Back in the late 1990s, Wizard Magazine held a contest where fans submitted their ideas for a brand-new comic villain to be utilized in Marvel’s Thunderbolts comic book. Unfortunately, Wizard failed to set certain legal parameters to the contest, which resulted in much confusion as to copyright ownership of the character. Because of this, the winning character became a sort of flash in the pan. This is the brief history of Marvel’s Charcoal.
As the story goes, Wizard Magazine held a create-a-villain contest for Marvel, with promises that the winner would see their character in the pages of Marvel Comics. The winning creation first appeared in Thunderbolts #19 in his human form as Charles Burlingame. Charles’ father worked for the Imperial Forces under the supervillain Arnim Zola, who soon discovered that Charles had the genetic potential to develop superhuman abilities. Zola helped facilitate Charles’ transformation into the creature known as Charcoal. With his new abilities Charles was able to transform his body into a charcoal-like substance, making his body extremely durable and damage resistant. He was also able to manipulate heat, change form, and heal very quickly.
Charcoal Burns Fast
Charcoal helped Arnim Zola and his Imperial Forces take over a small town In Colorado. This brought him into direct conflict with the Thunderbolts, who swiftly defeated them. Following his defeat, Charcoal tracked down the Thunderbolts to offer up his services. He served on the team for several months, and eventually joined the Redeemers along with fellow recruit Jolt when the Thunderbolts disbanded for a time. Charcoal never let go of his anger towards his father, and ultimately chose to let him die when given a chance to save him. Shortly after making that choice, Charcoal himself was destroyed by the villain Graviton.
Legal Ramifications Catch Up
After writer Fabian Nicieza killed off Charcoal in Thunderbolts #56, he had intended to bring the character back. However, the copyright issues surrounding the character had become a problem. The contest winner who created Charcoal alleged that Wizard never provided them with the entirety of their promised prizes, which led the creator to take legal action to try and claim the character copyright. For this reason, Charcoal is one of the few comic book characters who have stayed dead.