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The Origin of Firephase

On March 10, 1959, James A. Lewis was born to Allan and Maria Lewis. Being very intelligent themselves, they were not surprised to discover that even as a child, their son Jim appeared to have a unusually high intellect. At the age of four, he had learned to read and write and by the age of 14 he had graduated from high school. Then at the age of 15, he entered college. Following in his father's footsteps, he majored in chemical engineering with a minor in business management.

However, by this time he had become bored with purely mental challenges and wanted to be challenged physically as well as mentally. It was then that he developed his interest in the techniques of hand to hand combat and the study of martial arts. Although he was never particularly close to his parents, he was extremely close to his grandfather whom he had been named after. It was his grandfather who first instructed Jim in the art of hand to hand combat specifically boxing. While serving in the military, Jim's grandfather had been the division boxing champion and was more than willing to pass on his knowledge. It became obvious that Jim had inherited not only his grandfather's name but also his natural fighting ability. Within weeks, he had mastered several of the techniques he had been taught and had arranged to be trained in the study of martial arts. He obviously had a great deal of natural ability in this area as well for he was able to catch on very quickly.

Throughout college, he continued to excel in his academic studies as well as in his studies of what he found truly interesting and exciting, the martial arts. At the age of 19, while walking across the campus, he met Karen Williams. Eight months later, they were engaged to be married. However, on June 14 while returning to the campus, Karen was struck and killed by a stolen vehicle that had been involved in the armed robbery at a local gas station. Although very troubled by this, he continued on with his life.

At the age of 20, he graduated from college and received a job in a major chemical corporation based in New York City. Within a year, he had worked his way up in the company and was put in charge of research and development. For several months, Jim and his associate Ed McNeil combined their efforts on an experimental project which involved the study of the processes by which the human body naturally heals. In their research, they discovered that by rearranging the molecular structure of certain enzymes and other healing agents, they could increase fibrin production and the supply of oxygen to the wound, thereby increasing the rate at which an individual heals. Having found some success in laboratory animals, the results looked promising. However, on the night of August 22, 1980, there was a malfunction in the equipment resulting in a chemical explosion. Fortunately, Ed had just left the room and was not affected. Jim, on the other hand, was thrown back and trapped by the raging flames and intense heat. The lab and all of their research was completely destroyed by the explosion and fire that followed. Yet somehow Jim had survived seemingly unaffected.

With the accident behind him, he continued to gain status in the company. His life appeared to be the same as before the explosion, but something was different. One day, while sparring with his karate instructor, he received a blow that would have sent an ordinary man to the floor. Yet Jim's skin seemed to give and absorb the blow leaving him unaffected. After considering the possible causes of this, he began to recall instances where he had recovered from a blow at an extremely fast rate. This led him back to the explosion and he realized he must have gained not only these powers but also others that would explain how he had survived the raging fire. With a great deal of experimentation and effort, he discovered that he had increased healing, limited control of fire, and skin that seemed to absorb physical attacks. Also, he discovered that with an enormous amount of effort, he could actually adjust his molecular structure and pass through other objects. However, these powers required incredible effort and he had very little control over them. As a result, he was very unsure of his ability and felt he was better off not using the power.

For two years, the powers were left unused as he continued to climb higher and higher in his career. However, this changed completely in the weeks following his 23rd birthday. His grandfather had come to New York to visit him. One day while returning to Jim's apartment, his grandfather spotted three young punks mugging and elderly woman. As he ran to the woman's aid, the punks grabbed her purse and charged toward him. In his earlier days, he may have stood a chance but he had grown older and slower and was no match for three young men. In the battle that followed, Jim's grandfather was stabbed and severely beaten. He would undoubtedly have been killed if it had not been for a police officer named Matt Baker who chased off the punks and called an ambulance.

After learning of this, Jim decided something must be done. Remembering how Karen died an innocent victim of crime and also how his grandfather had almost suffered the same fate, Jim decided that he had to help in some way. Although he had been reluctant to use his powers, he was determined to develop and use his powers and natural ability in order to help protect innocent victims like Karen and his grandfather. It was then that he assumed the identity of Firephase. Working with officer Baker, he was able to locate easily capture the punks who had attacked his grandfather. In the four years that followed, he was promoted to president of his company and he continued to develop his powers, helping to protect innocent people whenever possible. Then at the age of 27, while helping out the local police department, he met the Cyborg, Blast, and Tsunami, and joined The Protectors where he has remained ever since.