The Through the Gauntlet wiki last edited by Firestorm826 on 05/26/15 08:36AM View full history

Ronnie and Professor Stein go to Ed Raymond's apartment seeking refuge after battling Captain Atom. Ed is stunned to learn his son is Firestorm. Firehawk arrives at the apartment to help Firestorm. Major Zastrow informs Mikhail Arkadin that President Reagan has agreed to allow a Russian hero to attempt apprehend Firestorm. Firestorm flies to Times Square to give a press announcement and is attacked by the Suicide Squad.

Firestorm826's Panel-by-Panel Story Summary (Spoiler Alert)

“This was the scene shortly after noon today as the hero known as Captain Atom attempted to capture the international outlaw known as Firestorm,” a TV newscaster announces to the camera. “Firestorm had issued an ultimatum for the disarmament of all nuclear weapons and had gone to the Statue of Liberty to discuss the matter with the President, as per his request.”

Ed and Felicity Raymond sit in the living room watching the news. “Who the hell does this Firestorm jerk think he is?” Ed says, pointing at the screen with irritation.

“He may be sick,” Felicity suggests.

“He’s sick all right. Sick in the head,” Ed counters.

“The silvery avenger known as Captain Atom showed up and attempted to seize Firestorm,” the newscaster continues. “The President later rejected Firestorm’s ultimatum and called on anyone who was able to help bring him to justice.”

Knock! Knock! “I’ll get it,” Ed says, getting up to answer the door. “I’m getting more than a little sick of all these caped clowns. My ‘natural’ father was one, remember? Self-righteous jerk almost killed me just before we got married. I wonder who this is and how they got past security downstairs. That Godfrey character was a creep but he wasn’t too far off about these guys, you know.” He reaches for the doorknob.

“Firestorm managed to elude capture by Captain Atom and escape from view,” continues the newscaster.

Ed opens the door. Ronnie Raymond stands there, wrapping his arm around a weak and frail Professor Stein. The Professor leans heavily in Ronnie’s grasp. “Uhhh…Hi, Dad,” Ronnie says softly, asking, “Listen, can we come in? I sorta got a problem.” Ed steps back in surprise as Ronnie and Stein walk in.

“Two questions are on everyone’s mind,” the TV newscaster tells the audience. “Where is Firestorm? What will he do now that his ultimatum has been rejected?”

Felicity sees Professor Stein struggling to walk. “Here! Let me help you!” she says as she rushes to Stein’s side.

“What is all this?” Ed asks.

“Oh…Not now, Ed!” Felicity answers.

“Who is this? What’s the matter with him?” Ed asks.

“Professor Stein,” Ronnie replies. “He’s one of my teachers at Vandemeer. He’s got a brain tumor. He’s dying.” Ronnie and Felicity help Professor Stein to the couch, laying him down gently on it. “Take it easy, Professor. We’re safe now,” Ronnie tells him.

“Listen, what’s this notice I’ve gotten about you being expelled?” Ed asks Ronnie angrily.

“Oh, Ed! Not now!” Felicity answers as she adjusts Stein’s pillow.

“Ronnie, are you all right?” she asks.

“I’m okay…” Ronnie tells her.

“Of course he’s okay! Why shouldn’t he be okay? What’s going on here?” Ed asks confusedly.

“You’re going to have to tell him,” Felicity says.

“Tell me what?” Ed asks impatiently.

“I know. But he’s going to yell,” Ronnie replies.

“Damn right. I’m gonna yell if someone doesn’t start to explain what’s going on here!” Ed blurts.

“Maybe I should just show you,” Ronnie sighs. He reaches out and takes the Professor’s hand. “Can you try, Professor?” he asks.

Stein squeezes Ronnie’s hand softly. “I can always try, my boy,” he answers.

From the two men’s joined hands, an atomic ring forms. Light fills the room as an unbelievable transformation occurs. Then, Firestorm appears standing in front of a stunned Ed Raymond. “Hi, Dad,” Ronnie says.

Vandemeer. “What should I do?” Doreen Day asks herself. She walks outside on campus near the dorm buildings. “I promised Ronnie I wouldn’t tell anyone how he and Professor Stein are really Firestorm. But the President said he was a terrorist,” she worries. She clasps her hands together, holding them against her chest. “The President said anyone who can help capture Firestorm should come forward, that it was their duty! That the safety of the world in threatened! Because of Ronnie…Firestorm!” she thinks anxiously. “But I…still love him! And I promised..! What do I do?”

Ed Raymond looks over Ronnie and Professor Stein in disbelief. They have transformed back to their separate personas and sit with Felicity on the couch. “And the whole thing was a bluff?” he asks in disbelief. “What a damn fool stunt!”

Felicity holds her hands to her temples. “Ed, stop yelling!” she tells him.

“I will not stop yelling and you can butt out, Felicity!” Ed snaps at her angrily. “Evidently, you knew all about Ronnie’s little secret but didn’t see fit to share that with your husband who just happens to be the boy’s father.”

Professor Stein, in a weakened voice, tells Ed, “I really must apologize, Mr. Raymond. I’m afraid this is mostly my doing. Ronald had misgivings and was simply attempting to accommodate his dying friend’s request.”

Ed frowns. “I’m aware of that, Professor Stein,” he answers. “Just as I’m aware of the part you’ve played in this from the beginning. I know you’re dying and I have no desire to be cruel, but your dying doesn’t excuse you. Nor do Ron’s good intentions excuse him. He’s a big boy. He should have considered the consequences of what he was doing. He should have said no.” Ed paces back and forth as he talks. “Even if you’d been successful and gotten rid of the weapons, the knowledge and the means to build more would still exist!” he argues. “And what about the chemical and bacterial weapons that have been stockpiled which can also kill this planet many times over? What were you going to do about them?”

Ronnie gets up from the couch and angrily points at his Dad. “We don’t know! We screwed up, okay!” he answers in frustration. “Is that what you wanted to hear?”

Ed points right back at Ronnie. “What I want is for you to grow up, Ronald, and start taking responsibility for what you do!” he answers.

Suddenly, a bright light fills the room, momentarily blinding the four of them. They turn and gasp in surprise to see…Firehawk! “I thought I’d find you here,” she tells Ronnie.

Lermontov Institute. “The American President has agreed to let a Soviet hero try to apprehend the international criminal Firestorm. The Premier has selected you, Mikhail Arkadin,” explains Major Zastrow. Zastow sits at a conference table, puffing on his cigarette. An Institute scientist stands at the end of the table opposite Zastrow. Arkadin stands, clad in the white and red armored Pozhar suit.

“I am a scientist, Comrade Zastrow, not a warrior,” Arkadin answers. “All I want is to simply see my family again.”

Zastrow rests his chin on his hand. “You really have no choice in the matter, Mikhail Arkadin,” he replies.

“Haven’t I?” Arkadin replies as fire begins to emanate from his hand. He touches his hand to the table, instantly transforming it into shining metal. “Haven’t I?” he asks. He aims his right hand and fires a blast that passes just over Zastrow to explode against the wall. “Haven’t I?” he asks as a large section of the wall crumbles to the floor.

Zastrow stares at him through his round wired sunglasses. “No, you don’t,” he calmly replies. “Your family is with the KGB and you do not know where. Please. It would be a good thing for us all if you simply did what you were asked, yes?”

Arkadin looks downtrodden. “What do you want of me?” he asks softly.

“Come,” Zastrow replies as he walks out of the room.

“I don’t know who scares me more,” the Institute scientist thinks as he watches them leave. “Pozhar…or Zastrow!”

Ed, Felicity, and Ronnie stare at Firehawk for a moment. “Did you come to take me in?” Ronnie asks her.

“No,” she explains. “I came to help.” FASSHH! Instantly, she transforms back into Lorraine Reilly. “I’ve heard something from old friends of my father’s. He still has some good contacts in the government from back when he was a Senator,” she continues. “I overheard them talking on the phone, and I thought you’d better know what’s been planned for Firestorm.”

Ed stares in disbelief at Lorraine. “Who is this?” he asks.

“Lorraine Reilly. Firehawk,” Ronnie replies.

“Oh great!” Ed blurts. “Is there anyone who doesn’t know you’re Firestorm besides me?”

Ronnie frowns at him. “Dad, please..!” he says. “What did you learn, Lorraine?” he asks.

“Just that the Soviet Premier has insisted a Russian hero have a crack at you and the President felt compelled to agree,” Lorraine answers.

Ronnie’s eyes burst wide. “Swell!” he gulps.

“It gets worse. There’s some sort of secret outfit working for the government that’s been sent after you,” Lorraine warns. “They’ve been told to get you before the Russians can get here.”

“Which agency?” Felicity asks.

“I don’t know. A very hush-hush group called Task Force X,” Lorraine replies. “Dad didn’t seem familiar with it so they must’ve begun since he was in office. I do know that Firestorm has become a very high priority problem for the government and they feel any lengths are justified to solve it. That includes killing him.”

Stein listens from the couch. “I’m so sorry! This has gone so wrong..! I guess it was foolish to think…I guess I was foolish…naïve..!” he tells them softly. “I guess…the only thing to do…is surrender to the authorities. If they’ll still let us...!”

“I hate to say it, but you’re probably right,” Ed replies. “You agree, Ronnie?” Ronnie has walked away from the couch near a bookshelf. “Ronnie?” Ed calls to him.

Ronnie clenches his fists with anger building. “No!” he yells out. WHAM! Ronnie smashes his fist into the bookcase, sending several books and knick-knacks tumbling to the floor. “If we surrender now and get taken into custody, it’s like saying what we tried to do was wrong!” he blurts in agitation. “But, dammit, it wasn’t wrong! I never gave anyone, any government the right to blow us all off the face of the Earth. No one did! They took it, and we’re saying that’s wrong!” He walks back towards the others. “Maybe our plan wasn’t perfect! What plan is?” he continues. “You’ve got to start somewhere! And when you cut away all the baloney, what are the nuclear nations complaining about? That we had the audacity to try and make them do something they claim they want to do!”

Ed glares and points at him. “So what are you going to do about it? Fight them all?” he asks.

“That’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Ronnie answers.

Ed looks at him in shock. “Ronnie, you can’t be serious! You can’t expect to win! You’ll get yourself killed..!” he tells him nervously.

“Maybe. But sometimes you fight, even if you don’t expect to win. Some things are worth fighting for, Dad. Even dying for,” Ronnie answers. “I’m not doing this just for the Professor anymore. I’m doing it because it’s right. You told me to grow up and take responsibility for what I do. Okay. This is how I choose to do it. I’m fighting on, like it or not.”

Professor Stein smiles at Ronnie. He reaches his hand out and Ronnie shakes it. “Thank you, Ronald! Thank you, my boy! You restore my courage!” Stein tells him. “I’m with you of course! Every step of the way!”

Felicity wipes tears from her eyes. “I’m…proud of you, Ron,” she tells him.

“Firehawk will fight with you, side by side, Ron,” Lorraine tells him. “We’re not beaten! Others may join us! You’ve stirred up a lot of debate, you know!”

Ronnie wraps an arm around Felicity’s shoulder. “Well, Dad?” he asks.

Ed rests his hands on his hips, staring down at the floor. “What do you want me to do?” he asks.

“Contact the media. Say you’ve gotten inside info that Firestorm will be in Times Square in ten minutes to hold a press conference in answer to the President,” Ronnie instructs. “Emphasize Firestorm has indicated he will not submit to arrest but otherwise comes in peace.” He rests a hand on the balcony’s sliding glass door, staring out at the city. “What they hey,” he says. “If nothing else, I can give you a scoop, Dad.”

Ed walks over to him and the two turn to face each other. “Just come out of this alive, okay? That’s all I want,” Ed tells him. The two embrace tightly.

“Are we all set? Let’s do it,” Ronnie announces. FZAAM! FASHH! Firestorm and Firehawk phase through the balcony door and fly off into the skies over Manhattan.

Ed reaches for the phone and quickly dials a number. “Hello, Dan?” he says into the phone. “Ed Raymond here. We met at the journalist convention last summer. I have a tip to share.” He relays Ronnie’s instructions quickly. “…No, it’s absolutely reliable…” he explains.

Felicity watches as Firestorm and Firehawk fly off. “…Goodbye…Goodbye, Ronnie..!” she thinks as a tear streams down her cheek.

“…Uh-huh…Okay, got it. Flag out,” Rick Flag speaks into a telephone. He hangs up the phone. “That was Belle Reve. One of our contacts in the media has tipped us that Firestorm’s on his way to Times Square for a press conference. It’s a little more public than we like but we’re going to have to go for it,” he announces.

He turns to face his team. In the conference room with Flag stand Deadshot, Slipknot, Killer Frost, Multiplex, and Captain Boomerang. Dexter Tolliver, the NSC liaison to the Suicide Squad, stands behind them looking on.

“Remember, so far as the public’s concerned, you’re just a pack of criminals who decided on their own to do something about Firestorm,” Flag tells his team. “Our mission is to capture Firestorm…Alive, if possible. That means you, Deadshot.”

Deadshot rubs a hand over one of his wrist-mounted guns. “Shoot,” he sighs.

“We do it and we keep our mouths shut and you get our sentences reduced to time served, right?” Multiplex asks.

“And if we wander away from you, these doohickeys on our wrists will blow our arms off,” Slipknot adds.

In the back of the room, two technicians wheel in a heavy sealed stretcher. “What about him - - the Parasite? Aren’t you going to uncrate him?” Tolliver asks.

Flag turns to approach him. “Mrs. Waller wants him used only if necessary, Mr. Tolliver. Parasite’s too dangerous to let loose otherwise,” Flag answers.

“Who’s supposed to make the determination to use Parasite?” Tolliver asks.

“I’m Mission Leader. It’s my choice,” Flag replies.

“Wrong! As NSC Liaison for the Suicide Squad, I outrank you! It’s my go!” Tolliver barks at him.

“Tolliver, you even think of getting in my way and I’ll use your live to polish my boots,” Flag warns. He turns back to his team. “Now, let’s move it!”

Firestorm flies towards Times Square, the famous ‘Crossroads of the World.’ Huge throngs of people line the streets awaiting his arrival. They point and buzz with anticipation as they see him approaching. “How you feelin’, Professor? Ready to go?” Ronnie asks.

“Yes. I’ve been working on what we want to say on the way over here. I’ll give it to you bit by bit,” Stein replies.

Ronnie brings them down to land in the street where a horde of TV cameras and reporters stands waiting. “Thank you for coming,” Ronnie announces as he lands. “Through you, there is something I would like to say to the world. My name is Firestorm and I work outside the law,” he explains.“Not out of disrespect for it, but because there are some things the law can’t do. I can. I right wrongs. At least that’s what I try to do. I have powers. Powers for which I did not ask. And I try to use them for the common good. As I see it. As I understand it. That’s what I’ve always done.”

Ed and Felicity watch the press conference on TV in their apartment. “It’s what I’m trying to do now,” Ronnie continues. “We stand on the edge of a nuclear abyss. We’ve made our home and are trying to raise our families there, even as the edge erodes beneath us. The greatest horror is that we’ve grown used to the horror - - to the specter of annihilation.”

In Pittsburgh, Police Chief Ferguson sits in his office watching. “Given who I am, what I do, the powers I have - - once I perceived the threat, I had to act to prevent it. For that I am condemned by the nuclear powers and told I must submit to their judgment,” Ronnie explains.

In the Oval Office of the White House, President Reagan and Amanda Waller watch and listen carefully. “This is my answer: When you disarm your nuclear weapons, I will voluntarily surrender to your judgment. Until then, I will resist you to the utmost limit of my strength. I’ll give you your chance out in the Nevada desert, above the underground nuclear test site. Away from people and property that might otherwise be harmed. Take me if you can,” Ronnie concludes.

Suddenly, a voice interrupts Firestorm. “One question, Myte! How were you plannin’ to get there?!” Captain Boomerang calls down. Ronnie turns to look and gasps. From a flying disc hovering just overhead, Multiplex, Slipknot, and Killer Frost leap towards him! Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, and Rick Flag look down from the flying disc as the crowds begin to panic and flee. Lorraine Reilly stands near Firestorm, trying not to get swept away in the running crowds.

VIPPP! A boomerang whips past Firestorm! “Not here! There’s too many innocent people!” Ronnie yells out.

“We don’t care,” Multiplex answers as he fissions into dozens of small duploids.

Slipknot whips a noose around Firestorm’s neck and yanks tightly. “Nobody’s totally innocent anyway,” Slipknot tells him.

SQUEEEEAL! A boomerang quickly soars around the crowds, returning to Captain Boomerang’s grasp on the flying disc. “Flippin’ buncha droobs! Should let me sonic boomerang get in their first!” he calls out. “Hey, c’mon, Flag! Hold this bleedin’ flyin’ shelf straight, can’tcher?”

Deadshot takes aim and fires, but misses his mark. “Yeah! Can’t get a decent shot off with it buckin’ all over the place,” he adds.

“Be lucky if we can keep it aloft!” Flag tells them as he struggles with the controls. “Blasted thing’s experimental. Don’t think it was ready for a road test!”

Killer Frost floats down near Firestorm. “Early autumn, boys. Frost is in the air,” she announces.

“Well, it seemed like a good idea to have me mingle with the crowd like this,” Lorraine thinks in the middle of a swarm of people. “Be the ace up their sleeve in case the boys needed me! But I’m getting stuck in all this foot traffic!” she worries. FWOOSH! “At last! Firehawk!” she thinks with relief, flying up to join the battle.

Killer Frost lands next to Firestorm and quickly encases him in ice up to his waist. “Get away from him, you witch!” Firehawk yells at her. FZAAM! FZAAM! Firehawk launches two fire bursts into the ice mass.

Killer Frost turns to look at her new adversary. “My! What a gorgeous amount of heat you generate! Just what I need…you, darling!” she says with a sly smile.

“Ronald! Firehawk has bought us a little time,” Stein suggests quickly.

“And I know how to spend it!” Ronnie answers. FZAAP! He fires a nuclear burst up at the flying disc.

Slipknot is inadvertently stuck in Killer Frost’s ice with Firestorm. “Team stuff…stinks…next…time…solo..,” he thinks through shivers.

SCHRAK! Ronnie’s burst smashes into the flying disc! “Strewth! This is gonna hurt, innit?” Captain Boomerang frets as the disc begins to fall out of the sky.

“Gurk!” Ronnie gasps as Slipknot yanks again on the noose.

“Pack it in, punk!” Slipknot snarls in Firestorm’s ear. “Your government wants you down and they don’t care much who does it or how!”

Ronnie tips his head back. FWOOMP! He focuses a blast of heat from his flaming hair right into Slipknot’s face! “YAAAA!” Slipknot cries out.

“Guess they’re not really serious about it if they sent you!” Ronnie replies.

“Ronald, did you really burn him?” Stein asks in surprise.

“Nah, just scared him. Looks like he scares easy, too,” Ronnie answers.

“We don’t,” Multiplex announces as he and a duploid reach out to grab Firestorm.

Killer Frost grabs Firehawk, holding her tightly in her icy arms. Firehawk struggles in Frost’s grip but cannot get away. Killer Frost pulls Firehawk’s face close to her own, moving to kiss her. “I just want to absorb your heat…” Frost says.

Meanwhile, in a nearby truck…”I can’t reach the Colonel,” a technician explains to Dexter Tolliver. The heavily secured stretcher rests between Tolliver and two technicians.

“The Skywedge was shot down! Flag’s dead or out of it! Authority to activate the Parasite falls to me and I say do it. Now!” Tolliver orders.

In Times Square, Rick Flag gets up from the wreckage of the Skywedge. Deadshot and Captain Boomerang also struggle to their feet. “First Base to Home Base!” Flag calls into a walkie-talkie. “Do not, repeat, do not activate Parasite! There are too many civilians..!” He looks at his walkie-talkie. “Blast! Receiver’s okay but sender’s broke,” he groans. “Deadshot, you and Captain Boomerang help the rest of the Squad. I’ve got to stop them from releasing Parasite!”

“Why do we get all the fun jobs, eh?” Captain Boomerang asks.

In the truck, Tolliver pulls out a semi-automatic pistol and levels his aim at the two technicians. “I’m in charge here! Do as you’re told!” he barks at the men. Reluctantly, they comply and reach for the container’s control panel. SHUUUU! The container opens to reveal Parasite lying inside.

Rick Flag runs up to the truck. “AAAAAAA” cries out a terrified voice from inside.

“Hell! Those screams are coming from inside the truck!” SZZK! Suddenly, lightning strikes right next to his foot! “What th - - ?! Lightning?!” Flag blurts in shock.

THAKABOOM! A thunderstorm has rapidly formed over Times Square! Killer Frost looks above and then shoves Firehawk away from her. “Stop, you little fool! We’re creating a thunderhead!” Suddenly a lightning bolt sizzles down and strikes her! “AAAGH!” she cries out. Distracted, her icy hold on Firestorm and Slipknot quickly fades away.

Multiplex wraps an arm tightly around Firestorm’s neck and shoulders from behind as his duploid faces Firestorm. “Got my own power supply now, Bozo!” Multiplex snarls in Ronnie’s ear. “Can generate as many duplicates as necessary to beat you down!”

Slipknot lifts himself off the street, looking on. “Hold a piece fer me!” he calls out to Multiplex as Deadshot and Captain Boomerang run up to join them.

“Ronald…I fear…I fear another seizure is coming on..!” Professor Stein warns.

Suddenly, a loud voice calls down from above to the combatants. “Maybe you all better surrender,” Green Lantern announces. Firestorm, Firehawk, and the Suicide Squad look up to see Batman, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Blue Beetle, and Mister Miracle descending into Times Square.

“Oh great! It’s the Justice League!” Multiplex and his duploid cry out in harmony.

“I don’t need this. I mean, I really don’t need this!” Ronnie blurts out.

Green Lantern looks down at them. “Gee,” he says, “So many mooks, so little time.”

In Pittsburgh, Chief Ferguson watches news coverage of the Times Square battle. “The already astounding situation, where known crooks have attacked the Nuclear Man in what can only be a response to the President’s call to arms, is now further complicated by the arrival of the controversial new Justice League,” the TV announcer explains.

A police officer leads Doreen Day into the Chief’s office. “Chief? This young lady wants to speak with you,” the officer explains. “Says it concerns Firestorm and she wanted to talk to the Chief.”

Ferguson puffs on his pipe. “Yes, miss?” he asks.

“Uh…You know how the President said people needed to come forward to help stop Firestorm?” Doreen answers.

“Yeah. Seems like everyone from crooks to the Justice League is taking him up on it, too,” the Chief answers, getting up to walk next to her.

“I…I’m here to help, too,” she says as a tear runs down her cheek, explaining, “You see, I know who Firestorm really is…”

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