This issue of “Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men” starts out with a peek into the daily dealings of Pozhar, the Russian Firestorm and co-creator of the Firestorm Protocols. Professor Arkadin offers an inspector from Moscow a first-hand look into what could go wrong should the Firestorm Protocols be misappropriated.
That serves as a television show-like transition (minus the screen-wipe effect, replaced here by a turning page) from Siberia to the Nevada Desert where Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond are being treated as guests of Zithertech. Candace Zither, the head of Zithertech and a character readers have seen lurking in the shadows, extends an offer to the pair of Firestorms in exchange for clearing their names. As a trial run, the pair hesitantly accepts a first assignment, and because this is comics, things go predictably wrong.
During that assignment, however, the writing by Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver gets muddy, and the story ambles along, bouncing from Ronnie to Jason and back again, finally uniting the two for a couple of splash page jaw-droppers. Except something happened on the way to those jawdroppers: the story got clunky and not very compelling. Jason gets substantially more panel time in this issue, but doesn’t do much to become any more interesting than he is on the cover of the book. We learn that he’s a pessimist, but we’ve heard that message loud and clear through the book to this point.
The art is not without fault either. While Yildiray Cinar and Norm Rapmund have found a way to blend their talents and display this title as a more traditional looking superhero book, the “everyday” snippets need more of the same polish that the duo puts into the metahuman scenes. Additionally, there is a scene where Ronnie is fighting the Quraci Firestorm in flight. That scene offers up, in Ronnie’s voice, “Green and red, like the worst Christmas ever.” It appears as a complete non-sequitur, save for the coloring of the “sky” background as a sickly green with the two tussling Firestorms twisting through it. Again, clunky and not compelling.
The ending of this issue gives Simone and Van Sciver a plot point to continue to drive a wedge between Ronnie and Jason, which is sure to lead to the two of them fighting. Again. This book teases out the story quite a bit, but to this point there really isn’t much to set it apart from any other story where the protagonists are strung along like fools. Instead of flame-headed pseudo-heroes, Ronnie and Jason could easily be G. I. Joes or members of the X-Men. This series started off with a very strong debut, but has lost some zip along the way. The clunkiness and lack of compelling characters might change up soon, but this issue doesn’t do much to bolster that notion. For a book that is this robust with sheer comic book talent, “Fury of Firestorm” is underperforming.