This Book Needs Wraparound Covers Just to Fit the Title
Gail Simone and Ethan Van Sciver bring us their reinvention of Firestorm in the ridiculously long-titled the Fury of Firestorm: the Nuclear Men. It's a busy first issue that struggles with itself to balance out the need to lay out all the groundwork for the plot while also introducing readers to its two leads. It manages that pretty well, though, and so the DC Universe has a new start to its Firestorm mythos.
Fury of Firestorm, which is what I will be shortening the crazy title to from now on, is one of the strange relaunches in the New 52 where it's kind of hard to understand the logic behind it. It's in the same category as Captain Atom, Blue Beetle and Justice League International. We have all these characters who were introduced to new fans through Brightest Day, but the end result is that they get these relaunches series that completely disregard Brightest Day. That hardly seems like a logical way to capitalize on newly revived fan interest.
That's not to say that I have any real problems with the changes made in this specific case. Fury of Firestorm starts to win me over right away by its apparent willingness to give Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond equal billing. What was done with Firestorm in Brightest Day was actually really uncomfortable. It went out of its way to contrive a status quo where Firestorm kept the white face of Ronnie, because in some really suspect story logic, Firestorm could only be effective if Jason was in the back seat. That seriously messed up contrivance needed to go, and it's thankfully gone here.
What of the new status quo? Simone and Sciver seem to be keeping the odd couple dynamic with Ronnie being the jock and Jason being the student. They do come across at first as the typical brawn and brains archetypes, but a good job is done humanizing both of them and showing the common ground they actually have. Knowing Simone, she will probably get around to breaking both of them from their archetypal molds soon enough. I am disappointed that Jason's relationship with his father seems to be a good one. Jason's history of abuse and victimization was always one of the most interesting aspects of his character, and I'll be disappointed if that has been erased. It is entirely possible that Simone is saving that as a reveal for later, though.
There is a lot of plot weighing this issue done as we also follow a team of mercenaries trying to acquire for magnetic bottles that apparently each contain the power of Firestorm. Simone and Sciver really are building a whole new Firestorm mythos from scratch here, and this is where they try to explain how the new setup works. It's not really confusing. It's just a lot of information to get through. Simone also keeps the tension high throughout these scenes with her usual approach to not holding back when it comes to her villains. And I think we may have just been introduced to the new Killer Frost.
The only thing about this relaunch that I am not really sold on is Fury, which is the combined form of Jason and Ronnie. To be fair, we don't actually see much of it yet. I don't know what to make of it at first glance, though.
Yildiray Cinar does a nice job on the art here. The redesigns of Jason and Ronnie's Firestorm forms are ones I actually like. They are very sleek and simple, which are qualities sorely lacking from the DCnU redesigns overall. Unfortunately, I am not so big on Fury's design. That one does feel more at home with the rest of the DCnU redesigns, and it gives him horrible flashbacks to Ghost Rider's superhero costume in the '90s.
While there is a lot of plot and I am not entirely sold on the new status quo yet, Fury of Firestorm is really a great relaunch. It is one of the few that genuinely reads like it is trying something new while still staying true to the core aspects of the characters involved and doing it all well. This is not half-baked, and this is not appealing to nostalgia under the facade of being new. This is definitely one of the more genuine relaunches here, and it is a shame more titles aren't like this.