Flame Girl Catches Fire in Rare Wonderworld Comics #30, at Auction
With the Flame seemingly near death, Linda Dale vows to continue his legacy, becoming Flame Girl in Wonderworld Comics #30.
The saga of the Fox Feature Syndicate character the Flame is more complicated than it appears. The character, his powers, and his backstory evolved steadily, sometimes without explanation, from his 1939 introduction in Wonderworld Comics #3 through his final Golden Age appearances in the January 1942 cover-dated issues of Big 3, The Flame, and Wonderworld Comics. One of the most interesting steps in this evolution was the introduction of a female counterpart, Flame Girl, in Wonderworld Comics #30. A noteworthy character's first appearance and origin, as well as what Heritage has described as one of the top 10 rarest Fox Feature Syndicate comic books, there's a Wonderworld Comics #30 (Fox, 1941) CGC VG- 3.5 Off-white to white pages plus 26 of the 31 issues of Wonderworld Comics up for auction in the 2023 September 28 The Fox Comics Showcase Auction #40239 at Heritage Auctions.
Linda Dale, the woman who became Flame Girl in Wonderworld Comics #30, actually first appeared in issue #28, which is itself a turning point in the Flame saga, as the Flame's alter ego Gary Preston developed a storyline. Up to this point, Preston had little to no life outside his adventures as the Flame in his comics, but he became a private detective with this issue, which also introduced Linda Dale and a tough guy named Pug as his assistants. The story of how the three of them met was later told in The Flame #7 which hit the newsstands in the same month that Linda became Flame Girl in Wonderworld Comics.
In the Wonderworld Comics #30 story, the Flame had been defeated at the hands of a villain called the Octopus and was near death. The Flame's unconscious body is discovered by Linda Dale and dragged to Gary Preston's lab, where he regains consciousness enough to tell Linda that she must carry on in his place. In yet another apparent revision to the origin of the Flame's powers, he tells her that she must use "my secret formula which will instill in you the ancient power of the Flame People. Pour the fluid in those vials in a circle around you, but first put on the uniform in the closet!"
Conveniently, the Flame had a Flame Girl costume for Linda seemingly already prepared for this moment. With what he thinks is his dying breath, he reveals his secret identity to Linda, and tells her she must carry on in his name. In a lucky break, after Flame Girl leaves, the Flame remembers that he also has "the secret elixir of the ancients", which quickly restores him to perfect health. The Flame and Flame Girl continue their adventures together until Fox's 1942 bankruptcy halts most of the line.
Like many developments in the Fox Feature Syndicate line of this era, it's hard not to wonder how this saga would have developed had it not been cut short by Fox's financial woes in 1942. As it is, the character only appeared in issues #30-33, Wonderworld Comics #30 is a rare Fox issue that is always sought after by collectors, and there's a Wonderworld Comics #30 (Fox, 1941) CGC VG- 3.5 Off-white to white pages plus 26 of the 31 issues of Wonderworld Comics up for auction in the 2023 September 28 The Fox Comics Showcase Auction #40239 at Heritage Auctions. If you've never bid at Heritage Auctions before, you can get further information, you can check out their FAQ on the bidding process and related matters.