After a fairly disappointing first year as “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men,” this book is now on its third major creative team and with a slight title change. While Dan Jurgens has definitely made “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man” #14 a much more readable title, it’s now a title that is a mixture of going back to basics and tying it into one of the New 52’s lower selling attempts.
The good news is that the new setup, with Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch being bonded in a manner similar to the original character (Ronnie in the driver’s scene, Jason as the disembodied head providing scientific advice), works well. It’s an interesting enough setup that’s tried-and-true, and Jason Rusch getting swapped into the Professor Stein role makes sense. Jurgens is also clearly having fun with the setup, with bits like the villains trying to figure out who Ronnie’s talking to, or having Ronnie and Jason’s parents dating. Add in some high school drama and it’s a perfectly acceptable new status quo.
The bad news is that Jurgens ties this storyline into the recently-cancelled “Captain Atom” series, which feels like a big mistake, and I say that as someone who read every issue of that comic. “Captain Atom” was a book that in many ways existed on the absolute fringes of the DC Universe, one that wrapped itself up by placing the character slightly out of arm’s reach. Here, though, Jurgens brings both him and some supporting cast characters back into the fold. While “Captain Atom” was slightly dreamy and stylized, Jurgens treats the cast like very generic comic book characters. What interest there might have been is now stripped away, and you end up with bad guys that I think most readers will be utterly uninterested in. It feels like a bad move on multiple fronts; I’m not sure who’s supposed to like the return of Dr. Megala but it doesn’t feel like fans of “The Fury of Firestorm” or “Captain Atom” will be impressed.
Jurgens’ pencils (with Ray McCarthy providing the finished inks) looks like just about every other book that Jurgens has drawn over the past couple of decades. Very solid character designs and page layouts, with strong consistency and easy to follow action. When it comes to art, Jurgens is always a safe bet; you might not get anything out of the ordinary, but you also don’t have to worry about an erratic or subpar finished comic. It’s going to be by-the-book, recognizable art that does its job.
“The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man” #14 is a nice book, which is already an improvement from what came before. It’s not yet quite an exciting book, though, which needs to be the next step. Still, stepping forward to a good middle-of-the-road position is the direction this comic needs to head in so that it can survive. Hopefully it’s not too little too late.