New 52 Review: The Fury of Firestorm #1

Gail Simone managed to make Catman awesome - can she work that same magic with the Nuclear Man?

Andy Hunsakerby Andy Hunsaker

Fury of Firestorm #1

Firestorm is a character that has seemed to languish in mediocrity for a couple of reasons, as the always astute Mightygodking has pointed out:  he is too powerful and his villains are godawful.  Ordinarily, I would also cite the whole annoying 'headwrap' look that I hate on Gambit and everyone that ever appeared in a comic in the early 1990s, but to be fair, Firestorm is from the '70s and his head looks more like a flagon of flaming sambuca with a face Colorformed to the side.  There's obviously something more than stupid fashion choices going on with Firestorm The Nuclear Man.  Especially lately, when Firestorm has been a duo.  Well, he's always been kind of a duo, but now it's a different duo and…

Wait, hold on.  Stop.  Collaborate and listen.  New 52.  Fresh start and all. Let's not get hung up on the past incarnations of this god-powered also-ran and let's see what miracle-worker Gail Simone and her co-plotter Ethan Van Sciver can do to make his present-day version something to write home about.

Simone opens The Fury of Firestorm #1 much the same way she opened Batgirl #1 – with a group of sociopathic bastards terrorizing innocent people.  The difference being that these people are professional bastards and nobody saves the day – and it ends with a moment of dark humor that shows us that this is likely where Simone is going to be getting her twisted Secret Six fix now that her cult hit book has vanished into the ether.  These bastards are working for a mysterious evil corporation and they are hunting down the four "Firestorm Protocols" created by the late Dr. Martin Stein, and through torture and general awfulness, they track the last one down to a brilliant Walton Mills High School student named Jason Rusch. 

Rusch just happens to be involved in some nasty social head-butting with star quarterback Ronnie Raymond when the aforementioned professional bastards show up and start killing faculty, forcing Rusch to use the aformentioned Firestorm protocol, which goes apeshit and turns both Rusch and Raymond into Nuclear Men… and they immediately start smacking the crap out of each other. 

How does all this address the two big problems Firestorm has traditionally had?  As far as the power levels go, it does look like we're still talking about matter transmutation, and hell, the story is entitled God Particle, so there isn't going to be any watering down of Firestorm's fury.  However, having Rusch and Raymond hate each other is a good step towards making things exceptionally complicated for them.

But it's the 'lame villains' point that Simone and Van Sciver seem to have really conquered.  Not only does it look like Rusch's triggering of the protocol will turn one of the Pro-Bastards into something nasty (her name is Loren, so it might be an evil version of Firehawk), but that there shadowy corporation looks to have a quintet of their own Firestorms at the ready, and what more powerful foes could Firestorm fight than jerks with his exact powers?

The art from Yildiray Cinar is pretty impressive when it comes to depicting these massive power-moker types, and he even subtly incorporates Kirby dots into the power radiating off of these next-level beings.  The only stumbles seem to come with the arguments between Rusch and Raymond, as the dialog doesn't quite ring true.  There's a point where Rusch gets in Raymond's face about how there hasn't been a black quarterback at their school for the last four years… but Raymond is the star quarterback and this is his senior year, so it makes sense that there wouldn't have been another quarterback in that time.  Then Rusch asks if Raymond's ever stayed overnight at any of his purported black friends' houses… which seems really off.  Is he trying to accuse Raymond of being gay?  Not sure.  It just comes off as a bit forced and awkward, and maybe Simone and Van Sciver need a little more time to get their sea legs with these characters.

Overall, though, there's plenty going on in The Fury of Firestorm #1, and there's a lot of shiny bright madness that's not shying away from the dark.  Here's to bringing another B-lister into prime time.