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The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man #13

Review by Paul Bowler

The new direction established for The Fury of Firestorm The Nuclear Man continues to build on bringing the series closer to its original concept as we join Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch’s parents, Al Rusch and Joanne Raymond, as they bump into each other at Walton Mills High School for a parent-teacher conference only to find Ronnie and Jason have failed to show up. The two of them compare notes about their kids new life as the merged entity known as Firestorm, worrying that their studies may be effected, but resigned to the fact that they have been somewhat sidelined by Ronnie and Jason’s newfound life as a superhero.

Sure enough, Firestorm is trying to take down a giant robot called Dataxen that has attacked an air force instillation. Unfortunately Ronnie’s overconfidence almost proves their undoing, ignoring Jason’s warnings, after Dataxen seems almost unaffected by their combined powers of explosive energy and transmutation. As the battle between Firestorm and Dataxen intensifies, General Eiling prepares to retaliate by scrambling bombers, but after Firestorm stops a wave of missiles launched by the robot – transmuting them into tin cans to avoid innocent casualties – Dataxen mysteriously disappears.

As Dataxen returns to a secret underground base for the data it has collected about Firestorm to be analysed by a secret organization, Firestorm changes back into Ronnie and Jason at the High School, but they have missed the conference. Jason’s girlfriend Tonya, the only other person beside their parents who knows they are Firestorm, is there to meet them as Coach Conway gives Ronnie a dressing down for missing the conference and letting his grades slip.

They all go to Ronnie’s house so Tonya can help him catch up on a history paper due for the next day, but an attack on S.T.A.R Labs by a new team of villains: Black Star, Relay, and Skull Crusher means they have to leave their studies to tackled the threat as Firestorm. The new trio of enemies attack Firestorm as soon as he arrives at S.T.A.R Labs, the fight doesn’t go well for Firestorm: he is battered by Skull Crusher, his energy blasts have little effect on the living black hole called Black Star, and Relay uses her telekinetic powers to drop some machinery on him. As Firestorm struggles to fight back, every moment is being monitored by the secret underground organization, while somewhere a mysterious figure watching the computer screens begins to emerge from the shadows…

The changes wrought by Zero Month begin to seriously fan the flames of nostalgia as this new era gets under way with Firestorm #13. Right from the outset Writer/Artist Dan Jurgens successfully captures the fun fuelled spirit of adventure that will have many fans of Firestorm welcoming the return of the series leaning more towards the original premise created by Grey Conway and Al Milgran during the 70’s. Its also great to see the rivalry between Ronnie and Jason evolving into something more light hearted, its also somewhat ironic that Ronnie now seems to relish being Firestorm much more than Jason, who missed his powers when they were gone. Now they are teamed up as the newly merged Firestorm, with Ronnie in the driving seat and Jason proving the intellectual back up. They are both polar opposites, one worried about dating and sports, the other concerned about grades and science projects, but both are still typical teenagers who are slaves to their mobile phones – checking their text messages the instant the superhero work as Firestorm is done!

By casting off the global espionage and brining the series back to a High School environment, Dan Jurgens has the opportunity to flesh out some of the supporting cast, setting up a possible love triangle between Ronnie, Tonya, and Jason. There is a real fan pleasing moment when Coach Conway (A great reference to Gerry Conway) berates Ronnie for neglecting his studies, as well as some nice scenes between Joanne Raymond and Al Rusch who also seem to be getting very close, and its great to see Firestorm smiling again after being so consumed by rage and angst for the majority of the previous story arc.

New villains Black Star, Relay, and Skull Crusher have some interesting powers, and the robot Dataxen is equally impressive. We don’t really learn much about the secret organization they work for during the course of Firestorm #13, but they seems to be studying Firestorm to assess his powers, for reasons as yet seemingly known only to a shadowy figure behind the organization.

The art by Dan Jurgens really stands up to the high bench mark set by Yildiray Cinar,  Firestorm #13 feels like a step in the right direction, enhancing what has gone before while giving it a subtle makeover for the new storyline. Jurgens works is superbly inked by Ray McCarthy and swathed in Hi-Fi’s glorious colours. I really like Firestorm’s new costume, established in Firestorm #0, and the way Ronnie and Jason are starting to learn collectively about their shared powers. The action in Firestorm #13 is pretty frenetic, throwing us straight into the battle with Daxaxen, but the interludes of everyday life, and action packed cliff hanger certainly puts Firestorm back on track for some amazing new adventures.