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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.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 3 (August 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #3

Conway lays on the melodrama a little thick this issue with Ronnie getting cut from the team, slapped by his dad (in front of his best friend) and dumped. Why? The same reason every other superhero got dumped at one time or another–significant others just don’t understand a person disappearing in the middle of a crisis. Well, for the last of that list. The other two are just the time constraints.

Except Conway hasn’t shown enough of Ronnie’s regular life to get away with these big events. Maybe if he’d opened the series with them, starting one of his characters down, it would have worked.

But the rest of the comic–again, especially the interplay between Ronnie and the Professor–works great. The villain–Killer Frost–is a little talky, but her ice kingdom version of New York is when Broderick gets creative again.

He’s the other problem–he tries, but doesn’t succeed with melodramatics.

B 

CREDITS

A Cold Time in the Old Town Tonight…; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 2 (July 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #2

This issue of Firestorm is a perfect example of how to do superhero action. Even with Broderick’s questionable handling of the human, male cast–he does a lot better with the female characters–he does great with the superhero action. There are some really ambitious fight compositions at the end and Broderick and Conway open with a fantastic visualization to recap the previous issue.

There are some oddities, of course, given the somewhat strange subject matter–the villain, Black Bison, is a Native American shaman inhabiting a descendant through magic. While Conway tries to be culturally sensitive, he often will go for a bigot character to make a slight joke.

But the balance between character development and the heroics is perfect. The alter egos get just enough time on their own–and Conway’s working hard to develop Ronnie and the Professor’s rapport outside their Firestorm outings.

It’s outstanding superhero comics.

A- 

CREDITS

Rage; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Todd Klein; editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 1 (June 1982)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #1

Writer Gerry Conway oscillates between serious and sort of bemusing throughout the first issue of the second Firestorm series. He’s got to recap a bunch–the original series, then the backups in The Flash–and he comes up with a few narrative devices to get it done with brevity.

He’s also got to establish his characters for this series, which leads to a lot of brief introductions, but he gets the A plot up and running fairly soon (he’s got a great juxtaposing of early morning routines). The main plot involves a Native American high school teacher getting possessed by an angry shaman and running amok. Oddly enough, one of Firestorm’s alter egos just happens to be in this guy’s class.

There’s an excellent action sequence in the museum; Penciller Pat Broderick isn’t always successful–usually with depth–but he’s always ambitious; it’s a great looking sequence.

The end’s a little heavy, but otherwise….

B+ 

CREDITS

Day of the Bison; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 1959

The Flash 304 (December 1981)

The Flash #304

I think Bates must have just learned the word “erg” before writing this issue because he uses it ostentatiously.

He also seemingly anticipates Tron–maybe the previews were already out–and puts Flash inside a really lame video game. The coolest part of the issue is how Bates doesn’t worry about resolution, just telling the best story he can… even if Barry’s involvement with it is contrived. There’s finally what make be taken for character development–Barry hanging out with his neighbors–and it’s lousy.

Not to mention there’s no resolution with his parents from the previous issue, which might have been nice.

Still, it’s not a terrible story and Infantino has room to break out the action. Maybe even too much.

The Firestorm backup is packed with content–there’s a diary flashback device–and decent if abrupt art from Broderick and Rodriguez. The feature should’ve donated them some space.

B- 

CREDITS

One More Blip… and You’re Dead!; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, John Costanza. Firestorm, The Heart Is the Hunter!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Pierre Bernard Jr. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 1959

The Flash 303 (November 1981)

The Flash #303

It’s a good issue for Bates and Infantino. Bates comes up with a lot of set pieces, but doesn’t hurry them. Infantino actually has time to make them visually interesting.

This issue has the big reveal with Barry’s evil dad and it’s only about six issues too late. Maybe five. It would have been better if Bates had gone straight from the car accident to the Golden Glider issue to this resolution. None of the previous foreshadowing delivers because Bates revelation isn’t ingenious, it’s contrived.

Speaking of contrived–why doesn’t Flash call a super friend for help? If Flash is fighting a supernatural power, can’t he just call the Spectre or Dead Man?

Bates’s logic problems culminate with a huge one at the end.

The Firestorm backup has Pat Broderick on pencils and Adrian Gonzales on inks; there’s some great art here. And besides the recap, Conway’s writing is strong.

B 

CREDITS

The Top is Alive and Well in Henry Allen!; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, John Costanza. Firestorm, The Hyena Syndrome!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Adrian Gonzales; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Pierre Bernard Jr. Editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 1959

The Flash 302 (October 1981)

The Flash #302

I was hoping Bates would keep Flash running smoothly after the previous issue, but this one doesn’t bode well for the series keeping up. Even more than usual, Barry–and the Flash–are less characters in the comic than they are movable pieces for Bates’s plot. There’s not even the attempt at showing the Flash’s fantastic powers. Instead, Bates shows him doing what equates to a grade school science project without the traditional verbose, fantastic explanation.

This issue has Flash apparently falling for the Golden Glider. Now, I’m not sure about her family situation, but she doesn’t remember Flash messing with her brother a few issues ago. I guess they aren’t in touch. SO why’s she important–do they have some deep, repressed attraction for one another? Nope, it’s all for Bates’s evil dad plot.

It’s lame.

The Firestorm backup isn’t much better. Again, fine composition from Cowans, weak detail. And rushed writing.

C+ 

CREDITS

Lisa Starts with L and That Stands for Lethal; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, Invitation to Revelation; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Denys Cowan; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 1959

The Flash 301 (September 1981)

The Flash #301

Bates seems a lot more comfortable and assured this issue–maybe assured isn’t the right word. He’s ambitious again, both in plotting the feature story and how he gets through it. The only weak part is when the Flash has to beg for Barry Allen’s job back. It reveals how little work Bates does on either character.

The issue’s sort of a thriller, with Barry’s boss being kidnapped and him having to figure it out. Throw in his mom waking up from her coma and his evil impostor dad up to no good and it’s the most compelling issue in a while. Especially since Bates disguises the kidnapping plot’s second act as the third.

Oddly, Infantino’s constrained, almost everything is in summary. There are no real scenes.

Similarly, in the Firestorm backup, Cowans’s art is competent but problematic. Luckily, Conway packs in good material, lots of character development and plot movements.

B 

CREDITS

…And the Beat Goes Off!; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, How Laughs the Hyena?; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Denys Cowan; inker, Dennis Jensen; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Inker, Bob Smith; letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.