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Uncanny Avengers Spotlight: Sunfire

Rick Remender brings Shiro Yoshida into the big time, unveiling his quest for glory and redemption!



Uncanny Avengers #5 cover by John Cassaday

By Ben Morse

Once upon a time, Professor Charles Xavier asked Japanese mutant hero Sunfire to become a member of his X-Men, to fight for the rights of his people and join an elite team of champions.

He said no.

Years later, Shiro Yoshida has been to hell and back, while Charles Xavier has met his demise at the hands of one of his own.

Beginning with issue #5 in February, Sunfire joins the cast of UNCANNY AVENGERS, stepping into the role he has ever shunned and becoming one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Writer Rick Remender spoke about the road that brings Shiro here, how he will mesh with the team, and what being an Avenger means to Sunfire. I've noticed on the Internet and with fan reaction, people are really excited for Sunfire to join the team. There's something about the character where he's not had that appearances relative to most others but he stands out, he's made a mark. What makes him a potential breakout for you?

Rick Remender: First off, it's the "what if?" of it all. Here's the one guy who refused Xavier's invitation to be part of the "All-New" X-Men. He was the guy who was like, "oh this is the coolest era of the X-Men coming up? No thanks, I've got stuff to do." And then he pops up once in a while and he'll be involved, but he's such an [expletive]. He's just an [expletive]. He's just like "shut up stupid people, dear god you Western morons," and I've never really had a chance to write just such an unabashed jerk.

And he's also crazy powerful. I know in the Age of Apocalypse version, his body is gone and he becomes a living being of energy, of fire. But I don't think we need to turn him into that, necessarily. Power level wise, he can nuke a city. And you put Sunfire on the team, he's a very powerful character, and he's also someone that should have been one of the X-Men, but refused it, and he's someone that's at the lowest point of his life; really, he should have been on X-Force. He would have been a perfect addition to that squad. He's been a Horseman, Mister Sinister has manipulated him, he's been a Marauder, he's lost his legs and has had them returned, he's lost family members; he's gone through so many changes.

Uncanny Avengers #7 cover by John Cassaday

His core belief that Japan is the center of the universe was skewed and he lost who he was. He's broken. So when we find him, he's purposeless, shattered, manipulated and broken, which was attractive to me in taking that angle with him; he's that tone of damaged and probably going to do some crazy things and is way more powerful than anyone else that we've seen in that situation. Shiro, to me, is an opportunity to make good on what could have happened in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1, when he declined to join the team. Now that Xavier's dead and here's this guy that's lost his honor, it's an opportunity to redeem himself as well. Where has Sunfire been since we last saw him, and how did he get to his lowest point?

Rick Remender: He's been shaking off the manipulations of Apocalypse and Sinister. Of all the X-Men, he's been manipulated by the two bigs. He's been drug through the streets and exposed, and he has had no luck. Every adventure he's been on, everything he's tried to do, it's all backfired. In my mind, when someone goes through that kind of trauma, it's severe, so in my head, he's sitting in a dingy hotel drinking cheap Night Train wine. He's near suicide when we meet him. I think that that's important to reflect the continuity of what the character's gone through. And that's the reason that people love the shared universe is that we build on those things and find ways to make them interesting and integral to the character. Is Wolverine the one that goes and recruits him?

Rick Remender: Yeah. Now is the reason for that something that we'll learn down the line?

Rick Remender: Well, Wolverine knows what they're dealing with and he knows that Shiro is at the bottom, and he doesn't want to leave him out there. He could use the power, and at the end of it Logan has been there. Logan's been manipulated to the point of not even knowing what his true history was and his mind is just a sewer, it's been played with so many times. And he identifies with what's happened to Shiro. He sees the Uncanny Avengers as an opportunity for Shiro to clean up his act and get it together and finally stand and be the hero that Xavier thought he should be; and how could he turn that down? So that's the challenge that Shiro has to rise to. Plus, it makes Japan look good to have him on one of the premier Avengers squads, and he's a pretty proud nationalist type. What does being an Avenger mean to him? Maybe different than what being an X-Man would mean...

Rick Remender: It's more prestigious in the public eye. Being an X-Man is joining a school where [Professor X is] telling you his philosophy, and you're going to go off and save people and help in a public way to try to undo people's fear and suspicion of mutants. The Avengers are the premier big shot heroes, and this is something that when the hero of Japan joins, it's prestigious for his country, he thinks, and he wants to stand up and earn that. Even though he's broken and haunted, like you said, he's still Sunfire; he's kind of a jerk. I have to imagine there's going to be some friction, he's not instantly going to just drop in and be quiet. Will we see him still clash with other members of the team?

Rick Remender: Yeah, with all of them. [Laughs] Even Rogue, who he's been friendly with, he's just that guy, and we've all known that guy. He's just almost a sociopath in his ability--well I guess sociopaths are good at imitating and mimicking human relations, so he's not a sociopath, he's just a gruff narcissist. To tie it to the mission statement, we've got this team; they're going out and trying to foster human mutant relations. I've always seen with Sunfire that being a mutant is not something he sees as a defining characteristic of who he is. Is being a mutant important to him or does is it that it just happens to be?

Rick Remender: I think at the core, there is a hero there, and I think more than caring about mutants, he just cares about serving Japan and keeping the world safe. And that here's Professor Charles Xavier that died, who always thought that Sunfire could help his cause and help the cause of mutants. And by not listening to that, he became a tool of Xavier's enemies and became a villain himself. So I think that he does care about mutants, but he doesn't buy into the cult of it, that we need more mutants just because, and let's put the entire planet in peril so that more mutants are born. He's not part of the clan; he's just a guy that probably has more selfish motives than anyone else, but his core being is that he put himself in harm's way to protect innocent people, be they human or mutant.

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I like how some of the lesser known X characters (Cannonball, Sunspot, and Sunfire)are ending up on major Avengers teams and getting a chance to shine. I wonder if Sunfire is going to be in the animated Big Hero 6 movie?


Great new roster! But, not gunna lie, Banshee would be perfect for this team (lacking the redhead x-man rep, bring him back!)