- —Captain Flame[src]
Not much is known about the history of the man who would become Captain Flame. Before the outbreak of World War II he was a mild mannered carpet salesman. He was homosexual, which given the social standards during the 1940s, was a sexual orientation he tried to keep secret for fear of discrimination and persecution. He was the central part of a military project called Operation: Firefly, likely the source of his powers, which in some way apparently involved the Norse god of mischief Loki. The exact secret behind Operation: Firefly is unrecorded at this time. Apparently during the early 1940s, Cortez operated as a costumed superhero known as Captain Flame. He was also one of the first costumed operatives drafted into a special military unit called Specialized Unit, Enhanced Soldiers or, the Crazy Sues.
This was likely part of the United States military's attempt to boost support of the war. By May 1942 it was revealed that the military had commissioned Timely Comics to create comic books about various super-humans and costumed individuals who were drafted into the military as pro-war propaganda. Military brass had Timely publisher Martin Goodman's creative team make a comic book title centered around Captain Flame, but withheld it from publication until Cortez could be better groomed into a military propaganda tool.
By August 7th, 1942, Captain Flame and his comrades in the Crazy Sue's were deployed to the Pacific Theater under the command of Captain America. While en route, Cortez's telepathic teammate Merzah the Mystic learned Frank's secrets. Telling this to Frank, Merzah told him that he could be trusted and he would assist in any way possible. They were air dropped over Guadalcanal to clash with Imperial Japanese forces. Caught under enemy fire, Captain Flame seized up in combat. Seeing this, Sargent Byrd tossed a grenade into Captain Flame's fox hole. When the grenade exploded, Flame naturally absorbed the flame and rechanneled it back at their enemies, decimating them. After the battle, Frank was horrified at having used his powers to kill other human beings, and needed to be consoled by his teammates Merzah the Mystic and the Young Avenger.
Continuing combat in the area, Cortez and the other Crazy Sue's were once more pinned down by enemy fire. While his comrades suffered injuries and attempted to pull back, Cortez was ordered to deal with their attackers. Cortez unleashed his powers, and in the process incinerated his comrade Doug "Jap Buster" Johnson and burned the face of Davey Drew.
By 1944, Captain Flame and the other Crazy Sue's were pulled from the Pacific Theater and deployed to Europe to participate in the Battle of Normandy. By this point, Cortez had become deeply withdrawn and earned the nickname "Betty" from his teammates who considered him like a Bouncing Betty Grenade. The troupe was then air dropped in the town of Sainte Mere Eglise. Landing in the village under enemy fire, Cortez sought refuge in a farmhouse where his powers flared out of control. He was found by his teammate Slow Motion Jones, to whom he confided that he could not go out and face battle again, warning him that he cannot control his powers. Slo-Mo consoled Frank and brought him back to the rest of the troupe. Later, following the battle's victory, the Crazy Sue's celebrated with the Invaders. There, Cortez met the similarly powered Human Torch. His teammates teased him about being "in love" with the Torch, unaware of Cortez's homosexuality. When Cortez asked to "see" the Torch after the war was over, the Torch -- not understanding Cortez's meaning -- advised him to set things up with Colonel Harris. Dejected, Cortez bumped into the American Ace. Picking up on their mutual homosexuality, they both wandered out to the back alley to share a kiss, unaware that Slo-Mo had followed them out back and secretly witnessed the event.
On July 7th, 1944, Captain Flame and his comrades had relocated to Bretteville-sur-Laize where they were preparing to participate in the liberation of Nazi occupation. By this time, he and Ace had forged what Frank believed to be a full-on romance, unaware of Jones' knowledge of this and his disapproval. Following the liberation of France, the Crazy Sue's were part of a victory parade. Spending the passing days in celebration, the Crazy Sues were in a cafe in Paris on August 29th. When the rest of the group decided to pick up some women, Jones questioned American Ace's lack of interest in finding some women to romance. Ace then revealed that he was married, angering Frank who stormed off, much to the confusion of most of his teammates. Soon, the team was deployed into the European countryside, once more under the command of Captain America -- who none were aware was given orders to monitor Captain Flame's progress and push him to the limit. Once more pinned down by Nazis in Belgium, Captain Flame seized up one more while his comrades were unable to defend themselves. There, Slo-Mo forced Captain Flame to use his powers to destroy the Nazis or risk having his homosexuality revealed to the others. Feeling betrayed, Captain Flame used his powers to annihilate their attackers.
Captain Flame's last recorded activity was on December 6, 1945. The Crazy Sue's were in Saarlautern, Germany, where they once more clashed with enemy forces. Now a nearly emotionless shell, Captain flame witnessed as his comrades the Victory Boys were decimated by a tank shell. Captain Flame then used his powers to destroy the tank. The blast left him in a trance-like state where his only awareness was that he needed a medic.
Subsequent activities of Captain Flame, and the full extent of his origins are unknown. Slow Motion Jones, however, has admitted that he was forced to kill Captain Flame, and following his demise, all comic books about Captain Flame were destroyed before they were ever published. Only a few copies remain, one such copy was saved from destruction by Captain Flame's teammate, the Young Avenger, who passed it on to his granddaughter Alyssa, who in modern times began attempting to learn what happened to Captain Flame. Another copy is in the possession of the Department of Defense.
Powers and Abilities
Fire Absorption and Redirection: Captain Flame was capable of absorbing, channeling, and redirecting flames. He can use this ability to literally absorb explosions from things like cannon fire or grenades and redirect the explosive force at opponents, causing massive devastation.
Frank suffered from his own personal doubts in combat, the guilt of using his powers to kill, struggled with his homosexuality, among some apparent but unidentified mental issues. All these issues affected his performance and the use of his abilities. When last seen he appeared to be on the brink of a mental breakdown.
- 5 appearance(s) of Frank Cortez (Earth-616)
- 8 image(s) of Frank Cortez (Earth-616)
- 2 quotation(s) by or about Frank Cortez (Earth-616)