolwork that she had missed out on because she was always bouncing between schools and would have helped her realize that she's not dumb in the slightest. That is something that really it was like an arrow straight to my chest because I got told that I was dumb. In middle school, I had teachers who also made me feel like I was dumb, and I hated that. It's still this kind of deep seated ember of rage in me.

Jessika: Yeah, I get that.

Mike: I still occasionally think about that English teacher who gave me a D and told me that some people just aren't meant to be writers when I asked why I got a D and I kind of want to go and show her my entire career since then. She's probably dead now. Whatever.

Jessika: Uh, well, we can rest easy there then. Oh, goodness. For me, for the same reasons, kind of was thinking about Storm or Cyclops mhm Storm, because her powers are also pretty huge, so she would have to be able so she would be able to relate on a power level and hopefully teach some control with that much power. But, uh, the real person to help, I think teach control would be cyclops. Like he legit, has to wear special glasses to control his powers. Well, it's just because I was thinking about his stupid laser eyes. I feel like there was probably a lot of learning that needed to happen to him prior to figuring out his issues that he might be a good point of reference even. Just like what he learned along the way about not blowing shit up accidentally. Yeah, I mean, yes, he's boring. I do agree with you. Kitty is a much better choice. I'm sorry that you're the better comic book reader than me, Mike. It's not my problem. It's not my fault. Just go sit here with my doing.

Mike: M the longer that's all. I think Storm would have been great. I think Storm is an A plus choice or her cyclops is just he's, so whatever.

Jessika: Uh, so Firestar's appearance has dried up a little bit after her title run, but she came back swinging to join the New Warriors and New Warriors Number One, and remained on the team, being featured regularly. She also appeared in The Avengers along with justice, the fiance that she had gained while in The New Warriors, and was featured in various issues of The Avengers Volume Three and the Avengers Annual 2001. After leaving The Avengers, Firestar went into retirement, or tried to. She was one of the remaining mutants with her powers after the Scarlet Witch altered reality, a topic we don't really have time to get into right this second, but she responded to the superhuman registration act by retiring from being a costumed hero. Angelica makes an appearance in comics again as the Marvel Divas, where it's revealed that she's friends with Hellcat Photon and Black Cat. And this series, this overarching topic, is Angelica's breast cancer, which is ascertained to have been caused by the accumulation of the microwaves that she has been exposed to through her own goddamn powers.

Mike: We got to talk about this series at some point. I've never heard of it, but now I'm like jumping.

Jessika: Me too. I know, me too. I found out about it as I was doing this research and I didn't have time to read all of it or any of it really, but I was like, we're clearly going to need to check this out. During the series, she also canonically loses her hair when she does chemotherapy and chooses to keep it short instead of opting to wear a wig. At this point in time. Her heroics don't end here, however, as she has a one shot where she is doing part time side heroics, this time while wearing a wig because her hair is yet to grow back from her chemo.

Mike: Mhm.

Jessika: She's also featured in The Young Allies, where the Bastards of Evil attack the World Trade Center Ground Zero, and she is one of the first heroes to respond. I'm not going to get too far further into that plot, but check it out, I guess, if you want to.

Mike: That sounds, um, extremely topical and possibly cringy.

Jessika: Uh, yeah, it sounded pretty topical and cringy, both in a nice little sandwich, which is why I didn't look further. And while she had previously rebuffed requests to have her join the X Men, she did finally join as a teacher in the Gene Gray School, teaching physics, of all things. Love that for her. However, she did end up getting dragged to hell with several other members of the X Men, which we don't love as much. Firestar also appears in the edge of the Spiderverse web of Fear spider UK, which is a British spiderman who is a member of the Captain Britain Corp. And here Spiderman sees Firestar and Iceman dead. However, it's an alternate universe of Spiderman and his amazing Friends.

Mike: I haven't read that one. I'll have to check it out.

Jessika: Yeah, well. And speaking of alternates, in Exiles, an alternate version of Firestar was forced to join the team Weapon X, but was killed pretty early on in a mega blast unleashed by her own powers, apparently. She also appears in Marvel Zombies versus army of Darkness and MC Two, both as flashbacks. And in the Mutant X universe, she also pops up in Spiderman Loves Mary Jane and the Ultimate Marvel. As far as other media, aside from her television debut, that was also her character's actual debut. Firestar appeared in Wolverine and the X Men, voiced by Tara Strong. And in the Superhero Squad show, voiced by Laura Bailey. She also flew into the following video games spiderman and Venom, Maximum Carnage, Marvel Ultimate Alliance Two, voiced by Kimberly Brooks, and as a playable character in Marvel's Superhero Squad Online, voiced again by Terra Strong. There was also a live performance.

Mike: What?

Jessika: Firestar appeared as a guest in Marvel Comics live reenactment of Spiderman's wedding to Mary Jane in 1987. So, yeah, that was the thing, I guess.

Mike: Oh, man. I had no idea this was the thing. I'm going to have to look it up now.

Jessika: Yeah, we'll have to look it up. I did not find footage of that. I did not have the time. But it exists. I'm sure it exists somewhere on the Internet. And since this character was made in the 80s, you know, there was merch back in the day. You could get fabulous items such as figurines, trading cards, t shirts, posters, art prints, and collectible drinking cups from none other than Pizza Hut was more than that, of course. That's just a sprinkling. And hey, guess what, Mike.

Mike: What?

Jessika: There's actually some current news regarding Firestar. Do you want to hear it?

Mike: Yeah.

Jessika: So, based on an article I found titled Firestar's Place Among the Mutants is explored in X Men annual Number One, published November 1, 2022. So, just last month, once again, I'm finding topical and relevant subjects very strange. I know. I don't know how you keep doing it, because it was an accident both times. That was just last month, by the way. This is December 20 that we're recording right now, and it was published, uh, November 1. The article's author interviewed the writers of the X Men annual number One about the project, asking Steve Fox about his experience with the Firestar character.

Mike: I'm a longtime Firestar fan. I'm a 90s kid, and a big part of my early Marvel education came from VHS tapes of various cartoons, including Spiderman and His Amazing Friends, where Angelica made her debut. I was also the perfect age to dive into the new warriors and the George Fred Kurt Busyck Avengers was my introduction to the Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Firestar and I go way back. The X Men were and are my first love in comics. So mutant characters who weren't particularly associated with Xavier and Company always fascinated me. I liked the idea that some folks with X jeans made their way out into the wider Marvel universe and got up to wholly unrelated adventures, only occasionally crossing over into X territory. In fact, the antagonist of the issue is a mutant who has almost never interacted with any X books.

Jessika: That's exciting.

Mike: I'm very curious.

Jessika: Is that exciting? I know. Uh, so, yeah, we're going to have some new things, some very topical things with Firestar coming up here soon. So that's really cool. I can't believe I did it again.

Mike: Yeah, nice job.

Jessika: So we will go ahead and end on that exciting news. But Mike, do you have any final thoughts about Firestar before we wrap up this Radioactive section?

Mike: I mean, nothing that I haven't really voiced. I like her as a character. As I went back and I read this and I dug into a couple of new warriors issues, I was reminded that she's actually a really cool character, and I'd like to see her come back to some big books in kind of, uh, a big way. I'd like to see her on one of the big X teams or something, especially because I think her powers could actually be updated to do some really cool stuff like they have with some of the other characters as well. I think I'd like to see her get a bit of a narrative redemption and be a little bit more of an act of badass rather than some naive child with her origin, too. Yeah, I'm not really a big fan of her original costume, so I'd like to see her in a better costume, maybe give her some war paint instead of that awful pseudo domino mask.

Jessika: Oh, my God. Yeah, she doesn't even like it. She talks about that in the comic where she's like, uh, I don't like wearing this mask.

Mike: Yeah, I think overall, she's actually a really solid character. I think she suffers the same fate that a lot of female characters from that era do. And that they weren't given a lot of agency. I think she's overdue to come back and blow our socks off.

Jessika: Yeah, I'm excited to see what's upcoming for her. Definitely. Well, let's go ahead and roll into our brain wrinkles, my friend.

Mike: Let's go.

Jessika: So we have reached brain wrinkles, and brain wrinkles are that one thing comics or comics adjacent that's been sloshing around in our brain meet since the last time we chatted. So I've been talking for a while now. Mike, why don't you grace us with your wrinkles first?

Mike: I read your notes ahead of this and mine is tied to yours. So I'm actually going to tell you to go first.

Jessika: God damn it, Mike. Okay, that's fine. Well, not to be a bummer again, but you and I both went to Brian's Comics last day this past Sunday, December 18. It was really sad. I was the second to last customer as there was this guy who really wanted to be the last customer. So he said he'd come back in after I checked out. Like, okay, whatever. To each their own. But it was really sad to see this business that you and I have both really enjoyed clothes, and they are going to be replaced with another comic spot. But to our understanding, it won't be a spot for new comics. So no pull lists for new incoming items. Which brings up something that you and I have been talking about this week, which is finding a new spot for that kind of stuff. Now, I do have a spot in Santa Rosa just north of me, but for Mike, that's a bit more of a trek. And it feels like these little mom and pop nerd shops are really struggling or ultimately shutting down. And it's really sad to see. So I just want to throw another reminder out there. Um, I'll leave my plea to all of you. Please shop local and please support your local nerd establishments. I know sometimes it takes a little bit more effort than going online and just kind of clicking through and ordering, but it really does mean a lot to small local businesses to just go to their shops or go to their websites and purchase through them. Pay the extra $2 and support someone who is in your community and who really needs your support, especially if you're going to do it anyway.

Mike: Yes. Sarah and I went the same day. We were there in the morning. I think we were the first customers.

Jessika: To walk in, look at us, sandwiching.

Mike: And it was really bittersweet. We bought some more stuff. I got his really cool spinner rack because he was just getting rid of fixtures. And so I had talked to him about it ahead of time. But on top of supporting local shops, the other thing is that local shops need to support the customers because I had a very different experience at a different local shop where I'm not going to go into specifics, but they made it very obvious that they are not as inclusive and welcoming as Bryant's. And it just really rubbed me the wrong way almost to the point where I was like, I'm just going to take my money and not give it to you. It's, uh, one of those things where I'm like, do I keep shopping real local or do I go a little farther away and spend my money at other shops, even though it's going a little bit outside of my immediate community? And I don't know what the answer is to that. But, um, dear Comic Bookstore owners, don't be that guy.

Jessika: Yeah, exactly.

Mike: The other thing is that I will absolutely shop online from other shops like Gmart Comics out of Illinois. They are big supporters of Gay League, which is a community that I'm a part of. And so I will happily spend money with them every now and then. I will oftentimes order exclusive variants from Cape and Cal in Oakland because they have an amazing online presence. And, uh, they will ship it to me. It's great. But I mean, I know one of our followers has talked about an experience that she had at a local shop. She went into specifics with me recently about it. And it kind of left me a gap where I was like, man, do you just not want to take money from people if you don't feel that they're dedicated enough or spending enough money with you? Like, come on.

Jessika: It always seems really strange. And that's something I struggle with partially, um, as a woman and partially as kind of a new to comics reader with going to shops is that I really do have that kind of moment of imposter syndrome. Like I don't belong here. Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed. And that's always a little, in the back of my mind part of it that somebody's going to point to me and say, you don't belong here. And that's not going to happen. Realistically, that's not going to happen. But it might. I don't know. It might. I pick up enough weird shit that I wonder what people are thinking as they're, like, ringing me up too.

Mike: Yeah, it's a little bit of a bummer to end on. But at the same time, there's also that silver lining where we have another shop going into Brian's. They're owned by the Bat Cave, another local shop in Santa Rosa? Yeah, I talked with them actually, this weekend. We don't know yet if they're going to have new comics.

Jessika: Oh, there's still a chance, huh?

Mike: There's still a chance. We'll see. They were like, we don't know yet if you've got another local shop you can go to. Like, we suggest going there and setting up a list so you don't miss out on anything you're currently reading. Yeah, but they're not taking over the shop space until I think, March. So we're going to have that kind of gap period, but it's not quite as heartbreaking as it first was. When we found out that Brian's was closing. And Brian, I talked with him a bit, it sounds like it was ending on a relatively positive note. I think he was just kind of ready to move on to the next thing. But I do more than the loss of a local comic shop that was just so absolutely welcoming and inclusive to everybody.

Jessika: Yeah, I agree.

Mike: Don't get me wrong, outer Planes, I think, is fantastic for that, too.

Jessika: Yeah, I agree.

Mike: They never make you feel like you don't belong. They never make you feel like you're asking a stupid question. Like, our friend Tom works there and he is one of the most good natured people you can ever meet.

Jessika: Yeah. Um, and Lauren, who does the polls, she's amazing. Absolutely.

Mike: He's also dog friendly.

Jessika: There are still some options for us. We're not losing out on everything. Um, we know that it's definitely there are some more barren areas of the country, for sure. We're pretty fortunate as far as that goes. But it's still a loss that we feel. So we wanted to mention it.

Mike: Yeah. And, uh, if you do not have a local comic shop, hit us up and we will happily help you find someone online who is a great online retailer worthy of your money, who is not Amazon.

Jessika: Yes. Oh, God, yes. So that wraps up our show for this week. You can join us next week for another episode of Dollar Bin Discoveries, but until then, we will see you in the stacks.

Mike: Thanks for listening to Ten Cent Takes. Accessibility is important to us, so text transcriptions of each of our published episodes can be found on our website.

Jessika: This episode was hosted by Jessica Fraser and Mike Thompson. Written by Jessica Fraser and edited By Mike Thompson. Our intro theme was written and performed by Jarrett Emerson Johnson of Bay Area Sound. Our credits and transition music as Pursuit of Life by Evan McDonald's and was purchased with a standard license from Premium Beat. Our banner graphics were designed by Sarah Frank, who's at

Mike: If you'd like to get in touch with us, ask us questions or tell us about how we got something wrong, please head over to Tencent or shoot an email to Tencent You can find us on Twitter. For now, the official podcast account is Tencent Takes all one word. Jessica is Jessica witha, uh and Mike is Van Sau. V-A-N-S-A-U. We are also on hive and mastodon. I will include those links in the show notes.

Jessika: If you'd like to support us, be sure to download, rate and review wherever you listen.

Mike: Stay safe out there and support your.

Jessika: Local local comic shop. Please.


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