I'm pretty much hors de combat in the War on Sobriety these days. High blood pressure, little money, a good deal of time outside the scene has turned me from a ferocious berzerker of the Drug Revolution to a complacent prisoner of war, reduced to cheap white wine and energy drinks as I convalesce, farmed out among civilians and waiting for the end of hostilities. It's with this background I present one of the most obscure, and awesome, villains of the DC Universe: Snowflame.
There's really not too much you can say about the comic he appears in, and dies in: apparently, in the late 80's, DC got the idea of having a "slightly more adult" version of their usual fare. Accordingly, they got together a multiracial team of ten superheroes (to represent the whole human race), cooked up a story that would involve them having lots of sex (they're a eugenics experiment), and called it The New Guardians. They'd play hide the salami a lot, while having adventures which would take on contemporary problems like AIDS, the environment, and Drugs.
Unfortunately, it was beyond their capabilities to do this well. The enlightened view of the human race turned out to be about as subtle as Star Trek TOS, with a cast of ethnic stereotypes: a gay Hispanic who acts and sounds like Ricardo Montalban playing Puss in Boots, a cyborg Japanese, a Chinese woman who reads 'dragon earth energies' (Feng Shui), a West Indian Londoner who speaks in patois, a Australian aborigine in the form of a floating blackface head with green hair, a walking plant ('cause we're environmental) and, oh yeah, a lot of green everything if you didn't get the hint. Within one issue, you had one character quit to raise a family in the 'burbs, the two girls get HIV (maybe) and the gay guy definitely gets it, ending the actual sex other than the fact that every other conversation mentions they should be having some.
And then…they go down to Columbia, where they meet up with some jungle drug traffickers, whose boss is apparently keeping them in some kind of mental slavery... a guy who looks like David Carradine in a WWF-style fur-trimmed red leotard with white Jem face paint around his eyes….Snowflame! The Villain Powered by Cocaine!
Unusual for a modern superhero, he talks a great deal, in full Radium Age classic pulp fiction bombast: "I am Snow-Flame! Every cell of my being burns with white-hot ecstasy. Cocaine is my God-- and I am the human instrument of its will!" and "Give up the ultimate exhilaration-- the divine rapture-- the euphoria of electricity that now surges through every molecule of my body? Never!"
Excuse me, I think I'll be lying down for a while right now…Now, where are the spare batteries?
Right. Much better. Must make a note -- next opportunity, get Iconic Smoothie from Jimmyjane…
As I was saying, this either comes on as really, really visceral, alive and amazing, or the most craptastic Dr. Doom imitation ever. Or cracktastic. Or…just plain bad writing. I for one, like it -- no one's talked about drugs like this since…oh, before the Reagan administration. This is what used to keep me reading way after bedtime, all the greats, Huxley, Leary, back to de Quincey and Baudelaire... Or, as the man himself humbly said, "I prefer the classics." His fighting style is to shout a few taunts, snort a handful of blow, and get in there and fistfight, now and again bursting into pure, white flame. Being hit makes him stronger, and higher, and elicits better banter. Need I say he doesn't feel pain?
His trademark ability subverts the cliche of drug pushers "feeding on others' misery" -- he feeds on happiness, specifically, the highs of his minions are somehow shared, in a process similar to Maohee in Metropolis. He worships Mama Coca, serves Her, as a sworn follower, and gets more powerful being around people high on drugs (and vice versa) or in Snowese "They cannot help but give me their love because I can feel their highs and imbue them with power and artistry." (Not sure how that works, but I'm sure he's one hell of a date.) Accordingly, instead of having a Fortress of Solitude and being angsty and all, or being greedy and selfish with his drugs and/or money, he's got a fine mansion, and surrounds himself with happy, stoned people, either his soldiers while on missions or by holding what look to be incredible parties with a pool and everything. (I keep thinking of Jack Parsons.) Unfortunately, like our Jack, the explosives shed is right next to the pool, and while flaming during a fight with the Good Guys, he's thrown into it, causing a huge explosion. The minions, in fatigues and swimsuits declare "For so long... we permitted Snowflame and the white powder to be our Gods. But you have shown us the folly of our ways! It is the six of you-- you who are the true gods here! Show us the way!" Rest in Peace, Snowflame. But we're not quite done yet.
He's back! Yep, in a fan comic, snowflamecomic.com. This time, he's fighting Batman, Raven, and the Green Arrow, who've taken him prisoner (with tranquilizer darts) and he's resting in the Arkham Asylum. Oh, yeah, he can "read the ghosts of past highs", and found out some highly embarrassing things out about Batman.
I'm waiting with baited breath for more ecstatic diamond dust liquid platinum snowflake scintillation.
Say, if he's on coke all the time, does that mean he's got a…Nah….