Naiad and Red Tornado attack the city of Nohana, Japan. At the Institute for Metahuman Studies, Professor Stein discovers Dr. La Grieve suffering from a gunshot wound. Firestorm, entombed in rock under the sea by Naiad and Red Tornado, meets Maya, the Spirit of the Earth. Firestorm learns about his intended form from Maya. Swamp Thing assists Firestorm and summons him to Eden.
Nohana, Japan - - a small city on the northeast coast of the island kingdom, a former fishing village touched with technology since the Second World War, blooming into a thriving young metropolis.
They have their fair share of modern urban ills - - rising crime, inflation, and unemployment, overcrowding, increasing problems with pollution and waste disposal - - but to the million plus souls that call Nohana home, none of those problems seems insurmountable. Nohana was a good place to live…until today. Toda, Nohana will feel the anger of two rampaging Elementals - - Naiad and Red Tornado - - who have declared war on humanity.
BROAAAAAR! Naiad and Red Tornado explode from the horizon like a massive storm, bearing down on Nohana with their fury. WHEEEOOOOO! BADAM! Waves and wind crash into the coastline of Nohana. RAHHHHHHR! Cars are swept up into the maelstrom. KRAKOOOOM! Buildings explode. AAIIIEEE! People scream in horror as the seas sweep into the streets of the city.
In less than twenty minutes, the battle is over, and Nohana is no more. Red Tornado and Naiad slowly move back to the ocean. Nohana lies crumbled, burning, and in ruins behind them.
“And now?” Red Tornado asks.
“Tokyo,” Naiad replies.
Vandermeer University, the Institute of Meta-Human Studies. Dr. Simon La Grieve lies prone on the floor. Professor Martin Stein slowly walks into the darkened hallway.
“Hello?” Martin calls out cautiously. “Is someone there? I though I heard a shot..!” He sees Dr. La Grieve lying just ahead. “Oh my word! Doctor La Grieve!” he gasps, rushing to La Grieve’s side. “Doctor La Grieve, it’s Martin Stein! Who did this to you?”
“…S-Stein? Lor-Lorraine Reilly…must get..!” Dr. La Grieve moans.
“Shush, Doctor!” Martin replies. “What we must do is get you to a hospital! And then I’ll find whoever it was that shot you. This I promise you!”
Under the sea, off the coast of Alaska, a pile of rocks looms like a cairn. Beneath lies a figure whose flames sputter sporadically, life ebbing away like an evening tide. Firestorm lies where he was buried by Naiad and Red Tornado, his battered body by the abyss of the grave, while his Soul of Fire wanders…
“FIRESTORM! FIRESTORM, MY CHILD!” a voice calls out from the depths.
“I…I know your voice though I don’t know who you are!” Firestorm answers. “I am born of the Earth and have no parents. Who are you that calls me ‘child’?”
“I am the Earth…or, more properly, I am its soul, for the Earth is a living thing,” the voice replies. Slowly, light flows and circles and the gentle face of a woman becomes visible. “I am and have been called by many names but you may call me Maya. You, Firestorm, are my creation, as are all your brethren, for you are all aspects of me and so my children.”
“Maya…Mother?” Firestorm asks. “Why have you created us? Why are there so many Elementals present at this time?”
“Because I am dying,” Maya explains. “My physical essence is being fouled and poisoned but, even more important the despair of humanity eats away at my spirit. You Elementals were created to safeguard and protect my body, the planet. But you are also here to invigorate the spirit, to inspire humanity! For humanity is also my progeny, my special children. They must be spurred to their next step.”
“What next step is that?” Firestorm asks.
“Leaving their home - - the planet,” Maya continues. “There comes a time when the baby must leave the womb and the chick must leave the nest. It is time for humanity to do this and find its place among the stars. Humanity has always been restless. Until recently, the Earth itself was large enough so that - - if some of humanity was disaffected - - there was some place new, some place clean, some place fresh to go. But now the Earth is filled and that restlessness has turned in on itself. Humanity is receding from greatness and devours itself…and the Earth.”
“The real danger is that mankind now has the power to destroy itself before it achieves its destiny,” Maya explains. “And in destroying itself, humanity will also destroy the planet. So you - - among others - - have been raised at this time to protect different aspects of the planet and re-inspire humanity, for you are part me and part human!”
“But the Red Tornado, by his own admission, was never human but an android!” Firestorm questions.
“He knows less truth about himself than he might,” Maya replies. “There was a man and his infant child. The child became an Elemental. As it was inexperienced as a human it was given an android form to learn of life. Yet despite this strange series of events, it was not the Red Tornado’s creation which took an unnatural turn. It was your own transformation, Firestorm, which has seriously gone amiss!”
“Mine?!” Firestorm gasps.
“The one intended to become the Fire Elemental was Martin Stein,” Maya reveals. “But due to tricks of fate, Ron Raymond was drawn into the matrix and later Mikhail Arkadin. And now, Martin Stein is no longer part of the matrix. The result has been your own confusion and mistakes!”
“I don’t think I’ve done so badly,” Firestorm replies. “And I don’t know what I can do to change the matrix now! I am as I am!”
“What needs to be done may already have been done,” Maya continues. “I bear you no ill will, my child, but I cannot prevent what is now occurring.”
“YAAAARRHG!” Firestorm yells. He doubles over in pain. “Mother! Maya!” he cries out. “What’s happening to me?”
“Your physical form is not indestructible and has been subjected to much abuse,” Maya explains. “You may have caused its death. Now, perhaps the Fire Elemental can be reborn and matters righted.”
“WAIT!!” Firestorm says quickly. “There are two human sides within me that will die with my body! Must they pay for my mistakes with their deaths?!”
“It might be simpler if it were so but I sense other forces at work,” Maya replies. “We shall see, my child, we shall see…”
Bloop! Pabloodleloop! Snap! Pop! Pabloodleloop! Rummmbbble! Firestorm twists in the mists and a strange, plant-like hand reaches out to grasp him. FWAWOOOSH! It carries Firestorm upwards through the water. Pop! Padoodleloop! FAROAAAR! Firestorm bursts through the ocean’s surface!
“I’m alive…I think. I feel terrible,” Firestorm thinks. “But how did I get here? And where is ‘here’?”
“FIRESTORM!” calls the voice of Swamp Thing. He emerges next to Firestorm.
“Swamp Thing!” Firestorm gasps. “You are Swamp Thing, aren’t you?”
“I am. And you are Firestorm, yes?” Swamp Thing answers. “Much…has changed…while I was ‘away’, it seems.”
“I have discovered I am an Elemental, like you!” Firestorm explains. “And I need your help in stopping the two other rampaging Elementals!”
“There is something…you must do…first,” Swamp Thing says.
“We have no time,” Firestorm replies.
“This is how one finds it,” Swamp Thing explains. “You…will take the time! Meet me…in Africa…”
“But..,” Firestorm says.
“The valley…called Eden..!” Swamp Thing directs. CRRUMMBLE! He slips beneath the waves.
“I’m getting very tired of getting wet!” Firestorm says.
Eden. “What has happened here?” Firestorm asks. He flies among the green lands, coming alongside Swamp Thing. The plant life looks strange, twisted, and deformed.
“I think…the answer…is you, Firestorm,” Swamp Thing tells him. “Once…the land was…arid. Did you…make it bloom?”
“I terraformed it, yes, but it didn’t look like this!” Firestorm explains. “And warring factions destroyed it. I’ll change it back..!”
“NO!” Swamp Thing bellows. “Your…transmuting power…affects the cellular make-up of things…weakens it…makes it unstable! Possibly…any use of your transmuting power…will cause similar results! For now…you must foreswear its use!”
“What do you want me to do?” Firestorm asks. “You brought me here for some reason! You could have told me all this where we were!”
“This valley…cannot be righted. Only…cleansed. By fire,” Swamp Thing explains.
“I understand. And at last, truly understand,” Firestorm says, looking down sadly. “The Earth must never be cleansed as an act of rage - - only sorrow. Eden, as it was and as it has become, is my creation - - and my responsibility. And now - - my sorrow.”
With a heart of lead, the Man of Fire begins his task. He feels both exhilaration and sorrow. He wonders - - is this how the archangel Michael felt when he cleansed the original Garden of Eden?
Fire sweeps over Eden. Firestorm hovers in the smoky air as Swamp Thing looks on. Snap! Pop! Pop! Krakle! Swamp Thing emerges from the vegetation, standing next to Firestorm.
“I…have located…the other Elementals,” Swamp Thing explains. “They…are in…Japan. We have…finished here. Shall we…go?”
Firestorm watches the fires rage through Eden. “I hope Maya is pleased..,” he says softly.
“Who?” Swamp Thing asks.
“The Spirit of the Earth,” Firestorm explains. “I heard a voice in my head while I…lay near death. She said her name was Maya, and that she created all the Elementals.”
“I know…of no…Maya,” Swamp Thing replies. “Only…the Parliament…of Trees.”
“But I had a vision..!” Firestorm says.
“If Maya…exists…I have never heard her voice,” Swamp Thing replies.
“Perhaps it was only a dream - - or an illusion - - or a delusion..,” Firestorm ponders.
“That you…must decide…later,” Swamp Thing directs. “Now…we must deal…with the others.”
“I’ll meet you in Tokyo,” Firestorm answers. He reaches upwards and begins to fly, leaving the burning remains of Eden far below.