Attacked by a monstrous alien, Andrew Van Horn was drained of his spinal fluid. He should have died. Instead, he was among the few survivors of the experience and inadvertently became a living weapon with the power to turn any object into a lethal implement of destruction. Seeking to avenge the death of his father, another victim of the parasitic alien, Andrew would dress up in an armored battlesuit and became Gunfire.
Created by Len Wein and drawn by Steve Erwin; Gunfire was part of DC Comics' 1993 Annual crossover event, Bloodlines which was a plot device to expand the superheroes of the DC Universe. Seven monstrous parasitic aliens who greatly resembled the xenomorphs of Ridley Scott's Alien films were stranded on Earth. Feeding on the spinal fluid of humans, these Bloodlines Parasites preyed on numerous helpless humans. However, several of these victims not only survived the experience but gained metahuman powers. These survivors became new heroes or "New Bloods". Gunfire was among those few of these "New Bloods" who received his own self-titled comic series in 1994. His series only lasted for 14 issues before it was canceled.
Andrew Van Horn's great-grandfather began a highly successful munitions and armament company known as Van Horn Industries. Shortly after World War II, his father Gunther moved the base of operations to Paris, France. Upon graduating from college, Andrew came to work at his family's company.
Andrew believed that for Van Horn Industries to survive into the next century, they would have to enter other industries rather than simply arms manufacturing and sought to transition Van Horn Industries to more benevolent and ecological products. However he was disappointed that his father was contemptuously dismissive of his ideas.
It was during this period that one of the alien Bloodlines Parasites known as Venev was accidentally trapped in the cargo area of an airplane and was transported to Paris. Emerging and eager to feed, she sensed Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke the Terminator at the airport as a prime target for her to feed on.
Wilson had recently suffered severe damage to his uniform and sought a replacement from Gunther Van Horn, an old friend and one of his primary armament suppliers.
Inadvertently, Wilson led the hungry Venev directly to Van Horn Industries where she promptly began a massacre, slaying numerous employees and draining them of their spinal fluids. Among her victims were both Gunther and Andrew who were both left for dead. Hearing the disturbance, Wilson returned to find Gunther and Andrew's bodies and took it upon himself to avenge his fallen friend and his son.
Unlike the majority of Venev's victims, Andrew not only revived from his near death, but his dormant metahuman powers was activated as a result.
His friends, Ben Nakashima and Yvette Du Bois became worried about his prolonged absence and discovered him; wounded, dazed, and confused along with the body of his father. Grief stricken at his father's death, Andrew armed himself with numerous weapons and donning an armored battlesuit for protection; sought to hunt down his father's killer and instead encountered the suited up Deathstroke on the trail himself.
Mistaking Deathstroke as the killer, Andrew attacked him and was briefly able to gain the upper hand when his metahuman power to agitate molecules revealed themselves; blasting a surprised Deathstroke with a barrage of explosive bursts from a knife. But once the knife's molecules were exhausted and the blade crumbled into dust, Andrew was left unarmed and he was swiftly defeated by Deathstroke.
Convincing Andrew that he was not responsible, the pair combined forces to track down and destroy Venev. Although they were able to wound the monstrous alien, Venev chose to flee rather than continue the fight, bringing down a building to cover her escape.
Adopting the moniker of Gunfire, Andrew would ultimately travel to Metropolis in his pursuit of the alien parasites along with many of the "New Bloods", other victims/survivors who had gained metahuman powers. These New Bloods all aided in the ultimate destruction of the aliens.
Afterwards, Andrew would assume control of Van Horn Industries, Andrew decided to move the corporate headquarters to New York and discovered that his father had been involved in numerous shadowy arms dealing and unethical weapons research.
Seeking to redeem Van Horn Industries, as Gunfire, he would track down and destroy the terrorist Dominion and her group, the Oblivion Front whom his father had sold illegal weapons to.
However other menaces emerged to confront him such as Ricochet, Purge, and the Marauder who were all high-tech criminals and terrorists who had all been outfitted by Van Horn Industries. Even as Andrew sought to transform Van Horn Industries from munitions to other benevolent projects, his own family relations sought to secretly dissuade his course by using the Exomorphic Man and the Mirror Master to physically threaten and intimidate him.
Gunfire subsequently found himself confronting a mysterious figure known as Ragnarok who it was revealed was his own father, Gunther who had also survived Venev and had become insane. He was forced to battle his father and apparently killed him once more.
Gunfire continued to operate as a semi-active hero for the next several years. He was among the heroes assembled by Oracle to repulse the Secret Society of Super-Villains' attack on Metropolis during the events of "The Infinite Crisis".
Gunfire subsequently joined the Blood Pack and he confronted Prometheus along with Argus and Anima. Prometheus tore Gunfire's hands off and left him for dead, then used the Cosmic Key to teleport away, in the process killing Anima who was half-teleported with him.
Gunfire survived his horrific wounds but vanished into obscurity. He was among a number of forgotten heroes such as Ace the Bat Hound and Geist when they were rescued by Superman. Gunfire along with his fellow heroes would also assist in the fight against Mandrakk.
In the new DC comics run the character is portrayed as an African-American beat cop by the name of Blake, whose currently in a struggling relationship with his on/off again girlfriend Haley. He among a host of other locals living in the small town of Pine Ridge, come under invasion by an infectious alien parasite which affords them supernatural abilities while threatening to consume them from within. The good officer among a host of others afflicted by the extraterrestrial plague; comes to host the very parasite giving him his abilities.
Starting out Officer Blake and his partner Ricky both hail from the Pine Ridge police department doing regular work as enforcers of the law, it is not until the invasion that their assignments veer into the B-movie territory. Before then he has a rough patch with his love interest while she's working on his ride at her garage, over time he discovers he's got the ability to change matter into raw energy which he can direct at will, with highly explosive results.
Powers & Abilities
Gunfire possesses the power to agitate the molecules of any form of matter and cause these agitated molecules to be explosively expelled as concussive bursts. He channeled this power through direct physical contact with his hands and preferred to utilize whatever solid materials or objects that he could scrounge or find.
Previously, Gunfire has little control over this ability and he required a focal point to the object in order to channel these concussion bursts. Later, he discovered that without any focal point to expel the energy outward, the object would rapidly build up to critical mass before violently detonating in a massive explosion. He used this aspect to break through armored doors and other barricades, and even offensively by creating grenades or bombs that he hurled at his opponents.
Over time, Gunfire honed his matter agitation power to such a degree that he could cause the molecules in the very air itself to explode. However, he only rarely employed his abilities in this manner as the explosion also affected him as well; on one occasion when he used his powers in this manner, the shockwave literally blew himself backwards through a wall.
One disadvantage to his molecular agitation is that he is utilizing the atoms and molecules of the object as his "ammunition" of explosive blasts. Over time, the molecular bonds of the object becomes so depleted that the object literally disintegrates; turning into dust or ash. Also, the more durable objects were, the longer they could sustain themselves.
Through experimentation, Gunfire discovered that organic materials tended to very rapidly exhaust themselves compared to other materials such as metal or plastic. In fact, he once used a wooden beam only for it to ignite after he used it briefly.
As Andrew Van Horn, he was extensively trained in how to use, operate, and maintain various types of military firearms; particularly those that his family's armament company manufactured. However, after gaining his powers, he is no longer able to wield conventional guns or armaments as his own powers can inadvertently cause the gunpowder in these weapons to prematurely explode in his hands before he can even use them.
In the recent Bloodlines Miniseries Gunfire's powers remain relatively the same but with some differences in their function. Instead of simply accelerating molecular energy to explosive ends, Black would instead transmute anything he focused on into a form of material energy with incredibly volatile constitution.
Turning whatever he managed to utilize his powers on into a crackling energized bomb of sorts, unlike previous incarnation he could dial back the conversion process turning whatever he's charged back to its original state before its reaching critical mass. Black can also charge the very air around himself in order to melt incoming gunfire or toss it like a lance of raw energy at opponents, this effect can also be used to temporarily enhanced the striking power or efficacy in general.
Most any form of material he comes in contact with will dissipate given time so the increased firepower of munitions in hand don't last long, beyond that the paracite within Blakes being also increases his physical abilities making him strong enough to lift a small boulder over his head while under its control.
Being a police officer Blake also has the standard self-defense training that accommodates his position.
Weapons & Paraphernalia
Gunfire wears a lightweight protective suit of armor composed primarily of ceramics. This armor is bullet proof and has a vibram inner layer that absorbs impacts. Later, this armor included a refractory coating that dissipated laser blasts.
His helmet contains sophisticated sensors that grants him telescopic and infrared vision modes as well as computer assisted targeting. The helmet also contained motion sensors as well. There is also a fiber-optic link that enables his associates, Ben Nakashima or Yvette Du Bois to receive real-time images from his perspective and communicate with him from a mobile command center. Frequently, Nakashima would act as a second pair of eyes; warning Gunfire of potential threats from other directions.
Gunfire later added a pair of rocket pods to his hips that enabled him to fly for short periods. These pods were controlled via his belt buckle.
In the far flung future of DC One Million, Gunfire's helmet survived to the 853rd Century and presumably after being worn by Andrew Van Horn for so long, it has been imbued with his molecular agitation powers. It was discovered that when another person wore it, they would gain Gunfire's molecular agitation powers.
Utilized by an unidentified man to become a superhero in the manner of Andrew Van Horn, this version of Gunfire was not very successful hero. When Tommy Monaghan aka Hitman was brought to the future by a group of bored teenagers, Gunfire One Million sought to apprehend him and instead managed to accidentally shoot himself with with his own power, and then panicking, exploded his own buttocks and died moments later.