Fire & Water #205 – Firestorm #40 @ 40! Firestorm Classic #s 37-40

To celebrate The Nuclear Man's 40th anniversary, Shag and Rob review  Fury of Firestorm #s 37-40 by Gerry Conway, Joey Cavalieri, Rafael Kayanan, Mike Clark, Mike Chen, and Akin & Garvey. Firestorm saves New York from a giant meteor, takes on The Weasel in Pittsburgh, and graduates high school! It's Firestorm #40 @ 40!

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23 responses to “Fire & Water #205 – Firestorm #40 @ 40! Firestorm Classic #s 37-40

  1. Happy birthday, Match-head! We celebrate your 40th birthday for one thing by observing your removal from Legends of Tomorrow, where Victor Garber (alias Martin Stein) was the only thing that made the show worth watching. How many times does Martin Stein have to die, anyway? I don’t want to be Martin Stein RIP yet again.

    Kansas is not the single greatest band of all time. Toto is. But I can see how The Wizard of Oz movie has you confused.

    Fury of Firestorm #40 put the high school rivalry with Cliff Carmichael to rest. Then the series jumped the shark just a wee tad when it was revealed that Cliff too would be going to the same college in Pittsburgh as Ronnie and Doreen. Why on earth would Ivy-bound Cliff wind up at the same school as Ronnie and Doreen? That officially crossed the line into the Cliff-Ronnie storyline becoming stale.

    Don’t even get me started on Cliff becoming the Thinker and the Everyone Must Eventually Get Powers crap mentality. Cliff was done in #40. Never should have seen him again. Come to think of it, Ronnie’s college years could have been a great opportunity to throw Doreen onto the scrap heap of history too, but I think Gerry was starting to run on two cylinders at this point. I can’t wait to discuss Firestorm versus the Mutant Wrestler hashtag sarcasm. Don’t get me wrong. I love Gerry on the whole, and we are indebted to him for forty years of comicdom joy. But everyone has their low points and this was the beginning of his. It’s interesting that Gerry mentions having had writer’s block at this point. It shows.

    Working backwards. #37 is the issue where Ronnie mentions Professor Stein’s antipathy toward psychics, astrologers and other woo-woo BS. As Rob Kelly observed previously, how can you be an atheist in the DCU? This is a universe with the Spectre in it. And Zatanna and Dr. Fate, etc. I remember thinking as a kid how the fill-in art for this issue did not work at all, and I was not a kid who paid a bit of attention to who the artists were. So I concur with Rob Kelly’s assessment. “Scratchy” indeed.

    #38-#39 The Bobby Heenan, er, I mean, the Weasel storyline. I remember as a kid I was so disappointed that it was just a guy in a suit. I was hoping it was more like Hyena 2.0. But I have to say as a former academic, Gerry’s take on academia writ large? Spot. On. The battle for tenure, the profiles of the different professors (one shy and reserved, one arrogant but brilliant, one Santa Claus-like), the dubious romantic relationships among faculty and their deans, the publish or perish mentality, etc., all too true. Every last bit of it.

    Great send up of these episodes. I do look forward to your take on the recent happenings on Legends of Tomorrow, and whether you think the show can be salvaged at all without Victor Garber.

  2. The cover to me makes me think Raymod is having a stroke.
    symptoms being:
    Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
    Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
    Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
    Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
    Sudden severe headache with no known cause

    just saying…

  3. Wonderful milestone episode, gentlemen. And Mr. Matthews’ version of the origin of this episode is definitely correct (Shag, the hush money is in the mail, yes…?).

    I remember advance promotional blurbs for FOF v1 issue #37 (in Amazing Heroes magazine) mentioning that this would be a story in which Firestorm would lose control of his powers, and when I saw that whimsical cover by Mr. Kayanan, I was expecting a really fun read. Unfortunately I found the story to be a huge disappointment because it did not deliver on that promise. So thank you for giving me another look at this story to remind me to appreciate that story for what it was, and not what I expected it to be.

    Martin Stein seemed surprisingly “cut” in issue 38… perhaps the Professor was siphoning Ronnie’s athletic physique while Ronnie was tapping into Stein’s intellect?

    1. I remember noticing that too— about Stein’s physique, when I was reading this as a kid. He seemed pretty buff for a nuclear physicist.

  4. Thanks for some great discussion. It’s amazing you guys can keep me transfixed by talking about comics issues I’ve never read.

    Hey, did you see this short Alex Ross video where he talks Aquaman? What exactly is his grudge against Firestorm anyway??

      1. “Those of us who are kind of these Silver Age purists who think you don’t need to fix what isn’t broken, we’re getting our way because more of us are in control at the moment.” In other words, why experiment with new characters and storytelling because we can’t stand change. What a big, talented baby.

  5. Loved this episode. I was still reading Firestorm at the time and was in high school as he was graduating so there was a feeling of kinship.

    I can remember being puzzled by the aspirin line in #37. Even then I knew I aspired for med school and so tucked that one away. But aspirin for catatonia?

    I can remember being pretty ticked with the Weasel reveal. He’s just a guy? I guess he would be too close to the Hyena if he was more.

    And I didn’t like Cliff suddenly becoming ripped. He must have wasted a stamp on Charles Atlas’ book in hopes of becoming the hero of the beach.

    Still, I thought this would be the time for a bold new direction .. no Cliff, no Doreen, no Felicity … all new setting so all new cast. But I’d keep Fire-hawk.

  6. Scrolling through the pages of #39, I was thrilled to see Kayanan kicking some major ass. I would’ve asked where you thought that inspired new approach came from, but I got my answer: Mike Chen. Kayanan still does lovely work (and I agree that he’s his own best inker), especially in #38. Whatever quirks can be found are all charming.

    Alex Niño should not be judged by this inventory story! The man is A MASTER. I cannot stress that enough. He’s not only good at horror, but damn well near everything else (yes, even superheroes). I implore you to *at least* look at this jaw-dropping Conan story:

  7. I can see myself enjoying these issues. On to the Comixology wish list they go.

    So The Weasel is basically The Jackal from Spider-man, also created by Gerry Conway. Yeah….

    And I still had in my head that it was Hyena that died in the SS/DP special. Shows what I know.

    However, didn’t they do the “Firestorm can’t see as well without Stein’s glasses” bit in the first appearance of Plastique? Looking it up… FOF #7. I only read it the one time from a buddy in class at school. Gosh, what class was that? English? Is that why I didn’t get in trouble? Another mystery.

    So when Firestorm got subpoenaed, was he … Furious? Huh? Huh?

    Sorry, I’ll stop. Great episode, guys!

  8. Ronnie letting Cliff beat him didn’t teach him any kind of lesson. Ronnie should have just restrained him and let Cliff kick and scream until he calmed down. It would have been much more satisfying because Ronnie would have got his “mature” point across, and Cliff could have been made to look the fool. Then he should have never followed him to college, and we’re done with that jerk.

    Great episode fellas! Happy anniversary, matchstick head!


    1. The timing for Firestorm to be in Pittsburgh (at all and at that time) makes a lot of since in the history of the city (though historically accidental). Pittsburgh is highly important for nuclear technology in the U.S. In 1948 work on Westinghouse’s Bettis labs was started. Bettis labs first helped in and with developing engines for nuclear powered ships for the navy and then created the first commercial nuclear power station at Shippingport. Also by happenstance in December of ’77 the first U.S. light water breeder reactor went to full power there.
      But besides Westinghouse Pittsburgh also had Nuclear Research Center at Carnegie Institute of Technology which worked on material development for the Manhattan project.
      But then the timing for putting him there is also good. The 80’s was the high point for crime in the city. This because of a variety of reasons but the major one being from the loss of manufacturing based jobs up through the 70’s before it levelled off and then started switching over to other industries thus seeing the unemployment rate of the city start to drop again in the early 90’s.

      But them maybe who know maybe having a superhero in the city helped 😉

  9. Hey Shagg, you’re right. I’m not listening.

    I could never find Firestorm issues before the 40s. I think Moonbiw was the earliest I found. I missed almost all of the Conway stuff, but I have gathered and kept an Ostrander run from Legends till issue 100. That coupled with Suicide Squad is some damn fine comics.

  10. However dynamically Kayanan draws The Weasel, it’s impossible to buy that a middle-aged guy in a fursuit could be fast and agile enough to threaten Firestorm. Also, I miss his orange singlet, the colour of warning and danger! All subsequent appearances of the character (including this summer’s Suicide Squad movie) have had him go naked.

    1. Along with Slipknot, the Weasel is one of those Firestorm villains that really doesn’t make sense. At best, these are Nightwing villains. They shouldn’t last more than 5 seconds against the Nuclear Man.

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