FIRESTORM has a long, distinguished publishing history with DC Comics. Created in 1978 by Gerry Conway and Allen Milgrom, FIRESTORM is one of the few heroes from the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ70s to survive and thrive into the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ80s and beyond. While the second FIRESTORM series was cancelled in 1990, the character has maintained a strong fan following. Finally, in 2004 the pleas of fans were answered when Dan Jolley and ChrisCross launched an all-new FIRESTORM, with a brand-new character beneath the flame-hairdo.
The new Firestorm, Jason Rusch, has been doing his thing for more than a year now. As the comic world goes, a writing change is afoot as Stuart Moore is preparing to step in and guide Firestorm’s adventures.
Recently, I was able to catch up with Stuart Moore and get a look into the world of FIRESTORM. The ensuing interview gives a great idea of what we can expect from in the coming months. Sit back, relax and find out all the latest.
The Nexus: Your name is probably new to a lot of readers. Can you tell us a little about your previous comic work?
Stuart Moore: I’ve written a Dark Horse future-western series called LONE; a political satire graphic novel for AiT/PlanetLar called GIANT ROBOT WARRIORS; a high-tech thriller called PARA and a far-future sci-fi project called ZENDRA, both for Penny-Farthing Press; some issues of JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES; a longish story for Dark Horse’s THE ESCAPIST, with another to come; and various short pieces for VAMPIRELLA, WESTERN TALES OF TERROR, METAL HURLANT, and an old STAR TREK SPECIAL.
But I’m better known in this industry as an editor. I was one of the founders of DC’s Vertigo imprint, where I won the Will Eisner award for Best Editor 1996 and the Don Thompson Award for Favorite Editor 1999. From late 2000 through mid-2002, I edited the Marvel Knights comics line. Then, gradually, I made the transition to writing full-time.
The Nexus: How did you land the job as the new writer on FIRESTORM?
Stuart Moore: I’d worked with editor Steve Wacker on JUSTICE LEAGUE ADVENTURES. Dan Jolley was leaving FIRESTORM, and Steve thought I’d be a good fit for the book. I threw together the first version of the proposal amazingly fast (24 hours — with time out for drinks with a visiting friend!), and we hammered out the details over the next week. It’s a bit of a blur, to be honest.
The Nexus: Can you tell us about the person behind the current Firestorm, Jason Rusch?
Stuart Moore: Jason’s an ordinary young guy who’s had this enormous power literally fall out of the sky, into his lap. He’s got a difficult home life and he’s pretty desperate to get away, to go away to college in the fall. During Dan Jolley’s run on the book, Jason made a lot of mistakes and pretty thoroughly worked out the kinks — with a little help from his predecessor, Ronnie Raymond.
In my first issue, Jason turns 18. Now he’s ready to step up to the plate and show what he can do. What he doesn’t know is how many people already have their eye on Firestorm.
Cover to Firestorm #13
The Nexus: What can you tell us about your first issue of FIRESTORM (#14) and what you have planned beyond?
Stuart Moore: The first issue throws Jason Rusch/Firestorm into a number of new situations: new threat, new job, new living situation. It lays the seeds for the first five issues, which feature a few new villains; a lot of new friends; a long-term mystery; a couple of familiar faces; Jason’s first big fight against an army of supervillains; and, ultimately, a hard look at what failure and success really mean when you’re eighteen years old and just feeling your way into the adult world.
Then comes the CRISIS.
The Nexus: During his run on FIRESTORM, Dan Jolley built a powerful relationship between Jason and his father. With Jason changing living arrangements, will you continue to explore this relationship?
Stuart Moore: The situation with his father will be dealt with, somewhat, in issue #14. But it’s not a simple thing, and it’s not something Jason can just wrap up in a bow and walk away from. His father — and his mother, whom we’ve only seen in flashbacks — will continue to cast a heavy shadow over his new life. That’s all dealt with a bit more in #15-16, in and around the crushing attack of THE PIONIC MAN. (It’s not all soap opera!)
Cover to Firestorm #14
The Nexus: Fan favorite Ronnie Raymond was replaced by Jason Rusch as Firestorm when the series launched. Recently, Ronnie returned as a part of the Firestorm matrix. Essentially, Ronnie’s been operating as a guiding light. Now that you’re onboard as writer, will Ronnie continue to play a part in the book?
Stuart Moore: I can’t answer that without ruining the ending of Dan Jolley’s run on the book. I can say that we won’t be forgetting the book’s past — the mix of old and new is very important to all of us.
The Nexus: Jason’s new job will be working for the Detroit branch of S.T.A.R. Labs. Considering all of the super-powered happenings at S.T.A.R., can we expect Jason to run into a lot of heroes and villains through his new job?
Stuart Moore: S.T.A.R. Labs Detroit isn’t quite like the other shining, glorious centers of scientific achievement you’ve seen. It’s got a lot of problems. But yes, there will definitely be superhuman activity going on around it. Issues #15-16 deal with that quite a lot.
The Nexus: When this series launched more than a year ago, some Firestorm fans were rather vocal in their dissatisfaction over Ronnie Raymond being replaced. As the new writer, what type of reaction are you getting from fans about Jason Rusch as Firestorm?
Stuart Moore: It’s very heated — on both sides. The Ronnie fans are the most determined, but Jason has his supporters too. Whenever I go and tally up the number of posters on a message board — as opposed to the number of posts — it works out pretty close to even.
Taking over a title with this kind of history, you’re never going to make everyone happy right out of the gate. I’m a big believer in moving forward, but there’s also a rich history to FIRESTORM that we plan to use selectively. If the stories and art are good, people tend to come around.
Cover to Firestorm #15
The Nexus: Is there a classic Firestorm villain that you would like to bring back?
Stuart Moore: Most of them have just been back, so we’re moving on to new ones for a while. But there’s one lurking presence from the character’s past that’ll come out pretty soon.
The Nexus: What have you found to be the greatest challenge stepping in as the new writer on FIRESTORM?
Stuart Moore: I honestly have trouble keeping track of his powers! Firestorm can potentially do ANYTHING — he’s got complete control over matter and energy — so it’s a matter of what Jason has learned so far. In one of Dan’s issues, Ronnie Raymond told him he had a more instinctive sense of some of this than Ron himself had ever had. But Jason’s still learning, and he doesn’t (yet) have a professor looking over his shoulder to spell out chemical compounds for him.
That brings up a related matter: Jason badly needs some adult role models in his life, aside from his dad. We’ll be dealing with that. He also needs a real relationship, which will take a little longer.
The Nexus: What other comic projects are you working on?
Stuart Moore: Let’s see: I’m doing a series of STARGATE ATLANTIS miniseries with Avatar. That’s a lot of fun so far — I like the TV series a lot, and because it’s so new there’s a lot of room to play around. I think that’ll debut in late Summer, with a preview issue out pretty soon now.
I’ve got a pretty depressing — but hopefully funny — story in WESTERN TALES OF TERROR #4, out in June. It’s called “Other Folks’ Troubles,” and it’s very nicely drawn by Jason Copland. I’ve also just written a second ESCAPIST story for Michael Chabon’s anthology series at Dark Horse; that should be out in the fall.
The trade paperback collection of PARA, my paranormal sci-fi thriller from Penny-Farthing Press, should be debuting this summer at Comicon San Diego. That’ll be good to have in one volume — I’m very proud of it.
Aside from that, I’ve just written a novel — the prose kind, all words no pitchers — for Games Workshop as part of a new/revived series called Dark Future. My book is called AMERICAN MEAT, and it’s a fast-paced, satirical action-adventure story about the decline of America, the meat industry, laser battles, anthropomorphic animals, and the lies we all tell ourselves. That’ll be out in December.
I’ve also just written a graphic-novel adaptation of a bestselling fantasy novel for Penguin/Philomel, and an original, satirical graphic novel with John McCrea for AiT/PlanetLar. And I’ve got new stuff in development at Tokyopop, Marvel, and DC. I try to keep busy.
The Nexus: I always like to ask comic pros about what they are reading. What are some of your favorite titles currently being published?
Stuart Moore: I always forget something crucial when I’m asked that, but here goes…EX MACHINA, POWERS, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, DAREDEVIL…I just caught up on Garth’s PUNISHER, which is great and works best when you read an entire storyline at once. Steve Gerber & Brian Hurtt’s HARD TIME, Kyle Baker’s PLASTIC MAN. I have a fondness for JOHNNY RAYGUN QUARTERLY, which manages to combine a few different influences and genres very cleverly. And I love STRAY BULLETS. Nobody talks about that book anymore, probably because of its erratic publication schedule, but it’s always brilliant. THE ULTIMATES, ULTIMATE FF…I really liked Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo’s run on the regular FF book, too. OCEAN. The new LEGION is terrific — so is ASTONISHING X-MEN. I’ll also pick up anything by Evan Dorkin, Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, Alan Moore, Sam Henderson, Peter Bagge…LOVE & ROCKETS, holy crap — what an incredible, consistent run, and it’s at least as good as it’s ever been.
There’s a lot more, too. This is an amazing time for comics — if you’re not finding something you like, you’re just not trying.
FIRESTORM #13 (Dan Jolley’s final issue as writer) arrived in stores this past Wednesday (May 4th). FIRESTORM #14 (Stuart Moore’s debut) is due in stores June 1st.