Publisher: DC Comics
First Appearance: Super Friends #25 (October 1979)
Created By: E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon
Bea originally debuted in Super Friends as the Green Fury, with inconsistently-defined flame-based powers courtesy of ‘Brazilian mysticism.’ Luckily, that didn’t last long, and post-Crisis she returned as a former model and showgirl who became a secret agent for the Brazilian government. An accident on the job with a substance called pyroplasm endowed her with the ability to exhale green fire, because comics. She named herself Green Fury, then Green Flame, and joined the Global Guardians, an international team of superheroes funded by the UN.
When the UN withdrew funding from the Global Guardians in favor of the newly-formed Justice League International, Bea and her best friend Tora Olafsdotter (Icemaiden II) signed up with the latter. Soon after, they changed their names to Fire and Ice, and Bea got a major power up that enabled her to turn her whole body to green fire, fly, and shoot fiery blasts from her hands. Bea served the longest continuous term of any JLI member, even through Tora’s death, which devastated Bea.
With the dissolution of the JLI, Bea joined up with Checkmate, a cloak-and-dagger UN-sponsored agency dedicated to monitoring metahuman activity. There she was blackmailed by Amanda Waller, Checkmate’s White Queen, into performing covert assassinations in order to cover up her father’s past war crimes. Eventually she agreed to turn her father over to the authorities instead.
Bea has currently teamed up with several old JLI teammates (including a resurrected Tora) and their successors to track down their former-friend-gone-rogue Max Lord in Justice League: Generation Lost.
So What’s So Great About Her?
Like all of the characters associated with the banter-y, lighthearted Justice League International, Bea is often dismissed as a goofy joke character. She spent the late 80s trading quips with the likes of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, gleefully showing off skin in what’s now a hilariously dated outfit, and dragging the much less brazen Tora into zany situations.
Of course, later issues of Justice League America, post-Tora’s death, showed a deeper side of her, as she struggled with her grief and her confused feelings about Tora, original Icemaiden and new teammate Sigrid Nansen, her own sexuality, and a budding relationship with Tora’s former lover Guy Gardner, who she’d previously hated. And a follow-up miniseries by the original JLI creative team, I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, delved deep into Bea’s anguish, still painful after all these years, when she encountered what may or may not have been Tora in what or may not have been Hell (and the miniseries itself may or may not have been canon). But she’s still JLI, and JLI characters still tend to get painted with the ‘comical failure’ brush.
The recent Checkmate series, though, and the current Generation Lost show a radically different Bea than JLI one: a woman who has been trained to kill since childhood, a woman who will use her incredibly destructive power or her bare hands to commit murder in order to protect a father who does not deserve her loyalty. This Bea struggles with the balance between superhero and government agent, but internally; no pyrotechnic outbursts for her.
While the Checkmate characterization may seem like a drastic departure from earlier depictions of Bea, a lot of it was already present in the character. She’s had the secret agent backstory almost from the beginning, she’s always been more complex than she lets on, and she’s always has loyalty in spades. It’s the tone of the book (and the dialing-down of Bea’s flamboyant, temperamental personality) that makes her seem so different. And heck, she has reason to be down at least five of her oldest and dearest friends had just kicked the bucket at the time, one going evil along the way.
Now with the JLI reunited, I’m calling for a return of the brash, hot-tempered, breezily sensual Bea of the JLI but afforded the kind of respect characters like the competent, conflicted Bea of Checkmate get. After all, her power set is basically identical to Marvel’s Human Torch, and people take him (reasonably) seriously. Why not Bea?
At her core, Bea’s a bright, flashy character with a deep love of life, and a ton of fun to read. She’s got a sense of humor; she’s got a temper; she’s got a healthy dose of self-confidence. And now, thanks to Checkmate, she’s got a level-up in badass Checkmate and that’s only fitting. Because at the end of the day, Bea, like her JLI fellows, can be silly and flawed and painfully human but she’s still a superhero, and she can still kick all kinds of ass.
As mentioned above, Bea served the longest term on the Justice League International. Her branch was renamed Justice League America with issue #26.
Justice League International v1 #12-25
Justice League America #26-113
Martian Manhunter #10
Formerly Known as the Justice League
I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League
Checkmate v2 #1-31 (especially #11-12, which reveal the backstory with her father)
Bea is currently co-starring in Justice League: Generation Lost.