Sunday, March 20, 2016

Fury of Firestorm #1 (1982)


Fury of Firestorm #1 (June, 1982)
"Day of the Bison"
Writer - Gerry Conway
Artist - Pat Broderick
Inker - Rodin Rodriguez
Letterer - John Costanza
Colorist - Gene D'Angelo
Editor - Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60

You ever go through your collection and come across a book you never knew you had?

Up until about a week ago, I honestly had no idea that I owned this issue.  I was going through my collection spreadsheet like any insane individual would do, and this issue just jumped out at me.  Did I really have (Fury of) Firestorm #1?  I'd remember something like that!  Well, upstairs I went, where I had to shuffle a half dozen boxes to find the one my Firestorm books were in... and, well I'll be damned... I did have it!

During my read-thru prior to the review, the entire story was familiar... so, I must have read it before, right?  Was it worth reading again?  Let's find out.

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We open with a beautiful shot of the New York City skyline with Firestorm towering over the skyscrapers.  Firestorm is trying to nap on a cloud as Professor Stein rags on him a bit.  Ronnie manages to fall asleep and in so doing shuts off his nuclear powers causing him to plummet toward the street.  Narrowly avoiding certain doom, Ronnie adjusts his molecular structure causing him to slip straight through the concrete.

As Firestorm emerges from under the street he is observed by a pair of officers.  They begin rattling his chain, however, he takes off before they can read him the riot act.  Firestorm lands about five miles away in a residential neighborhood.  It is there that Ronnie Raymond and Professor Martin Stein emerge from the Firestorm matrix.



The next morning, Ronnie is awakened by both his alarm clock and his father.  Ronnie is a student and star athlete attending Bradley High.  He scrambles to get up and narrowly avoids missing his bus.

Our scene shifts to the apartment of high school teacher, John Ravenhair.  He is living with his more traditional great-grandfather, who will only address him as Black-Cloud-in-Morning.  The morning paper has a piece on Indian antiquities that had recently been donated to the New York Museum of Natural History, including those of the Bison Cult.  The two men share a contentious conversation over John's apparent adaptation away from their heritage.

John takes his leave, however not before acknowledging that his grandfather does not look well and agreeing to wear a talisman from their Bison Cult.



We shift to Bradley High as the buses arrive.  Ronnie notices that his girlfriend Doreen is hanging around with all around jerk-face Cliff Carmichael.  Cliff is a dweeby thing with glasses and some sweet muttonchops.  The two scuffle a bit before Mr. Ravenhair steps in to break up the fracas.



We join Professor Stein dictating recent events into a tape recorder.  This is a great way to bring readers up to speed on the Firestorm origin story and escapades of the short-lived (1978) pre-DC Implosion volume of this title.  Following our recap, the Professor decides that perhaps it would be wise to erase the tape for all parties concerned.  Such a great way to include this expositional dialogue.

We now join Mr. Ravenhair's great-grandfather in the park.  He is crafting a circle in the grass out of a ashy white powder to pray within, when a pair of thugs see him as a easy pickings.



We pop over to the museum which just so happens to be hosting a Bradley High field trip.  Ronnie reconciles with Doreen and all is going well until Martin Van Buren... err, Cliff Carmichael slips a frog down Ronnie's shirt.  To make matters worse, he claims that Ronnie just may be... infected with cooties.  Hey Cliff... the jerk store called...



In our next scene, we begin to observe Mr. Ravenhair acting a bit strangely.  He excuses himself to the washroom.  His great-grandfather is concocting a sort of spell to help John see the "white man's world" the way he does... make him become Black-Cloud-in-Morning once more.  In the restroom, John gives himself a good splash of cold water.  When his eyes meet his reflection in the mirror, he is shocked to see his great-grandfather's face looking back at him.



At the park, the thugs wallop John's grandfather in hopes of procuring a score.  Having already accomplished his task, the old man slumps over, dead.  As he passes into the next world, John Ravenhair becomes no more... only Black Cloud remains!

Ronnie watches on as Black Cloud wreaks havoc inside the museum.  He begins the fusion transformation into Firestorm.  Feeling that the transformation is pending, Professor Stein must excuse himself from a project meeting at Concordance Research.  Firestorm flashes into action.

Black Cloud comes across the sacred Bison Clan Headdress and frees it from its glass casing.  Suddenly rolling clouds of smoke fill the museum.  When the smoke finally dissipates, one man is standing... No longer John Ravenhair... not even Black Cloud in Morning... No, he is Black Bison.



Bison exacts eight shades of hell upon his former students until Firestorm makes his presence known.  Even he proves no match for Black Bison as a lightning strike puts him on his back.  Black Bison reanimates a white horse and proceeds to flee... not before reanimating several of nature's predators.  Ronnie handily neutralizes their threat through use of his nuclear blast and some brute strength.



Ronnie gives chase to Black Bison, and along the way gives Carmichael a taste of his own medicine.  Despite his best efforts, Black Bison manages to get away.



We now observe a meeting between Senator Walter Reilly and his his daughter Lorraine.  They share some niceties before heading into a restaurant to share a meal.  It is revealed that Black Bison had been watching.  He states that Reilly had stolen something from his people... and now he will know how it feels to lose... and we are [to be continued...]

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Ehh, not bad as first issues go.  Oh, what am I saying... this was a great issue!

Full disclosure, I do not have much history with or attachment to this character... however, this was a lot of fun.  I've often heard Firestorm compared to Marvel's Spider-Man... I gotta say... yeah, I kinda see that.  It is, however, as though Flash Thompson got bitten by the spider, and Peter Parker was the jerkwad bully.  I can't take credit for that observation, as I'm sure I'd heard it before... and it is ever so true.

This is a very Marvel type of book, and it really works for this type of character and this kind of setting.  Ronnie's not perfect... he's a kid, and he acts like one.  His voice is somewhere between child and adult, which is just the way a high school student would and should sound.  The characterization all throughout was wonderful... even in ol' Muttonchops.  Though, I gotta say, he's kinda like what I picture a younger Terry Long to be... yeesh.

The art is phenomenal.  I mentioned in my Captain Atom review by high regard for Pat Broderick.  I say now, as I did then... he is one of my top artists of the 1980's.  It was partly his engaging art work that facilitated my head-first dive from being a Marvel only fella into the wonderful world of DC Comics in the 1980's.

Overall... can't think of a single complaint.  I'm sure if I thought hard enough I'd find something to nitpick... but when you're dealing with something this good... this fun... why would I?  Highly recommended.  It's on DC Digital (along with several issues of the series), I cannot locate a collected edition... which kind of surprises me.  Any which way you can get your hands on this one, do it!

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Interesting Ads:

ALWAYS keep your cube lubed, yo!

Legitimate business!
I'd have played the hell out of these...
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Apropos of nothing... if my math is right, today marks my fiftieth day in a row blogging on this here site... so, (doing my best Dave Coulier... doing his best Bill Murray) I got that goin' for me....

Thanks for reading, if'n ya do!

4 comments:

  1. Congrats on fifty days! I've been reading the whole time, and enjoying your reviews.

    This was one of my most reread issues when I was a kid...I was, and still am, a HUGE Pat Broderick fan.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Dan! Thanks so much for the kind words. I have long followed and enjoyed your Crabby Reviewer Blog! Always a good time there.

      Pat Broderick is a wonderful talent, from a time where there were just so many great artists kickin' around in comics!

      Delete
  2. Thanks for YOUR kind words!
    BTW, I can't even convey how tempted I was as a kid to send fifty cents to that sketchy ad. Not knowing what the hell he was selling made it all the more alluring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That ad almost makes it feel like ol' Robert Robbins was holding the posters for ransom rather than selling them!

      Delete

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