|FIRESTORM No. 2, April 1978|
Despite depicting “Firestorm’s fearsome first foray against the fission-formed fiend” Multiplex, this seventeen-page periodical sadly smacks of being little more than a “notorious” Bronze Age marketing ploy by “DC Comics” to draw more attention to its latest super-hero by having the publisher’s incredibly successful Man of Steel superficially appear both within the book’s disenchanting narrative and on its colourful, though incredibly misleading, jacket illustration. Indeed Al Milgrom’s front cover sketch of a beaten titular protagonist pleading to an unmoving Superman for assistance is a typical example of “the classic ‘page-turner’ covers that were popular during the Seventies” which clearly depicted characters “displaying behaviour that runs counter to the accepted norm.”
This outrageous gimmickry is especially disappointing as it acutely interferes with Gerry Conway’s presumably serious attempt to create Ronnie Raymond’s very own Moriarty in the guise of Danton Black; a crook Professor Stein has previously sacked for dishonesty who plans on using his own exposure to a nuclear blast and subsequent duplication powers, in order to become “a pair of second-rate safecrackers.” Though considering the creative team’s choice in outlandishly corny costume for the cape-wearing former Hudson Nuclear Power Plant assistant, the impact upon the newsstand pursuing public by “the duplicate villain” was probably doomed from the very start.
Regardless of such fundamental design flaws concerning “Firestorm’s first super-powered enemy” however, it is clear that the presence of Clark Kent’s alter-ego detrimentally detracts from a narrative which genuinely shows some promise as the Nuclear Man initially prevents an old man from being beaten to death by loan sharks and then makes it evident that both Raymond and Stein are” tied together, even when we’re not Firestorm --” The impact of such an intriguing notion, and one which the Bradley High School student subsequently builds upon by demonstrating his ability to fuse with his mentor “even when we’re miles apart --”, is sadly completely lost just as soon as Superman appears in the guise of a Metropolis WGBS-TV broadcaster, decides “to keep on top of these things” despite the “new self-styled crimefighter” “possibly [being]… none of my business” and promptly causes a “star-struck teenybopper” to completely forget about battling his deadly adversary”; “Er, much as I’d like to chat-- haven’t you forgotten something?”
Such a noticeable decline in this comic’s penmanship is unhappily replicated in Al Milgrom’s artwork, with the Detroit-born illustrator’s dynamic, extremely well-rendered breakdowns of the Nuclear Man battling Multiplex suddenly transforming into a series of almost amateurishly sketched cartoon-like panels once Kal-El becomes involved and the titular character simply ‘hangs around with his tongue out.” In addition there is something strangely unsettling about the Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award-winner's pencilling of an ever-smiling Man of Steel...
|Creator/Writer: Gerry Conway, and Co-Creater/Artist: Al Milgrom|