Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Firestorm #4 - DC Comics

FIRESTORM No. 4, August/September 1978
Considering the action-packed Al Milgrom cover depicting both this comic’s titular character and the Manhattan Island Police force bravely battling the Hyena, Gerry Conway’s script for Issue Four of “Firestorm” probably came as something of a disappointment to the audience of “DC’s newest creation”. Indeed, with the exception of Ronnie Raymond’s fused form quickly besting a gang of viciously armed Artic seal hunters, and then later momentarily incarcerating some warehouse robbers, this seventeen-page periodical actually predominantly focuses upon the rather depressingly dreary ‘home life’ of the unpopular Bradley High School pupil and Professor Martin Stein’s determined efforts to discover what happens to him when his memory black-outs occur.

Admittedly, the “vicious ‘crime-fighter’ who attacks criminals and lawmen alike” does make something of a memorably dynamic first appearance by savaging both the villainous Shine Family and the officers who subsequently attend the doomed Travel Agents’ heist. But this fiercely sadistic episode only lasts a handful of pages, and is swiftly replaced by a disconcertingly bizarre father-son argument which leaves a tearful teenager sobbing uncontrollably in bed; “Every time I turn around, I’ve done something to disappoint you. I just wish, once, we could be happy… Just once… I’d like to make you smile…”

Sadly, even Firestorm’s aforementioned encounters arguably must have failed to do little more than place a bemused smile upon the lips of this title’s “Hoo-boy” readers. For whilst Conway’s co-creation undeniably faces controversial gun-wielding fur stalkers and loot-laden raiders, “The Nuclear Man” overcomes his opposition by either converting their firearms into plastic fish, thus placing the men at the mercy of the ribbon-slashing bull seals, or by imprisoning them in an absurd giant wax pumpkin, complete with readily detachable lid. Little wonder Raymond is chastised by the Nobel Prize winning physicist for such inappropriate usages of his “atomic restructuring powers.”   

Just as inconsistent as the Brooklyn-born writer’s narrative, is Allen Milgrom and Jack Abel’s combined breakdowns. Ronnie’s cataclysmic confrontations are sketched well enough, with the comic’s Prince Charles Island-based opening and its panicking pups proving especially well-pencilled. Yet the same cannot be said for the were-hyena’s bloodthirsty attack upon “Spit” Shine and Manhattan’s finest, whose scratchy-looking panels lack much of the enthrallingly energic detail depicted elsewhere within the book’s interior illustrations.
Writer/Creator: Gerry Conway, and Artists: Allen Milgrom & Jack Abel

No comments:

Post a Comment