Fire & Water #239 – Fury of Firestorm #s 48-54, Annual #4

Shag and Rob fan the flame with some issues of Fury of Firestorm, discussing #s 48-54 and Annual #4, Gerry Conway's final work on the series! Plus YOUR Listener Feedback!

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13 responses to “Fire & Water #239 – Fury of Firestorm #s 48-54, Annual #4

  1. I was talking about Ostrander’s first arc, where the response to a rogue Firestorm was I. JLI, II. Suicide Squad with permission to use Parasite, and III Nuclear Strike. Insufficient force, obviously.

    Big week for Who’s Who egregious omissions, two of mine in Moonbow and King Crusher and also Captain X who wasn’t on my radar. Speaking of Ostrander, it’s a miracle those first two were never on the Squad. Maybe Moonbow’s parents’ wealth kept her out of Belle Reve…


    I had to tweet a copy of this Steve Mitchell interview from an issue of British magazine Fantazia to Shag and Rob to prove that even one of the artists thought these issues were badly drawn.

    From my own perspective, I discovered Firestorm during the blank slate period then picked up this run as back issues so my impression of Joe Brozowski is based on those issues and his future work like Catwoman and Foolkiller (one of my favourites). He never gave up swiping but he did good work that was always in service to the story. Even these issues with their inconsistent (and sometimes inappropriate) inking tell the stories well. The writing lets these down more than the art. I think he comes off particularly well when you compare him to Rich Buckler and his swiping of different artists in the same panel. Art Adams and Neal Adams are very different but if you want to see them in the same panel check out X-Factor 50.

    I’m also going to have to be a bit political again and ask you to reconsider the use of the phrase “wheelchair bound “. My husband is a wheelchair user and I have learnt that “wheelchair bound ” is a phrase hated by disabled people as the wheelchair is not a bind, rather it gives freedom. Luckily Yragael educated me on this before I met any of his friends from the disability rights movement or I could have made a massive faux pas.

  3. Although I have always preferred the Ronny/Stein version of Firestorm, issue #50 is ironically one of the very few issues of that era that I actually bought when it first came out (perhaps more a factor of my age than anything else), and thus I’ve always remembered it fondly. I agree that the new “logo” (scare quotes intentional) works here, but pretty much nowhere else. I’m really not at all sure what DC was thinking at the time. I never really felt that the back-story for Captain X was too complicated. It was simply an old corner of the DC Universe I hadn’t yet discovered. And it still hurts just *thinking* about that scene where poor Hugo lies on the football field….

    But perhaps I understood, even then, that other issues of that particular point in time weren’t as good, as I still didn’t buy every month for a few more years (until the Elemental era, oddly enough), only going back to get the entire series shortly after issue #100 hit the stands. Indeed, Annual #4 must have been particularly forgettable, as I found I didn’t even remember most of what you guys were talking about during that portion of the podcast. I had to double-check to make sure it was even in my collection (it is).

    Even so, it’s always a joy to hear you guys reminisce on these classic issues, even when the issues themselves aren’t as great. Looking forward to when you get started on Ostrander’s run.

  4. Sorry Rob, I gotta speak out against that Helvetica Condensed “logo” as well. It was fine on issue #50, I’ll give you that, but man, what a DULL logo for such a bright, exciting character. I really dislike modern comic logos like the ones Chip Kidd (whose work I admire otherwise) came up with for All-Star Superman and Batman, for instance. Ooh, I can use the perspective tool in Photoshop. Good for you.

    I do agree with Rob on that panel of Grandpa Captain X. Hoo boy, that HAD to have been redrawn, or blown up from a thumbnell, and inked with a housepaint brush. It reminds me of a few instances in the DC digest where they would reprint a page that originally had a half-page ad, and draw an new bottom. I’m thinking of the last page “The Titan’s Swinging Christmas Carol” reprint, as an example. The top looks like Nick Cardy, the bottom looks like someone gave a monkey with a caffeine addiction a Sharpie marker!

    Sad to see Gerry’s work slowly peter out like this. By this time, wasn’t he off Justice League as well? So sad to see his long runs on each title end in such a whimper. But nice to know he did very well for himself afterwards!

    I look forward to you reading these comments next year!


  5. The wrestling issues were sort of the ‘decaying orbit’ moment for me with Firestorm. It was clear I was going to drop the book, it was only a matter of when.

  6. Terrific show, lads. Yeah, the Gerry run was petering out, but still, that’s MY Firestorm. All the Russian and elemental business that’s to come… John Ostrander does a fine job with the scripts but it’s no longer Firestorm. Firestorm is two people – one of whom should be Mart or Ronnie – rubbing along, with transmutation powers. Anyway, comments when you get to the issues.

    Boy, that logo… it’s not even a logo, is it, just a very, very dull typeface. Denny O’Neill can’t decide what looks good? Call in Todd Klein. Get Gaspar Saladino out of retirement. Anything, just have someone design something that evokes Firestorm’s core qualities – dynamism, fun, a fire motif. It’s not that hard. Heck, they had the perfect masthead at the start of this volume and they tossed it aside.

    As for that cover copy, it’s horrible, but Denny did it a lot around this time on Batman, Captain Atom and the like… somehow he comes up with teases that manage to be melodramatic and deadly dull at the same time.

    I actually quite like the look of the Bair, Smith and Hoolahan art, and I really don’t see Andrews’ lettering as sub-par for the time.

    I remember really enjoying the Felicity trial business, I love law dramas (even the Trial of the Flash). I wonder if Gerry showed these issues to the Law & Order (‘dang DANG’) people.

    The Captain X business wasn’t complicated, just random, and not very interesting.

  7. Very surprised and saddened to hear you report that Joe Brozowski had passed away; this was the first I’d heard about it. Unfortunately, it often seems to be the case that an artist’s passing can go unnoticed if they’re not active in the industry at the time of their death: For example, it seems to me that Tom Artis, Bill Jaaska, and Vince Argondezzi got relatively little attention at the time. Very sad…

  8. Great episode, guys, even if the comics themselves were a bit uneven.

    Ok, ok, Shag! I’ll start my read-thru of Firestorm from the beginning! You don’t have to nag me! Geez! I should be caught up by the time you read this comment.

  9. Not many people remember that Bree Brandon became Bree Daniels once Gerry Conway left and John Ostrander took over. I think Ostrander probably had an allergy to the silly alliterative names that Conway favored. #aproposofnothing

    Why do you love that FOF #49 cover so much, Shagg? Possibly the blatant S&M overtones of the thing? #sorrynotsorry

    Chief Ferguson is a Manhunter! #spoilers

    Well, we’re going to get rid of Cliff. But he’ll be back at the end of the series run. #don’tevengetmestarted

    Yeah… issues #51-52 were the definitive low point. Wrestlers? Martin lookalikes? Oh good grief. No. Plus, it was obvious that it was Cliff who cut the strap. Worst whodunnit ever.

    Thom Zahler offered to co-write Firestorm with Gerry? Well, Gerry could’ve done worse at this point.

    Eddie Slick is the Sand Demon! #spoilers

    Albino White Snake? Here I go again on my own….

    Cliff Carmichael is The Thinker! #spoilers

    Okay, I’ll go off on this. I couldn’t stand it. Are there any *normal* people in comics? Must we give powers to every single character in our paneled universe? Cliff as just a normal a-hole antagonist works. Cliff as a super villain? Why? It’s right up there (or down there) with Elastic Lad. Just say no to giving every character in comics superpowers.

    Gerry knew how to leave a mess on John Ostrander’s hands… I remember wondering, WTF? How are they going to resolve this one? And there was no way to predict where they ultimately went with it, either, except that Denny O’Neil practically spoiled (yes, I am a hypocrite) the outcome by saying something in the letter column to the effect of “don’t assume Firestorm’s nature is immutable”. I remember the word “immutable” pretty clearly. Way to go, Denny, you spelled out that we’re going to have a secret ID change.

    The Trash issue. Enough said. #ooohdiss

    I remember the problem with Firestorm #54 being, WTF, you just dropped the cancer bomb on Martin last issue, and we’re not dealing with that? What??? Back when I was a kid, I didn’t pay very close attention to the creators, so I didn’t realize that it was a filler issue. I thought it was a very jarring omission.

    I loved the Russia stuff. I can’t wait to hear you guys cover it. Those of us who actually remember the Reagan administration will enjoy this.

    This Frankenstein ad— I never realized. Mart-INSTEIN. Frank-ENSTEIN. Firestorm is Martin’s Frankenstein! I never got that before. Duh! What’s in a name, right?

    Zatanna… why the extra -n- (Zantanna)? Because of Zan-and-Jayna?

    Joe swiped from Neil Adams and Pat Broderick? Well, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best….

    I’m tempted to take all Thom Zahler’s letters— with his kind permission— and set them to some really esoteric, abstract post-tonal music as a contemporary classical concert piece.

    Until Martin takes up breakdancing.

  10. Gentlemen,

    The nature of fire is change.

    Yup, It’s the cheeks and the chin.

    Off kilter?
    Nope, she’s swinginging slowly side to side.
    (I can hear the creaking of the rope).

    Just found you Guy’s, been a Firestorm fanatic since #1 original series and Nova (Rich) freak since issue #5 original series.

    Keep up the good work.

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