This third issue of “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man” strives to be a balancing act between continuing to build the world around Firestorm, continuing to develop the characters, and setting the power levels for Firestorm. It’s a delicate balance that just doesn’t quite come together smoothly.
That’s not for lack of trying from Ethan Van Sciver and Gail Simone. Between the mysterious menace from Director Zither and her Hyena Team, the new threat of Helix and the lingering danger from Cliff Carmichael and his crew, there’s a lot going on. It forces the Firestorms to grow up quickly. That puts a lot of story into this issue, so much so that it borders on overwhelming and senses-shattering. As a longtime Firestorm fan, that’s saying a lot. I’m able to keep up, but there’s a lot to keep up with. Simone and Van Sciver have been able to keep the voices going and continue to build the characters up, but they haven’t really delivered much of a hook for either of the primary characters — Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch — for me to grab on to.
Van Sciver and Simone narrate the story through Rusch and Raymond, splitting the issue for the Firestorms. We learn a little more about Rusch, and we also see Raymond offer up a gentle hand, trying to convince Rusch to temper his powers and his use of them. Therein lies the problem. Rusch, who we’ve already been told by both Rusch, himself, and those around him, is a genius of kid, but how he is able to grasp the capabilities he has available as Firestorm so quickly is alarming. It’s good to have Firestorm (both of them) lighting it up and using their powers as Firestorm can and should, but if the ascent was this breakneck, it seems as though there might be a letdown coming.
For everything that Simone and Van Sciver put into this book, Yildiray Cinar matches it note for note, panel for quote. Some of the panels, like some of the story, don’t quite deliver the goods, but conversely there are more than a few panels that Cinar delivers with brilliance. The hulking Helix and huge Fury trade blows in a scene that Cinar sells. Cinar skimps on some of the backgrounds in the panels, but with a handful of pages with more than nine panels, I think he deserves a pass. Unfortunately, the third issue of a new series is not the place to be redeeming a free pass.
This third month is a critical juncture in the relaunched DC Universe, where many readers may have given the book a chance to win them over. If those readers are looking for a jam-packed series with insane amounts of action, this book fits the bill. This comic has no shortage of action, intrigue, and characterization. If anything, it simply has too much. “The Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men” has a lot to offer, and it is quite clear that Van Sciver and Simone have plans for the character and their supporting cast.