Contributed by Ronald Byrd
Born in Tokyo, Mariko Yashida comes from an alternate earth different from the one on which most stories of the Marvel Universe take place. When her mutant powers manifest at age twelve, her ultra-strict parents see them as a source of shame and forbid her to learn more about their use. Pressured to excel in all academic efforts, Mariko becomes more and more rebellious and finally runs away at age sixteen. Arriving in America, she joins her earth’s version of the X-Men as Sunfire,defending humanity and helping to save the world on more than one occasion. However, even these successes don’t serve to reconcile her to her parents, who disapprove of her not only for her mutant nature, but also because she is gay.
As the result of accumulated and as yet unexplained “breaks in the chain of time,” the timelines of several alternate earths, including Sunfire’s, are altered; in Sunfire’s case, her history changed so that instead of flame powers, her mutant nature manifests as uncontrolled atomic radiation. Six heroes (Blink, Mimic, Morph, Thunderbird, Nocturne, and Magnus) from six different alternate earths become “unhinged” from their own realities and, as the Exiles, are set the task of traveling to other earths to correct the changes on each one and, according to a metaphysical entity called the Time Broker, eventually regain their old lives. When Magnus dies in the course of the team’s first mission, Sunfire is sent by the Time Broker to replace him. Over time, her fellow team members learn about her lesbianism and accept it easily, even the male shape-changer Morph, who harbors a crush on her. In a later adventure, Thunderbird is left comatose on another earth and replaced by Sasquatch, and how long any of the others, including Sunfire, will survive their adventures remains to be seen.
In issue #41, Exiles member Mimic is infected by a parasitic Brood egg, and turned into a crazed beast bent on the Earth’s destruction. The other team mates used all their strength and abilities to save him, but Mimic’s salvation came at a very high cost; the death of Sunfire.
Sunfire II possesses the ability to manipulate flaming energy, which she can use to fire energy blasts and to fly. Sunfire II should not be confused with the male “mainstream Earth” hero of the same name, and she is apparently not intended to be an alternate earth version of the late Mariko Yashida who was Wolverine’s lover since the two appear to be different ages; most of the other Exiles are counterparts of or, like Sunfire, at least share names with “mainstream Earth” characters.
Sunfire first appears in Exiles #2, vol 1 and reveals she is lesbian in #11.
Sunfire was created by Judd Winink and Mike McKone. Art by Mizuki Sakakibara from the cover of Exiles #37.
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