Teenager Jason Rusch, AKA Firestorm, wields a massive amount of power and he’s going to need all of it to survive the coming “Infinite Crisis,” DC Comics mega event that has been impacting almost all of its DCU books this year. CBR News spoke to “Firestorm” writer Stuart Moore about the series and the impact that “Infinite Crisis,” and the events leading up to it, will have on the book.
Moore wants “Firestorm” to be a book that’s easily accessible to new readers. He said if he’s doing his job right, readers don’t need to know anything other than the basic story which can be found in the origin blurb at the beginning of every issue. “Jason (Firestorm) Rusch is an eighteen-year-old guy, just out of high school, with all the power in the universe and he’s learning how to use it,” Moore told CBR News. “He wants to do things right but he stumbles a lot. Just like all of us at that age.”
Jason Rusch’s life is in transition, having recently graduated from high school, moved out on his own and landed his first job at the Detroit branch of S.T.A.R. Labs. “I wanted to throw Jason straight into an unpleasant work situation,” explained Moore. “Your first job, right out of high school, usually isn’t the best experience of your life. So STAR Detroit is being shut down, its research is being outsourced overseas, and the people there are all pretty unhappy about it. They don’t blame it on Jason, but he gets caught in the crossfire sometimes. Of course, because it’s STAR Labs, there are a lot of supervillains and death rays around, too. Which raises the stakes.”
Firestorm’s involvement in the big events rocking the DC Universe begins with issue # 17, shipping in September, and Moore promises it won’t interrupt the ongoing story his regular readers enjoy. “Issue #17 is our ‘Villains United’ tie-in. I’m determined to do crossover issues that also move the Firestorm story along. So this issue heralds a change in his powers and introduces a major new supporting character — while Firestorm is trying to escape from the Society’s mysterious South American power installation.”
Standing in the way of Firestorm and his freedom is a number of the villainous Society members, a super team of villains unlike any seen by heroes and an added challenge for our young protagonist. “There’s a pile of them in issue #17, including Black Adam, the Royal Flush Gang, and the new Parasite,” Moore stated.
Issue #18 of “Firestorm” sends Jason to California, where he finds himself yet again entangled in another of the “Countdown” events. “Issue #18 features Jason’s adventure at STAR Labs San Francisco, and introduces another supporting character,” Moore said. “We decided at the last minute to put an OMAC into this issue — which not only fit seamlessly but somehow, magically, made the story work twice as well. It adds a little wrinkle to how the OMACs work and what can stop them. ”
“Infinite Crisis” finally hits “Firestorm” in November’s issue #19 and Firestorm’s role in the mini-series is the result of planning and coordination between Moore, “Infinite Crisis” writer Geoff Johns and “Firestorm” editor, Steve Wacker. Moore was not at liberty to give many details on Firestorm’s role in “Infinite Crisis” but he could say, “The ‘Crisis’ stories will completely redefine Firestorm while keeping the essence of the character intact. And yes, I realize that sounds contradictory — but it’s not.”
Firestorm’s life won’t get any easier in the “One Year Later” storyline that follows “Infinite Crisis” and sends all DC Universe books one year into the future, without accounting for the missing time. “I can say that current plans call for us to pick up after the one-year ‘flip’ with a major, multi-part story line resolving several of the mysteries we’re setting up now, further complicating Firestorm’s life, and providing the first hints to his true origin,” Moore teased.
Observant readers may have noticed some of the mysteries Moore has been setting up throughout his tenure on the series thus far. In issue #14, a mysterious trench coat clad man appeared to instruct the villainous Pionic Man how to use his new powers and told him where to find Firestorm. “He’s operating behind the scenes,” Moore said of the mysterious figure. “But that’s a long-term plot line; we’ve got a lot to do with Firestorm himself first.”
Additionally, issue #15 began with Firestorm in the middle of a dream and this dream will play an important role in upcoming issues. “It’s foreshadowing current events and revealing past ones, at the same time,” Moore said. “This will be explored in issues #21-22.”
While some superhero books are deemed “too dark” by some fans, Moore wants the tone of “Firestorm” to be a balance of light and dark. “I want the book to be a little lighter than it’s been, but with the sense of a huge, dangerous world going on all around Firestorm that he only partly understands,” he explained. “‘Firestorm’ was originally a take on ‘Spider-Man’, and I’m trying to get back to some of that kind of humor — if Jason isn’t having fun as Firestorm, why the hell would he do it? But he’ll have moments of tragedy and sudden failure, too.
“It’s funny — when I was an editor on the early Vertigo books, I always thought something people didn’t notice often enough was how funny they were,” Moore said. “I mean, ‘Preacher’, ‘The Invisibles’, ‘Books of Magic’, ‘Transmetropolitan,’ they were all different and they could be pretty violent, but they all had their light moments and they all featured witty, clever protagonists. More recently, Joss Whedon’s TV series have featured the same mixture of real darkness and very human-scale humor. That’s the balance I’m working toward.”
But no comic book team is complete without a strong artistic team and Moore has nothing but kind words and applause for the team he feels he’s been blessed with, saying, “Jamal Igle is turning out amazing work on this book, month after month. And Matt Haley’s been experimenting a lot with the covers and turning in some real masterpieces. His OMAC cover for #18 drew gasps at the DC panel in San Diego.”
“Firestorm” is a title that aims to offer a fun and fresh perspective on the DC Universe and thanks to “Infinite Crisis,” the title character will become a more prominent player in the DCU very soon. Moore recommends the book to, “Anybody who likes old-style super heroics with a modern sensibility; anybody who’s interested in seeing the DC Universe from a rookie’s point of view; and/or anybody who remembers what it was like to be eighteen and trying, desperately, to figure out the world around you.”