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When Firestorm's Bully Went Way Too Far!

This is "Provide Some Answers," which is a feature where long unresolved plot points are eventually resolved.

Like last time out, this is an exception because it did not take THAT long for it to be resolved, but I didn't have any other category where this would really fit. It's not really abandoning a previous story if it's RESOLVING an open story, ya know? Even if this was not how the story originally would have been resolved had the original writer remained on the title. It's not "Wrap It Up," since that's specifically for canceled titles whose titles were resolved in another series. So this is the closest I've got to a rather interesting case of seeing a regular bully character go way too far, as seen by John Ostrander resolving a plot line established towards the end of Gerry Conway's run on Fury of Firestorm.

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It all started with Firestorm #1, by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom. Conway's take on Firestorm was essentially "Spider-Man for a new era," and so he went with alliterative names for the hero, Ronnie Raymond, and his bully, Cliff Carmichael (to evoke all the classic alliterative names Stan Lee came up with back in the day). The twist here, though, is that while Peter Parker was the brain and Flash Thompson was the brawn, here it would be the hero who was the jock and the bully was the smartest kid in the class...

Also, just like how Flash Thompson was one of Spider-Man's biggest fans, Cliff Carmichael makes fun of Firestorm...

Which leads to a memorable moment where Firestorm actually confronts Cliff over it!

The original Firestorm series was a victim of the DC Implosion. Four years later, though, they tried it again, with Pat Broderick now the penciler and Rodin Rodriguez the inker. Cliff was still bullying Ronnie...

However, when Ronnie's dad was seemingly killed, Cliff actually tried to be nice to him...

And they even briefly seemed like they would be friends...

Then Ronnie's dad turned up alive and Cliff somehow took this as Ronnie tricking him into being his friend, so Cliff went right back to being a bully...

On their final day of high school in Fury of Firestorm #40 (with Rafael Kayanan now penciling the book with Ian Akin and Bryan Garvey inking him), Ronnie had picked up some knowledge from sharing a brain with Professor Martin Stein, and now his teachers think he's cheating. When Cliff mocks him again, Ronnie has had enough...

For whatever reason, Cliff is somehow rocking a really nice body under his shirt as he tries to beat Ronnie up...

Cliff is beaten, but he tries to get in one last shot about how he at least won't have to see Ronnie anymore...

but whoops, they're somehow going to the same college!

When they get to college, Cliff is now palling around with his cousin, Hugo, who is a SUPER jock...

In Fury of Firestorm #50, Hugo accidentally takes Ronnie's helmet during a game...

Cliff shows up to root against Ronnie...

And during the game, Hugo loses his helmet and his neck is broken!

It turns out that someone cut the strap on Ronnie's helmet!

Ronnie, of course, blames Cliff (art now by Joe Borowski and Steve Mitchell)...

It seems clear here that Conway was going to have it NOT be Cliff responsible (and instead, someone framing Cliff for whatever reason), but he never got a chance to write that, if that was, in fact, his plan.

Then Conway leaves the series and John Ostrander takes over and in Firestorm #60, Cliff tries to kill himself...

When he is taken into custody, he reveals all...

That's not the end of Cliff Carmichael, of course, but what John Ostrander does with him next is a whole other column!

If anyone else has a suggestion for a comic book plot that got resolved after a few years (I tend to use two years as the minimum, as otherwise, you're probably just in the middle of the actual initial reveal of the storyline, ya know? But exceptions where a new writer takes over a storyline count), drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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