Thursday, August 4, 2016


For the longest time,  I thought this picture showed Fire-Eater spitting flames at cops.

Say what you will about combustible crimefighter Fire-Eater, but he does exactly what’s advertised on the tin. Who eats fire? Fire-Eater eats fire! Thank you for attending my TED Talk, show’s over, go home.
A good capsule? That shit is GREAT!

The bare-chested, bare-legged Fire-Eater – secretly Mike O’Malley, “a lusty Yankee whose amazing conquest of flames keeps audiences gasping … and criminals cringing at his name” – is part of a proud legacy of sideshow and theatre performers who take their specialized skills on the road in order to battle bad guys. For O’Malley’s part, his “record-breaking” antics can only be extrapolated by the readers from how he uses his powers in his battle against crime. Otherwise, all we ever see him do on a stage is leave it.

In action, however, Fire-Eater appears to be in possession of special capsules – either his own invention or someone else’s, it’s left unexplained – which grant him the ability to expulse fire from his mouth at sufficient temperatures to melt steel, burn wood, and disintegrate bullets in mid-air. In the course of his two adventures in Choice Comics, O’Malley’s butane breath burns through a lock, detonates a can of naphtha from a distance of forty feet, turns an axe handle to cinders, slags a periscope, and puts an end to a mess of Nazi saboteurs by igniting the grenades they carry in their hands. At no point does he simply burn a foe to death, but he sure makes it a point to blow on things that will kill them in the long run.
"His work will look great on the
walls of my 1980s nail salon!"

The secret of O’Malley’s capsules are briefly touched upon in a single caption – they’re sodium! This welcomes Fire-Eater into another crimefighter fraternity – the masked heroes whose science-based powers would surely kill them in agony on first use.

Whether through familiarity or some other, unspoken scientific advancement, Fire-Eater is also practically immune to flame and great heat. There’s no explanation given as to how he keeps his shirtless collar affixed to his neck at all times, but that was the number one question plaguing my mind.

Fire-Eater doesn’t fight crime alone, assisted by his best girl Louise Peters, self-described “head nurse at state hospital.” Which is a job title that certainly doesn’t sound made up. I mean, if she weren’t actually head nurse at “state hospital,” why would she always be running around in a nurse’s uniform? QED, gentlemen, QED.

The creative team on Fire-Eater is largely unknown (although pencils are generally attributed to Art Saaf), but that’s beside the point.  The final group to which Fire-Eater belongs is that of superheroes whose creators had tongues firmly planted in cheek when choosing their pen names; Fire-Eater was the product of “Wood Byrns.” I hope Wood hangs out with the Red Bee’s “B.H.Apiary” some time, I bet they’d get on like a house afire.

"And also we're dying from the incredible heat but it seemed rude to mention that!"

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