Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Fury Of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1 - A Review

As readers of my Brightest Day coverage will remember, I hate Ronnie Raymond. I hated his stupidity and his inability to study the basic science needed to make use of his powers after he lost the benefit of having a physicist in his head. I hated his cluelessness, like when he showed up at the funeral of someone he was indirectly responsible for killing in jeans and a t-shirt to apologize to the victim's boyfriend. But mostly, I hated how an interesting (to me, anyway) character like Jason Rusch was sidelined so that Ronnie Raymond - the original Firestorm - could make a comeback that nobody was demanding, in so far as I can tell. So even with my beloved Gail Simone as the writer and co-plotter on this book, this was going to be a hard sell.

Most of the plot of this issue centers on a mercenary group known as The Dog Team. We see them tracking down and torturing various students and scientists, in search of a sealed thermos that is connected to something called The Firestorm Protocol. Details are few and far between, but apparently a scientist named Martin Stein stumbled across the secrets of transmutation and sent the details to several prodigies around the world. One of those prodigies, honors student Jason Rusch, is in the middle of an altercation with rich jock Ronnie Raymond when The Dog Team comes calling for him. The issue ends when Rusch activates the thermos, transforming both himself and Raymond into living weapons... shortly before they merge into a being called Fury.

Much as I hate to say this, I was lost for a good portion of this comic. The technobabble flies right and left and it's still unclear at the end just what The Firestorm Protocol is supposed to do. The only reason I had any clue what was going on and what powers the boys were manifesting at the end was due to past familiarity with the character. What saves the script, however, is Simone's gift for creating memorable characters the readers can empathize with. She cleverly shows the common ground between jock Raymond and nerd Rusch in one page, which depicts the two having dinner with their single parent and asking a hard question about their own feelings of guilt.

The art by Yildiray Cinar is capable but not particularly noteworthy. There's nothing about Cinar's style that is particularly notable or unique but that actually serves the story well. The mundane suburbia in which Ronnie and Jason live is depicted well and the horror of the scenes in which the Dog Pack go after their targets is made all the stronger by the simple commonness of the backgrounds in which they do their dirty work.

As much as I'd like to recommend this title to new readers, I can't do so in good conscience. The artwork is decent but not outstanding. Simone did the impossible by making Ronnie Raymond a character I don't want to see struck dead (though I still find his poor little rich jock act annoying) but the phony baloney tech talk used to justify the Firestorm powers this time just confused me and I can't imagine it would do the new readers any favors. I'll give it a second issue - Simone has earned that much good faith from me for her past works - but I think new readers curious about Simone's writing would be better served picking up Batgirl #1 instead.

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