The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 49 (July 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #49

It’s sort of a goofy issue, with Firestorm’s lawsuit ending in the first scene, then the rest of the issue is the Moonbow story. Conway continues the Marvel vibe–maybe it’s because Moonbow (a female college student who moonlights as a vigilante) looks like a Marvel character, but also because there’s no other vibe to the comic.

Conway doesn’t give his protagonists anything to do. Martin has a date, which Ronnie interrupts for a Firestorm outing, and Conway uses the interruption so as not to make any decisions for Martin. It’s more treading water.

There are art problems too–Pablo Marcos and Rodin Rodriguez join Machlan on inks and the issue never has a consistent look to it. Brozowski again does all right with his page composition and the comic moves at a good pace.

Even the ending, with Firestorm and Moonbow finally crossing paths, moves well.

It’s passable enough.

B- 

CREDITS

Justice: Lost and Found; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inkers, Mike Machlan, Pablo Marcos and Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 29 (November 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #29

It’s Firestorm versus three really lame villains, one angry businesswoman and one angry high school classmate. I’m not sure what Cavalieri is trying to do–except further the problems with the series. Cavalieri doesn’t even bring Firehawk into the issue, which is odd since I thought they were trying to rescue her missing father the last issue, and she does provide an iota of character development.

Instead, Martin is mad at Ronnie for how he handles being Firestorm and Ronnie is obnoxious in general. He’s obnoxious as Firestorm, he’s obnoxious at school; there are some subplot developments–Martin’s romance and Ronnie’s dad getting fired, not to mention the woman threatening to sue Firestorm for property damage.

The finale has Firestorm fighting hallucinations without knowing he’s hallucinating. There are a few important things Kayanan and Rodriguez fail to make clear and the sequence flops. It’s nonsensical.

There’s some good art, but not enough.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Assassination Bureau; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 28 (October 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #28

And now it's Joey Cavalieri scripting from a Conway plot. The most visible change in the scripting is the personality Cavalieri gives Firestorm's two sides. Martin is dismissive of how Ronnie does things and Ronnie is irresponsible.

There's a great line with Martin mocking Ronnie and Firestorm's romance with Firehawk.

The issue eventually has some great action art, but the opening has lots of problems. Someone–either Pablo Marcos or Rodriguez–doesn't do well finishing faces for Kayanan. All the civilian scenes are plagued with characters with awkward, too static expressions.

The issue's villain is goofy but just a mercenary and the action plays out rather well.

There are some hints of character development at the beginning for Ronnie and his high school problems but Cavalieri doesn't follow through. He's getting to be unlikable, mostly because he's barely present.

Ditto the turgid conspiracy subplot–it desperately needs its resolution. The sooner the better.

B- 

CREDITS

The End of His Rope; writers, Gerry Conway and Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inkers, Pablo Marcos and Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 27 (September 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #27

Paul Kupperberg fills in writing the last arc of the Black Bison and Silver Deer arc–which I affectionately call “the attack of the Native American super-terrorists.” Silver Deer proves so evil she even horrifies the Soviets with her behavior.

There’s an awkward sequence with the superheroes in their civilian identities going to a political reception. Kupperberg skips the scene where Lorraine explains how she’s met Firestorm’s two halves. The senator father inexplicably goes along with it.

But the Kayanan and Rodriguez art is often great and always above average. Even with the odd action finale–flying characters in closed spaces never plays well on the page; it all works out reasonably well.

Until the last page, when Kupperberg rips off the end of Superman III–Firestorm returning the Statue of Liberty to its proper form. The rip-off is vaguely okay but then Firestorm goofily salutes the statue.

B- 

CREDITS

Spell Dance; writers, Carla Conway, Gerry Conway and Paul Kupperberg; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editor, Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 26 (August 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #26

Not much happens this issue past cliffhanger resolution, the villains teaming up with the Soviets and Lorraine and her father doing their every issue recap of his career problems. In some ways, it’s impressive how little gets done but how well the Conways and Kayanan do the issue.

There’s a chase sequence where Firestorm has to fight the Statue of Liberty. It should be cooler than it turns out and then the repercussions of Firestorm destroying it should probably be dealt with too.

The political stuff with the Soviets is goofy and doesn’t get handled well. The Conways’ villains this issue are Native American activists–admittedly, they’re super-powered terrorists–but it’s still a little odd to see them portrayed with so little sympathy.

As for character development, there’s zip. It’s a bridging issue and not an interesting one. It’s a good looking one, thanks to Kayanan and Rodriguez, sometimes really good looking.

B- 

CREDITS

Give Me Liberty–Give Me Death; writers, Carla Conway and Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 23 (May 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #23

Conway edits himself on Firestorm, which might by why no one told him having the female businessperson use “she” instead of “one” (referring to a hypothetical lawyer) sounds both sexist and dumb. Evil feminists out to get Firestorm, what can our hero do to stop them!

Otherwise, the issue’s somewhat indistinct. Conway has another conspiracy going against Firehawk. It’s too bad because he actually writes her well and giving her repeat story lines doesn’t help.

Ronnie has high school trouble again–with he and his girlfriend apparently back together (I thought she got mad at him big time a few issues ago) and his problems with the class jerk going again. It doesn’t feel particularly original, but the scenes are amusing enough.

There’s a big finish at a computer convention with Firestorm fighting an electricity monster. Conway’s pacing is too rushed but the Kayanan pencils help it move right along.

B 

CREDITS

Byte; writers, Carla Conway and Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Adam Kubert; editor, Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 21 (March 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #21

There’s some more Killer Frost misandry goofiness. But not enough to impair the issue–what’s strangest about Killer Frost as the issue opens is how Conway sets her against another female scientist. He writes the human one fine; it’s just Killer Frost who he can’t seem to write with any sincere, empathetic depth. It’s odd.

Once Killer Frost escapes and goes on a rampage, the issue gets great. Kayanan’s disaster scenes are fantastic and the big fight between Firestorm and Killer Frost is even better; it survives Conway’s odd narration, where he overuses the word “fury,” presumably for branding purposes.

Throw in some real character development for Firestorm–who has a scene with the cops who don’t know what to do with his help–as he (and Martin) come to terms with how unprepared they are for Killer Frost. And her arc is good too, just poorly characterized at the start.

It’s excellent.

B+ 

CREDITS

Cold Snap!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 20 (February 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #20

Conway gets through most of the issue before the problem becomes clear–he doesn’t have much of a story. He hints at future stories, with Ronnie having girlfriend troubles, Lorraine Reilly (Firehawk has joined the series as a regular) having family issues, Martin’s ex-wife stalking him again and so on and so forth, but there’s nothing going on here.

Oh, wait, Killer Frost escapes from prison. It’s a lengthy escape sequence and relatively well-done, but it’s just a prison break. Maybe if the character weren’t so shallow–and the way Conway writes her monologues about being rejected by men so painful–it’d go over better.

Conway’s definitely trying with his regular cast and now even developing Firestorm separate from Ronnie and Martin, and there’s Kayanan’s pencils. Firestorm has never looked better. Kayanan handles everything–locations, civilians, superheroes–beautifully. Kayanan is even able to make Killer Frost a welcome guest star, he illustrates her so well.

B 

CREDITS

Frost Bite!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual 1 (November 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual #1

Strengths and weaknesses. This first Firestorm annual has a bunch of each. Oddly, Conway seems a lot more comfortable plotting out a double-size issue–maybe if all the issues had this much room, the series wouldn't be on such shaky ground. There's time for character development, not just for Ronnie and Martin, but also for Firestorm–the return of Firehawk at a key moment this issue is one of the highlights–but also for quiet moments. Conway finally has enough space.

As for the weaknesses… well, Tokamak is still a terrible villain. But the billionaire going crazy storyline does let Conway finally develop Multiplex as a character. And the fight sequence set in Washington, D.C. at the landmarks is pretty cool.

Rafael Kayanan joins the comic this issue and he does some excellent art. There's also some weak art–the epilogue with Ronnie and his dad looks atrocious, for instance.

Still, it's mostly awesome.

B+ 

CREDITS

All the Answers…; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Rafael Kayanan and Rodin Rodriguez; inker, Rodriguez; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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