Real Name: Heart-Like-Fire

Identity/Class: Human magical mutate (Native American, Old West era)

Occupation: Protector of the Lost Mesa and the Kisani

Group Membership: Kisani tribe, "Ghosts of the Old West" (el Aguila/Paco Montoya, Apache Kid/Rosa Kare, Demon Rider/Kushala, Hijiro Nguri, Kid Cassidy/Richard Cassidy, Phantom Rider/Carter Slade, Reno Jones, Rawhide Kid/Jonathan Clay, Steam Rider/Bob Dolan) (see comments)

Affiliations: None

Enemies: Acona (Cap'n Jack, others), Major Brett Sabre

Known Relatives: Thomas Fireheart (Puma, descendant), Joseph Threetrees (possible descendant, see comments)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Lost Mesa, New Mexico

First Appearance: Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1/2 (September 2006)

Powers/Abilities: Heart-Like-Fire could assume (or was stuck in) a feline humanoid form possessed of greatly enhanced speed, agility, endurance, dexterity and strength. He has an enhanced sense of smell and could see in the dark. A formidable hand-to-hand fighter, he possessed sharp fangs and claws; he also carried a knife. 

Height: 6'4" (by estimation)
Weight: 240 lbs. (by estimation)
Eyes: Green
Hair: Red

(Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1/2 (fb) - BTS) - The Kisani tribe of the Lost Mesa in what became New Mexico spent centuries warring with the neighboring Acoma. During those years of conflict the family of Heart-Like-Fire protected the Lost Mesa's secrets from their enemies.

(Supervillain Team-Up: MODOK's 11#4 (fb) - BTS) - Heart-Like-Fire was the product of several generations (see comments) of breeding and medicine to create the perfect warrior of the Kisani tribe. 

(Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1/2 (fb) - BTS) - He became the tribal protector, the therianthropic Puma. At some point he gained a facial scar that ran from under his right eye, slanting diagonally up his face from right to left, crossing on to the left edge of his right eyebrow, and on over the bridge  of his nose, ending above his left eye.

   In 1851 the U.S. government decreed that Natives be moved onto reservations. Assuming all Natives to be the same as one another, they ordered the Acoma to move to the Lost Mesa. When they refused, the 12th Cavalry was sent to force their compliance, but a group of Acoma, led by Cap'n Jack, took refuge in lava tubes their tribe had long used as a refuge. Determined that the Kisani not be forced to share land with the hated Acoma, Heart-Like-Fire snuck into the tunnels.

(Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1/2 - BTS) - While Cap'n Jack ventured above ground to slaughter the cavalrymen and capture their leader, Brett Sabre, Heart-Like-Fire slaughtered the Acoma hiding underground, and lit a fuse on a barrel of TNT, intending to blow up the Acoma's ancestral refuge.

(Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1/2) - Having escaped Cap'n Jack and ended up in the tunnels, Sabre pursued the renegade Native into a subterranean chamber full of the corpses of Heart-Like-Fire's victims. Assuming Sabre's men had somehow carried out the massacre, Jack attacked him, but Heart-Like-Fire intervened, leaping between them and snatching up Jack by the throat. Realizing his demise was imminent, Jack begged for a respite to sing his death song, but Heart-Like-Fire casually sliced open his throat, killing him even as Sabre shouted at the newcomer to desist, insisting Jack was a prisoner of war of the U.S. Army. Unimpressed, Heart-Like-Fire batted the cavalryman away, proclaiming they were from rival tribes and nothing else was worth knowing. He decried the arrogance of the white invaders who saw all Natives as being the same, proudly stating that they were separate nations with rivalries as old as the land, land that his family had defended for centuries. Laughing, he instructed Sabre to leave, so he could tell his soldiers, his Indian Agents and the President himself that Sabre's people ruled the land, but only so far as Heart-Like-Fire's people permitted them to. Moments after Sabre departed, the TNT exploded, causing the chamber and surrounding tunnels to collapse.

(Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1/2 - BTS) - Heart-Like-Fire presumably escaped prior to the explosion.

(War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#3 (fb) - BTS) - At some point Heart-Like-Fire died under unrevealed circumstances.

 (War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#4 (fb) - BTS) - While visiting the early 21st century via time travel, Demon Rider, the Sorcerer Supreme of the mid-1800s, was present when the armies of the Dark Elf Malekith invaded Earth. To assist Earth's defenders in the oncoming war, Demon Rider visited a closed Old West themed amusement park town, Six-Gun Territory, and summoned the ghosts of several heroes from her own era, including Heart-Like-Fire. Agreeing that they had fought to pursue justice and oppose invaders and evil all their lives, and shouldn't stop doing so just because they were dead, the ghosts joined her cause; Demon Rider informed the ghosts they were waiting for the arrival of a powerful demon to align themselves with. Meanwhile, instinctively gathering allies to protect herself, the demon-tainted infant goddess Laussa sensed their presence and covertly nudged the heroes protecting her, the "Babysitters Club," into hiding out in Six-Gun Territory as they sought to evade pursuers coming for the child.

(War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#3) - When the Babysitters Club arrived in Six-Gun Territory the ghost tried to approach them, but to the ears of non-sorcerers, the ghosts' attempts to communicate were only audible as ghastly wailing. Mistaking the specters for enemies seeking to harm the child, battle broke out between the two groups, with Steam Rider taking on the god dog Thori while his compatriots fought the other Babysitters. Luckily the Babysitters' sorcerous member, Druid, was able to understand the ghosts, and ended the battle to explain that they were looking for a demon. However, since the Babysitters had not realized Laussa had a demonic taint, they remained unsure what to do.

(War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#4 - BTS) - Having agreed a truce, the Babysitters and some of the ghosts waited in the town church as they tried to figure out what to do; Puma stayed outside. Eventually Demon Rider arrived and clarified that she and the ghosts she had summoned didn't wish to harm the child, but to serve her, and pledged her forces to Laussa's cause. And with that Demon Rider led the ghosts in riding off, declaring they were heading to the war's final battle.

(War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#5) - By the side of a rural highway the Western ghosts met up again with the Babysitters and other allies that Laussa had been gathering.

(War of the Realms#6 - BTS) - The ghosts presumably helped in the final battle against Malekith's forces, and thereafter likely returned to their eternal rest.

Comments: Created by Fred Van Lente, Gregory Homs and Kris Justice.

   Heart-Like-Fire never calls himself Puma in the story, but since that seems to be the standard title of the Kisani protector, it is probably his formal title too. Thomas Fireheart was stated to be the result of ten generations of genetic breeding experiments; given the currently roughly 130 year gap between Heart-Like-Fire and Thomas, that would be perhaps four generations earlier, or something like six generations of experiments, give or take a couple of generations. Obviously as the sliding timescale keeps widening the temporal gap between the two Pumas the number of generations will increase. There's also no evidence either way as to whether any of the intervening generations could activate the transformation; just because they were of the Fireheart line and possessed the potential doesn't mean they were given the mystical trigger technique to activate it.

   We don't see Heart-Like-Fire in any form other than his feline one, so it's possible he was stuck permanently in that body, though if he's anything like his descendant he would be able to switch to human form and back.

   Joseph Threetrees is Thomas Fireheart's uncle, and so is Kisani and possibly descended from Heart-Like-Fire too. However, especially given his differing surname, it is likely that he's a maternal uncle, and thus not be part of the Fireheart line.

   In Amazing Spider-Man I#273 Fireheart is told that he was given the power of the Puma because of his tribe's legend foretelling the coming of the Beyonder; this may mean that all prior Pumas, including Heart-Like-Fire, were empowered as part of that prophecy. However, since it is only stated that this was the reason Thomas was empowered, it may be that the prophecy was made after Heart-Like-Fire's time.

   The ghosts from the Old West didn't seem to have a formal name for their group, and probably shouldn't count as a formal team; nevertheless, I've listed them above as a team rather than individually as affiliations because they were a grouping, and to make it easier to distinguish which of his allies were fellow specters. Since none of them provided their real names, and el Aguila, Phantom Rider and Puma are all identities that have been used by several people and passed down through familial lines, it isn't certain that Paco, Carter and Heart-Like-Fire were the ghosts present; though that's probably who the writers intended them to be, it's certainly feasible that one or more of them was another individual who had claimed said identity during the late 1800s. Heck, even Rawhide Kid had a similarly dressed namesake predecessor! Notably, el Aguila wears a costume closer to the modern day version than the one Paco has been shown wearing.

   Kudos the writers of the War of Realms: Journey into Mystery series for realizing that there are more interesting Old West heroes than just Kid Colt, Rawhide Kid, Phantom Rider and Two-Gun-Kid, and going to the trouble to use some of the more distinctive but less well known denizens of the era.

   This profile was completed 09/03/2021, but its publication was delayed as it was intended for the Appendix 20th anniversary 's celebratory event.

Profile by Loki.

 Heart-Like-Fire is connected to, but should not be confused with:

but has no known connections to:

images: (without ads)
Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1, p19, pan3 (main image)
Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1, p19, pan1 (headshot)
Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1, p18, pan5 (fighting Brett Sabre)
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#3
, p18, pan1 (ghost fighting Balder)

Marvel Westerns: Western Legends#1/2 - Fred Van Lente (writer), Gregory Homs (pencils), Kris Justice (inks), Mark Paniccia (editor)
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery#3-5 (July-August 2019) - Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy (writers), André Lima Araújo (art), Will Moss (editor)

First Posted: 09/10/2021
Last updated:

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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