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Charcoal (Charlie Burlingame) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character has been depicted as a member of the Thunderbolts and was created by a comic book fan for a "Create-A-Villain" contest sponsored by Marvel and Wizard Magazine and the alter-ego was created by Kurt Busiek.

Publication history

Charcoal was created to be a villain, by means of a Wizard magazine contest. However, Wizard Entertainment failed to establish certain legal specifics in the language of their contest rules, leaving the ownership of the character's copyright in question (Normally in such a situation, steps would be taken to ensure that, unless otherwise stated, such a character's copyright would legally belong to the comic's publisher). Furthermore, Wizard Entertainment reportedly failed to provide the contest winner with other prizes promised along with the winning character's appearance in a Marvel comic. Feeling undercompensated, Charcoal's creator attempted to legally claim the copyright for the character from Marvel. Meanwhile, writer Fabian Nicieza had decided to kill off Charcoal and resurrect him later on. Because of the legal issues, Marvel told Nicieza it "wasn't worth" bringing the character back.[1][2]

Fictional character biography

Charles "Charlie" Burlingame's father Calvin moved around a great deal and had trouble finding work, until he attended a rally of the Imperial Forces of America. Calvin joined that organization and took his son with him. Arnim Zola, working for the Imperial Forces, discovered that Charlie possessed the genetic potential to develop superhuman powers and facilitated the youngster's transformation into Charcoal the Burning Man. As part of a group called the Bruiser Brigade, Charcoal fought the Thunderbolts as an enemy, but joined the team soon after.

He was subsequently killed in battle with Graviton.[3]

History

Charles "Charlie" Burlingame's father moved around a great deal and had trouble finding work, until he attended a rally of the Imperial Forces of America. The elder Burlingame joined that organization and took his son with him. Arnim Zola, working for the Imperial Forces, discovered that Charlie possessed the genetic potential to develop superhuman powers and facilitated the youngster's transformation into Charcoal, the Burning Man.[1][2]

Charcoal helped the Imperial Forces quietly take over the small town of Burton Canyon, Colorado, before they were driven off by the Thunderbolts.[3] Days later, Charlie ran away from the Imperial Forces and tracked the Thunderbolts down, asking to join the team.[1]

After several months with the Thunderbolts, Charcoal and Jolt joined the CSA's officially-sanctioned Redeemers team when the Thunderbolts were disbanded.[4] He was killed in battle with Graviton.[5]

Power and abilities

Charlie Burlingame can transform into a being seemingly composed of charcoal. He has the ability to manipulate heat and reshape himself into any carbon form, including flaming incendiary or rock-hard diamond. He could use his flaming form to fly. He could sense the location of any tiny broken off piece of himself, allowing him to plant tracers on opponents and follow them.

Trivia

  • Charcoal was created to be a villain, by means of a Wizard magazine contest. However, Wizard Entertainment failed to establish certain legal specifics in the language of their contest rules, leaving the ownership of the character's copyright in question (Normally in such a situation, steps would be taken to ensure that, unless otherwise stated, such a character's copyright would legally belong to the comic's publisher). Furthermore, Wizard Entertainment reportedly failed to provide the contest winner with other prizes promised along with the winning character's appearance in a Marvel comic. Feeling that he wasn't being compensated, Charcoal's creator attempted to legally claim the copyright for the character from Marvel, which reacted by asking then Thunderbolts writer Fabian Nicieza to kill Charcoal off (he was killed in a fight with Graviton) and remove the character from contention.
  • It is notable that only the superhuman form, powers, and the name "Charcoal" were created by the contest winner--his "normal" form of an African-American teenager, the name "Charlie Burlingame", and all aspects of his personality and origins were created by Thunderbolts writers Kurt Busiek and Nicieza. Nicieza has stated that he has an idea of how to bring back "Charlie Burlingame" without bringing back "Charcoal".
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