The Science of Firestorm the Nuclear Men #5

When I first set out on the “Science of …” series I hadn’t even intended that it really become a series in itself.   It was mostly as a result of the overwhelming scientific events which occurred in Captain Atom #2, but I have since applied the concept to other science based series like the Flash and Mister Terrific while also applying it to other series that are not so science based like Men of War or Suicide Squad.  I have even applied it to more abstract concepts including a “Magic of …” and an “Archaeology of …” edition.  All of this preamble is to say that for this issue of Firestorm that there was not in fact much science to be had, rather than a touch of 1950s style social engineering.  As such there is not as much hard science of here (though social engineering employs aspects of economics, urban planning, engineering, political science and physics) but in the tradition of the previous “Science of …” articles I have gone with the more succinct “The Science of …” rather than “The Social Engineering of …” although in fact the format will be changed here somewhat.  Regardless the issue did bring up some interesting points despite being kind of all over the place in its own plot.   

The Military Industrial Complex

This is an interesting addition to this issue, as the very concept of Firestorm is born from the paranoia surrounding the threat of nuclear holocaust which was a staple of the Cold War, and the military industrial complex was one which also a concept very much tied into the concept of the Cold War with the corresponding arms race which it led to.  The arms race of course was of great concern to a great many as both of the major conflicts of the twentieth century were predated by an arms race.  The ironic part of the military industrial complex is that it was a term first used by President Eisenhower in his farewell speech from office warning the American people of the threat of the such a complex, not of the need for one.  In the real world scenario this basically is a function of war being profitable for a certain few, which in itself leads to the need for wars.  Or to put it another way, when all an industry makes is weapons, there has to be a place to use those weapons.  In modern times though, especially with the hawkish approach adopted by most modern right wing politicians, the military industrial complex is an important part of society, not something to be avoided.  The addition here of the Robert Oppenheimer quote to President Truman serves the dichotomy well, as the military minded director finds it to be the words of an imbecile when he has an opinion when science used for war is a bad thing.  


 The Suburbs and Urban Planning

If there was one staple of the dystopian literature of the cold war it was the presence of a cataclysmic war (though this is not always as much of a necessity.)  However, another huge threat to the concept of our society as most writers saw it was the loss of the individual as opposed to the whole.  This is present in a lot of the dystopian works such as 1984 with the Newspeak or the whole scale destruction of books and the omni-importance of the television in Fahrenheit 451.  The most telling example of this can be found in the kind-of dystopian novel A Wrinkle in Time, where the protagonist witnesses children playing with their balls in prefect unison in front of their identical houses.  While this is of course an exaggeration of the situation in suburbs, it is occasionally not too far off from this example.  In this issue what is highlighted is basically the pre-packaged American (or Canadian) dream of being able to own a house and live as the ruler of one’s own domain.  While the concept and implementation of suburbs predated World War II, they definitely exploded immediately afterwards, forming a manufactured version of the American Dream soon afterwards.  This is not to say that I have anything against the suburbs, just that this and the other concept are my own personal extrapolations from these issues of Firestorm, which either on purpose or inadvertently focused on an interesting slice of life from the early Cold War. 

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