"The Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men" #9 shines the spotlight a little brighter on Jason Rusch and his burgeoning relationships with Hurricane (the British Firestorm) and the French Firestorm Protocol-powered femme known as Firehawk. Ronnie Raymond makes a pair of very brief appearances, but the majority of the book focuses on Jason, the aforementioned pair of newer nuclear beings and the addition of the Justice League International team.
I really want to like this book. Truly I do, but the truth is, it is simply disoriented and unfocused right now. Van Sciver and Harris (and Simone before Harris) have established that there are a number of "Firestorms" throughout the world, some sanctioned and some not. In this issue it is revealed that the sanctioned nuclear beings have United Nations backing, which is especially curious given their somewhat abrasive encounter to the similarly-sanctioned Justice League International. The unsanctioned beings, other than Jason and Ronnie, seem hell-bent on spreading a wave of terrorism throughout the DC Universe that, obviously, has drawn the attention of the JLI.
Van Sciver and Harris handle many of the extra cast members of this issue quite nicely, like defining Guy Gardner as the belligerent jerk Green Lantern fans have come to expect. Hurricane and Firehawk are confident in their abilities and Jason seems to be gaining a better understanding and execution of his own capabilities. What simply doesn't work in this issue, however, is having Jason fight O.M.A.C. -- after the Rogue Firestorm has been dealt with, by O.M.A.C. no less -- in an overly aggressive manner, seemingly for no other reason than to show a new equivalent to Fury. It's a cool moment to be certain, but I'm still unsure what the impetus was for that action. Perhaps Kevin Kho loses his tenuous grasp on the O.M.A.C. persona, but it isn't overly clear.
What is quite clear, however, is how very cool that scene looks. Yildiray Cinar returns to the art chores with this issue. His O.M.A.C. is massive and strong, a great visual in a book that is filled with over-the-top visuals for riotously colorful characters. Other than O.M.A.C., Cinar also handles the expanded cast nicely, but has a few foibles of his own. His page layouts bounce back and forth between more traditional, grid-based panel layouts and pages with wildly erratic angled panels slicing across the page. It's a dynamic shift to be certain and it does help with some of the story beats, but in other cases, the wild angles just condense bits that need a little more room to breathe. Van Sciver's pair of issues was a nice change-up, but it's nice to see Cinar back behind the pencil, even if the sheer amount of detail and texture is slightly diminished.
This issue is an oddity: following a guest artist, crossing over with another title that itself is in a peculiar state of flux, introducing new characters, charging up a new power set and having one of the co-leads take the spotlight throughout makes for an exciting read, but doesn't do much to make this a particularly memorable read. The conclusion to this issue is rather anticlimactic, so it leaves me wondering what to truly expect in "Firestorm" #10. I'll be back to see, but I might need to refresh myself on the goings-on here.