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I could gas around all night about what I used to be, who I used to fight, all the other guys in the long underwear suits I met. I met a lot of 'em.
But I've got to tell you about those guys, so that you'll know something of what I'm talking about.
And then I've got to tell you about the Fire.
Spider-Man

FIRE! (found here and in FF.net) is a Marvel Universe fanfiction written by Dark Mark.

In 1961, the first appearance of the Fantastic Four ushered in a new heroic age. Twelve years later, though, that entire generation of heroes has grown exhausted of the endless "beating the Villain of the Month and beating them back into prison when they break out" cycle. The original X-Men have retired, Spider-Man is barely seen anymore, and many heroes are considering retirement. At the same time, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement are deeply changing the face of America, and the heroes do not know how to handle the throngs of disenchanted protesters rioting all across the country.

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Meanwhile, a second-rate Iron Man enemy called Firebrand is secretly assembling an army of super-villains in order to set in motion a plan to eradicate what he considers the root of all what is wrong with the world. A plan which will mean the death of hundreds of millions of people, if enacted.

FIRE! is the sequel to X-Men 1970. Other fics authored by Dark Mark include A Prize for Three Empires, Devils Diary, Hellsister Trilogy, Kara of Rokyn, A Very Kara Christmas, A Force of Four, Dance with the Demons, With this Ring... (Green Lantern), Funeral For A Flash, Superman of 2499: The Great Confrontation, Superman and Man, The Vampire of Steel, The Unfantastic Adventures of Bizarro No. 1, Here There Be Monsters, Everybody's Gotta Leave Sometime and Maybe The Last Archie Story.


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Tropes found in this work:

  • Actually a Doombot: Subverted. When the Fantastic Four find Doctor Doom's body, the Human Torch cannot believe it is the real deal. Nonetheless, the Thing cuts off his "Maybe it's a robot or an android or..." ramblings, stating he can recognize a corpse when he sees it.
    Human Torch: "Maybe it's a robot. Or an android. Or..."
    The Thing: Or, nothin'. I smelled enough corpses in the War, Torchy. I know the scent. That's a dead body. That's Dr. Doom."
  • Adaptational Heroism: Simon Gilbert remains a greedy, corrupt businessman, but he is a bit more sympathetic here, since readers get to see his family falling apart through the years, and because he dies while attempting to stop his son's genocidal scheme.
  • And This Is for...: Captain America mumbles "For America" when he finally kills Red Skull.
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  • Armor-Piercing Question: For once Captain America is rendered speechless when Red Skull states neither of them can die while the other one remains alive.
    "You lost every time, Skull."
    "Did I? I survived. In my own way, I thrived. Fate would not let me go, Captain. It would not let me die. Not, perhaps, until you die yourself. Can you not see it? We have been thrown together, as gladiators for the gods. The only way to break this loop of Fate and Time, Captain, is if we perish together. Can you not see that, Captain? Can you remain so ignorant of that, at last?"
    For once, Captain America was silent.
  • Being Good Sucks: Being Captain America means you cannot let anybody get close, and you CANNOT ever, ever, EVER, mess up because it would mean letting down people who look up to you as the single reminder that their country was founded on values worth to fight for.
    Cap became an Avenger in short order. If there's anybody that symbolized the good in America more than him, I've never met him. But there was something else about him. Two things, actually.
    First, he'd failed to save his partner, Bucky, from getting killed. That happened in the same incident that got Cap frozen. Eventually, Cap tracked down the Nazi responsible for it, and made him pay for it. But he never really got over it. There was some part of Cap that never stopped living in World War II, before Bucky's death, and that same part wouldn't let him get close enough to somebody who might get killed the same way.
    Second, he really had a burden on his shoulders with the American symbol thing. Literally, Cap was unable to accept himself messing up. Because if Captain America was seen screwing up, doing anything badly, blowing a mission, it would almost be seen as America screwing up...that's not the way I thought, but it was the way Cap saw it. So he held himself to impossible standards. And he almost always met them. Almost. He was the best man to have on your side at any time. But I never envied him. Not a single day.
  • Being Watched: After -apparently- annihilating the Fantastic Four, as well as other heroes and villains, Doom strides around the battlefield, feeling triumphant... but for some reason he has the nagging feeling he is being watched. Unbeknownst to him, Franklin Richards and his nanny Agatha Harkness were watching the scene through a hidden camera. And Franklin is not happy.
  • Big Bad: Gary Gilbert, a. k. a. Firebrand, a formerly second-rate Iron-Man villain who gathers an army of super-villains to keep the world's heroes distracted while he carries forward his plan to fix the world... by nuking both the USA and the Soviet Union.
  • Big "WHAT?!": The Russian Premier is not happy when he is said the Silver Surfer has apparently gone crazy or rogue and is heading towards the Soviet Union.
    Richard Nixon: "All right, sir. What it, uh, what it amounts to is that this rogue, this, uh, Silver Surfer, he's, uh, headed in a general northeasterly direction from the United States now, as far as we can track him, and, uh..."
    Nikita Jrushchov: "And what, Mr. President?"
    Richard Nixon: "And he's headed your way, Mr. Premier."
    Nikita Jrushchov: "WHAT?"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bordering on Downer Ending. Firebrand dies, his army of super-villains is stopped and banished from Earth, and everybody puts their feuds apart for the sake of rebuilding the country. Still, Firebrand managed to set the USA West Coast on fire, killing millions and damaging the environment for decades. Captain America dies and the whole second generation of heroes quits.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Nick Fury understands and even agrees with some demands made by the protesters, but he points out the Government was already taking steps in the right direction, which the rioters failed to acknowledge, and real change takes time since bringing it about quickly and violently causes dictatorships more often than not. As a counterpoint, Spider-Man argues their country was born thanks to a revolution.
    Nick Fury said, "They found out they can get attention through the violence. A lot of things they wanted, hell, they were legitimate...some weren't. But we wasn't movin' fast enough for 'em. And if you think the only thing standin' between you and the Promised Land is the way things are today, you might get to thinkin' about tearin' down what's between you and it, too."
    "And do you think so, Colonel Fury?" said Dr. Strange, quietly.
    "You know better 'n that," scoffed Fury. "The world oughtta known better than that. We've been through it before. Russia in '17, China in '49, Cuba in '59. Everybody knows what they wanted. And everybody shoulda known what they got. It's just that some probably didn't wanna believe it."
    "Or maybe," said Spider-Man, "they were thinking of America, in 1776."
    Fury turned on him. But Spider-Man stood his ground.
  • But Now I Must Go: After the conflict is over, Thor, his wife Sif and their Asgardian companions return to Asgard permanently.
  • Captain Obvious: When Nixon calls Nikita Jrushchov, he feels he needs to clarify where he is president from.
    Richard Nixon: Hello, Mr. Premier? This is the president. Of the United States.
    Nikita Jrushchov: Bojemoi! Of course I know what you are president of.
  • Category Traitor:
    • According to Red Skull, Captain America was regarded by a traitor by the Nazis, who could not conceive the idea that a blue-eyed blond man found their ideals abhorrent.
    • The Russian Premier writes the Soviet villains off as counterrevolutionary traitors.
  • Central Theme: A system may be flawed, corrupted and in need of sweeping reforms... but burning everything down is not the solution, especially if you have nothing to replace it with.
    But Gary Gilbert.
    They've damned him as worse than Hitler, and well they might. He killed—murdered—in one day, in one hour, more millions of people than we can even estimate. He didn't delegate the responsibility to some other slugs, like Hitler did.
    He did it himself.
    Why?
    Because he thought he'd be getting a better world, and that was worth the sacrifice of everybody in the old world we had.
    Never let anybody con you with that argument, kids.
    Ever.
    And they WILL try.
  • Chained to a Rock: After kidnapping Falcon and Sharon Carter, Red Skull chains them to a wall in order to lure Cap into his trap.
    There was no time for subtleties anymore. Cap smashed through the doors, shield foremost, and looked upon the scene before him in horror.
    Beaten bloody, hung by their arms from the ceiling by chains, but still alive, the Falcon and Sharon Carter were visible on the walls near the pulpit. First Sharon, then Falc, turned bruised faces towards him. Their feet were at least ten feet above the floor, and their arms showed the strain.
  • Charm Person: Purple Man mesmerizes a huge multitude into assaulting the White House.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Peter Parker tells 50's America looked like the Promised Land to those who were kids like himself, too naive to notice all kind of issues lurking under the surface until they exploded during the next decade.
  • Crapsack World: As told by Spidey, in the Sixties, Americans were disenchanted of the idea that they lived in some paradisiac land.
    A lot of change came down under Lyndon Johnson, or despite him. The Sixties were like one big pressure cooker. If you were young, you were facing the draft...facing Viet Nam. If you were nonwhite, you were starting to resist a system that was keeping you under. If you were white, you were threatened by those same resistors. There were people talking about making violent revolution against the government, overthrowing it. There were some people who were more than talking about it.
    All over the nation, the fire spread. More cities went up in flames. More protests against the War, a lot of 'em getting violent...on both sides. More kids, barely out of high school, getting cut down like unripe wheat in Nam. Revolutionary talk, revolutionary action. Mainstream American kids, getting into drugs on a large scale for the first time.
    All of this, within ten years of Eisenhower.
    All over the nation, people wondering if the country could just hold together...and not at all certain that it could.
    Killing was going on everywhere. But we only seemed to notice it when the victims had familiar names. Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy...they were just the most visible ones.
    The fire. The fire claimed them all.
    How could this be happening in America, we wondered?
    How long would there be an America, we wondered?
  • Crisis of Faith: Averted. When his teammates state Japanese people lost their god after WWII, Sunfire retorts he never did.
  • Death by Secret Identity: Firebrand dies five minutes after learning Iron-Man's secret identity.
  • Death Seeker: Sick of his endless conflict with Captain America, the Red Skull intends to die in battle with him.
  • Decapitated Army: Firebrand's villain army stop fighting after their leader is dead and the full scope of his plans has been revealed.
  • Dedication: This story is dedicated to the creators who built the Marvel Universe:
    For the following: Stan Lee. Jack Kirby. Steve Ditko. Roy Thomas. Archie Goodwin. And all the others, without whose work we would never have had a Marvel Universe. Nuff said.
  • Demoted to Extra: Mary Jane Watson, a character who by 1973 had become one of the three most important secondary characters in the Spider-Man mythos, barely gets a couple of mentions.
  • Doorstopper: Twenty-eight chapters and 207,563 words.
  • Dramatic Irony: At the beginning, Simon Gilbert expects to be in a position to buy out Stark Industries within one year. A few weeks later he was dead, and Tony Stark had bought his company out of pity for Gilbert's ex-employees.
  • End of an Age: Most of first-generation heroes quit after their failure to completely ruin Firebrand's scheme.
  • Evil Gloating: During their final duel, Red Skull decides he needs to confirm he is a repulsive bastard.
    Red Skull: "Do you think I am innocent of anything the Reich did? I shot down partisans and Allied soldiers. I tortured captives. I supervised operations, at times, in a concentration camp. My hands are as red as my skull, Captain. I would do it again. If I triumph, I will."
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: When Green Goblin throws Gwen off the Bridge, Spider-Man utterly snaps and starts pummeling the Goblin over and again and again.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: When he sees Doctor Doom -apparently- killing his father, Franklin makes Doom's body implode within his armor.
    That was only an instant before meat and matter exploded through the eye and nose-slits in Doom's armor, through his mouth, through whatever minute openings there were in his metal suit. With it came blood. Lots of it.
    The entire process took only a few seconds. When it was done, not much remained within the armor except liquid and bone fragments. The metal was very hot to the touch.
  • Foil: Red Skull regards himself as Captain America's opposite.
    Red Skull: "Oh, Captain, you truly amuse me. Look at us. Thesis and antithesis. Each of us was no more than a symbol, Captain. A symbol our governments created to spur on the ones who fought for them. Did you know there were fiction magazines devoted to my exploits in the Fatherland, Captain? Not unlike your cheap pamphlets of colored paper over here, fictionalizing your battles. The Red Skull was their hero, Captain. He was the fearsome foe of the enemies of the Reich, the upholder of truth, justice, and the Aryan way, the only one strong enough to stand against the damnable traitor, Hauptmann Amerika, who slaughtered the flower of Deutschland's youth! That was what I was, Captain America. That is what I am. I am no less a hero than you."
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Nobody likes the Soviet super-villains. Other villains look down on them, Soviets despise them, and their government publicly cut ties with them.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Several years ago, Gary Gilbert was a pampered, rich college kid. Then he joined an anti-Vietnam War protest that was harshly repressed by the police. In the aftermath, Gary became radically anti-authority (unless he was in charge, of course). Through the years he grew more radical and more violent, to the point he developed a powered suit to attempt to bring the government down with his own hands. Still he was nothing but a C-rated Iron-Man's Rogue, for which he decided to change his methods.
  • Full-Circle Revolution: As America is falling apart, Nick Fury states he agrees with several demands of the rioters, but their methods often lead to another kind of dictatorship.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: After everything is over, Peter hugs his wife and takes her up to their bedroom.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The original X-Men, who had retired three years ago, return to fight back an army of super-villains at the behest of their erstwhile mentor Professor Xavier.
  • The Gulag: Simon Gilbert brings the soviet gulags up as arguing politics with his son.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Doctor Doom appears to blast the Fantastic Four into pieces, unaware that Franklin Richards is watching the battle via the Fantasticar camera. Franklin snaps utterly and uses his reality-warping powers to turn Doom into a literal bloody pulp.
  • Kill It with Fire: Firebrand's plan to save the world is to set the entirety of USA on fire.
    For the past 24 hours, he had known exactly what Firebrand had bought from AIM. He knew what it could do, too.
    Inferno 42.
    The deadliest incendiary weapon ever devised by man.
    A microscopic amount, under carefully controlled conditions, could devastate an entire building. A bit of it about as big as the end joint of a human thumb could lay waste to half of New York.
    There was no telling how much Firebrand had purchased, but it had to be in the hundreds of pounds. Maybe over a thousand.
  • Man Bites Man: At the end of their battle, Red Skull bites Captain America's hand as Cap is throttling him. Since he had laced his teeth with poison, his bite was venomous.
    The Skull bit Captain America's hand. In his teeth were secreted elements of the Dust of Death. Cap felt the flesh of his face beginning to tighten.
  • Neck Snap: While both are free-falling, Captain America snaps Red Skull's neck.
    Shield on his good right arm, the sentinel of World War II gave a mighty effort, felt vertebrae separate, and heard the Skull’s neck snap.
    "For America," Cap whispered.
  • Never Found the Body: During one climatic battle, Doctor Doom takes advantage of the chaos to try to blast both heroes and villains into oblivion. When the smoke clears, he cannot see the bodies of the Fantastic Four, but he knows better than believing they are dead until he hasn't found their corpses and verified their deaths personally.
    But the bodies of the accursed Four had to be found. Nothing less would do. If needed to be, he'd take blood samples from every inch of this field, type them with his own equipment in Latveria, and verify the deaths of Richards, his wife, John Storm, and Benjamin Grimm.
    Nothing less would do.
  • Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used to Be: The '50s and The '60s nostalgia is obliterated with extreme prejudice by the author, who was nine when JFK got shot. The decade of the 1950s is depicted as an era of apparent prosperity based on the Government telling people what they should want as completely ignoring minorities, which led to a time where people protested and rioted and wanted to burn everything down instead of working to right a flawed system.
  • Not Me This Time: During a phone call, the Soviet Premier makes clear that the involvement of the Russian super-villains is not government-sanctioned:
    "Well, uh, I tried to get them, Mr. Premier, but, uh, as you might know, they're kind of tied up right now. And, uh, some of the people tying them up are the Titanium Man, the Red Ghost, the Unicorn, the Crimson Dynamo..."
    "If you find any of those diabolical counter-revolutionist slacker defectors, you can have them, Mr. President! But this is not our doing."
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Firebrand claims to be disgusted with his own country's state. However, he brushes away every attempt to talk him down or appease him, and he dismisses any argument stating America is not as awful as he is making it out to be, and things are looking up. Soon it becomes apparent Firebrand is not interested in fixing the world but in watching it burn.
    Firebrand: Next question?
    Iron Man: I have a lot of them. Such as: what kind of twisted mind could see the physical destruction of the United States as a humanitarian act?
  • One-Word Title: The title Fire! is a reference to the eponymous event.
  • Period Piece: The action takes place in 1973.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Iron Man defeats Firebrand but he is unable to prevent him from releasing Inferno 42 all over Los Angeles.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivered by Iron-Man to Firebrand when the latter boasts about his genocidal scheme.
    Firebrand: I think I've got a pretty good grip on reality, Iron Man. After all, look how much of it I've managed to restructure in the past few weeks. Could you do the same? Could Tony Stark?
    Iron Man: Construction takes time and effort. Destruction takes a lot less, just the sweep of an arm to knock over a stack of blocks. But you never seem to think about picking up your toys after you've made the mess.
    Firebrand: As in Viet Nam?
    Iron Man: I know more about Viet Nam than you'll ever know, son. I was there.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: In 1965, black protesters vented their frustrations with a racist, unfair system by burning Watts. Some New York heroes wanted to go down there and help get the riots under control, but Major John Lindsay pointed out that it would look real bad if a bunch of white super-heroes with loose ties to the Government went down on the rioters. He stressed the authorities would handle it and the super-heroes were supposed to deal with super-villains solely; and since most of heroes were vigilantes who needed to stay in their good side, they were forced to accept it.
    So we did our jobs. There were always super-villains to fight, and we fought them. We could save the world on a regular basis.
    But we couldn't do much of anything to save America.
    It would have to save itself.
  • Retired Badass: Spider-Man, the original X-Men, the Human Torch, Iron-Man... quit after the Fire is over.
  • Sanity Slippage: After his father's death, Firebrand completely loses any semblance of sanity.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Subverted. At one point, Iceman expresses he is sick of fighting and he is leaving. Then the team is informed that Captain America is dead, and Iceman gladly rejoins the battle.
  • The '70s: This story is set in 1973.
  • Shadow Archetype: Both Captain America and Red Skull are patriotic people who have been considered heroes in their respective countries. However, Cap strives to build an America which lives up to the principles of freedom and equality for everyone it was founded on, whereas Skull craves for… well, Nazism.
    Red Skull: "Oh, Captain, you truly amuse me. Look at us. Thesis and antithesis. Each of us was no more than a symbol, Captain. A symbol our governments created to spur on the ones who fought for them. Did you know there were fiction magazines devoted to my exploits in the Fatherland, Captain? Not unlike your cheap pamphlets of colored paper over here, fictionalizing your battles. The Red Skull was their hero, Captain. He was the fearsome foe of the enemies of the Reich, the upholder of truth, justice, and the Aryan way, the only one strong enough to stand against the damnable traitor, Hauptmann Amerika, who slaughtered the flower of Deutschland's youth! That was what I was, Captain America. That is what I am. I am no less a hero than you."
  • Shout-Out: Captain America references The Merchant of Venice when he sneers that Red Skull is "A devil who can somehow cite Scripture".
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Iron Man replies to Firebrand's "America sucks" rant stating that progress is being done only to get this answer.
    Firebrand: Oh, God, Iron Man, Iron Man. I thought you, of all people, would understand. You've been so close to the wheels of power in this country for so long, you can't be that ignorant.
    Iron Man: Ignorant of what?
    Firebrand: Ignorant of the price the world's paid to keep us on top. Do you know how much of the Earth's resources is used up by the United States, let alone the rest of the First World? Do you know how many people starve in India, go cold and hungry in Africa, just so about two hundred million people in America can go to bed under central heating and wake up to a nice bowl of Cheerios in the morning? Do you know how much we use up?
    Iron Man: I know. I've been in a lot more of the world than you could imagine. You also ought to know, if you've been keeping up with us, that Stark was one of the first companies to take heed of the pollution problem and act on it. That we've been instrumental in seeking alternative power sources, building factories in underprivileged nations to help the local economy. That we've worked with the United Nations to try and improve methods of farming, of...
    Firebrand: Oh, shut the hell up.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Unsurprisingly, it is Captain America who delivers one to Red Skull when the latter points out that American pioneers were white supremacists.
    Red Skull: Because it is finally, finally, the end of our age. Is that impossible for you to see?
    Captain America: I see nothing but a disease I'm sworn to eradicate. The disease of Nazism.
    Red Skull: Ah. But do you not see, Captain? That is a disease you will never wipe out. Nazism is the Strength of Man. The will to be strong, to conquer, to dominate. The very will that led your pioneers to conquer this country, to subdue its inferior races—
    Captain America: Shut your mouth, Skull! I'm warning you.
    Red Skull: Warning me? Of what? How much of your history do you really know, Captain? If your Red Indians wrote your history books, or the Chinese immigrants, or the schwartzes whom you took as slaves, the ones who are now at your throats, or even the damnable Jews...do you think they would read in the same fashion? Those races are rising up against you now, Captain. And America is too weak to consider the final solution. That is because you have no strength.
    [...]
    Captain America: You've felt this strength before, Skull. You've felt it every time we've met, from the Forties till today. It's the strength of America, Skull. The strength of democracy, of compassion, of the ability to recognize our mistakes and strive to correct them. Our history's there, all right. We've made as many blunders as any other nation. But none of those minorities, those 'inferiors', as you call them, are trying to leave. Every one of them knows of the greatness of America, of its freedom and opportunity. Despite whatever disadvantages they may have here, they're staying, and fighting for their rights. And I stand with them. I've met the ones you spoke of...the Indians, the Asians, the blacks, and yes, the Jews. Every one of them has accepted me as a brother. None of them rejected me for being a white man, a Christian, or an American. All right, maybe it is because I'm called Captain America. But that name means a lot, Skull. It stands for a lot. And it'll always stand for something better than yours. No matter what happens today, it'll always stand.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Gwen Stacy survives Green Goblin's attempted murder thanks to the Human Torch.
  • Start of Darkness: Firebrand's happened when he hesitantly joined an early anti-Vietnam War protest that was harshly repressed. From that point on he became more radical, and he only got worse as time went on.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: Firebrand when he is called "son":
    Firebrand's eyes blazed, and he took a step forward. "Don't call me son, damn you. Don't call me son, don't ever call me son! Do you hear me?"
  • Superhero Paradox: Red Skull believes that, as long as there is a Captain America, there will always be a Red Skull. Sick of their eternal struggle, he decides to kill himself and Cap simultaneously.
    Red Skull: Do you not see the role Fate has assigned to us? When each of us was gone, slumbering away for two decades, our parts were not unfilled. Understudies took your costume, your identity, and a substitute shield. And was it long before a new Red Skull arose, this time created by the Russians, who learned the advantage of having such a symbol of their own? Then the ersatz Captains fell, and with him, the ersatz Skull, for which he may be grateful. If I had located him, the death I would have given him even Hell would shudder to imagine. With no Captain America, there was no need of a Red Skull.
    And then, you returned, thawed from a block of ice. You resumed your crusade against the enemies of a new era. But what of myself? Less than two years after your resurrection, I rose as well. We resumed business, Captain. And what a business it was.
  • Taking You with Me: Red Skull sets up the final battle between Captain America and himself, fully intending it to be their FINAL battle. As fighting, he poisons Cap, and Cap replies by snapping his neck.
    "A fire bomb!" Cap tensed into action.
    "Do not worry yourself," said the Skull. "Less time remains than you would need to reach it. No man remains alive in this structure, other than ourselves. Within seconds, no man will be alive in it at all. I have taken the opportunity to retire us both from battle, Captain. The conflict is ended. Farewell."
    Before he got out the last syllable, the Skull felt Captain America's hands at his throat. The power of the American Avenger smashed them both through a wooden wall, tumbled them over and over, crashed their heads and upper bodies through a window.
    [...]
    The Skull bit Captain America's hand. In his teeth were secreted elements of the Dust of Death. Cap felt the flesh of his face beginning to tighten.
    Shield on his good right arm, the sentinel of World War II gave a mighty effort, felt vertebrae separate, and heard the Skull's neck snap.
  • Tempting Fate: In the third chapter, Iron-Man hopes he will never again need to wear his suit after retiring.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Played with. Most of heroes are against killing, but the situation is so dire than they are willing to make concessions. Sunfire gets into trouble for wanting to execute a fallen enemy, but Captain America decides to take Red Skull with him.
  • Title Drop: The tragic event named "Fire" is mentioned several times. In the third chapter:
    A voice came from its speaker. "Password," it demanded.
    Gary Gilbert answered it.
    "Fire," he said.
  • The Unsmile: When Gary Gilbert is introduced, he is smiling all the way... but his father notices his smile does not quite reach his eyes.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Franklin figuratively explodes when he believes Doom has killed his father. Then he makes Doom literally explode.
    On the screen, Franklin saw the face of Dr. Doom, caught in a chance shot from wherever the camera was, filling the screen. The cloaked and armored man seemed to be smiling.
    The fury and anguish in Franklin's soul were a dormant H-Bomb, and Doom's smile seemed to be the trigger to ignite it.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Played straight with every villain recruited by Firebrand... and subverted with Doctor Doom who, when contacted, sees through his words and refuses to become a tool.
    "The answer is no."
    "But, your excellency—"
    "NO. Doom does not conspire. Doom is not used. Doom uses! This conversation is ended." He stabbed a button on his console that would not only break the contact, but prevent further contact from being made.
    The gall. The insufferable, common-man gall of the representative. To think that he himself, Doctor Doom, would possibly—could possibly—be induced to participatory activity with a too-large band of costumed inferiors in a disruptory mission of ill-defined intent.
  • Written by the Winners: Red Skull mockingly asks Captain America if he does not believe his country's history books would not be very different if they were written by non-whites. Captain America argues he does know his country's History, America is able to acknowledge and correct its mistakes, and those minorities are trying to build a better country instead of leaving.
    Red Skull: "How much of your history do you really know, Captain? If your Red Indians wrote your history books, or the Chinese immigrants, or the schwartzes whom you took as slaves, the ones who are now at your throats, or even the damnable Jews… do you think they would read in the same fashion? Those races are rising up against you now, Captain. And America is too weak to consider the final solution. That is because you have no strength."
  • You Killed My Father: Doom apparently killing the Fantastic Four triggers an explosive reaction from Franklin Richards.
    Franklin Richards: "He killed my daddy! He killed my daddy! He killed my daddy, and my mommy, and Uncle Johnny, an'... an' uncle Ben! I'm gonna kill him, Miss Agatha! I'm going to kill HIM!"
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