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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 35 (May 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #35

Conway doesn’t just address Ronnie and Martin’s partnership as Martin has to move for work, he also makes time to give Ronnie’s father both a personality (or hints of one) and a girlfriend. There’s also intrigue at Martin’s new job. Lots of subplots this issue, including two villains.

The opening cliffhanger resolution, with Firestorm having to escape the new Killer Frost’s trap even figures into the later talking heads scene between Ronnie and Martin. Conway seems to be taking a new look at his characters, a fresh one without as much baggage.

It’s a strange approach, given he’s over thirty issues into the series, but it does work.

Kayanan and Kupperberg’s art has its moments–like the action scenes or the date scene for Ronnie’s dad–but the talking heads sequence doesn’t work out. With too many faces to ink, Kupperberg gets a little lazy.

It’s a thoroughly solid issue.

B 

CREDITS

Winter Frost; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Alan Kupperberg; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Ben Oda; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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Star Spangled War Stories 2 (October 2014)

Star Spangled War Stories #2

G.I. Zombie likes to talk to himself. A lot. He and his partner spend the issue working on separate parts of the same mission; she gets to talk to the bad guys, he gets to kill them and talk to himself. A lot.

It doesn’t make much sense, since Palmiotti and Gray open the issue with G.I. Zombie narrating it. Why change from perfectly reasonable narration to the guy talking to himself while on his stealth mission? No idea. It doesn’t make sense.

The big finish is similarly confusing. Palmiotti and Gray do pace the issue rather well. Although it takes place over an hour or so, it’s a very busy hour and there are a handful of nods towards character development. But the ending is a mess. It’s too fast and too slight.

Also a problem is Hampton’s art. He maintains the cool style, but he’s slacking in detail.

B- 

CREDITS

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

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 34 (April 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #34

The Kupperberg inks continue to give Firestorm all the emotion Conway’s scripts have been lacking. Only this issue has some emotion in the script–Ronnie having a talk with ex-girlfriend Doreen (who he jilted for Firehawk)–and the result, even though Conway cops out for a conclusion, is fantastic. Kayanan’s panel composition and Kupperberg’s details make for a great talking heads scene.

There’s a lot of movement with the subplots too, more than with the action plots. At least for this issue, Conway’s doing something of a shift–the action is spectacular but finite, while the character moments get a lot of space, whether it’s Martin, Ronnie or just the supporting cast.

The art also has a lot of fluidity, whether it’s how the characters talk or how Firestorm handles threats in the action sequences. Kayanan seems to be composing for his inker too, which makes the work better.

B+ 

CREDITS

The Big Freeze!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Alan Kupperberg; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Phil Felix; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 33 (March 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #33

Kupperberg sticks around this issue to ink Rafael Kayanan and it’s an interesting result. The figures and composition are still Kayanan’s, but–with a couple exceptions–Kupperberg’s really bringing the personality to the faces. While Conway does do a little character development on Ronnie and Martin, the newly expressive faces are what sell the scenes.

Though, they’re very likable scenes–Ronnie falling asleep studying, bonding with his dad, bonding with Martin–it’s like Conway finally realized giving Ronnie endlessly negative scenes wasn’t helping endear the character.

Conway also establishes a new A plot, B plot, C plot structure; hopefully he’ll keep with it. The A plot has Québécois terrorists threatening New York City. The B plot is the return of Killer Frost, then the regular cast gets a couple C plots. The visual disconnect–the playful inks from Kupperberg–gives Firestorm a much-needed boost of energy. It seems to have reinvigorated Conway as well. For now.

B 

CREDITS

“Burn, Manhattan, Burn!”; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Alan Kupperberg; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Phil Felix; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 32 (February 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #32

It's Firestorm versus an undead foe who's getting into the ethereal mix with Martin and trying to take over control. The Phantom Stranger is on hand to help out. Jean-Marc and Randy Lofficier guest write this issue, which feels a lot more supernatural than it turns out to be. The only real supernatural elements–besides a ghost haunting Firestorm–are the strange settings where the possessed Firestorm ends up fighting the Phantom Stranger.

The writing, which is fine and does have more character development than the civilian halves of Firestorm usually get (and by more, I mean a scene as opposed to no scenes), is nothing compared to Alan Kupperberg's art. Kupperberg is rather cartoony and it brings a real energy to the comic. It's a strange story and a straightforward art style wouldn't get the job done.

So Kupperberg's the essential here.

It's silly and long, but not a bad comic.

B- 

CREDITS

Ghosts!; writers, Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier; artist, Alan Kupperberg; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Bob Lappan; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 31 (January 1985)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #31

George Tuska seems an unlikely guest penciller for Firestorm. He makes the whole thing look like a New Gods comic. But it works. Between Tuska's action-based take on the characters and events and Conway's willingness to cut around through the story, it's an exceptional issue.

In many ways, with Conway shedding the high school stuff and a lot of Martin's science stuff (but this issue does resolve the ex-wife subplot), Firestorm is a lot tighter. Sure, he's basically a supporting cast member in Firehawk's story (Conway really loves tying subplots together), but it works for the comic. It lets Conway do good superhero action without promising actual character development.

There's also the villain, Mindboggler, who gets a nice story arc this issue. Tuska doesn't do a lot of detail on faces, but somehow he and inker Alex Nino get the subtle emotions across.

It's an outstanding, rather unexpectedly produced issue.

A- 

CREDITS

A Mind of Her Own…; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, George Tuska; inker, Alex Nino; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, Bob Lappan; editors, Janice Race and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 30 (December 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #30

It’s another messy issue from Cavalieri. Firestorm gets arrested–I can’t believe they didn’t go with it for the cover–and then gets beat up in jail. He’s recovering from the brainwashing, so there’s not a lot he does in the comic. Instead, the lame villains are back. There’s Mindboggler, who’s doing all the brainwashing–only she’s supposed to be slightly sympathetic because her evil boss (in a hooded robe) energizes her powers through torture.

Then there’s a guy who can transform himself into anyone and then a street gang. Cavalieri takes the time to include the street gang’s leader is also brainwashing him.

These villains do not make an impressive rogues’ gallery. They’re bad.

There’s some subplot movement with the woman planning on suing Firestorm getting a job at Ronnie’s dad’s paper. Contrived doesn’t begin to describe it.

Worse, Tanghal doesn’t ink Kayanan very well. The weaker art significantly outweighs the stronger.

C 

CREDITS

The Depths of Despair; writer, Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Romeo Tanghal; colorist, Nansi Hoolahan; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

Multiversity

The Multiversity 1 (October 2014)

The Multiversity #1

If Grant Morrison needs help breaking the fourth wall–he does it poorly in this first issue of Multiversity–he should have asked John Byrne. But with the exception of Captain Carrot, Morrison’s references to other comics are all mocking and derisive.

Whatever he says he’s doing with the comic, Morrison is actually trolling for fanboy outrage. Superman isn’t just black, he’s Obama. And all the other superheroes are black. Flash and Green Lantern are gay. Marvel Comics are stupid. Real stupid. Especially the Ultimates, Fantastic Four and Infinity Gems. There are probably a few more.

It’s all very contemporary and hip, but I assume Morrison will get around to throwing poo at Alan Moore and Mark Millar.

There are some amusing moments with Captain Carrot and Ivan Reis and Joe Prado do well on art.

Unless someone’s researching for a book about Morrison’s ego, there’s no worthwhile reading here.

C- 

CREDITS

House of Heroes; writer, Grant Morrison; penciller, Ivan Reis; inker, Joe Prado; colorist, Nei Ruffino; letterer, Todd Klein; editor, Ricky Purdin; publisher, DC Comics.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 25 (July 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #25

Twenty-five issues into the series and Conway still hasn’t figured out a balance between the superhero stuff and the regular people stuff.

Ronnie and Martin get no more time this issue developing their civilian characters than the supporting cast cops get. One of the Conways–presumably Gerry because Carla is just credited with plotting–is so out of it he or she forgets Ronnie’s best friend at high school’s name. The high school scene reveals a glaring problem–the book’s a lot better when it doesn’t have any high school in it. Lorraine (and Firehawk) works better as a supporting cast member than the high schoolers. At least the way Conway’s been treating them.

The issue’s pretty good, though Romeo Tanghal’s inks take the perspective out of Kayanan’s pencils. They’re reductive, which gives it a distinct look; the result’s not entirely unsuccessful but it’s too static for action.

It’s simultaneously distracted and competent.

B 

CREDITS

Black Bison Rides Again!; writers, Carla Conway and Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Romeo Tanghal; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.

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The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 24 (June 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #24

Even with some very questionable character design, a big action finale without any setting and a way too cramped issue in terms of panels, the issue is a considerable success. Conway takes some time to develop Ronnie–pairing him up with Firehawk’s alter ego, Lorraine–but also some time to work out their civilian relationship. It’s incomplete but it’s a good start.

And as problematic as the villains look this issue, Conway comes up with a good story for them and an even better resolution. Over half the issue is Ronnie trying to figure out the situation he’s in, which gives it a fresh feel.

Oh, I even forgot about the silly action sequence to setup Firehawk’s subplot. Even it can’t distract from the issue’s strengths. The Kayanan pencils make it look great, regardless of Conway forcing it into the comic.

The new Firestorm–with Kayanan and Firehawk–is excelling.

B+ 

CREDITS

Terminal Velocity; writers, Carla Conway and Gerry Conway; penciller, Rafael Kayanan; inker, Romeo Tanghal; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.