Or – “Ronnie… I Want To Tell You About The Matrix.”
When DC relaunched Firestorm back in September, I wondered whether they would play to their older fanbase by relaunching Ronnie Raymond as the original Firestorm, or the somewhat more interesting Jason Rusch. Given the issues surrounding Ryan Choi’s exit, I didn’t want to see Jason clumsily sidelines, so I was pleasantly surprised when they chose to revive BOTH ‘Storms in the New 52. Is there still joy in Firestorm-ville a year later? Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Previously in The Fury Of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #0: Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch were natural enemies in the wild: A football jock and a physics nerd. But when each was imbued with a portion of the Firestorm matrix and transformed into a nuclear furnace, they were forced to work together to survive. Now that the matrix has been destroyed (and they did it without a 20 minute rave scene, to boot) Jason and Ronnie are just a couple of reg’lar fellers, and Firestorm is clearly a thing of the past…
ONLY HE’S TOTALLY NOT A THING OF THE PAST, AND WE ALL KNOW IT.
Our story opens with a very bored Jason Rusch working on some sort of lab project, possibly chemistry. As he thinks back to the end of the Firestorm Matrix, I realize that this story is taking place in the present day. At first I was a bit miffed not to have an origin story, but the first few issues of this book actually constituted the origin of the Nuclear Men. Moreover, DC never stated that the Zero Month books explicitly had to be flashback/origin stories, just that they would be looking at new paradigms and such. Even so, this issue does seem to promise a whole new Firestorm, as the costume seen on the cover isn’t the one that either Firestorm has worn before. In fact, it’s combination of Raymond’s red suit and Rusch’s gold seems to be a bit telling, especially when Jason finds that his transmutation powers may still be active. Ronnie Raymond doesn’t WANT his powers back, though, as he is far too busy with his high school life to have any interest in superhuman hijinks Their conflict is rendered entirely moot as the villain known as Helix (terrible name, terrible character design, for those keeping score) busts in on Ronnie’s high school football game to kill him, drawn to our hero by the dying embers of the Firestorm matrix.
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN.
For those of you who weren’t around in 1978, the first Firestorm was a composite being of Ronnie Raymond and his Professor, Martin Stein, wherein Ronnie embodied Firestorm and the Prof rode shotgun in his mind, providing important knowledge and restraint for the headstrong Firestorm. Helix’s attack this issue triggers this new/old transformation again, as Ronnie and Jason merge into a singular Nuclear Man, wearing the red/gold costume seen on the cover, one that combines elements of several previous Firestorms into one. Blah blah blah, fighty-fighty, and our heroes are left realizing that a normal life may forever be out of their grasp, and their tenuous relationship now has to continue. Yildiray Cinar is a very good artist, one who brought a strong eye for character and detail to his work on Legion of Super-Heroes, and I kind of hope that he will be continuing with this series, as I like his rendition of Firestorm. There aren’t really a whole lot of surprises in this issue, as nobody really expected that the heroes’ powers were REALLY gone, what with the book continuing, and I’m kind of glad, in an old-man sort of way, to see the familiar composite character aspect of ‘Stormy returning.
BOTTOM LINE: KIND OF STRAIGHT-FORWARD, BUT NOT UNPLEASANT.
Overall, this book isn’t a bad one, but it’s not particularly memorable, either. The return to the “Firestorm is two separate guys” paradigm is nice, but I expect that it won’t be too long before no one really remembers the separate Firestorm Red/Firestorm Gold period as anything more than curiosity. The story is a bit talky in the beginning, and ends at a point where we’ve seen the character a number of times before. (The Brightest Day-era Firestorm was also a composite of Jason and Ronnie, but to be fair to the creators, nobody read that mess all the way through.) The Fury Of Firestorm, The Nuclear Men #0 ends up as kind of a wash, doing a little bit of housekeeping before setting our hero(es) on a familiar path, earning a not-bad 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s an issue that seems aimed at those who have already been reading the book, though, and may not be the most accessible of Zero Month books as the proverbial jumping-on point.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!