Friday, March 10, 2006

Scip reads Firestorm; Snow Falls in Hell

I just got a subscription at my local comic book store to ...

The Fury of Firestorm.

Now, that may not seem like a big deal to you, but at my house it's the equivalent of Nixon going to China. Firestorm, to me, has always represented "where things went wrong" at DC, when DC started using former Marvel writers to create Marvelesque character and ape Marvel style so as to replicate Marvel's success.

Firestorm was created by Gerry Conway, the former Spiderman scribe whose other big accomplishment at DC was creating the Justice League Detroit, an "Avengerized" version of the League. [By the way, I don't really credit Conway with creating the sainted and incomparable Vibe; Vibe is a platonic idea that the gods chose to instantiate on earth for us by divinely inspiring the only writer whose mind was blank enough to receive their rarefied signals. I mean, that almost goes without saying.]

In fact, so patent was it that the DC universe need to reject the foreign infection that is Firestorm that he was the second Character Donation that Devon and I made (and Devon likes him a lot more than I do). So when I bought issue #22 (the one with the groovy cover), it raised some eyebrows at the store. When I called later, having read the issue, and asked to Devon to add it to my subscription, he made me repeat the request on speakerphone, and then he had to be assisted to the couch by two of los Monitos.

Why am I reading Firestorm?

1. I like Jason Rusch, the new Firestom. I never liked Ronnie Raymond. Any story with RR in it was like reading a "What If... Flash Thompson Had Been Bitten By the Radioactive Spider?" story. It's not enough to say that Ronnie was as dumb as a rock. If you taped a rock to stick, it would still be able to be Ronnie Raymond at Jeopardy. Or Tic Tac Toe.

2. Martin Stein is back. Well, he comes back in #22, but in #23 which is One Year Later, he's missing. But he'll be back. Martin Stein deserves a comic book, just for putting up with Ronnie all those years. Meanwhile, Jason is stuck (and I do mean stuck) with Lorraine "Firehawk" Reilly--oh, excuse me, I mean *snort* *chortle* SENATOR Lorraine Reilly. Braindead clothes horse Lorraine Reilly, 20 year reigning champ of the Most Ill-Timed, Selfish Makeover in the DCU title. Lorraine Reilly, who was just presented as a "naive pup" in Identity Crisis, and is now in the U.S. Senate. It's so stupid, it's hilarious.

3. Some sensible limitations have been placed on Firestorm's abilities, ones that have helped make him interesting again (particularly now that Stein is missing). I'm getting a bang out of his little problem with Lorraine, and apparently I'm not the only one.

4. According to Jason, Mr. Terrific "sponsored" him and he has something to prove to him. Sponsored him in what? The JLA? Are Firestorm and Mr. Terrific going to be in the new Justice League? Intriguing! Anyway, any friend of Mr. Terrific is a friend of mine.

[One thing, though; the writers clearly need to do a little more research on atomic bombs. A lot actually. Is there a nuclear physicist in the house?]

OYL is a new beginning, and I'm going to take advantage to follow characters I never have before, like Green Lantern and Firestorm. I hope you do the same.


Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of surprising converts to Jason Rusch as well.

Unlike you though Scip, I liked Ronnie a lot. Chalk it up to the self loathing, eroticize your oppressor kind of guy I am, but I always thought Ronnie was kind of hot. It gave a little perverse little thrill in my then on the verge of pubescent libido that the brainy geek got to (shiver) merge bodies with the hot, popular, abs to die for jock.

I really hated Jason and the very idea of him and refused to read the book, even though I was a Firestorm fan. But then I picked up the fascinating #22 and, hell, I really liked it, and I REALLY began to like Jason, (though unlike Ronnie, purely platonically...sorry Jason, you're just not my type).

And wow, the tweaks to his costume are really pretty cool looking. I hope he is indeed in the new Justice League.

Anonymous said...

I picked up #23 to give it a shot. It was marginal, but I liked a few of the twists.

But Senator Reilly, good heavens. The first thing I thought was, "Is she old enough?" You need to be at least 30 to be a senator. Despite extremely limited familiarity with the character, I doubt she's 30 (even One Year Later).

Two, does anyone know what State she (or her father) represents? I hate to imagine the DC Universe-equivalent of myself having to be reprsented before the nation by her. Ugh.

Then there's the whole nuclear explosions thing, which seemed almost as silly as the Senator Reilly.

Still, I felt bad about no one asking Stuart Moore questions during WonderCon, and I did find enough to like to commit myself to coming back next month.

Jeff R. said...

Mr. Terrific already has a team, though. And Firestorm has no golden age version, so he can't get into the Society. So it's got to be something else. AA?

(Plus I'm pretty sure that the JLA stays inactive during the entire one-year gap and Meltzer's run starts with it re-forming.)

Also, Lorraine is pretty smart. Book-wise and organization-wise, that is; she ran her father's campaigns and office. Naive and idealistic, yes, and never committed to the superhero game long enough to get any real experience with it.

It's a good thing you never got around to donating Firestorm's rogue's gallery. The parts of it that didn't get killed off in Suicide Squad [Ostrander wrote Firestorm while he wrote the Squad, so when it came to killing off Firestorm villians, all he had to do was ask himself for permission...] are mostly pretty decent characters...

Jeff R. said...

Lorainne was at least in her mid-twenties when she first appeared, possibly a bit older. She was considerably sqicked when she found out how young Ronnie was, and to the best of my knowledge never dated him in their civilian forms. So, since Firestorm was part of the satellite era JLA and that's in early-dc history.

Oh, and that would be New York, of course. Can't be the Bizarro Spider-Man without being from New York, along with your supporting cast.

Anonymous said...

I was always a Marvel fan as a kid but I remember picking up an early Firestorm comic and wondering, "What the hell is this crap?" The What if Flash Thompson comparison is perfect. But I have had such a sweet spot for Jason Rusch and maybe that's just because the concept of him as Firestorm is such an affront to the original conceptualization of the hero.

Anonymous said...

Rumor has it that ::SPOILER ALERT>:: Mr. Terrific is going to be a big muckity-muck in the newly reimagined Checkmate (along with Alan Scott). Perhaps Firestorm will be making some apperances there.

Tragic Fanboy said...

Didn't the elder Senator Reilly get killed years ago in Hawkworld? I suppose that can be blamed on "one angry, powerful boy slamming his fists against reality"...

Marc Burkhardt said...

Never cared much for Ronnie one way or the other - the Flash Thompson comparison is brilliant - but I picked up the OYL Firestorm to give Jason a chance.

I liked it, and enjoyed Lorraine's role as well.

I'll definitely stick with the title for awhile.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked Scip, you just now started reading this?

That's like your faveriot hero eating your face or something.

Man I'm so disillusioned...

Martin Wisse said...

I loved Gerry Conway's Firestorm myself, but then I think Scipio is completely wrong on his marvelisation of the DC universe theory anyway.

Writers and artists had been going from Marvel to DC and back for years at the point Firestorm came along to the point that there really wasn't any distinctive difference between the two anymore.

As a Bronze Age baby I like it that way' I don't buy into the fetishation of the Silver or Golden Age DC too many DC fanboys buy into. Much of it was godawful, as at any given time much of DC (or Marvel's) output is awful.

Anyway I liked Firestorm because Ronnie Raymond was a jock and not yet another brainy but socially inept and picked upon nerd. I liked his rogue's gallery in all its occasional naffness (Black Bison, Slipknot), the soap opera and Lorraine "Firehawk" Reilly.

It was a fun, not too serieus series of a kind you rarely get today, where each either has to be worldshattering in the X-men sense, or Meaningful ala Elllis or Millar.

Scipio said...

"Writers and artists had been going from Marvel to DC and back for years at the point Firestorm came along to the point that there really wasn't any distinctive difference between the two anymore."

If you can't tell the difference between Marvel and DC, Martin, you probably shouldn't bother to read comics at all, because you're missing too much.

Anonymous said...

Last I checked, Marvel and DC both made good and crappy comics. That's all one needs to know.

Marionette said...

Why did they call it The Fury of Firestorm, anyhow. He never seemed that furious to me.

Anonymous said...

Re: Lorraine's age and being a Senator. The DCU has something called the "Knight Dependents Act" (presumably involving Sandra (Phantom Lady) Knight whose father was a Senator) that's been brought up before to explain seemingly too young officeholders such as Congresswoman Barbara Gordon.

Scipio said...

"Marvel and DC both made good and crappy comics. That's all one needs to know."

That's like saying the Beatles and Bach each wrote some great stuff and some mediocre stuff, so there's no real difference between them.

Martin Wisse said...

Like I said, after the Silver Age, most of their respective comics could've just as well have been published by the other company.

Englehart on the JLA was no different from Englehart on the Defenders, to the point of continuing plot threads from the one in the other...

Doug Moench on Batman or on Moon Knight; if you like the one you'd like the other.

The Legion of Superheroes would've fitted well in a Marvel future too.

To name but three examples.

What made Marvel initially different from DC was the genius of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko and their realisation that you could do more than just create clever riddles for your heroes, that you could inject some soap opera into their stories and that superheroes did not need to take place in some science fiction vacuum, but could be part of the "real world". Hence New York and not Central City for the Fantastic Four.

DC was still largely relying on single issue plots at that point, missing the "realism" of Marvel. What they had instead was a clean, science fictional optimism, (Gil Kane's Green Lantern and Atom, the Murphy Anderson Hawkman and Carmine Infantino's Flash are good examples)

But as creative teams changed, the lines got extended and editors, writers and artists began their endless merrry-go-round, each line's unique identity was lost.

Perennial exception: the Superman titles, which for the most part went their own way.

That doesn't mean of course that the two are entirely the same: Marvel is still more realistic and DC has more of a Grandeur, a legendary feel, but look at the recent JLA/Avengers crossover. The most forced aspect of that was the exagerrated differences between the two universes.

For the most part, arguing about the differences between Marvel and DC is arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. There are much more interesting things to talk about in comics.

(You really should read more than just superhero comics you know, fixating on an entertainment that is stilllargely aimed at twelve year olds is unseeming for a middle-aged man...)

Anonymous said...

This is just shocking Scipio! Though I'm not sure why you feel Firestorm, in a universe with Superman, Green Lanterns, and the Martian Manhunter, needed to be depowered (oh, wait a minute, you wanted MM depowered too). This is a guy who could always stand with the Justice League's heavy hitters, and would have been overpowered in the Marvel Universe.

And yeah, Jason Rusch started out as a pretty close analogue of Ronnie Raymond, though he's been differentiated more recently.

Anonymous said...

"(You really should read more than just superhero comics you know, fixating on an entertainment that is stilllargely aimed at twelve year olds is unseeming for a middle-aged man...)"

You fail. ^_^v

Scipio said...

"(You really should read more than just superhero comics you know, fixating on an entertainment that is stilllargely aimed at twelve year olds is unseeming for a middle-aged man...)"



I'm not ashamed of reading comic books. Even if it is "unseeming" (uh... whatever that means). I own comic book stores; it's my job. It's also a great pleasure, as their mythic overtones make them the Greek plays of today.

I have an Ivy League degree in Classical language and literature, and, in the process of getting it, I learned that at least as important, if not more, as the complexity of the literature being analyzed is the strength of the analytic skills the reader brings to the work. Finding greatness in Shakespeare is not much of an intellectual challenge; finding greatness in comic books is.

I don't think comic books are a waste of my mind; if I did, I wouldn't read them. If you think they're a waste of yours, why do you read them, let alone spend your time making gratuitously contrarian commentary to other comic book bloggers, everyone of whom dreads having to endure your pseudo-intellectual post-modern posturing?

Perhaps it is you who should read something other than comic books. Or, at least, comic book blogs. I, for one, would be happy if you stopped reading mine, as I've had to bite my tongue every time you belittle the opinions of other commenters and your host.

You're not welcome in my "digital house"; not because you don't agree with me, but because you seem unable to respectfully disagree.

Scipio said...

"This is a guy who could always stand with the Justice League's heavy hitters, and would have been overpowered in the Marvel Universe."

REALLY? I'm confused by that; it's always been my impression that Marvel characters are, on the whole, weaker than DC's characters (uh... power-level-wise).

If Firestorm is JLA-level powerful,as you say, wouldn't that automatically make him top-tier in the Marvelverse?

Anonymous said...

I think you're mis-reading.

Firestorm would over-powered (i.e. too powerful) IN the Marvel Universe, not over-powered BY the Marvel Universe.

And yeah, since Firestorm has Dr. Manhattan's power, he's the most powerful character in ANY universe, saving maybe the Spectre.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, sorry if I was unclear...Firestorm is much more powerful than any of the heros in the Marvel universe. And while Firestorm is the same type of hero as Dr. Manhattan, he can't teleport or see the future the way the Doctor can.

Scipio said...

Oh! Yes, I misunderstood; thank you.

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