Firestorm #4 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Everybody Wants You

Firestorm created by: Gerry Conway & Al Milgrom

Written by: Dan Jolley
Penciled by: ChrisCross
Inked by: Rob Stull
Colored by: Chris Sotomayor
Lettered by: Pat Brosseau
Associate Editor: Stephen Wacker
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Publisher: DC Comics

After four issues of Firestorm there is only one thing I feel comfortable saying: this book’s developing rather slowly. The characterization of Jason Rusch (the new man in the Firestorm costume) has been quite good, so I’m not ready to throw in the towel. Yet, it seems like we aren’t breaking new ground this month. We do get a new villain, a wino gives Jason a pep talk, not to mention Martian Manhunter and John Stewart show up to prod Jason in the proper direction. Yet, we still don’t have any answers. This issue seemed really light on wordplay; unfortunately this was another comic that could be read in less than five minutes. It seems like nothing much will happen until that Identity Crisis tie-in that’s coming in issue #6.

I understand where DC and writer Dan Jolley are coming from by totally redoing the Firestorm concept with a more contemporary lead hero. Ronnie Raymond and the old Firestorm series bore a lot of similarity to the high school and college days of Peter Parker in the Spider-Man titles, but with a higher degree of fun. This new title isn’t amusing—in fact, it’s the diametric opposite. It’s not bad in any way, shape, or form. It just doesn’t capture that wild, exciting factor of fun, which was the true spirit of Firestorm. That’s not being negative, or overly critical. It’s just the truth. Its one thing to totally change the character of Firestorm, but the spirit needs to remain intact. I haven’t seen that yet.

Villain-wise I’m not sure what we get this month. The beginning of this issue introduces us to Casey Krinsky. She appears to me as nothing more than a female version of Marvel’s Absorbing Man, that’s it. She comes face-to-face with Firestorm as the issue draws to a close. It still isn’t clear whether Krinsky is going to be an ongoing threat. Casey has some potential, but it’s been four issues and we still haven’t seen a real donnybrook. Just another example of the spirit being missed. Where are the real super-villains in this book?

One of the aspects that made Firestorm so cool in the ‘80s was the ample Rogues Gallery he had. Killer Frost, Black Bison, Hyena, Multiplex, and Typhoon are the over-the-top super-villains that I crave in my superhero escapism. It becomes uninteresting to see a character like Firestorm fighting drug dealers or a rip on Absorbing Man. I want costumed whack-jobs, preferably some of Firestorm’s old rogues, or at least some other classic DC villains.

ChrisCross turns in another fine performance this month. That said we’ll be losing Mr. Cross after next mont’s edition. Jamal Igle joins on with issue #8 and he’ll do some great work too. Yet, it’s a major disappointment that Cross is leaving the book so soon. His work on Captain Marvel was stunning. It would have been great to see him have the opportunity to let loose with some grand, superhero action, but that was obviously not to be. Still, artistically we seem to be in good hands now and in the future.

All told, I’m enjoying the book. Understand any negativity is coming from a grizzled, old-school Firestorm fan. I’m still waiting for this book to hit on all cylinders. Issue #6 could be the make or break point for the new Firestorm. We’re promised some closure on Ronnie Raymond and hopefully then the book will settle down and become a little more fun. I can deal with a new Firestorm, but I’d love to see the book get back to the spirit of the old days.