Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Firestorm #5 - DC Comics

FIRESTORM No. 5, October/November 1978
Unknowingly headed for sudden cancellation along with “more than two dozen [other] ongoing and planned series by the American comics publisher DC Comics in 1978”, Issue Five of “Firestorm”, packed full of unanswered plot-threads, is most assuredly not the ‘swansong’ edition co-creators Gerry Conway and Allen Milgrom would have wanted. True, the twenty-five page periodical does make good use of its publisher’s then-recent change in its marketing campaign, by populating its additional content with depictions of Ronnie Raymond battling either the Hyena or Multiplex. But these extra “super-thrills” actually prove a little monotonous after a while, especially when the reasoning behind the hero’s elongated fisticuffs are as unsatisfactory as him simply not appreciating his “atomic restructuring powers are useless” when fighting at close quarters with the Scavenger of Crime, or that Professor Martin Stein has just had one alcoholic beverage too many; “Hey! Something’s weird! I feel woozy -- off-balance!”

To make matters worse, these action-packed confrontations, dynamically sketched by the book’s Detroit-born penciller, are persistently interrupted by all-manner of seemingly haphazard interludes which just so happen to involve almost the entirety of the comic’s supporting cast. Whether it be Bradley High’s principal just ‘happening’ to look outside his office window and recognising “Spit Shine, son of New York’s most notorious mob overlord”, or Danton Black coincidentally emerging from his coma at the downtown Medical Centre just as “the ever-popular school smart-mouth” Cliff Carmichael deduces that Firestorm’s secret identity is somebody at his college, Conway’s narrative is almost awash with contrivingly staged flukes and disconcerting happenstances.

Sadly, the script to “Again: Multiplex” is also plagued with some incredibly bizarre, head-scratchingly odd character motivation. Just why Firestorm doesn’t simply keep his distance from Hyena and “zap” the villain with a nuclear blast whilst well out of reach is never explained, despite the youth’s realisation that just “one small caress” from their vibro-claws” and he’ll “be dog food!” Whilst Spit’s unbelievably reckless decision to bring the “refugee from a Wolfman movie” back to his parents’ criminal headquarters in a midtown office building so he’d “have something to show my mom and dad”, was clearly engineered just so the Hyena could subsequently leap through the address’ large glass window and become “a dwindling shape soon lost in the city’s sprawling shadows.”
Writer/Creator: Gerry Conway, and Penciller/Co-creator: Allen Milgrom

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