Firestorm The Nuclear Man
Yeah, thats telling them.
I first read about Firestorm in DC Comics Presents #17 where he helped Superman defeat Killer Frost, who was using her power to seduce and manipulate the Man of Steel. The story, written by Gerry Conway and drawn by the amazing Jose Garcia Lopez (check out the scene where Superman has Firestorm pinned down in the centre of the Earth if you don’t believe me) ended with Superman pretty much offering Firestorm membership of the the Justice League and that was about it. I vaguely remember some comment box or similar saying that the follow up would be in the aforementioned team book, but back then it was a cliffhanger.
Firestorm, for those of you who don’t know, is/are the fused personalities of Professor Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond whose paths crossed during a student demonstration at a nuclear facility where Stein worked. Raymond went to impress a girl, but found that the protesters wanted to blow up the place. He rushed to save Stein who had been knocked unconscious but both were caught in the bomb blast. They fused into Firestorm and due to Stein being unconscious at the time he acted as an influence and the brains behind the operation, whilst Raymond provided the brawn. This of course led to Firestorm effectively seeming to talk to himself when in fact he was conversing with the Stein element.
Anyway, he was a great character with a nicely fleshed out rogues gallery (Yeah Black Bison! You wanna make something of it?) and extremely powerful with the abililty to manipulate anything inorganic. However, he was always looked on as a rookie, even though he had the powerful mind of Stein providing direction. Interestingly, the banter often led to Raymond effectively learning from Stein, with various levels of success.
So in Justice League of America #179 he joined and saved the team. As you do.
It was some months later though when Firestorm truly shone in Justice League of America #205. Classic Green Lantern villain Hector Hammond, while trapped in his body, used his mind to recruit and manipulate a new Royal Flush Gang who then battled the Justice League until all of the heroes were in a coma. While Firestorm was also incapacitated physically, Professor Stein was able to detect Hammond and battle him in something akin to the astral plane. He demonstrated a good understanding of the Marquess of Queensbury Rules and battered the spirity Hammond into submission.
Following his rise in popularity, Firestorm began his own ongoing series (he had managed 6 issues previously) which this time ran to #100. I must admit though that I got lost somewhere around #48.
Still, it was a good run and the character was used sparingly over the years, mostly because the fused Raymond/Stein version was the first of many incarnations including a Fire Elemental. However, he did make it back into Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke’s JLA as part of The Obsidian Age storyline and stayed until he was killed by the Shadow Thief in Identity Crisis.
While the new Firestorm, Jason Rusch, is a fun character and shows some of the same qualities of the original, it’ll always be the Raymond/Stein Firestorm that’ll have a place in my heart.