As of this issue, writer Joe Harris finds himself in the position of being the captain going down with the ship as Ethan Van Sciver has now abandoned the troubled vessel that is the Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men. Harris does an admirable job on the writing chores, but he has been saddled with such a convoluted mess of a plot that there will be no saving this ship.
Someday, I hope to hear what really happened to this book. There has to be a story here, and it is probably not too unlike stories we have heard about the behind the scenes workings of books like Static Shock. This series started on a high with a writing duo like Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver. That should have been awesome. But here we are at issue #11, and both are gone. Van Sciver’s last credited issue was #10, and Simone has been gone since #6. Things have obviously gone off the rails behind the scenes.
But what effect has that had on the series? In this issue, Jason Rusch and Firebird search Pozhar’s lab for answers on the rogue Firestorms. Ronnie Raymond, sporting a new look for reasons I am not entirely clear on, teams with Rakshasa and Pozhar to take on the apparent source of the rogue Firestorms. Basically, there are now a whole lot of Firestorms flying around, and this series has strayed quite a long way from the character-centric odd couple premise of Jason and Ronnie being Firestorm together.
Honestly, there is so much about this issue that I just don’t follow. I’ve lost track of what the plot and character arcs are supposed to be, and I’m not sure that DC isn’t in the same boat. Pozhar no longer seems like the same character he was when he first appeared a mere few issues ago. Plot threads that seemed prevalent in the early issues seemed to have been dropped in favor of a more haphazard plot that serves as an excuse to show off character designs for Firestorms of various nationalities. Now, Harris is struggling to pull things together and get them back on track. But I don’t know if that track is even still there.
Harris wastes no time in coming up with a means of reuniting Jason and Ronnie, a strained partnership that was supposed to be the focal point of this series but has been sorely absent for months. He doesn’t quite manage to make it happen in this issue, but at least he’s working hard to get it done. Also, he seems to have a very nice handle at writing Firebird, who has been significantly reimagined for the New 52 as a French Firestorm.
All these international and rogue Firestorms has been a problem for me and this series, which has gotten worse over time. I don’t think it is any coincidence that they really got out of control once Simone made her departure, leaving Van Sciver to continue with a new writing partner. After years of helping Geoff Johns develop various characters for the Green Lantern franchise, I suspect Van Sciver came into this series stuck in a corps mindset, hence the Firestorm Corps we have gotten. For me, the series has never really effectively sold the idea of beings as powerful as Firestorms being something man-made and mass produced. And the sheer amount of Firestorms flying around has a diminishing effect on the two characters who are supposed to be our main characters. After reuniting Jason and Ronnie, I think the next thing Harris needs to work on is clearing the board of all these others.
Yildiray Cinar continues to prove he was an excellent choice for this series. While I’m assuming Van Sciver is the one who came up with the character designs, Cinar really does a great job of bringing them all to life. The rest of the art team deserve credit too, especially when you’re dealing with a book with so much energy being thrown around as this one. The colors and everything really bring it all out. If nothing else, this is a lively looking book.
Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men was one of the New 52 titles I most looked forward to. It had great creators and a great premise between two conflicting characters. Yet, it ended up being one of my bigger disappointments with the whole event. I’ve just been watching this book stray further and further away from what it could have been. From what I can tell, Joe Harris is a good writer, but he is stuck in the position of trying to manage a plotline that has become too convoluted for its own good. He may be capable of salvaging it all. Unfortunately, I doubt this series will last long enough for him to turn it around.