Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Fury of Firestorm #4 - Sept. 1982

Firestorm versus...The Justice League of America?!? 

The Story: "The Icy Heart of Killer Frost!" by Gerry Conway, Pat Broderick, and Rodin Rodriguez.

Over on The Fire and Water Podcast, my co-host The Irredeemable Shag and I have moved on from reviews of the now-cancelled New 52 Firestorm comic to looking back at what we're calling Fury of Firestorm Classic; issue-by-issue recaps of the 1982 series. We just finished looking at Fury of Firestorm #3, the first of a two-part tussle with The Nuclear Man's (IMO) premier villain, Killer Frost.

Some of you might know that the Justice League of America makes a guest appearance in FoF #4. And while we'll be getting to it soon enough on the show, it occurred to me that it's been forever since I updated JLA Satellite, so why not "read ahead" a little and cover it here?
At the end of the previous issue, Killer Frost has taken over all of New York, and has forced Firestorm to do the whole kneel-before-Zod bit. Of course, KF doesn't trust Firestorm to willingly be her slave, so she demands he pass a test: in this case, it means flying to California and retrieving Big Time Movie Star Curt Holland. KF has a big crush on Holland and is looking to get her icicles melted, or something.

Firestorm initially refuses, but when Killer Frost almost kills some innocent civilians with a frozen billboard, he relents and takes to the skies. It's here that The Nuclear Man runs into his new found teammates in the Justice League, and earns his nickname Hot Head:
At the JLA Satellite, Firestorm explains everything that's happened, going so far as to reveal his dual secret identity once it's revealed that a detailed knowledge of physics will be needed to deal with this problem.

With Prof. Stein stuck back at the Satellite, Ronnie needs help finding Curt Holland, so he and Red Tornado teleport to Los Angeles. Holland is not interested in helping out (can't really blame him), angering Ronnie and they head back to space. In the meantime, Prof. Stein has developed a machine that, while cumbersome, has the capacity to freeze Killer Frost!

A little while later, Firestorm arrives with Curt Holland, and Killer Frost is overjoyed. She plants a frosty kiss on him, but when he doesn't seem affected by it, the jig is up! Killer Frost blasts "Holland", revealing him to actually be Red Tornado!

Firestorm engages in battle with Killer Frost, keeping her distracted while Red Tornado, who has Prof. Stein's device implanted in his chest, goes into action. It works, sapping Killer Frost's powers long enough for Firestorm to knock her out. But all of New York is still encased in ice!

Reddy is frozen too, and Firestorm uses his powers to boost Prof. Stein's device and creating a massive heat bubble over the city:
I really loved this story; I can remember buying the issue off the newsstands at the time. I think I bought Firestorm intermittently, but when I saw the JLA on the cover it was a Must Purchase.

Roll Call: Superman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Red Tornado, Zatanna, Firestorm

Notable Moments: This story (according to Mike's Amazing World) takes place between JLA #205 and another guest appearance in Action Comics #535.

The scene where Firestorm just loses it and attacks the JLA is quite powerful and well-executed; he uses his powers in nearly lethal ways and it's fun seeing the new kid on the block really put a beat down (albeit temporarily) on the big guns like Superman and Zatanna. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense that the World's Greatest Superheroes would just let NYC stay frozen, handing off the assignment to just Firestorm and Red Tornado, but that's a standard trope of superhero storytelling and it's something you just have to roll with.

Gerry Conway, writing both books of course, used this guest appearance to actually forward the characters relationship, something pretty rare for guest appearances, which are often as not done as sales drivers. Here the JLA learns Firestorm's real identity (Superman already knew but kept it from everyone; as we all know, Kal is big on keeping secrets from his JLA teammates), and while it never really came that much into play over in Justice League of America, it's still a nice moment.

Top it off with learning that Red Tornado is a Steve Martin fan, and you've got one fun issue of The Fury of Firestorm!

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