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 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.

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.

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.

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.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 23 (May 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #23

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.

B 

CREDITS

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.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 21 (March 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #21

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.

It’s excellent.

B+ 

CREDITS

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.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 20 (February 1984)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #20

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.

B 

CREDITS

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.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual 1 (November 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Annual #1

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.

B+ 

CREDITS

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.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 18 (November 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #18

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.

C+ 

CREDITS

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.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 17 (October 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #17

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.

B 

CREDITS

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.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man 16 (September 1983)

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #16

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.

B- 

CREDITS

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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 293 (January 1981)

The Flash #293

Conway fills in on both stories–one where the Pied Piper comes up with a new plan to get rich, with Heck on art, and then the Firestorm team-up, with art from Perez and Rodin Rodriguez.

The Firestorm team-up is goofy, with Conway not giving Perez much to draw, though I suppose there’s an interesting deep action scene with events happening in three places. Conway also seems to be writing it to bring regular Flash into the regular Firestorm backup, given the characters don’t really mesh, and it’s an odd perspective.

The feature’s quite a bit of fun, however. Conway has a great time with the Flash figuring out the Pied Piper’s plan and then the plan itself. It’s sort of obvious, sort of not. There’s a lot of amusing dialogue too. It’s a shame the second story didn’t get any of these touches.

It’s definitely a mixed bag.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Pied Piper’s Paradox Peril!; artist, Don Heck; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Gaspar Saladino. The Deadliest Man Alive!; pencillers, George Perez and Rodin Rodriguez; inker, Rodriguez; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Milt Snapinn. Writer, Gerry Conway; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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