Review: The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #7

By | March 29th, 2012
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Plotted by Ethan Van Sciver and Joe Harris
Written by Joe Harris
Illustrated by Ethan Van Sciver

New co-writer Joe Harris (Ghost Projekt) joins Ethan Van Sciver in this white-hot jumping-on issue! Plus: Van Sciver provides interior art for what’s sure to be one of the most talked-about comics of the year! As the fallout from the recent rogue Firestorm attack spreads and threatens to bring down Zither-Tech and the Firestorm Protocols, Ronnie Raymond pursues the Russian Nuclear Man Pozhar on what may well turn out to be a suicide mission. Meanwhile, Jason Rusch is made an offer he can’t refuse. Separated in an evolving game of international atomic brinkmanship, each Firestorm faces a world more dangerous than he ever imagined… while one gets a life-altering shock you’ll never forget!

Everyone’s favorite teenagers in Ronald McDonald colors are back, transmutating this and that, with a now writer on board, and a fan favorite penciling the 7th issue of this much-maligned series.

 So, is this issue markedly different than the six that came before? Hit the cut to find out!

As a child of the 1980s, I have a lot of love for Firestorm. As a person with discerning taste, I didn’t have a lot of love for the first few issues of “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men.” I found the story clunky, the art too uninspired, and the bickering of Jason and Ronnie to be just plain boring. Especially given the relationship the two shared just a few months before as part of “Brightest Day,” this all felt like re-hash, and not even a better re-hash. So, going into issue #7, labeled a great “jumping-on” issue, I was expecting to dislike the book for the same reasons I did for the first three issues (after which I dropped it).

And while the book isn’t (yet) finding its way back onto my pull list, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by what I found inside.

The main reason that this book impressed me was the art of Ethan Van Sciver, who is handling a few issues of interior art for Yildiray Cinar. Van Sciver is a remarkably consistent artist, and his work on this book made we want to go re-read the Flash and Green Lantern “Rebirth” series just to bask in his art for a little while longer.

But Van Sciver’s art is also, indirectly, the reason that this book didn’t work for the first six issues. No, Van Sciver didn’t draw them, but it is his talent as an artist that made DC decide to make him a writer, in order to (theoretically) keep him working for them. This is also the Tony Daniel/David Finch method: DC allows them to co-write (or just write) a title, in exchange for their exclusive services. So, if Van Sciver weren’t as talented as he is, perhaps this book would’ve had a different creative team on it from the beginning, who may not have needed a half dozen issues to find its footing.

What makes this such a puzzling situation is that it took Gail Simone, a very talented and capable writer, leaving the book to right the ship. Now, Simone and Van Sciver have said in interviews that they are very different people, especially politically, and maybe working together on plotting caused too much drama, and therefore resulted in poorer writing. I don’t know; all I know is that Joe Harris seems much more simpatico to Van Sciver’s plotting ideas, and the book feels more organic (ha! Firestorm humor!) than it did under Simone’s pen.

Harris and Van Sciver are doing two things in this issue that are effective: they’re giving the characters real stakes and they’re taking the stereotypical roles of the two main Firestorms and inverting them. We see Ronnie being selfless and Jason bucking authority, and both transformations seem genuine.

Now, granted, this book isn’t perfect. The idea of multiple Firestorms, though clever, hasn’t really reached its full potential yet, and as we are due to keep seeing more Firestorms popping up in the next few months, this needs to get more interesting. If I didn’t know his personal politics, perhaps I would view things differently, but as a right-leaning guy, Van Sciver’s decision to have each country have a (human) nuclear weapon at their disposal seems to suggest that the international arms race will have some place in this story. To that I say, meh. Also, once Cinar is back on board, the art’s quality will dip again. So is this a must buy? No.

Continued below

But it is a good first step to righting this ship. It is interesting to observe how DC is dealing with its books that aren’t working. 6 were outright cancelled, some are getting totally new creative teams (hi, Rob Liefeld), some are having pieces switched around (Travel Foreman and Jesus Saiz getting new, possibly ill-fitting assignments), and some are simply doubling down with the original plan, with some tweaks. “The Fury of Firstorm” is taking the fourth approach, giving Van Sciver more of the burden of the book. Whether that is a good thing or not is up for debate, but it is nice to see DC giving Van Sciver the chance to really get this book right. It isn’t there yet, but all hope is not lost.

Final Verdict: 6.8 – Browse, but the collected trade might wind up being worthy of a buy

Brian Salvatore

Brian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his kids, or playing music with his kids. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).