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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 15 (August 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #15

Conway and Broderick do exceedingly well on the action part of the issue. The first half has Firestorm having to get free from Multiplex and then fight him and Enforcer. It’s a great action scene, both in terms of pacing and art. It really seems like Broderick is going to turn in an excellent issue.

Until the second half of the comic, when Broderick has to draw the civilians and immediately it’s strange body proportions and hair helmets. It’s like he and Rodriguez entirely check out when it’s not superhero stuff and it doesn’t work.

The second half of the issue is also messy because Conway splits it between boring, connected conspiracies–one against Martin and Ronnie and one involving c-level supporting cast member Senator Walter Reilly. Plus, Conway brings back a stale story line he never watered enough.

The strong start only can make up for so much.

B- 

CREDITS

Breakout; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Pat Broderick and Rodin Rodriguez; inker, Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 14 (July 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #14

Until the silly eighties toys show up at the end–the villain rides around in absurd tank–it’s a decent enough issue. Well, the villain–Enforcer (Conway remembering his old Spider-Man days perhaps)–is lame, but some of it might be the art. Broderick starts the issue strong and then loses his grip by halfway through. This time it’s worse than bad faces, it’s goofy bodies and so on.

But the issue itself isn’t bad, Conway’s initial plot–Ronnie and Martin getting the newly unemployed scientist a job at Ronnie’s burger joint–works. He just keeps adding on to the plot until the issue is bloated. He doesn’t give anything enough time and keeps throwing in hints at future subplots.

The action finish–that tank–is silly and poorly conceived. All this action in a confined space cuts down on action possibilities for Broderick.

It’s a rather problematic issue.

B- 

CREDITS

Enforcer; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 13 (June 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #13

Firestorm is turning into a were-hyena and his plan is to go to Africa to find the cure. Why doesn’t he call the Justice League and have the many scientist super heroes help him? Because Conway wants to do a story about corrupt African nations? Because DC was docks writers pay if they used too many guest stars? Some third option?

Suffice to say, the plot of this issue doesn’t make sense. It removes Firestorm from being the active character in his own comic for quite a few pages–he’s delirious or he’s a hostage or just an enraged jerk. He is turning into a were-hyena after all. Good thing it’s really cute. Broderick and Rodriguez make the transformed Firestorm adorable. It’s weird.

Conway throws in a couple scenes developing the civilian subplots, but it’s not enough. This issue drags an unsuccessful plot out one issue too far.

C+ 

CREDITS

Split!; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Pat Broderick and Rodin Rodriguez; inker, Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterers, Andy Kubert and Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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Star Spangled War Stories 1 (September 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories #1

Star Spangled War Stories. G.I. Zombie. Neither of those titles suggest the comic is going to open in the present day, set in Louisiana, but writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray don’t do anything predictable in this first issue. Not the first twist, not G.I. Zombie, not the cliffhanger. Not the zombie scene.

It’s highly inventive stuff, with Palmiotti and Gray changing genres from military to federal agent procedural. Zombie’s setup–a female federal agent and her new partner, the only zombie in the world–is ready for a television pilot next season but that commercial appeal doesn’t hinder the issue at all. Having Scott Hampton on the art helps immeasurably; Hampton does a focus thing with the art. The backgrounds feel painted and distant, the characters sort of move on top of it. It’s an excellent effect.

There are some third act pacing problems, but it’s off to a strong start.

B 

CREDITS

Writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 12 (May 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #12

Broderick and Rodriguez continue to have problems with Ronnie’s civilian adventures. For whatever reason, they’re fine with Martin and his supporting cast, it’s just the teenagers who have awkward, flat expressions.

The story has a slowly transforming Firestorm trying to stop the double Hyena threat. Conway spends more time coming up with witty exposition–and some of it’s quite good–than he does on the characters. Ronnie has a scene at his part-time job, one with his friends, but none have any resonance. It’s especially bad with the girlfriend.

Martin, on the other hand, gets fired and then possibly gets blackmailed. Conway’s building that story slowly, with one exaggerated setup scene but otherwise it’s moving well.

As for Firestorm versus the Hyena? The opening fight has some good visuals but the final one is a little confused. Broderick just doesn’t plot out the action well.

Still, it’s reasonably compelling.

B 

CREDITS

Howl; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 11 (April 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #11

It’s a mess of an issue. Conway makes the Hyena’s return a really complicated story with curses and multiple were-hyenas–including Firestorm turning into one too. But there’s also Professor Stein’s ex-wife, who Conway avoids really defining and just makes her ominous instead. Ronnie’s tired at school, which turns out to be okay with his basketball coach–even though it shouldn’t be–and then there’s some nonsense with his girlfriend changing her hairstyle.

Conway’s doing a whole bunch of stuff and not spending enough time on any of it. He makes Professor Stein’s contributions to the Firestorm scenes even worse. No longer satisfied doing wordy, obvious exposition, Conway uses Stein to tell the reader why things are bad for the characters. It’s beyond lazy.

The issue finishes with the big action scene finale flopping. The Hyena doesn’t work on a large scale and Conway inexplicably stages a fight at the World Trade Center?

C 

CREDITS

Waking Darkness; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 10 (March 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #10

The issue opens with the Hyena hunting a bunny rabbit; Broderick and Rodriguez do a great job on the bunny rabbit, but it looks like there are some problems with the Hyena. So the issue starts right off with some questionable art and then it just gets worse.

Broderick does fine with the action scenes, does fine with all his composition but he and Rodriguez’s detail on the regular folks this issue is terrible. And the Hyena is a problem throughout; it’s too slick to be convincing as a giant were-hyena. Not enough fur detail, I guess.

There’s also way too much detail on teenage Doreen’s sheer nightie. It’s a weird choice; someone should have caught it.

Otherwise, the issue’s fine. Not Conway’s finest hour–the Hyena’s backstory is too convoluted and tied Peter Parker style to Ronnie’s civilian life–but he’s still got some nice character moments and Firestorm action throughout.

B 

CREDITS

Prowl; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 9 (February 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #9

I wonder if Conway was playing with the idea of doing an anti-climatic story. Both Firestorm and Ronnie have muted outcomes to big events–Firestorm’s rematch with Typhoon and then Ronnie’s first fight with his classmate antagonist, Cliff. Neither have much visual payoff. The Typhoon fight does get a big lead-in with a flooding New York City, however.

It also feels a little like Conway is trying to adjust the course of the comic. He’s bringing Ronnie’s friends in more while giving Professor Stein a traumatic subplot (losing his job, falling off the wagon). Things are changing in the comic.

Moore does an adequate job on the pencils. He’s better with the high school stuff and Professor Stein’s work drama than with the superhero action this issue. It’s his detail on his figures–Firestorm and Typhoon look too rounded and short. The scenery’s good.

It’s odd, but fine.

B 

CREDITS

Baby, the Rain Must Fall!; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 8 (January 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #8

Jerome Moore fills in on the pencils this issue; Conway gives him a lot to do. There’s the superhero stuff, which is mostly filler at the beginning–with a big action set piece, sort of unimaginably big, at the end. Moore handles it well. He also handles to high school drama pretty well too, though he does draw the characters a tad too old.

And the character stuff with Ronnie and Martin is good too. They’re experimenting with Firestorm to figure out their power source and capabilities. It’s very logic plot progression from Conway. And the high school drama isn’t bad either. He gives Ronnie more relationship drama, which should seem contrived but doesn’t because Conway’s finally moving the relationship forward instead of keeping it in static tension.

The big finish is just phenomenal superhero action. Firestorm versus Typhoon, a giant water tragic villain (Conway even makes time for his backstory).

B+ 

CREDITS

Typhoon Warning; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jerome Moore; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 7 (December 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #7

For his debut as writer and editor, Conway turns in the weakest Firestorm script to date. Worse, Broderick and Rodriguez are really off with the art too. There’s a lot with Ronnie and his father being held hostage–the issue’s way too contrived as far as plotting–and Broderick flops on drawing regular people here.

Except Professor Stein. He’s trying to sneak into the building to turn out the lights so they can turn into Firestorm without it being videotaped for the news. His story is actually rather good and Broderick’s art on his panic and determination is ambitious stuff.

The villains are lame too. Québécois terrorists. One guy terrorist totally covered up, one girl terrorist scantily clad. Silly stuff, very silly.

Maybe if Conway split the story across two issues… and better thought out the villains. But he also rushes the scenes between Ronnie and his father.

It’s unfortunate.

B- 

CREDITS

Plastique Is Another Word for Fear!; writer and editor, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 6 (November 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #6

The first two-thirds of this issue is rather good. Conway resolves the cliffhanger–Firestorm versus the Pied Piper–and has time to work the romance between Firestorm and frequent supervillain victim Lorraine Reilly before developing the friendship between Ronnie and Professor Stein. It leads into further character development and then it's Firestorm time again.

Oh, wait, forgot–the Pied Piper grows hooves. Again, it's Conway's formula for the comic but it works. He acknowledges the time between story arcs well; it lets him get away with so much action in an issue. The characters do have passive development between issues.

Only, the big battle scene at the end–Firestorm against a bunch of satyrs–is a mess. The art's good, but Conway reveals the villain's evil scheme in third person exposition. It would have been a lot more effective from Firestorm's point of view, not the omniscient comic writer.

While problematic, it's entertaining superhero adventure.

B 

CREDITS

The Pandrakos Plot; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 5 (October 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #5

Conway appears to have a formula for two-part stories. He opens with some action for Firestorm, then moves into the personal drama of Ronnie and Martin while working the villain subplot. Then Firestorm gets together, so to speak, and encounters the villain just in time for a cliffhanger.

Oddly enough, it works great. This issue has a visiting villain–The Flash’s Pied Piper–and the personal drama for the characters is rather amusing too. Ronnie’s having girlfriend troubles and decides to pursue a girl interested in Firestorm, dragging the Professor into it. Conway doesn’t slow down for their conversation about being a composite personality pursuing romance; instead he has it while they’re flying around. It’s an amusing conversation though.

At the same time, it relates back to their individual character development. Conway’s very concise in the character stuff.

Plus, the Broderick and Rodriguez art is fantastic this issue. It’s much more finished.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Pied Piper’s Pipes of Peril!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Phil Felix; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 4 (September 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #4

Conway has got his plotting down again with this issue. He gives Broderick a lot of varied action–it’s an all action issue, but set over a few hours (they just skip the quiet moments)–and Broderick’s ambitious in visualizing the different scenes. There’s the battles in a frozen New York, a fight between Firestorm and the Justice League, a visit to Hollywood and then a stop-off at the JLA satellite.

The art’s especially important since Conway quiets down the narration quite a bit. He’s letting it play out visually so he can keep some plot twists secret until their respective reveals. Rodriguez does a nice job with the inks too. Can’t forget the inks.

Playing Firestorm off the other superheroes also gives Conway a chance to develop that character, who’s somewhat different than his two human alter egos.

The big resolution is fantastic too. It’s great superhero stuff.

A 

CREDITS

The Icy Heart of Killer Frost!; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Pat Broderick and Rodin Rodriguez; inker, Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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Infinity Man and the Forever People 2 (September 2014)

Infinity Man and the Forever People #2

I was having trouble keeping track of what happened this issue until I realized the problem–nothing happens this issue. Didio and Giffen aren’t good at the banter with the marooned New Gods–or are they New Gods on their pilgrimage to Earth; it doesn’t matter. The banter’s lame. Four of the five leads are lame. And the last one is apparently a werewolf with some Wolverine influences.

At least he’s not lame.

The story has the team going to investigate some crop problems. There, they have an uninteresting battle with some soldiers from Apokolips. Why are they on Earth? No idea; it’s not as important as giving the titular Infinity Man–who looks like a Tron reject–a dramatic entrance.

There’s nothing terrible about the comic and nothing good either. Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna’s art looks less Kirby influenced than Byrne; strange. It’s all painfully indistinct and unimpressive.

C 

CREDITS

Wake Unto Me; writers, Keith Giffen and Dan Didio; penciller, Tom Grummett; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.