38 years ago - Joseph Blackfire is born in rural Tennesse to an abusive father.
26 years ago - 12-year-old Joseph Blackfire kills his father. He is taken in by the church & becomes active in ministry.
20 years ago - 18-year-old Joseph Blackfire attends seminary school.
10 years ago - 28-year-old Joseph Blackfire, after earning degrees in philosophy, theology, criminal justice & history, leaves seminary school before earning his masters in divinity. He travels the world, joining different groups of freedom fighters.
7 years ago - 31-year-old Joseph Blackfire founds his cult among the homeless of Gotham using drugs & hypnosis. He captures and begins to convert Batman but is eventually defeated and killed by his own cultists.
Deacon Blackfire is a deliberate deep-cut into Batman's rogues's gallery. He's not someone that you see a lot of, only featuring in one story ever, but he stands out because the name and design of the character just seem to fit so well into the world of Batman. Including him is pretty easy since it's just a single story.
Deacon Blackfire's Comic History
Blackfire is the antagonist in the 1988 four-part miniseries Batman: The Cult by legendary comic writer Jim Starlin. He was a conman and cult leader who formed an army of homeless in the sewers of Gotham that was able to capture and brainwash Batman. It's pretty wild that a villain would pop up out of nowhere and actually come so close to defeating Batman, but that's part of what made the story work so well.
Blackfire has cropped up a few times since in storyarcs that allowed for the return of dead characters, but that sort of thing never really works. It's best to just let this one story stand on it's own.
Our Blackfire Story
There really isn't a lot that needs to be changed with Blackfire. As I said, his entire part is played out over the course of a single storyarc, and there isn't really anything within that story that needs to be altered. Batman's capture and brainwashing is a good story, and this is a cool character to use to tell it.
Obviously, one thing that we did here that we do for EVERY character is to build him a backstory. Sometimes it's unnecessary, but by doing it for everyone we can flesh out their world in ways that often pay out later. We've incorperated elements of other noted real-life cultleaders and revolutionaries givingin him multiple degrees and years of experience as a freedom fighter/terrorist.
There are some weird references in the original story about the character's age, suggesting that he's over 100 years old and has some form of immortality, but it's revealed that he is very much mortal when he's actually killed. I imagine that might be part of the story he tells his followers, but we were more conscerned with the reality of his backstory, so we chose to make him aproximately the same age as Batman himself, just with an entirely different life mission. In some ways, the characters are similar, with the Deacon manipulating faith instead of fear.