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Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #28

Posted: Monday, August 14, 2006
By: Caryn A. Tate



ďIn My Fatherís HouseĒ (Part 1)

Writer: Stuart Moore
Artist: Jamal Igle (p), Keith Champagne (i), David Baron (colors)

Publisher: DC Comics


I have never read a Firestorm comic before, so I didnít know a whole lot about the character going into this issue. Iíve seen him before in Justice League comics, so I was aware of him and thought it seemed liKE he has some cool powers, but that was about all I knew. So why not check out his comic?

Well, the result is a pretty good comic, but not a great introduction for a new reader like myself. In some ways, Firestorm is not a straight ahead type of superhero, such as Batman or Superman. If youíre a new reader, aside from knowing something about the characters just from popular culture, itís fairly easy to figure out how their powers or abilities work and what theyíre about. Firestorm isnít that way. Apparently, it takes two people
to create the hero Firestorm; I understood this from the blurb on the credits page that gives a little background on the hero. Right now, at least, the two people that compose Firestorm are Jason Rusch, a college student, and a physicist named Professor Martin Stein.

So I understood that two people merge to become the hero Firestorm, but I had some difficulty with a couple of other aspects of the character. First, what is the ďFirestorm MatrixĒ? As Firestorm is flying around doing his hero gig, suddenly in the next panel, Jason and the Professor appear to be in some sort of lab, and Jason wears his regular ďcivilianĒ clothes. They indicate in conversation that this is the Firestorm Matrix.

I wasnít sure at that point if Jason is physically Firestorm, or if the hero is just some sort of mental creation. (Apparently, he is physical, but I didnít understand this until researching it later.)

Second, why does the Professorís apparent disembodied head appear next to Firestorm while he flies around doing his hero thing? Again, after reading the issue in its entirety and doing a little research, I understood that the Professor has a sort of telepathic link with Jason when he is Firestorm. But I wish the creators had shown the Professor as sort of a hazy looking figure near Firestorm. Then it would have been more clear to me that he is
only mentally there, conversing with Jason. As it was shown in the comic, fully rendered and colored in regular flesh tones, it was somewhat confusing.

Finally, it was difficult to understand who Gehenna was; Jason mentions her a few times, as does the Professor, and her face appears in a few panels. But who is she exactly? Itís established that Jason cares about her. Thatís about it. Again, I researched this and found that she is Jasonís girlfriend.

One thing about Gehenna: this may seem minor, but it was distracting for me. Why is she wearing pigtails? How often do grown women wear pigtails, at least out in public, while walking down the street?

Aside from these somewhat confusing aspects of the comic, I enjoyed the story. What I found most interesting were the issues Jason is having at home, with his mom and dad (without giving too much away, the gist is that his mother has reappeared after abandoning both Jason and his father some years ago). Jason is understandably hurt and angry about it, and itís an interesting side to a superhero that we donít often see in comics. Itís nice, for one thing, to have a young hero who isnít a teenager, just because itís different. On the other hand (similar in a way to how I feel about teenage superheroes), itís engaging to read about a hero who, because of his
youth, has so many things going on, who is figuring out what he wants to do with his life and how he feels about things. It lends a fresh aspect to the idea of a superhero.

The art by Mr. Ingle is good, although itís a bit more mainstream than I would like to see. His action sequences are very good, showing a good amount of detail and realism in the body language of the characters, especially Firestorm. Some of the charactersí faces, though, are at times somewhat unpleasant looking (Gehenna especially). The colors, while not bad, are sometimes just too primary; for instance, at one point Jasonís mother begins to cry. Her tears are bright blue, and it looks odd. (Why not a white with blue highlights, or more clear looking?)

I will be willing to read another issue of the book, in the hopes that it will become more interesting to me once I get to know the characters. Itís just unfortunate that itís not necessarily easy to jump on any issue and understand, for the most part at least, what that hero is all about. This is something at which I believe older comics did a better job, typically, than modern comics. They didnít take readership for granted nearly as much, and assumed that all readers, new or old, would be able to read each issue and comprehend what was happening. Hopefully more modern comics will begin to take this into consideration again, because otherwise, how can the industry expect more new readers to begin buying comics on a regular basis?



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