Firestorm Annual #5
DC Comics (1987)“Ground Zero” WRITER: John Ostrander PENCILER: Joe Brozowski INKER: Alfredo Alcala COLORIST: Shelley Eiber LETTERER: Duncan Andrews EDITOR: Denny O’Neil “FIRESTORM” CREATORS: Gerry Conway & Al Milgrom
Heroes and villains (and the Suicide Squad, villains forced to be heroes) all want to stop Firestorm in their own way from his decree to end all nuclear weapons, their last act before Martin succumbs to his cancer. This includes some idiot calling for the Parasite, which almost kills everybody before being stopped by Firestorm. Then he flies to Nevada and sets up an ice dome, Ronnie preparing for their last stand against a Russian nuclear man, Pozhar, who is only trying to free his family. However, the President orders a nuke launched on both of them just as Martin dies. Pozhar, his containment suit destroyed and about to go into meltdown, offers Ronnie some of his power just as the nuke hits, creating a new Ronnie/Pozhar Firestorm. (You don’t learn that part until I guess the next issue of the regular comic.)
I’m not going to tell you this is a bad comic because it isn’t. The art is good, the story does a far better job with the “superhero vows to end nuclear weapons” plot than Superman 4: The Quest For Peace, which I admit is damning with faint praise. It’s very well told and gets some nice cameos from the superheroes and Suicide Squad. I also like seeing how far Ronnie’s come as the controlling part of Firestorm and as a superhero. Outside of the eternal storytelling screw-up that the President alone decides when to launch the nuclear warheads, which can be done with a single button push, and wondering how stupid you have to be to launch a nuke at two people who get their powers from nuclear energy I have no critical issue with the story.
My problems are all personal, a matter of taste. You’ll see next week why I have a problem with this version of Firestorm, the one with Ronnie and Pozhar. In this story they’re only fused for one page. What I don’t like here, though, is killing off Martin Stein, who is one half of Firestorm. I like Martin and Ronnie separate and as Firestorm. They’re personalities and their friendship are what drew me to the character, after seeing them on Super Friends and Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. To see that taken away is disappointing to me, and what that was replaced with didn’t interest me as much. It’s still better than the early New 52 idea since that was practically an original concept until issue #0 and the Jurgens run that followed it. Still, it’s not what I want to see with this superhero.
Recommendation: Again, my problems with this run are personal in nature. It’s a well-told story and if Martin had to go (he didn’t), it’s still a good send-off for him. Give a look and decide for yourself. I’m not pushing it out my collection just yet.