Thursday, May 19, 2005

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I go back a ways with Firestorm, The Nuclear Man. I bought the first five issues of his short-lived pre-DC implosion title back in the late 70's, despite the misgivings I had in the case of its writer and creator, Gerard F. Conway. Even back then I didn't care for his style. I did like the art of Al Milgrom, though, who had been doing a fondly-remembered stint on Marvel Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy, so I decided to check it out. Its hero was a Peter Parker-type nebbish high schooler who, due to some sort of nuclear mishap, had to merge with someone else- a scientist named (if I recall correctly) Martin Stein, Captain Mar-Vell/Rick Jones style, in order to become the Nuclear Man. I liked it OK, didn't love it, and if DC hadn't killed the book a few months later I don't think I would have continued to pick it up much longer. Something about the character never really engaged my imagination all that much. I remember seeing him appear in other DC books in the subsequent years, most notably JLA, and while I didn't mind him being there, I didn't really care one way or the other. I don't have any idea what's been done to him over the years- I recall seeing different costumes and such, and I'm sure that Ronnie Raymond and Prof Stein have probably been killed and resurrected and reimagined more times that I even want to think about. In short, not to put too fine a point on it, but I've never really been a fan of the character.

I also go back a little ways with writer/editor Stuart Moore. Of course, we've never met, but you may recall that I was and still am a huge fan of the DC/Helix series that came out in the late 90's, Gemini Blood. Moore was the editor of the whole line, and was always there on the old AOL DC Comics chat rooms back then, so I got to pester him a lot about the series. I've never sampled any of his comics writing, though, although I enjoyed his A Thousand Flowers columns when the came out.

So, much to my surprise, I received an email a few weeks ago from Mr. Moore, asking if I'd be interested in getting something to read from him in the mail, and you know me, freebie whore that I am, I said "Why shore!" As it turned out, this was a B&W preview of the first issue (#14) of his upcoming run as author of the adventures of the modern Firestorm, and it is incumbent upon me, in return for this favor, to write a line or three about what I thought. So here ya go.

First of all, I may not have followed Stormy's career that closely, but I do know that the Ronnie Raymond FS met his nuclear maker in Identity Fiasco, and now there's a new guy who's taken his place. I'm assuming the guy we meet on page 2 of #14 is the same one who's been going around as the Nuclear Man in the previous 13, and apparently he's graduated high school and is ready to start college. He also has some family issues in the form of a father with whom he's apparently had conflicts with in the past. Jason Rusch is our new Firestorm's name, and this begins with him preventing an proton collider explosion of some sort of at the College he's going to attend. We also go from there to his 18th birthday party, and a short dramatic scene with his Dad, then he moves into his new apartment with a buddy, then we get a scene in S.T.A.R. labs Detroit where he is to be an intern before they close the facility down and we meet what I'm sure will be future supporting cast members. Finally, we come full circle as some evil guy in a trenchcoat transforms one of the University's Professors, who apparently got caught in the conflagration we witnessed FS take care of, into another super-being.

As far as Moore's script goes, I thought it wasn't bad at all. The dramatics weren't overblown or heavy handed, there were some lighter moments to leaven the tone (Jason's description of particle acceleration was especially amusing), and as getting-acquainted issues go, he did a fine job of introducing the players. I came away thinking that this was a breezy read for the most part, and I got the impression that Moore has a definite plan for where he wants to take Jason in the future. The art was by Jamal Igle (who I remember as artist on one of Marvel's New Warriors revivals, which I bought because I heart Namorita, and that particular run had a sexy one), with Rob Stull on inks, and it wasn't too bad either. Together, they gave a kind of Gil Kane-inked-by-Phil Jimenez look to the proceedings, and really my only quibble was that they drew Jason to look less like a teenager than a 40-year-old man. I just never bought the dude as an 18-year-old, not for a minute.

Will I buy Stuart Moore's Firestorm? I kinda doubt it. It's an old-school, mainstream superhero book and right now I just am not interested, not with this character. It's not because the art and script are bad, far from it. Do I recommend that you buy it? Well, if you are still into superheroes and are looking for a series you can read and still respect yourself in the morning, well, you should consider picking it up, 'cause I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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