Thursday, 21 April 2016

Firestorm #3 - DC Comics

FIRESTORM No. 3, June 1978
Featuring the origin of the Nuclear Man’s long-running adversary Killer Frost, Issue Three of “Firestorm” somewhat disconcertingly begins by depicting its titular character aggressively harassing “worm” Clifford Carmichael simply because of all the problems the bespectacled “smart mouth” has caused the atomic-powered teenager’s alter-ego at High School. Such unheroic behaviour, exacerbated by Ronnie Raymond’s selfish disregard for Professor Stein’s urgent appointment at Long Island Military Airbase, initially makes it hard to like Gerry Conway’s co-creation, or appreciate the supposed “sense of fun” with which the Brooklyn-born writer was apparently trying to inject into this title after “his years [of frustration] writing Spider-Man” for “Marvel Comics Group”.

Mercifully though, once the “Nobel Prize winning physicist” arrives at project Mohole One in the Artic after a “ten hour trip”, this seventeen-page periodical’s narrative finally starts to settle down and seriously tell the somewhat tragic tale of Doctor Crystal Frost; one of Stein’s former students from Hudson University who has fallen in love with her professor after mistakenly misinterpreting his motives as him “secretly” adoring her. Admittedly the woman’s ‘psychotic’ passion for her Engineering Physics lecturer does appear to be somewhat unconvincingly contrived, especially considering the age difference between the two scientists, as well as the fact that “the Ice Maiden” has supposedly harboured her intense feelings for such a prolonged period of time. But even these manufactured motivations are as nothing compared to her transformation into the villainous cold manipulator, courtesy of the scholar inadvertently trapping herself inside a 'Thermofrost Unit' for two hours simply because no-one thought to build an emergency release for its self-locking door...

Killer Frost’s creation does however seem to help stimulate Conway’s storyline and what follows is arguably one of the Edgar Allan Poe Award-nominee’s better scripts concerning a ‘comic book conflict’ during his ten-year tenure exclusively writing for “DC Comics”. Indeed Firestorm’s battle with Martin’s “scorned lover” depicts a genuinely classic Bronze Age confrontation as the dual identity super-hero soon realises he won’t beat his icy adversary just by ‘zapping her’ with his “heat blasts”, and must instead outwit the chilly murderess into once again becoming imprisoned within the project’s super-large freezer; “This leads us to one conclusion, Ronald! Killer Frost needs warmth -- She thrives on it, lives for it! Without it -- she should be helpless!”

“Kiss Not The Lips Of Killer Frost” additionally proves to be a rather enticing read as a result of Al Milgrom’s efficiently detailed pencilling, and dynamically charged action shots. It is also nice to see the Michigan-born artist giving both Professor Stein and his “dormant persona” plenty of ‘screen time’ within his breakdowns as opposed to them predominantly focussing upon the Nuclear Man’s younger, more athletic persona.
Creator/Writer: Gerry Conway, and Co-Creater/Artist: Al Milgrom

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