“The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men” has a figure that is born from two other Firestorms merging into one, becoming greater than the sum of their parts. Reading the second issue of the series and looking at the creative team, it’s hard to keep from thinking that this is a comic where the finished product is far lesser than the sum of its creative team members.
Gail Simone’s proven herself to be a good writer in the past, but her and Ethan Van Sciver’s story just doesn’t come together here. This is a comic where the two main characters bicker, yell, and snipe at one another for the first four-fifths of the comic. If that doesn’t sound pleasant, that’s because it isn’t. Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch have been transformed courtesy the re-launch into two distinctly annoying characters; this issue doesn’t hit the low point of #1’s “Why are none of our friends black?” moment, but there’s a level of stupidity moving through both characters that makes you wonder how they can feel, themselves.
The script also feels a little jumbled in places. We go from two characters who spent the majority of the issue trapped inside the “Fury” amalgamation and utterly clueless on what’s going on, to ones that transform into individual Firestorms in the blink of an eye and start flying around and transforming guns into roses. I understand that writers will want their characters to show some understanding of powers over time, and to let new heroes slowly gain competence, but this is akin to having a baby skip from being able to roll over to performing cartwheels.
There’s also a lack of harmony between script and art. Overall I like Yildiray Cinar’s work (there’s a certain smooth and fluid line here that wasn’t in “Legion of Super-Heroes” that actually reminds me a lot of long-time Batman artist Norm Breyfogle), but it’s also hard to ignore the fact that the script has to explain what we actually saw on the page 2 splash image, or that you have to squint to see that (earlier mentioned) gun getting transformed because it gets lost in the shuffle. Still, Cinar’s pages tell the story well enough, and I appreciate that for a book that has people’s arms getting chopped off and all sorts of collateral damage, it’s remarkably bloodless and non-gruesome.
Based on its pedigree of creators, “The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men” should have been a blast. Instead, it feels like a muddled mess that has lost sight of pacing, and isn’t making characters at least interesting to read about, if not actually likable. Fans of Firestorm have been lobbying for a strong book starring Ronnie Raymond ever since the character was killed off in “Identity Crisis.” Alas, Raymond fans, it looks like you’re going to have to wait a while longer to get that good comic.