In the old 52, Firestorm had been transformed in the past year to an entity with a dark side due to the Black Lantern Firestorm and Ronnie Raymond coming back from the dead. When the New 52 was announced, Firestorm became one of the characters to watch as so much had happened to the character in the past year. Through Brightest Day, Jason Rusch and Ronnie became two interesting characters that were not very familiar to me as I had not read either of their books. The solicitations for the new book with the two characters as Firestorms appeared to be a great premise. The books started by showing some of the differences between the new teenagers in their high school setting. Dr. Stein, who created the Firestorm matrix, appeared in back story but did not appear in the current storyline. With issue three, the main storyline focused on a set of government officials who wanted the matrix. And wanted to get it away from Jason and Rusch.
The government as bogeyman has been a through-line in many of the new 52 books that I have read. Captain Atom and Action Comics come to mind. But with current politics flooding around the purpose of government, this attempt at commentary rationally flows from the front page. However, The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men is missing the mark as a solid political commentary.
By the end of issue three, I am confused as to what the matrix can do, why the government wants it, and why a monster who was created by the first attempt at imposing the matrix into a human needs to enter the mix. The tone of the book has dramatically changed from two teenagers out of their league with powers that they don’t understand to two teenagers fighting for what they were given from the hands of the government.
The art in issue three also appears rushed. In the scenes of the Firestorm are losing the the governmental officials and are being told that their mentor, Dr. Stein, was selling the Firestorm protocols to terrorist nations, the line work becomes very rough and the backgrounds become a bland blue that may reflect the night sky. However, the grass appears blue and the inking makes everything look over shadowed.
By the time Helix appears, the story has become lost. The small moments between the Firestorms work very well with a bond slowly bring formed, but then Helix flies in with visions of Nazi Firestorms dance in his head. But the rest of the issue does not clarify why the Firestorms become one that looms like a skull head and it does not become anymore compelling.
In issue four, the allegory for the arms race of nuclear weapons becomes crystal clear. Though Firestorm began as a Spider-man archetype, the fear of nuclear war and disaster became a storytelling point for the character in the past , and it appear this is where the story is going in the new 52. Issue four was stronger than three in art as well as story. Though Cinar’s faces go from Tony Stark to overly cartoony by the end of the issue, the storytelling is stronger. In the fight between two other Firestorms, as the battle went on, the panels became a skewed until a winner is determined.
However, having a Russian and an Arabic Firestorm confront each other seemed overly clichéd. And the mysterious Director Zither fails to stand strong as an adversary/ally. We know she was married to Helix and some disaster due to the Firestorm protocol/matrix ruined her family, but I am not that interested in finding out anything more about her. Obviously, she isn’t helping Ronnie with good will and it will come back to bite them as they are teenagers who don’t know any better. I hope I’m wrong, but this book isn’t going out on enough limbs and quickly changes back and forth between high school rivalry and intergovernmental fights over nuclear weaponry in the form of humans associated with the Firestorm protocols/matrix.