Friday, December 19, 2008

Famous First Fridays: Firestorm

It was nearly Christmas '77, and DC socked it to us with an early present from writer Gerry Conway and artist Al Milgrom. Firestorm, the Nuclear Man was possibly the most anticipated new DC superhero series in years. DC did a good job of creating cool house-ads to build a following before the mag even hit the spinner-racks. I mean, all they had to do was show us...the costume. A flame-haired hero with a costume made of equal parts Kirby and disco (which, according to Answer Man, Bob Rozakis, was Milgrom channeling his inner 14 year old), man, that was instant dy-no-mite!

Another thing that made Firestorm stand out from the majority of DC's output was the fact that Conway and Milgrom, both Marvel Comics veterans, treated Firestorm like a Marvel superhero. Many fans at the time counted Firestorm as a Nova rip-off, but Firestorm was really a reverse-Spider-Man. Instead of the nerd being picked on by the jocks, half of Firestorm's alter ego (yeah, I'll explain that in a minute), Ronnie Raymond, was a jock being picked on by a nerd! That was kinda fun and different, especially if you were a high school aged comic fan like Teen Groove. The other half of Firestorm's persona was a middle-aged, frumpy, Reed Richards-level nuclear physicist by the name of Professor Martin Stein. Stein was a genius, yes, but in his own way, he was a loser, too, as you can see in the scenes with his boss Danton Black. I won't ruin the fun of reading the origin for ya, but I have to warn you, some serious CRAP brings our two unlikely heroes together (literally!).

Firestorm's mag only lasted five short issues (December, 1977-July, 1978), not because the mag was bad (it was a hoot!), but because it was a victim of the fabled DC Implosion (which I'll cover in depth soon). Firestorm popped up in DC's team-up mags (Brave and the Bold and DC Comics Presents) fairly often, and he became the last full-fledged member of the original JLA (thanks in no small part to the fact that co-creator Conway was scripting the JLA) in Justice League of America #179 (March, 1980). After a short stint as a back-up in the Flash (issues 290-299, 301-304), Firestorm was given another shot at his own title, Fury of Firestorm, which ran 64 issues (March, 1982-July, 1987). Since then, he has been killed, brought back, replaced, and last I heard, killed again. One thing's for sure, though. Firestorm will pop up again. He's too cool of a hero to waste!

1 comment:

  1. Holy Moley!
    I cannot believe no one has even commented here still! I loved Firestorm's first 6 issues! I had been buying Nova also. So bummed Firestorm, Nova, Ragman & Omega the unknown weren't huge hits! I was only 16 when this first issue hit the stands. I always dug Firestorm's Groovy outfit, wild fire hair & far out origin & powers! It was great to see him on the Super Friends too. George Perez drew him great in JL also!



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