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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sal Trapani inking Pat Broderick. I don’t even know where to start with the result… somehow the people look better than the superheroes, which isn’t how Broderick pencils usually work. Trapani inks them almost like comic strip characters, Ronnie and Martin in particular. It has to be seen to be understood.
The issue itself is a retelling of Firestorm’s origin, with Gerry and Carla Conway adapting the first issue of the 1978 Firestorm series. The context is Firestorm telling Firehawk his origin after she’s nursed him back to health–though the off-page scenes where she’s in her civilian identity hiding the superhero from her dad would have been a lot more amusing.
Maybe the art is supposed to be retro, because the retelling reads very dated. Six years in comics is a long time and the Conways didn’t update the original dialogue or pacing.
Clearly, no one tried with this one.
The Secret Origin of Firestorm; writers, Gerry Conway and Carla Conway; penciller, Pat Broderick; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Janice Race and Gerry Conway; publisher, DC Comics.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gene Colan pencilling Firestorm (Rick Magyar inks).
It's strange and utterly awesome, with Conway–this issue assisted by wife Carla–sending Ronnie and Martin on more of a detective outing than superhero action. They stumble upon a strange crime and investigate, having a very intense conversation about the nature of their adventuring as they do.
The issue fits perfectly in with the series's current events–Ronnie's thinking about Firehawk, for example, and all the hard choices they have to make as Firestorm–but it feels like a step aside too. Like the Conways are looking at the series and reflecting on it through their protagonist.
And the art from Colan and Magyar? It's gorgeous. Colan's composition captures the excitement of the superhero stuff, but also the hard realities of the world around Firestorm.
It's a fantastic comic book. Whether it’s Colan’s or Carla Conway’s influence, it’s a lyrical superhero outing, which is rather ambitious.
Golden Boy!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Gene Colan; inker, Rick Magyar; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, John Costanza; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.
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.
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.
Tuska takes over all the pencilling this issue, for better or worse. Usually worse, though at least he’s consistent between his superhero art and his civilian art. He’s also got some really silly stuff to draw, like Tokamak, the Human Reactor. Tokamak is the big villain–an evil old rich guy with superpowers and a dumb metallic outfit. He flies around. It’s really goofy.
Conway does imply he’s going to work on character development, with Martin starting an exercise regime (against his will) and Ronnie discovering some bad guys are out to get him (but not as Firestorm). Neither scene works particularly well. There’s just not enough time for Martin’s subplot and Tuska’s weak composition hurts Ronnie’s. Actually, Conway doesn’t give it enough space for Tuska to do more.
The final fight doesn’t work because of the silly costume design and Tuska’s mediocrity at action. It’s a very problematic issue.
Squeeze Play!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, George Tuska; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.
As many problems as Broderick has been having on the art lately, it’s nothing compared to George Tuska, who does the first half of the issue. Maybe it’s Rodriguez’s who’s lazy because there’s no excuse for Tuska’s part of the issue. Inept is the word for it.
The issue, however, is something of a return to form for Conway. Terrible art and all, it has great plotting and action. There’s the human stuff with Ronnie and his family problems, which sends him off as Firestorm to mull it over with Martin. Unfortunately, the bad guys have turned one of Firestorm’s love interests into Firehawk, sort of a female version.
There’s a really well-paced fight sequence, something Broderick and Rodriguez should have nailed, but don’t. Conway’s progression of the scene–with Firestorm saving civilians and finally having enough and overreacting to get the job done–it’s wonderful comics writing.
Shame about the art.
On Wings of Fire!; writer, Gerry Conway; pencillers, Pat Broderick and George Tuska; inker, Rodin Rodriguez; colorist, Carl Gafford; letterer, Adam Kubert; editors, Nicola Cuti and Conway; publisher, DC Comics.
Conway tries for something new to the series–Ronnie and Martin interacting face to face when Martin’s in his Firestorm mode (when Professor Stein is the floating head advising Firestorm, it’s his subconscious, not his conscious)–but he’s also trying a mystery. Ronnie has forgotten something and Martin is trying to talk him into remembering.
It’s an action-packed memory too, with Ronnie having a high school incident, Firestorm flying to Washington, D.C. and then back to New York and so on. There’s lots of activity as Conway tries to keep the reader guessing at what’s going on.
The problem isn’t Conway or the confounding nature of the narrative. The issue features exceptionally weak art from Broderick and Rodriguez. It’s across the board–usually they keep it together for the superhero stuff, not here. Instead, everything is a problem. Broderick and Rodriguez can’t even draw an arm okay.
The art problems blight everything else.
Black-Out!; 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.