In the darkness of Avenue C, muggers Zero and Beanbag walk away from a nearby bar where they were just involved in a drunken brawl. While Zero was being roughed up, Beanbag stole a liquor bottle from the bar, and the two console themselves with a drink. Above and behind them is the watchful eye of Firestorm. Ronnie says that Zero and Beanbag meet the description of the two thugs that beat John Ravenhair’s great-grandfather to death (see issue 1). Professor Stein urges restraint, suggesting that nearby police officers would be better suited to deal with the muggers. Ronnie, recalling how great-grandfather’s medicine-magic spell cast just before his death turned John Ravenhair into Black Bison, wants to bring justice to Zero and Beanbag. Stein reminds Ronnie that they need proof of their involvement.
Under a streetlight, Zero and Beanbag talk about their exploits during the day. Zero describes how they got kicked out of their pad and then hit an “old geek” in a park and have nothing to show for it but some beads and a bracelet. Zero wants a swig from the liquor bottle Beanbag is guzzling, and flings the bracelet into the air. It is a Native American bracelet, and it lands in the outstretched hand of Firestorm, now holding the proof he and Stein needed. Zero asks for a light for his smoke. Making his presence known, Firestorm zaps the cigarette with a small atomic burst, causing it to flare brightly. Zero hunches over with sunburn all over his face. Beanbag tries to run with Firestorm in pursuit. Firestorm tells Beanbag to give up and the thug runs from the alley out into the street, and into the path of an oncoming freight truck. The truck will not be able to brake in time before hitting Beanbag. Stein calls to Ronnie to help, and Firestorm uses his atomic restructuring power to make a hole in the street appear beneath Beanbag, who falls safely under from the speeding truck. The police arrive, and an officer reminds Firestorm that he wasn’t supposed to be hanging around on the officer’s beat. Firestorm tells the officer that he has two murderers for him, and pulls Beanbag out of the hole while directing the police to Zero down the alley. Firestorm explains the murder and hands the evidence, the Native American bracelet, to the officer. Flying away, Ronnie wonders what kind of world it is where an old man is killed so punks can buy drinks. Stein says he was worried that Ronnie wouldn’t save Beanbag, and Ronnie admits that he almost did not.
In a cemetery, a crowd of mourners is gathered for the funeral of Bison-Black-As-Midnight-Sky, the murdered great-grandfather of John Ravenhair. John, his girlfriend and school nurse Vanessa Tremont, and members of John’s history class (including Ronnie) stand quietly together. Nearby, Stein observes the services, thinking that great-grandfather really meant no harm. Both he and Ronnie wonder if Black Bison will someday return. The mourners begin to leave, and Doreen Day approaches Ronnie. She called him last night and he was not home, now explaining that he had some thinking to do. Ronnie reflects inwardly that he hates lying to Doreen, but it is necessary to protect his secret identity as Firestorm. Overhearing, Cliff Carmichael makes an insult about dumb jock Ronnie’s thinking ability. Ronnie threatens Cliff with a facial rearrangement, and Doreen reminds Ronnie that a funeral is no place for a fight. She tells Ronnie that she has been thinking also. She says she was really scared when Ronnie disappeared at the museum during Black Bison’s rampage. She is upset that Ronnie didn’t try to reach her and tell her he was safe. Doreen tells him that if he doesn’t care her, then she doesn’t care about him either. Doreen walks away as Ronnie softly calls after her.
In downtown Manhattan at the District Federal Courthouse, a pre-trial hearing is in progress in Judge Martha Roberts’ courtroom. TV news cameras cover the proceedings. Seated in the courtroom is a defendant we recognize as…Killer Frost! Judge Roberts is questioning City attorney Halliday about the restraining machinery holding Killer Frost securely. Halliday says that Killer Frost has powers, which raises an objection from Frost’s defense attorney. Frost’s attorney details how the icy villain was just released by the Justice League after a “false imprisonment” (See Justice League of America 195-197), and complains to the judge that the restraining mechanism is unfairly treating Killer Frost like a “dangerous animal.” Judge Roberts, citing that Killer Frost’s alleged frosty powers have yet to be proven in court, tells Halliday that Frost’s civil rights are being infringed upon. She orders the bailiff to turn off the mechanism to release the defendant. With a crash of ice, Killer Frost springs up, relishing in the foolishness of the decision to free her. Judge Roberts pounds her gavel for order, and directs the Sergeant-at-Arms to clear the court. The Sergeant-at-Arms draws his pistol but is quickly encased in ice by Killer Frost. Halliday angrily approaches Frost and is then slowed by the tremendous cold emanating from her. Frost, reaching to him, tells him that people that get close to her have to pay the price. Killer Frost plants a kiss on the lips of Halliday, encasing him in ice. Admonishing the frailty of men, she turns her attention to the TV news team. Promising to give the TV camera a bigger show than they bargained for, Frost explains that the Justice League imprisoned her between dimensions because she and the Secret-Society of Super Villains tried to conquer the world. The reporter exclaims that he can feel Frost doing something to the air as the temperature falls quickly. Frost describes how her jail stay has caused her to focus her dominance desires not on ruling the world, but instead upon ruling New York City. Across the city, people react to the coverage. Ronnie, in school, and Professor Stein, working on an experiment in his office, are unaware of Killer Frost’s courtroom attack. Frost recounts how her human form, Crystal Frost, was rejected by the men of the world. She tells how a bizarre accident transformed her, giving her power over the forces of cold. Loudly proclaiming that today she will have her revenge, Killer Frost shouts that she will be Queen of New York!
A school bus arrives at a neighborhood bus stop, and the students exit to head for home. Ronnie tries to talk to Doreen, who is still upset with him. Ronnie asks that she give him a break and stop ignoring him so he can explain. She says they have nothing to say to each other and walks off. Ronnie’s friend Jackson suggests a game of basketball to help Ronnie’s mood. Jackson reminds Ronnie that they’ve been friends since Ronnie transferred to Bradley High, and worries that Ronnie has missed a lot of basketball team practices recently. Ronnie tells Jackson that the world is just moving too fast. They walk into Ronnie’s house. Ed Raymond, Ronnie’s father, angrily confronts Ronnie. Ed holds a letter from Ronnie’s coach. The letter is notification of Ronnie’s suspension from the basketball team. Ed demands an explanation. Ronnie starts to answer but Ed slaps him across the face. Ed drops the letter on the floor at Ronnie’s feet and walks away. Jackson whispers that he’ll talk to the coach to try and get Ronnie reinstated. An upset Ronnie walks out and slams the door. Upset and tearful, Ronnie thinks that everyone wants him to fit their expectations and that he can’t just live his own life. Fed up, Ronnie thinks “To hell with everyone.”
In a burst of atomic energy, Ronnie transforms into Firestorm and launches into the sky. Ronnie feels that Firestorm is his only escape from the problems in life. Expecting to be confronted with a new crisis, Stein asks Ronnie why they have merged into the Nuclear Man. An upset Ronnie tells Stein to just be quiet. Landing on a passing garbage scow, Ronnie starts to tell Stein that he needs a vacation and just can’t handle the pressures of life. Ronnie asks if Stein ever felt the same way, and Stein says he did. Ronnie says he just wants his problems to go away.
In Stein’s office back at Concordance Research, the experiment he had been working on continues to bubble noisily. Hearing the sound, Stein’s co-worker Harry Carew investigates. The competitive Carew sees an opportunity to sneak a look at what Stein was working on. Looking through Stein’s desk for research notes, Carew finds a tape recorder and tries to play it. Finding that the tape had been erased, Carew figures that there must be some secret on the tape. Being an audio specialist, Carew takes the tape reel and puts it in his pocket intent on reconstructing it.
In the Bronx, security guard Jocko Finster sits at his desk watching cartoons. He works at the reservoir that supplies the water throughout Manhattan. His office door bursts open and Killer Frost walks in. He tells her that she cannot be admitted to the restricted area, and she replies that she’s merely arrived to give him a little kiss. Grabbing Finster, she kisses him and encases him in ice. Flying out of the guardhouse, she says she now wants to reach out to all eight million residents of New York City and that there’s no better way to do that than via the water supply. Landing next to the reservoir, she kneels and reaches her hand into the water. The reservoir freezes instantly. Standing, she laughs maniacally. Across the city, even though it is spring, a wave of frost descends from the reservoir and freezes everything. The entire city is soon coated in ice. Killer Frost admires her work, and says all she needs to do now is claim New York as hers.
Sitting on the garbage scow, Ronnie is still thinking. Stein looks and notices the layer of frost spreading across Manhattan. Firestorm leaps to the sky as Ronnie remembers reading in the newspaper about Killer Frost’s trial.
In an ice-covered City Hall stands the Mayor of New York City. A staffer tells him that the phones aren’t working and the Mayor wonders why they haven’t been frozen solid like the rest of the people. The icy form of Killer Frost appears and tells the Mayor that she still has a need for him and that he can now address her as “Your Majesty.” Recognizing Frost as the escapee from the courthouse, the Mayor’s staffer draws a pistol in defense. She reacts with an icy blast and freezes him. The Mayor asks her if she is some kind of Martian, and she recounts to him the story of her transformation from Crystal Frost into Killer Frost. As they talk, a large portrait suddenly falls from a nearby wall, distracting Frost. Suddenly appearing through the wall where the picture was hanging is Firestorm! Killer Frost angrily recognizes the Nuclear Man. She points her hand and sends a spray of ice daggers at Firestorm. He reacts with atomic heat that melts the ice. Looking around, Ronnie can’t see Frost anymore. Stein hears a loud creaking noise from above on the City Hall roof. Passing through the roof by lowering his density, Firestorm finds Killer Frost seated on an icy throne. She gleefully directs Firestorm to look around over the frozen city and tells him that she holds the power for the life or death of eight million people in her hands. She orders Firestorm to bow to her and call her Queen, and that doing so may spare the lives of the people. Stein tells Ronnie that they can’t give in or Killer Frost will win. Ronnie tells Stein that she already has won, and grimly kneels before Killer Frost.