BEATRIZ DA COSTA (AKA FIRE)
And let’s start this blog off strong with one of my personal favourite women of the DCU as a whole: the much-forgotten Beatriz Da Costa, also known as: Fire!
(Art by Adam Hughes!)
Bea’s debut into the comics world was in 1979, in Super Friends, originally known as Green Fury, and later joined the group known as the Global Guardians. What do I know about that time? Not a whole lot!
The point at which I fell in love with her - and at which, I think, most of her fans fell in love with her - was her debut as Fire in the pages of Justice League International. In this post-crisis world, she started off as a model and performer turned superhero: Green Fury, to Green Flame to, simply, Fire. She appeared as one half of a duo, one that was destined to be the backbone of much of her emotional arcs: Fire & Ice.
Aren’t they cute?
For those of you who are even passingly familiar with Justice League International, it won’t come as a surprise in the least that most of her characterization and actions revolved around being as funny as possible, particularly as a loud, lively, egotistical foil to the much more demure, conservative Ice. She wasn’t always the most competent member of the team (it’s hard to do, when you’re beside Batman and Martian Manhunter), but there’s no doubt that she was certainly one of the MORE competent members, especially when it came to assuming a protective role with Ice, a woman that she loved to no end.
Something that didn’t go too well for her upon Ice’s untimely death, in which she had to grapple with the continuous deaths of her teammates, and what to do in the face of them. Where many gave up, she didn’t; she served the Justice League for the longest stretch out of any JLI member, trained with several senior heroes, battled against Doomsday, befriended the woman who took on Ice’s mantle, and stayed to the bitter end.
And once it did, in fact, end, she returned to her home of Brazil to continue her work, only to join up with the espionage group Checkmate, which did some… let’s say morally sketchy things.
But that’s enough about her long and often ambiguous backstory, which I included mostly to point out that despite what many detractors say about DC’s female characters, she was not written as a foil for a man, was not written to titillate any male characters and is her own character. Can you dislike her? Sure. But there’s no arguing that she’s a central character in and of herself, and can stand on her own two feet.
So why do I like her? There’s a whole laundry list, but let me take a shot. Unlike a lot of women I see in fiction, she’s allowed to be flawed and funny while maintaining a rich inner life. Bea loves the good life and her own reflection, at that, and she can be petty, angry, and judgmental… but she can be loving, heroic, sentimental and very, very brave at the same time. She’s funny without being a punchline, and her love for Ice is not put beneath the love that Ice’s boyfriend has for her – it’s on par, because relationships between women, whether they’re romantic or platonic (and I personally believe she harboured extremely romantic feelings towards Ice) are incredibly important. To see the love these women have for each other is a wonderful thing, especially in a franchise and medium that often pits them against one another.
She’s vivacious and bright, she’s allowed to have fun, and that’s something that’s occasionally in very short supply. I love that she’s part of a big, wonderful team, and that she has endured past it from title to title. She’s never seen to be above it all, but she’s allowed to express her own legitimate emotions throughout it all as well.
…which is a really long winded way of saying: I love Beatriz Da Costa, and I think you should too.
Even if her fashion sense isn’t always what it should be.