BIOGRAPHY - Page 1
His father, Saburo, being part of the Clan Yashida, Shiro Yoshida was born into one of the wealthiest and most powerful families of Japan. However, his mother suffered from the after effects of the fateful atomic bomb on Hiroshima in World War II. She was a hopeless invalid for most of her life, and died when giving birth to Shiro. Saburo Yoshida pursued a political career and became one of postwar Japan's greatest statesmen, which led to his becoming Japan’s ambassador for the United Nations. His political career kept Saburo from devoting much time to Shiro’s raising and care, however, which was left to his brother Tomo. Had Saburo known about Tomo’s fanatically anti-American attitude, and him teaching young Shiro the same hatred of America, then he might have spent more time with his son.
At some point, Tomo began to suspect that young Shiro was a mutant, and he took him to a site in Hiroshima where he asked the teenager to touch the still slightly radioactive soil. This act somehow triggered Shiro to manifest his mutant power of atomic flame and, under the guidance of his uncle, he trained in the months afterwards to gain control over his strange gifts. [X-Men (1st series) #64]
As his powers developed, Shiro was forced to deal with a matter of family honor. His aunt asked Shiro to return her son Yoshi to Japan, for Yoshi had fallen into debt with criminals after misusing drugs. Shiro promised to return his cousin home and redeem his honor. When Shiro located Yoshi in Hong Kong, however, he found his cousin a broken man who desired nothing more than his next fix. Shiro reluctantly agreed to pay off his cousin’s debt to the drug lord Chung Sheng Ho. As an enforcer, Shiro’s atomic flame was more than suitable for driving off Ho’s attempted rival, Ming Lam Yi, freeing Ho of any competition in Hong Kong. As Shiro returned to claim Yoshi, however, he learned his cousin had purchased even more drugs during his encounter with Yi, and now the debt had grown. Tired of being used as the drug lord’s puppet, Shiro atomized Ho and his business. He tried to get help for Yoshi, but the drugs were too much for his cousin’s system, and Yoshi passed away from an overdose. Shiro regretfully returned Yoshi to his mother in the only way possible… in an urn. [X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #34]
Uncle Tomo wanted to use Shiro as a weapon against Japan’s supposed arch-enemies in the United States, and trained his nephew for this purpose. Tomo created a costume resembling Japan’s ancient colors for Shiro, and also chose a codename for him: Sunfire. Looking to further improve his resources against the hated West, Tomo plotted to steal the secrets of Adamantium from Lord Dark Wind, hoping to fashion an army of metal-boned indestructible samurai to invade the United States. Tomo had Sunfire join the mercenary mutants Mystique, Rogue and Blindspot in a raid on Dark Wind’s compound as an inaugural test of his abilities. They failed to recover Dark Wind’s research and left empty-handed. A memory-thief by trade, Blindspot tried to cover their tracks after learning that Dark Wind had died and his daughter Yuriko was hunting for the attempted thieves. She used her memory powers to wipe the minds of Sunfire, Tomo, Rogue, Mystique and Yuriko of the assault. This lost adventure would one day have disastrous consequences for Shiro, however. [Rogue (3rd series) #10-11]
A few weeks later, when Saburo invited Tomo and Shiro along for a trip to the United States, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. During their stay, Sunfire not only disturbed his father’s speech in front of the United Nations, but also intended to destroy the Capitol in Washington. The X-Men registered Shiro’s mutant signature on Cerebro, but utterly failed to deter his fiery rage. Tragedy struck when Saburo, having discovered Sunfire’s true identity, appeared on the Capitol’s roof to reason with him. Torn between the respect for his father and the teachings of his uncle, Sunfire didn’t know what to do. To end the tense situation, Tomo pulled a gun and shot his hated brother. However, that act caused Shiro to reject his uncle’s influence and he avenged his father’s death with a well-placed plasma blast. [X-Men (1st series) #64]
Shiro put up no resistance when he was arrested, nor when he was deported from the United States. Back home, in his native Japan, he was socially outcast for having dishonored his parents, and Shiro ended up hiding in shame in the slums of Tokyo. It was there that he was found by a man who called himself the Dragon-Lord. The mysterious man wanted to restore his beloved Japan to a position of world power and military glory – a dream that Sunfire found he could believe in. Shiro joined with the Dragon-Lord, unaware that his plan involved an “ultimate weapon” that Japan had been building during World War II, only they had been defeated before it was fully finished. The Dragon-Lord had secretly further improved the device, and was ready to use it, if necessary. First though, he ordered Sunfire to destroy an American ship carrying powerful defoliants, in order to blackmail the United States into leaving Japan. They would destroy ship after ship, if they wouldn’t comply.
However, destroying the ship and dumping its cargo into the ocean brought the Sub-Mariner into the fray, who didn’t like the ocean to be tampered with. At first, the two super-powered individuals battled each other, as Sunfire carried nothing but hatred for the hero who fought alongside the United States in World War II. Eventually, Namor managed to convince Shiro of the polluting effects of his actions, and they worked together not only to clear the water, but also to safe the ship’s crew. After helping to destroy the Dragon-Lord’s weapon and handing him over to the American forces, Sunfire was eager for a re-match with Namor, as he felt he had been humiliated by him during the battle. However, Namor had no interest in participating in a contest of egos and left. [Sub-Mariner (1st series) #52-54]
In the coming months, Sunfire redeemed himself in the public eye and became Japan’s own super-hero, defending it from attacks from within or outside the country. During the Avengers/Defenders War he intervened in a battle between Captain America and the Sub-Mariner in Osaka over a fragment of the Evil Eye. Incensed over foreigners bringing their disputes to his homeland, Sunfire stole the Eye for a time before the others retrieved it. [Avengers (1st series) #117]
At one point, Sunfire went to Vietnam in order to advance Japan's interest in reconstruction work there, which brought him in conflict with Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, who happened to be in Vietnam at the same time. A Vietnamese major made a deal with the mutant – Sunfire would get the desired deals for Japan if he would get rid of Iron Man. Shiro eagerly accepted and fought the Golden Avenger, only to find himself teleported away by the Mandarin halfway through the battle. It turned out that the Mandarin, whose mind was stuck in another body, needed Sunfire's solar energy to power his mind-transfer machine. A helpless captive in the Mandarin’s base, Sunfire had to watch as Iron Man battled the villain and eventually freed him.When he later tracked the Mandarin to another base in order to get revenge for having been used, Sunfire found himself outmatched by the giant robot Ultimo guarding the base, and he had to rely on Iron Man’s aid a second time. Ashamed to be twice in the debt of the Avenger, Sunfire left peacefully and wanted to re-think his political views. [Iron Man (1st series) #68-70]
That might have been the cause for Sunfire not only hearing out a desperate Professor Xavier, but even following his request to help the X-Men in a time of need. Most of the original team had disappeared during a mission and Xavier contacted several mutants all over the world to form a second team to go after them. Shiro made it a point that he didn’t owe it the X-Men to help them; it was more like him feeling he owed it to himself. During the rescue operation, involving an entire mutant island by the name of Krakoa, it already showed that Sunfire didn’t get along with his fellow mutants that well. The X-Men returned safely home, but on the following day, when Xavier simply assumed that the new members would stay at his school, Sunfire angrily quit. Not only did he think the X-Men to be idealistic fools, but his obligation was still to his country and his emperor. As he took off, Shiro even said not to bother contacting him again, for he would surely refuse. [Giant Size X-Men #1, X-Men (1st series) #94]
Only a couple of months later, though, Sunfire visited the United States once more. At the time, Tony Stark was suspected of bribing Japanese government officials – reason enough for the hotheaded Shiro to trash Stark International. When Iron Man showed up, Sunfire demanded to be taken to his employer (unaware that Tony Stark and Iron Man were actually the same person) and called off the earlier truce they head reached when the Golden Avenger refused to do as told. Despite Iron Man having to rely on an outdated version of his armor, he still managed to knock Sunfire out, to deal with the real villain – the Mandarin, who was responsible for the false accusations against Tony Stark. Shiro must have felt rather stupid when he came around and learned of his folly, and quickly returned home. [Iron Man (1st series) #98-99]
When the X-Men ended up stranded in Japan during one of their missions, and wanted to ask their former teammate Sunfire for help, Sunfire remained true to his earlier statement. He wanted to have nothing to do with them, and even accused them of being burglars, as they had sneaked onto the Yoshida Estate in the middle of the night. However, Shiro’s harsh judgment was rectified by Japan’s prime minister, for at the time Japan was in the middle of a severe crisis. The villain, Moses Magnum, was blackmailing the island nation with sinking it into the ocean, and the politician welcomed whatever help possible. Working side by side and applying teamwork, Sunfire and the X-Men managed to infiltrate Magnum’s so-called impenetrable base; however the villain released the dangerous Magnum Force before he could be stopped. It was the actions of Banshee alone, by keeping the blast contained with his sonic scream, that Japan survived. Impressed by the X-Men’s deeds, Sunfire changed his opinion on them and thanked them for their aid. He even went so far as saying that it would be an honor to one day fight by their side again. [X-Men (1st series) #118-120]
Shiro got his chance sooner then he might have thought, when he and the X-Men were summoned for the Contest of Champions by the Grandmaster and Death. Sunfire fought alongside Iron Fist and the Invisible Girl on behalf of Death, and struggled against the Darkforce generated by his fellow mutant, the Russian Darkstar. [Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions #1-3]
When the X-Men returned from the Secret Wars on the Beyonder’s planet and accidentally brought a dragon with them, their arrival landed them in Japan. Sunfire and the X-Men worked together to keep the damages to Tokyo at a minimum. More importantly, though, was that, despite his own status as a superhero, Sunfire was forced to obey the orders of his cousin, Mariko. As current ruler of Clan Yashida, it was her right to give him orders and to demand that he wouldn’t question her decisions. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #181]
As time went on, Shiro concentrated more on his life as a business person, trying to change Japan’s society by other means rather than his super-powers. Shiro was contacted by a man called Yoritomo, a man he had idolized since his childhood, who happened to share his political beliefs. Together they worked on restoring Japan’s glory as a nation of power, and they even bargained with Roxxon over certain weaponry in order to make the Japanese government see that they had the right idea. However, Shiro’s idealism got the better of him and he was once more abused by his partner. Whereas Sunfire only wanted to rearm Japan for defensive reasons, Yoritomo actually wanted to start another war in order to avenge Japan’s defeat in World War II. Just when Shiro was on his track, Yoritomo even arranged an assassination attempt, and then framed Roxxon’s head, Harlan Ryker, for it. Only after Harlan’s agent Deathlok convinced Sunfire that they had been double-crossed as well, was he able to see the true colors of his business partner, and World War III was avoided just in time. [Deathlok (1st series) #4]