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mygif

I think the reason he seems so unbalanced in terms of power is that he doesn’t have that one big weakness… Superman has his kryptonite obviously, where’s Firestorms?

I would say it’s the whole can’t transmute living materials thing, but that’s almost completely avoidable…

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The Crazed Spruce said on February 17th, 2011 at 10:45 am

I gotta say, Firestorm was my favourite character growing up, but you’re right, he had some pretty weak-ass villains.

On a loosely related note, I had a great pitch for an updated version of The Secret Society of Super-Villains about ten years ago (before DC introduced the Jason Rusch version of Firestorm) that I seriously regret not submitting on spec. It would have opened up with a heated battle between Firestorm and Dr. Alchemy, which would’ve kept going in the background of the first (double-sized) issue. The issue would’ve ended with Dr. Alchemy (now calling himself “The Alchemist”) crashing a meeting of the heads of The Society, with Firestorm in chains. He’s then hit Firestorm with a ray from the philosopher’ stone, turning him to dust.

Flash forward about six to twelve issues later, and it’s revealed that The Alchemist was really Firestorm in disguise, having accidentally killed Dr. Alchemy in the battle from the first issue, and decided to use the stone to infiltrate The Society. But as it turns out, since it was the Ronnie Raymond version of Firestorm, and he was cut off from Professor Stein, the stone (which had its own mystical intelligence) slowly began to corrupt him, essentially turning him into the all-powerful villain he was posing as. In the end, I was planning to have Firehawk come in and try to free him, but instead Ronnie would project his consciousness into her, altering her powers, and turning her into a female Firestorm.

Yeah, it’s a shame I never sent that in….

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bunnyofdoom said on February 17th, 2011 at 11:15 am

The rex rating isn’t showing up for me. Do other people have that problem too?

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Try refreshing, Bunny.

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I’d say that his real “one big weakness” is that he isn’t any any remote sense of the word invulnerable, other than possibly to fire and radiation. If you can get the drop on him and hit him from behind, bullets, claws, and sharp pointy things are going to ruin his day. He needs to breathe [although he can make his own air], can be choked or frozen.

Firestorm does have a few villans who are at his proper power level, In fact, there’s hardly anyone else in the DC universe at all who can properly fight Typhoon, which is probably a big reason you don’t see him much any more.

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Meanderthal said on February 17th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Firestorm’s costume was always one of my favorites, but it could stand a bit of a redesign*. The puffy sleeves and shoulder tips really need to go.

Making Firestorm kind of dumb always seemed like a lazy-writer trick to me. Rather than turn the dial up to 11 and have Firestorm do cool things like actually have to make choices as to how or when he uses his insane power, the writers turned him into a mouth-breather and put him up against The Weasel. Great.

*(It may have been; I haven’t looked it up.)

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Cookie McCool said on February 17th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

On the face of it, it’s kind of a neat idea to give these godlike powers to a schmuck who doesn’t have the smarts to use them, because everybody loves The Greatest American Hero. But the best Firestorm storyline I can remember is that one time he got stabbed and made the ultimate sacrifice in some Crisis or other. That’s never a good sign that you’ve been used properly as a character.

I’m feeling a little mentally challenged today, so I’m hoping you’re being facetious about the costume. It’s AWFUL, isn’t it? You’re a ginger whether you like it or you don’t (atomic ginger is still ginger), you got pointy little shoulders like you wish you was Ming the Merciless, and then you got poofy sleeves. Poofy nuclear poet sleeves.

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I’ve never really read a lot of Firestorm, outside of a few JLA crossovers. I think I know him mostly from the 2nd round of Superfriends cartoons, when they were fighting Darkseid.

You’re right about the “too Powerful” problem, and I can understand why they yoke it with the limited intelligence of Ronnie. I mean, the smart version of Firestorm is the modern take on Solar: Man of the Atom, and while the original 10-12 issues were pretty good, the rest of the series was awful (the 2 issues of the reboot I’ve read have been ‘meh’), exactly because there’s no real threat involved.

I’m split on the costume. I hate the bloused sleeves, but I like the rest of it.

However, I think the character design is great. I never knew the fire was supposed to be his hair, I always thought (going back to Superfriends) that his head was hollow, and acted as sort of an ‘eternal flame,’ which I found really alien and off-putting (weird head stuff freaks me out. I get kind of quesey when I see pics of “Absence” from Batmand and Robin). So I think that works for a god-like character, and a nice counterpoint to him being a friendly dumbass.

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@Cookie

Firestorm got stabbed in Identity Crisis I believe and flew off to explode or something.

Why didn’t he change the metal in the sword to oxygen or something? You got me.

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mygif

Firestorm got stabbed in Identity Crisis I believe and flew off to explode or something.

Why didn’t he change the metal in the sword to oxygen or something? You got me.

I believe the answer to that was “the Shining Knight’s sword is magic.”

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mygif

You try remembering the atomic composition of magic steel on the fly.

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The pitch I never got around to sending in was for a Justice League University, where you’d have seminars on different subjects taught by Leaguers to whoever wanted to come. Barry Allen on forensics, Power Girl on computers, Ray Palmer on physics, Jay Garrick on chemistry, that sort of thing.

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mygif

Firestorm is one of my favorite heroes in part Raymond and I are both the class of ’85. :)

He can be too powerful, yeah, which is why I liked it when he did not have the ability to transmute organic matter. Sure it is something that can be gotten around but Superman can always put on a lead suit to fight Kryptonite, right?

And that costume is awesome.

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Cookie McCool said on February 17th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Has someone changed the meaning of the word “awesome” changed radically in the last few minutes? Holy blue, it’s awful! You’d have to have godlike powers to be caught dead in poofy nuclear poet sleeves. It’s very… pretty? He should be a lady instead, then he wouldn’t have to do anything because everyone would be staring at her left super-atom boob.

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Michael Weiss said on February 17th, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Firestorm was the first character I ever was a real fan of. I first encountered him in DC Comics Presents #17, and immediately went out and started buying up every back issue with him that I could find. I think it was the “composite hero” conceit that blew my mind. Firestorm was not Ronnie Raymond; he was Ronnie Raymond + Martin Stein, and it was the fusion of their personalities that made the character so amazing. There was even an issue of Justice League when the entire JLA was unconscious due to a psychic attack from Hector Hammand, and Prof. Stein saved the team by fighting him on the astral plane. Holy shit I’m a gigantic nerd.

The other truly awesome, brilliant thing (from a narrative point of view) about the character was that the Ronnie Raymond-Cliff Carmichael high school dynamic was a complete inversion of the cliche: rather than the smart nerd who gets bullied by the popular jock, he was the dumb jock who got bullied by the class brain. Imagine if nerds were cool, and Flash Thompson was always getting his textbooks knocked out of his arms by popular Peter Parker!

But Firestorm has always suffered from bad writing, and the worst example of that is the last year or two of his title, when Ronnie and Martin split and Stein became a “fire elemental”. Holy god those stories sucked ass.

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There was even an issue of Justice League when the entire JLA was unconscious due to a psychic attack from Hector Hammand, and Prof. Stein saved the team by fighting him on the astral plane. Holy shit I’m a gigantic nerd.

Okay, I remember that story and it was fucking awesome.

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Michael Weiss said on February 17th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

See, this is what I think is missing from your analysis. Ronnie Raymond as Firestorm, okay, 54% Rex might even be too generous. But Ronnie + Stein as Firestorm, back when Stein still had amnesia of their fused activity? Easily 85%, for Odd Couple-style internal monologue banter and Stein’s-life-falling-apart pathos alone.

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mygif

The costume’s boss because it’s so very distinctive and yeah, the bloused sleeves tells you he’s no fighter – a nice change of pace.
The character’s title had one great run, with John Ostrander writing and Joe Brozowski (alias JJ Birch) illustrating in the late ’80s. In that, Firestorm made high-stakes decisions, paid heavy prices and generally made a big impact on the world around him. Then Ostrander decided to take away all the transmuting powers and just make him a fire elemental, complete with TERRIBLE new costume (http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Firestorm_Vol_2_85) and – just to make sure the title got cancelled, Tom Mandrake on art. How did that guy keep getting work?

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mygif

I’m a huge Firestorm fan. In fact, I run the FIRESTORM FAN blog. So, consider me biased. :)

I can understand where you are coming from. If you compare Firestorm strictly on a power-level/statistics basis (like using RPG stats or something), he’s WAY overpowered. No denying that. Add to the fact that the majority of his villains are Spider-Man level, rather than Superman level.

However, I’ve always felt Firestorm stood out because of his stories. The combination of a brash teenager with a introverted middle-aged guy made for a really interesting combination. Whether it was their bickering or working together, the Ronnie/Professor combination made for interesting reading. It helped that Firestorm was written by some of the best writers in the business at the time (Gerry Conway & John Ostrander). Add to that some phenomenal artists (Al Milgrom, Pat Broderick, Raphael Kayanan, and Tom Mandrake). It was a fun comic. Sure he didn’t live up to his potential or power-level, but it was a great read.

And just in case there are fans of other Firestorm incarnations out there, I also love the Blank Slate, Elemental, and Jason versions of Firestorm too. I think the current version is poised to have an outstanding run of stories!

The Irredeemable Shag
http://firestormfan.com – The Source for DC Comics’ Nuclear Man

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mygif

@Garfield: Sweet Buttery Jesus that is an awful costume. It’s like the Creeper and Liefeld-era Feral had a child. And that doesn’t even being to address the flame-wing on the feet or the plasma ball emanating from his belly button.

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In fact, there’s hardly anyone else in the DC universe at all who can properly fight Typhoon, which is probably a big reason you don’t see him much any more.

I think the last person he fought was the Jaime Reyes version of the Blue Beetle, who’s roughly in the same power range (and also has the composite hero thing and the grounded everyman thing going on as well.)

Which basically says that Firestorm needs a bit more input from his non-Martin Stein supporting cast.

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It is impossible to try and explain Firestorm to someone and not sound insane.

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I’m sensing a “Why I Should Write Firestorm” coming on.

Do eeeeet.

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Firestorm’s presence in a story that wasn’t his own title has always been to me one of those cues that says, “something big’s going down.” because he was often used as cosmic spear carrier, high powered Worf effect bait or JLA lineup filler.

I’ve always liked him, but he never seems to catch a break.

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Tom Galloway said on February 18th, 2011 at 12:52 am

Keep in mind that Firestorm is the second DC hero with the combo of OMG powerset and the stupids. Johnny Thunder could get the Thunderbolt to do just about anything, but was a bigger idiot than Ronnie. Note that Johnny’s successor, Jakeem, at first was a relatively ignorant kid and thus not particularly competent with the T-bolt. Once he got competent, they pretty much wrote him out of JSA since for most stories to not end on page 3, you’d have to start by taking Jakeem out or silencing him.

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At Fan Expo last year (or maybe the year before), one of the DC editors was asked about the weirdest request for a series he’d ever gotten, and he said somebody asked for a Martin Stein solo series.

I didn’t think that was so weird, but I wouldn’t read it either.

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I agree with those who say the personalities of the original Firestorm characters were what made the book fun.
The organic/non-organic thing was absurd, because it’s wrong: If he can transmute paper (among other things) he controls organic material. I think animate/inanimate was what they meant (Yes, I know comic book science is goofy, but still …)

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[…] valid points and it’s worth reading, but I tend to be more positive about the Nuclear Man.  Click here to read the article on Mighty God King.  Feel free to give Firestorm some love in the […]

mygif

Maybe if his transmute power was touch-only? And Dr. Alchemy seems like a natural enemy. I’ve always liked Typhoon-he’d make an interesting anti-hero-give away most of Firestorm’s baddies and give him some decent ones, perhaps? . But yes, Firestorm is often the “Oh Crap” Worf character of DC.

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..well… I loved Ostrander’s run on the title and thought the elemental angle was great. Especially when Swamp Thing et al got involved. Glad and annoyed when Peter David kind of followed up on it years later, and aside from little cameos in things like “War of the Gods” I was astonished nothing was done with the character until “Extreme Justice” was released.

Always thought the old costume was a bit.. odd… but the fights with Killer Frost were awesome — remember when she froze NYC over and he almost took out the whole of the JLA ? And then they win by disguising Red Tornado as Burt Reynolds….hmm… that sounded much cooler in my head.

He should get bonus points for giving us Firehawk, especially in her revamped/2nd costume.

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Moses Moore said on February 18th, 2011 at 10:27 am

The organic thing was explained later as a psychological handicap — Ronnie and Stein were too scared of what they could do with mucking about with living systems. So items made from inert organic material, like paper, were fine, because they weren’t associated with their neurosis.

There was a while that Firestorm was retconned into the “fire” version of Swamp Thing, which would put him in the mystical camp and give him a different set of restraints. I don’t know how they gave up on that. Now there’s talk of a “Firestorm Matrix,” and a pair of people linked to it can fuse into a gestalt that is an avatar of that thingamajobber.

I loved the Firestorm comics as a kid, probably because of the quasi-chemistry in the stories, and probably because I had a boner for Killer Frost (mark I).

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mygif

The other way out of the “too powerful” trap is to up the scale and use the character in cosmic stories – see Green Lantern or Thor, for example. But Firestorm isn’t any good for this because he’s too grounded, because Firestorm’s weakness is that he’s too stupid to use his powers effectively, because understanding the elemental composition of matter is actually tricky.

But see, these aren’t really problems. You throw him into space fighting cosmic threats that can eat planets and suddenly you’ve got something that works without changing any of that.

Sure you could do a similar story with Green Lantern if you killed off the Green Lantern Corps and had Ganthet hand the ring off to a guy who has no clue how to use it, but Firestorm already potentially fills this niche and just needs a change of scenery to make it work.

Put Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning on the title, let the Omega Men, Lobo and other members of DC’s sci-fi properties make guest appearances and you’d have a decent book.

I mean, you’d basically have Abnett and Lanning’s “Nova” but set in the DC Universe, but it would probably be a helluva read.

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mygif

Hah, overpowered?! Well treated in Crisis on Infinite Earths?! There’s a large fight scene where Firestorm’s almighty matter reconfiguring energy blast is streaming across the panel to be stopped dead by a matching energy blast from… the Penguin’s umbrella!?!

I can’t find a scan of the page in question, but according to what I can find, it was issue 9, page 21, panel 5.

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There’s a large fight scene where Firestorm’s almighty matter reconfiguring energy blast is streaming across the panel to be stopped dead by a matching energy blast from… the Penguin’s umbrella!?!

Yeah, MGK knows. He’s mentioned it before in this very feature.

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Every time I think of Firestorm, I can’t help but think of the Superfriends episode where he had a bizarro clone of him made who looked like a scarecrow.

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Danbu-Sama said on February 21st, 2011 at 7:50 pm

m feeling a little mentally challenged today, so I’m hoping you’re being facetious about the costume. It’s AWFUL, isn’t it? You’re a ginger>

and that pretty well invalidates every subsequent thing you might say.

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Danbu-Sama said on February 21st, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I mean, you’d basically have Abnett and Lanning’s “Nova” but set in the DC Universe

This is definitely the exact opposite of a reason to not do a thing.

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Halloween Jack said on February 22nd, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I’d say his “one big weakness” is that he “looks like a court jester from George Clinton’s mothership.”

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@MGK,

Which, ever any, other heroes would you say have the same overpowered problem? Phoenix? Dr. Strange?

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Cookie McCool said on February 23rd, 2011 at 6:06 pm

And yet, Danbu-Sama, I’m still right. It’s a horrid costume, and those colors are disgustingly unflattering on a ginger. He’s just going to look like a big pink idiot. With poufy sleeves.

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