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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.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 48 (June 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #48

Firestorm hasn’t cratered or anything so severe, but Conway does seem to have found a new level for the book. It’s a little low, sure, but he’s hitting it consistently.

And even though Brozowski and Machlan leave a lot to be desired in the art–creativity–the book does look okay. It doesn’t look much like a DC comic this issue, however; it looks a lot like an eighties Spider-Man, which is fine.

Conway doesn’t do anything fresh or inventive. Firestorm is getting sued by Ronnie’s stepmother-to-be and she’s real impressed with his speech in court. Of course she’s impressed, otherwise the story might do something unexpected. Ditto the introduction of another girl in Ronnie’s life. Could she be the bow-wielding vigilante plaguing Pittsburgh’s mob?

Conway doesn’t even make that one a surprise.

It reads okay in parts, not okay in others. It’s bland superhero stuff.

B- 

CREDITS

Moonbow; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 47 (May 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #47

It’s not a bad special guest star issue, just another pointless one. Blue Devil and Firestorm are now teamed up–after a couple issues of mistaken fighting–against all of Firestorm’s villains.

Brozowski continues to do a very clean, obvious approach with the composition; he and inker Mike Machlan don’t have a single outstanding panel in the comic, but there also aren’t any lemons. It’s straightforward superhero stuff and, given there’s a hallucination sequence with demons, the art works out okay. Never anything more… but okay isn’t terrible.

As for Conway’s script… he tries a little character development (Ronnie’s dad and stepmother-to-be are hostages of all his villains, along with a mention of one of the villain’s failed rehabilitations), but it’s mostly action. It’s not great action; the giant-size computer showroom is goofy.

Like I said, it’s not too bad. It’s a guest star issue, big whoop.

B- 

CREDITS

Dead Devils Don’t Wear Blue!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

Star Spangled War Stories: Futures End

Star Spangled War Stories: Futures End 1 (November 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories: Futures End #1

I’m a little shocked, though maybe I shouldn’t be. For their “Futures End” tie-in with G.I. Zombie, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti tell the last G.I. Zombie story. Maybe all the “Futures End” are the last issues in imaginarily long series (I don’t think I’ll find out). But what they do here works out.

They’ve got their butt-kicking protagonist, G.I. Zombie, who doesn’t just fist fight or monster fight, he also gets in an old crop duster and has an air battle too. It’s a lot for artist Scott Hampton and the art is fantastic. There’s a lot going on; Hampton excels at it.

But there’s also the sidekick and the nemesis, not to mention the end of the world. It actually would have worked better as a first issue than the third of Gray, Palmiotti and Hampton’s Star Spangled War Stories but whatever… it’s absolutely great comics.

A 

CREDITS

United States of the Dead; writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; artist and colorist, Scott Hampton; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, David Piña and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

The-Society-of-Super-Heroes

The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes 1 (November 2014)

The Multiversity: The Society of Super-Heroes #1

Besides the awkward bookends, which writer Grant Morrison seems to be writing as close to pulp as possible, The Society of Super-Heroes is an excellent Multiversity tie-in. Chris Sprouse is the perfect artist for the time period–it’s set in the forties or fifties, with some familiar heroes in newly designed, functional, period appropriate garb.

Morrison is real fast when it comes to establishing the characters–the Al Pratt Atom and Doc Fate get about the most attention–and there’s a mix of pulp sensibility and old science fiction magazine stories. It works out pretty well in the setup, but then Morrison and Sprouse get to the action and nothing else really matters. The comic is fast and entertaining.

There’s some rather nice work in the dialogue too, with Morrison handling the large cast through brief expository dialogue.

Until the really lame, tying to the greater event denouement. Until then, it’s quite good.

B 

CREDITS

Conquerors from the Counter-World; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Chris Sprouse; inkers, Karl Story and Walden Wong; colorist, Dave McCaig; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editor, Rickey Purdin; publisher, DC Comics.

batgirl-35

Batgirl 35 (December 2014)

Batgirl #35

It's the all-new Batgirl, which is mostly just a "Veronica Mars" in college where Babs solves hip crimes–the supervillain this issue is hacking phones and putting the embarrassing private information online. Why? Because he's a bad guy. And he's got a cybernetic brain and can hold his own with Batgirl in a fight.

Writers Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher write a painfully hip comic for hip comic reading college girls, but they do so with fervor and a real understanding of how to tell a story. For all the visual, modern gimmicks, this issue of Batgirl is just seventies DC Comics updated. The dressing is just a little different.

Babs Tarr's art is fine–Stewart handles the page layouts. Stewart and Fletcher do it like an episode of "Sherlock" how Babs sees the world with her photographic memory.

It feels a little too like Kate Bishop Hawkeye but it's successful enough.

B 

CREDITS

Burned; writers, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher; pencillers, Stewart and Babs Tarr; inker, Tarr; colorist, Maris Wicks; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Dave Wielgosz and Chris Conroy; publisher, DC Comics.

gotham academy

Gotham Academy 1 (December 2014)

Gotham Academy #1

Gotham Academy manages to be entirely competent without being compelling at all. Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher do a good job setting up the series–they go through the cast, making sure to make supporting players just memorable enough (the fireworks dealer, for example)–while raising questions about the protagonist.

Said protagonist is Olive, who is at Gotham Academy on the Wayne Scholarship. So she knows Bruce Wayne–she even sees Batman standing in his place sometimes when groggy–and she's got a sort of ex-boyfriend and she's the mentor to his little sister. It's all very formulaic, all very melodramatic, all very well handled from Cloonan and Fletcher.

Karl Kerschl's art is fine. He brings a lot of personality to the cast, getting their emotions across.

Gotham Academy is better than I would have thought, but there's still nothing special about it other than it being a decent young, female protagonist DC comic.

B 

CREDITS

Welcome to Gotham Academy; writers, Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher; artist, Karl Kerschl; colorists, Geyser and Dave McCaig; letterer, Steve Wands; editors, Matt Humphreys and Mark Doyle; publisher, DC Comics.

blue devil

Blue Devil 23 (April 1986)

Blue Devil #3

The issue's all action, which makes up for Alan Kupperberg and Bill Collins's artwork. The proportions are weird, even if Kupperberg's fight choreography and panel composition are generally okay. It's a forced crossover issue, with Blue Devil passing through Pittsburgh so of course he's going to get into the middle of a fight between Firestorm and his foes.

Writers Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin do a fairly good job for the visiting Firestorm readers. There are maybe three pages of regular Blue Devil stuff going on, all of them compelling and inviting enough to try to get those visitors back for the next issue. There's a big reveal for Blue Devil too and the writers are able to make it palatable to new readers.

It's a fairly neat issue, all told; Firestorm gets almost as much to do as Blue Devil and their protracted conflict makes narrative sense.

It's fine.

B 

CREDITS

Caught in the Firestorm; writers, Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin; penciller, Alan Kupperberg; inker, Bill Collins; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Albert DeGuzman; editor, Alan Gold; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 46 (April 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #46

Joe Brozowski appears to be taking over as regular penciller. He does okay; he tries real hard with expressions, which don’t tend to work out with the regular people but it’s fine with the action scenes. He’s stuck with plotting out an action scene in an arena–a bunch of giant computers on loan from the Batcave.

Conway plots some really odd action scenes in this series, really odd locations. It might be a natural side effect of having a flying superhero in stories more in the web-slinging superhero level.

For instance, this issue has lots of character development for Ronnie and his father. They finally hash it out about a number of things, like Ronnie’s problems with his bully and the father’s fiancée. Though Conway still hasn’t made her likable and he does reduce Ronnie’s girlfriend to a non-speaking prop.

It’s simultaneously too late while still ambitious.

B- 

CREDITS

Deadly Prelude; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Joe Brozowski; inker, Mike Gustovich; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 45 (March 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #45

It's funny, but George Tuska really brings the book around. He's just filling in, but Conway's got Multiplex (Firestorm's foe since the second issue of the original series) getting all the villains together–although Firestorm's rogues gallery doesn't have a clubhouse–to attack him. Or something.

But it's a very Flash, very Spider-Man story and Tuska just brings that fun, Silver Age vibe to the book. The art isn't great–some of he and Mike Gustovich's faces are atrocious–but it's got a lot of energy to it. They bring the same energy to the civilian storyline, with Ronnie and Martin both having problems at school. Ronnie because his stepmother-to-be is suing Firestorm and Martin because his sexy dean has the hots for him.

Conway's prudish portrayal of Martin–along with a chaste one of Ronnie and his girlfriend's relationship–is peculiar. He teases character development then doesn't deliver.

Still, the Tuska energy gets it through.

B- 

CREDITS

A Gathering of Hate!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, George Tuska; inker, Mike Gustovich; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

Fury of Firestorm Annual

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual 3 (November 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual #3

Akin and Garvey’s inks are a little better this issue. Not much, but a little. There are a lot of action sequences and most of them come off well, as does Firestorm’s trip to the sun. Martin has some theories about their powers and wants to investigate; for a moment, Firestorm feels like sci-fi and it works better for it. Conway’s engaged and imaginative.

The main story of the issue, however, just gives Kayanan an excuse to draw elaborate fight sequences in Miami. They’re fine, they’re just pointless. Ronnie and Martin get involved because they see it on TV. And Conway wastes a lot of time setting up the characters for this pointless excursion.

Well, it’s an annual so I guess it’s the special element to the issue.

The rest–Martin’s going away party at work, Ronnie’s father’s awful girlfriend–is the regular series stuff; sadly, Conway short-changes them on page time.

B- 

CREDITS

Sparx; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inkers, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Duncan Andrews; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 44 (February 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #44

It’s Conway’s most ambitious issue in a long time. The first third of the issue is Firestorm versus a natural disaster–a freak tornado in Pittsburgh. Of course, Typhoon is creating the tornado to draw Firestorm out, but Firestorm doesn’t know it. Conway does a lot with the narration and the trying to use it to pace the scenes.

It doesn’t work, but it’s ambitious. Maybe if the art were better. Machlan’s inks are a mess this issue. They’re better in the superhero part, but still a mess.

The second part of the issue is Ronnie and Martin’s adventures at school. It’s just a regular day–they’re worried they can’t turn back into Firestorm but it’s barely a plot point. It’s all character development; if it weren’t for the dumb high school nemesis, it might work out.

Meanwhile, there’s the villain storyline, which Conway also handles ambitiously.

It’s decent enough.

B- 

CREDITS

An East Wind Blowing; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 43 (January 1986)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #43

What is it about Kayanan? Why does he never gets the right inker on Firestorm? Mike Machlan is better than the last couple guys, but still not great. For a lot of the pages, Kayanan seems to avoid a lot of close-ups because Machlan butchers the faces.

The story has Ronnie and Martin at college, with Ronnie adjusting to college freshman life and Martin's thought balloons covering his unease as a new professor. He doesn't really get a story, however. And Conway gives Ronnie too much. Between football tryouts, which Kayanan doesn't break out well, his girlfriend and his high school nemesis plotting his downfall… it's too much. What's really bad is how ineffectual the girlfriend is as a character; Conway basically reinvents her every seven issues.

The other plot–villain Typhoon's return–as awkward. Conway wants him to be both dangerous and sympathetic, but goes to far in the first direction.

B- 

CREDITS

Night of Tears, Sky of Sorrow; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Mike Machlan; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 42 (November 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #42

It’s a thoroughly decent Crisis crossover. Firehawk and Wonder Girl are trying to find loved ones in New York and they run into all sorts of problems since New York City is split between different eras.

Akin and Garvey don’t do great on the inks but they do better than they ever have before. The people’s faces don’t look two dimensional anymore. The action stuff is good and Kayanan breaks out a very nice flying sequence.

Eventually there’s a Tomahawk guest appearance when they find themselves in colonial America Manhattan. There’s some adventure with Firehawk and Wonder Girl helping the troops against the British. Conway presents both time periods well; when they go to colonial time, it feels like they’re guesting in a Tomahawk story.

There’s a big narration thing from Firehawk about her embracing life as a superhero. It’s not great, but it’s serviceable. It’s a crossover after all.

B- 

CREDITS

A Long Night’s Journey Into Day; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inkers, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Carrie Spiegle; editor, Janice Race; publisher, DC Comics.