Charcoal is a fan-designed character who, after winning a contest, became a regular in the Thunderbolts comic from 1999 to 2001. His backstory also was part of a return of the Imperial Forces, minor Bronze Age  opponents of Captain America.


  • Real Name: Charles “Charlie” Burlingame.
  • Other Aliases: Charles Cole, 73E.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Calvin Burlingame (father, deceased).
  • Group Affiliation: Redeemers; formerly Thunderbolts, Imperial Forces Bruiser Brigade.
  • Base Of Operations: Mt. Charteris.
  • Height: 5’7” (8’6” as Charcoal) Weight: 135lbs (unrevealed as Charcoal).
  • Eyes: Brown (Flaming as Charcoal) Hair: Black, shaved bald (none as Charcoal).


Powers and Abilities

Charlie can transform his body into a behemoth composed of charcoal. From there he can change into any kind of carbon, from coal to diamond. He can manipulate his form allowing him to stretch and reshape his body with ease.

When in charcoal form he can ignite himself, surrounding his body in flames. He can project these as an attack, or as a means to propel himself through the air. In carbon form he has exhibited high resistance to electrical attacks. In diamond form his body becomes tougher. In DC Heroes RPG terms, he uses Self-Manipulation to mimic the Skin Armor Power.

As Charcoal, his body can survive and quickly recover from serious damage. That works even if his body is shattered, either through reassembling his parts, or re-growing new ones. He has been reduced to a head and partial torso, and still been talking as though nothing had happened to him.

He remains aware of the locations of all parts of his body that have been broken off. Thus, Charlie will sometimes break a piece off to plant on targets, as a tracking device.



Charlie’s father moved around a lot. He was unable to find a role, legal or otherwise, and even set up Charles’ mother as a scapegoat for his crimes. Eventually, Mr. Burlingame attended a rally held by the Imperial Forces of America. He joined them, and handed his son over to their genetics experiments.

The experiments, run by Arnim Zola, had a high mortality rate of subjects. But Charlie was one of the few survivors of the process, being transformed into Charcoal, the Burning Man. As such he became part of the Imperial Forces Bruiser Brigade.

He took part in the Imperial Forces operation to take control of the town of Burton’s Canyon. There he came into conflict with the Thunderbolts, who foiled the Imperial Forces plot.

Like lightning

Seeing the Thunderbolts as a potential avenue of escape from the Imperial Forces control, Charlie slipped a broken part of his Charcoal form into Hawkeye’s quiver when he appeared in public. Then he tracked the archer back to the Thunderbolts. While initially cautious at his appearance, they soon accepted him onto the team.

With the team setting up base in nearby Mt. Charteris, Hawkeye arranged for Charlie and Hallie (Jolt), using false names, to attend school in Burton’s Canyon. While Hallie resented it, Charlie was happy to be doing something normal. His happiness ended when Hallie was shot while they and some school-friends sat together in a coffee shop.

Other emergencies kept cropping up. Charlie felt that these were delaying the group’s investigation of her death. As a result, he became increasingly rebellious towards Hawkeye’s leadership.

Opposing forces

When Charcoal was recaptured by the Imperial Forces, the Thunderbolts attempted to infiltrate the organisation. But were captured.

They, and Charlie, were thrown into the Imperial Forces’ arena. There, they had to battle the Bruiser Brigade. But then came the Jury, a privately funded group set up to bring in the Thunderbolts, led by USAgent. This allowed the Thunderbolts the advantage they needed to bring down the Imperial Forces, although its leaders escaped.

Soon after Jolt’s return, they learned that her apparent murderer had been the mind-controlled Scourge. This was part of a scheme by Henry Gyrich (who was himself being controlled) to spread controlling nanites over the world.

In the process of foiling his plot, they came into conflict with the Redeemers. This group was led by Citizen V (John Watkins). Its members used identities formerly used by the Thunderbolts.


Following the destruction of Gyrich’s plot, the criminal members of the Thunderbolts were given pardons, provided they stayed out of costume. Charcoal and Jolt were inducted into the Redeemers, who were based in the Thunderbolts former base at Mt. Charteris. They were led by, first Captain America (Steve Rogers), and then Citizen V (IV).

Charcoal stretching his arm in a fight

Shortly after joining the Redeemers, Charlie was approached by his father. Mr. Burlingame tried to get him to rejoin the Imperial Forces. When Charlie refused, as his father knew he would, Charcoal was attacked by Imperial Army shocktroopers. His father used this as a distraction to sneak into the nearby cryogenics chemical plant.

Charcoal beat the shocktroopers, but not before the battle had left his father dangling above a vat of freon. Charlie discovered that this chemical could damage him. Unwilling to risk himself for his father, he let him fall to his death.

Not long afterwards, Graviton appeared at Mt. Charteris. He ripped the top off of it, looking for revenge on the Thunderbolts. He split Charcoal into dust. Whether this killed him, or whether he will eventually be able to reassemble himself is unrevealed as of this writing.


Initially even-tempered and shy.

But after Jolt’s ’death‘ Charlie became more aggressive, cynical and cocky. He became increasingly insubordinate, and was more interested in stopping the villain, and hurting his enemies, than protecting civilians.


Charcoal: “So you going to start talking or do we have to smack you around a bit ?”
Scourge: “I can’t.”
Charcoal: “Braap ! Wrong answer. Or the right one, from my point of view.”

“Imperial Army took another shot at dragging me back. Wasn’t the Secret Empire originally your problem, Cap ? Just saying, get on the ball, dude.”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats


Dex: 05 Str: 12 Bod: 10 Motivation: Unwanted Power
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Student
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 014 HP: 035

Detect (pieces of his own body): 14, Energy Absorption: 02, Flame Being: 08, Flame Projection: 08, Flight: 06, Growth: 02, Invulnerability: 15, Regeneration: 06, Self-Manipulation: 02, Stretching: 04

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Energy Absorption only works on electricity (-1).
  • Flame Being may be used on partially (+1).
  • Flame Projection and Flight are Contingent upon Flame Being (-1).
  • Growth is always on and is already factored in (-1).
  • Stretching does not add to RV (-1).

None demonstrated.

None demonstrated.

Thunderbolts (High), Redeemers (High).

Age (Young), Alter Ego (Charlie Burlingame), Minor Rage, Mistrust, Strange Appearance.

Charlie Burlingame

Dex: 04 Str: 02 Bod: 02
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 04
Init: 013

None demonstrated.

None demonstrated.

Thunderbolts (High), Redeemers (High).

Age (Young), Minor Rage.

By Gareth Lewis.

Source of Character: Marvel Comics.

Helper(s): Chris Cottingham, Ethan Roe.