Senator Walter Reilly presides over the dedication of a new exhibit of Native American artifacts at the New York Museum of Natural History. John Ravenhair, a history teacher at Bradley High, receives the mystical Talon of the Bison Cult from his great-grandfather. Firestorm battles Black Bison when he attacks at the museum.
The Manhattan skyline lies quiet under the night sky. The presence of Firestorm provides a guarding protection for the city to sleep gently. Except that Firestorm has curled up for a nap on a cloud! Waking sleepily, Ronnie apologizes to Professor Stein, who reminds that it was Ronnie’s idea to patrol the city tonight. Stein urges caution, as Firestorm rests over a half-mile above ground. Ronnie, exhausted from an earlier basketball game, reassures Stein that he can stay lighter-than-air by controlling his atomic density. With a yawn, Ronnie rolls back into the cloud and falls asleep. Stein urges Ronnie to wake up, unsure how sleep will affect Ronnie’s subconscious control over his powers. Confirming Stein’s fear, the sleeping Firestorm plummets through the cloud as his atomic density inadvertently rises. Yelling, Stein awakens Ronnie just before impact. Firestorm lowers his density again, passing through the surface of the street and coming to rest with his feet dangling from the ceiling of a subway car, much to the shock of the subway passengers. Resurfacing to the street, Firestorm draws the attention of two NYPD officers. An officer exits his patrol car and orders Firestorm to turn out the “headlamp” and get up against a wall. Stein starts to make a suggestion that Ronnie quickly guesses, and Firestorm soars up into the sky. A few minutes later, near the Raymond residence, Firestorm lands and begins his now-familiar transformation. In a fission reaction, Firestorm becomes the persons of Ronnie Raymond and Professor Martin Stein. Ronnie hands cab fare to Stein and they part ways.
An alarm clock rings, to be answered by a slap from a hand. A sleepy Ronnie sits up in bed. Ron’s Dad hurries him along. Ronnie showers and cuts himself shaving, then heads out to catch the school bus. Boarding the bus, Ronnie apologizes as he bumps into his friend, Jackson. Ronnie dozes on the bus as Jackson wonders what Ronnie could possibly be doing at night, warning him not to let the new coach snoring on the basketball court.
In a nearby apartment building, teacher John Ravenhair also is getting ready for the school day. Cooking breakfast, John is greeted by his great-grandfather who addresses him by his Native American name, Black-Cloud-In-Morning. His great-grandfather reminds him of how he was given his name. John’s great-grandfather becomes absorbed in the morning newspaper. A prominent headline describes how Indian antiquities have been donated to the New York Museum of Natural History. Senator Walter Reilly, a collector of Native American artwork, presided over the ceremony. Upset, John’s great-grandfather tosses the newspaper away, angry lashing out at the thieves who first stole his native land and now are stealing his history. John defends the museum, saying the items will be an exhibit to allow others to understand their heritage. John’s great-grandfather doesn’t want understanding, he instead wants vengeance. John cautions him that they now live in a world that requires adapting from their old traditional ways. John’s great-grandfather, feeling faint, asks for silence. Reaching inside his robe, John’s great-grandfather pulls out a shining gold medallion. He asks John to wear it out of respect for his father. The medallion is a talisman of the Bison Cult. John agrees to wear it and steps out the door to go to work. As the door closes, great-grandfather suddenly collapses in exhaustion.
At Bradley High School, Ronnie sees his arch-rival Cliff Carmichael talking to Doreen Day. Doreen sees the band-aid from the shaving cut on Ronnie’s face. Cliff launches into insulting Ronnie, who grabs Cliff angrily. Teacher John Ravenhair steps in to separate Ronnie and Cliff and they apologize.
Nearby, Professor Stein works away in the laboratory of Concordance Research. Pouring beakers of liquid into a Bunsen burner, he prepares to test his formula which is revealed to be a good cup of coffee. Sitting down at his desk, Stein picks up a microphone and begins to dictate into a tape recorder. The recording will serve as a permanent record of all that has happened as he and Ronnie became Firestorm, the Nuclear Man. Reviewing, Stein recalls how Ronnie’s attempt to impress Doreen led him to join a group of anti-nuclear protestors. The protestors were really radical terrorists bent on destroying the Hudson Nuclear Power Plant where Stein worked. Dynamite planted at the reactor’s core detonated, catching Stein and Ronnie in the blast. Somehow, the radiation fused the two into a single, powerful being that Ronnie named Firestorm. Stein also describes Danton Black, his assistant who was also caught in the blast, transforming him into Multiplex, the Multiple Menace. An encounter with the icy Killer Frost was the next challenge for Firestorm. This was followed by combat with the Hyena, a powerful nocturnal scavenger that was eventually revealed to be Doreen Day’s sister, Summer. Stein admits that most of what he knows about Firestorm comes from Ronnie, as the transformation process leaves him with no memory of what occurs while they are fused together. Finishing the recording, Stein pauses and thinks it unwise to have made the recording. He presses the erase button.
Walking unsteadily down the stairs of an apartment building entrance is John Ravenhair’s great-grandfather. Aware that his time left alive is limited, great-grandfather wants to pass as much heritage to John as possible. Giving John the talisman of the Bison Cult was part of passing on that heritage. One hundred years ago, great-grandfather’s father founded the Bison Cult. Great-grandfather inherited secret knowledge of magical spells. In a nearby park, great-grandfather forms a circle of white powder on the ground and kneels inside it. He begins a ritual chant. Two thugs walk by and their attention is caught by the chanting. Their thoughts turn to robbing the old man.
Miles away, John Ravenhair leads his class through the new Native American exhibit at the New York Museum of Natural History. Ronnie apologizes to Doreen for getting upset at Cliff earlier. Overhearing, Cliff is jealous of Doreen’s attention to Ronnie. He pulls a frog from his pocket and sneaks it into Ronnie’s shirt, causing Ronnie to squirm and itch. Cliff suggests Ronnie change his clothes more often as it seems he has the cooties, and the class howls with laughter. John Ravenhair speaks to Vanessa, the school nurse and his girlfriend. John apologizes for not spending as much time with Vanessa as his great-grandfather has absorbed much of his time. In the park, great-grandfather’s chanting rises in intensity and mists form around him. At the museum, John suddenly feels dizzy and goes to sit down. Vanessa worries that John is keeping his feelings inside. John steps inside a bathroom and washes his face with cool water. Simultaneously, the two thugs in the park attack John’s great-grandfather. In the midst of chanting a powerful spell, the sudden blow to the head kills great-grandfather. The thugs search his body and find no money.
Back at the museum, the students are shocked as a powerful Native American form explodes out of the bathroom. Vanessa recognizes him as John, who loudly declares that John Ravenhair is dead and that only Black Cloud now lives. Black Cloud vows to take vengeance on the white man’s world and runs out of the museum. As the students react to the scene, Ronnie slips away. In a conference room at Concordance Research, Professor Stein steps out of a meeting as he feels the beginning of the Firestorm transformation occurring. Stein’s project manager, the tough Quentin Quale, looks for him and is annoyed that Stein has seemingly disappeared.
In a storage room at the museum, the form of Firestorm bursts forth. Stein demands an answer from Ronnie for the transformation, and Ronnie quickly explains. In the museum exhibit room, Black Cloud approaches a sealed display containing Bison Cult artifacts. Slamming his fists into the case, the glass shatters, and setting off alarms throughout the museum. Two security guards respond and see a form in the remnants of the display waving some sort of a stick. A loud explosion and blast of smoke blows the guards back away. The students look in as the smoke clears. Vanessa sees someone…is it John? From the smoke emerges a powerful being who declares that John Ravenhair was a puppet for the white men and that he no longer lives. The being has taken his place. The being recount his line of heritage. He was named Black-Cloud-In-Morning, son of Thunder-Arrow, who was son of Red-Desert-And-Nightwind, who was the son of Bison-Black-As-Midnight-Sky, the great shaman leader of the Bison Cult. The man formerly John Ravenhair, now clad in traditional attire and carrying a great shaman coup stick, declares that he is now Black Bison! Vanessa calls to John as the students warn her to stay back. Black Bison announces that he is the shaman of the Bison Cult with nature at his command. Waving his coup stick to control the wind, Vanessa is pushed away.
Black Bison walks away and looks in an exhibit case of animals. Wondering if they also dream of revenge, Black Bison sees a reflection, a demon-ghost with flaming hair – Firestorm! Lightning sizzles from the coup stick, knocking Firestorm to the floor. Black Bison waves his coup stick towards the animal exhibit. Strange light emanates from the animal’s eyes as they mystically come back to life. A shining white stallion steps out of the exhibit. Black Bison calls to the stallion and jumps on his back, then turns the horse to charge at Firestorm. Directing a nuclear beam at the floor in front of the horse, Firestorm creates a ramp causing the steed and Black Bison to fly over him. As Ronnie wonders what power could have reanimated the beasts, Stein directs his attention back to Doreen. As she lies helpless on the floor in terror, a mountain lion stalks her and pounces. Firestorm has milliseconds to save Doreen. With a nuclear blast, the mountain lion suddenly becomes a teddy bear falling harmlessly into Doreen’s hands.
Turning back to his classmates, Firestorm sees a grizzly bear chasing his friend and teammate Jackson. Firestorm chases the bear, grabs it, and flings it away from his friends. The bear lands next to a Native American statue that became animated with the animals, causing it to fall near Cliff Carmichael. Cliff says he’s not afraid of stuffed dummies, until he sees the animated arm of the statue clinging to his leg. Cliff panics and Firestorm obliges him by turning the arm into a small alligator that nips at Cliff’s backside. The class erupts in laughter. Ronnie preempts the expected scolding from Professor Stein, saying he just couldn’t resist when it came to Cliff Carmichael. Firestorm swiftly rounds up and subdues the animals, restoring order to the museum while looking for Black Bison.
Exiting the museum, Firestorm sees trample marks on the hoods of several cars where Black Bison galloped away on horseback. The trail leads to Central Park. On the steps of the museum, Cliff calls to Firestorm in frustration over the alligator joke. Vanessa urges Firestorm to find John Ravenhair. And Doreen wonders where Ronnie Raymond could have gone. Professor Stein lectures Ronnie about wasting time with Cliff when he should have been apprehending Black Bison. Ronnie agrees and Firestorm heads to Central Park to begin searching. An hour of searching is fruitless.
A few miles northeast is the exclusive townhouse home of Senator Walter Reilly. Senator Reilly arrives in his limousine and is greeted by the townhouse doorman. As the two men talk politics, they are interrupted by a young lady, Senator Reilly’s daughter Lorraine. Thinking she was in school, Senator Reilly suspects she has been expelled for bad behavior – again. Inquiring, the Senator asks what happened. Lorraine confesses to painting the principal’s new Cadillac a bright shade of electric pink and says she is just not cut out for private school. As they walk into the townhouse, the Senator says they’ll have a talk after dinner. Observing them unseen from the shadows is a misty form. The mist clears. Black Bison! Slowly stirring, nodding, and talking to himself, he recounts that Senator Reilly has stolen something from his past. Black Bison will now steal something of equal value from the Senator…his future!