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After joining a nuclear protest group to impress his girl, Doreen Day, high school jock Ronnie Raymond realizes that they aren't just protesting - they're going to blow the Hudson Nuclear Power Plant sky high! He tries to stop them, seeing them plant dynamite near the nuclear reactor core, and they knock him out to take the blame for the disaster. Enter Professor Martin Stein, head of Hudson Nuclear, who again attempts to stop the protesters before it’s too late, meeting the same end as Ronnie. Just before the dynamite goes off, Ronnie reawakens to find the unconscious Professor next to him; while he attempts to flee with Martin, the bomb goes off, catching them both in a nuclear explosion. Their latent metagenes are activated, and they are fused together to form a single being. Ronnie finds that, because he was awake during the reaction and Martin asleep, he has control of the body, while the Professor is a passive observer who is only seen by Ronnie. They realize that they can alter the molecular structure of themselves and everything around them, and create a superhero identity for themselves: Firestorm, the Nuclear Man. As they fly off and bring the terrorists to justice, it is revealed that they were not alone in the accident: Stein’s scheming and dishonest aid, Danton Black, was also turned into a super-being by the explosion, but instead of joining together, he gets the opposite ability to split himself up into numerous, increasingly smaller versions of himself. He adopts the identity of Multiplex, and begins his life of crime as Firestorm’s arch-foe. Upon defeating the terrorists, Firestorm sees its own reflection, which causes Martin and Ronnie to split apart, frightened at the fact that their shared persona doesn’t look like either one of them. Unfortunately, after their split, Martin does not remember anything that happened during the merger.

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

“Wowee! If the kids at school could only see me now!” cheers an exuberant Firestorm, “I haven’t felt this good since I made the winning touchdown in the Championship game with Central High!”

Sense it: Something special is in the air tonight…Tonight, in the starlit winter sky of Manhattan, a hero is being born - - and he loves it!

Firestorm soars happily over the Manhattan skyline. “Fan-taas-tic!” Firestorm yells, swooping low over a crowded street full of amazed citizens just below, “I can fly - - I can alter my own atoms - - I can even change things around me! Talk about a dream come true! I just wish I had all this this morning, when Cliff Carmichael was dumping on me! Man, I would’ve fixed his hash, all right…” A shocked woman points up at him, yelling, “That man - - he’s on fire!”

Suddenly, a bystander distracted by Firestorm steps out into oncoming traffic. “Uh-oh! That guy down in the street, gawking at me! He’s gonna be creamed by that cab!” Firestorm cries out, “Unless…Heck, why not? I can alter atoms, right? One wave, and presto…No more cab!” Instantly, the speeding cab turns into a small flood of water that splashes harmlessly into the pedestrian, leaving the cabbie dumbfounded and still clutching the steering wheel. “Two tons of taxi into two tons of H2O! Neat trick’ if I say so myself!” Firestorm grins as he banks out towards the Statue of Liberty.

“Harry, did you see that?” asks a shocked helicopter news reporter hovering near the statue. “One minute this flying joker was headed straight at our chopper,” he blurts to the pilot, “and the next minute, he flies right through us, like we’re not even here!” He cranes his arm outside the helicopter, trying to focus his TV camera onto Firestorm. “No problem, gents,” Firestorm calls down to them, “for a kid who can switch his atomic structure at will! The name’s Firestorm, gang, and in case you hadn’t guessed it - - I’m the world’s first Nuclear Man!

A second voice speaks in Firestorm’s mind, a second persona that shares the Nuclear Man’s thoughts. “Very good, Ronald. You have tested your powers and found them adequate,” observes Professor Martin Stein, asking, “Time now to deal with more serious matters, agreed?”

Ronnie Raymond smiles and nods. “Right, Professor,” he answers, “For example, a first class jerk named Eddie Earhart - - that creep who made me what I am today! Not to mention almost killing me in the process!”

Firestorm dives down close to the water and speeds toward New Jersey, kicking up a rooster tail wake in the waves behind him. “Here we are, Professor! Scenic south New Jersey…and the spanking new Brooks Nuclear Power Plant!” Ronnie announces, “Judging by that ripped fencing - - Eddie and his gang have already arrived, just as they said they would! Punctual bunch of crazies, aren’t they?” Ronnie eyes the plant’s exterior wall. “Let’s see, if I could fly through a helicopter - - ten feet of concrete should be a cinch!” Firestorm lowers his atomic density and passes right through the wall! “And it is!” Ronnie yells happily. “Be careful, Ronald!” Stein cautions. Ronnie answers, “The tag’s Firestorm, Professor - - for both of us, now!”

Eddie Earhart and his gang are startled by the sudden and unexpected arrival of Firestorm. Several are in the process of setting up dynamite charges. “Eddie! Look!” a thug yells, “Some freak - - makin’ like a bird!” Firestorm flies in above them, calling out, “Hold that thought, you bozo - - and drop that dynamite!” Eddie glares at Firestorm. “Whoever he is, we can’t let him stop us blowin’ up this plant!” Eddie yells, barking at his henchmen, “Use your guns - - kill ‘im!”

A moment frozen in time: the shouted command is like a sword cutting through the hero’s bravado - - slicing thought and flesh, and laying bare the bone of memory. Suddenly, this game has become deadly, and in shock, Firestorm’s mind jumps back to another game twelve hours before…less dangerous, perhaps, but to Firestorm, no less meaningful…

Ronnie runs across a snowy school field in a game of pick-up football. “Hey, kid! The ball - - grab the ball!” a teammate yells to him. Ronnie looks back to find a long pass soaring right towards him. “No way! It’s coming in too fast!” cries a defender, “He’ll fudge it - - he’s got to!” Ronnie sprints and dives, leaping into the air…and catches the pass for a touchdown! “Wanna bet?” yells his teammate, “It’s a touchdown! We win!”

On the sidelines, the pretty Doreen Day has taken notice. “Cliff, he’s just marvelous!” she gushes with a smile, “The way he leaped for that ball - - he almost seemed to stretch those last few inches!” Doreen’s friend, Cliff Carmichael is unimpressed. “Come on, Doreen, be serious!” he scoffs, “How can you be interested in a common jock when you’ve got me?” Doreen watches Ronnie intently, answering, “Guess.”

Ronnie runs back to midfield to join the team. Doreen walks out to meet him. “You’re the new transfer student, aren’t you?” she asks, “I’m Doreen Day…I saw you during homeroom.” Ronnie answers, “Uh, hi. I’m Ronnie Raymond.” Doreen nods, replying, “I know. I peeked at the seating chart.” Ronnie smiles with a little bit of surprise. “Yeah?” he asks, taking a much closer look at Doreen this time. “Uh-hmm,” Doreen grins back.

“Say hero, that was some catch! Two bits says you can’t do it again while chewing gum!” sneers Cliff. Ronnie whips his head around to look. “Is that a wisecrack?” he asks, a little annoyed. “You figured that out? Brilliant!” Cliff answers sarcastically. Doreen shakes her head. “Cliff! For Heaven’s sake!” she sighs. Cliff walks close to Ronnie. “Doreen isn’t the only one who checked you out after homeroom, Raymond,” Cliff taunts, “I’ve seen your transcript. You’re a true Albert Einstein. Tell me - - is it true that your newspaper reporter Dad yanked you from your last school ‘cause you flunked spelling your own name?”

Ronnie loses his cool and flings the football into the snow in frustration. “Listen, big mouth,” he snarls at Cliff, “I don’t know who you are or why you’re riding me - - but one more dig and I’ll turn your glasses into contact lenses.” He curls his hand into a fist, waving it near Cliff’s face. Cliff calmly bends down to pick up the football. “Ah, yes, the threat of violence! A typical reaction of the intellectual primitive,” Cliff gloats. “As for who I am, Einstein - - ask around,” he says smugly, “Everyone knows Clifford Carmichael. I’m the class whiz kid. Cross me at your own risk - - Butterfingers!” Cliff whips the football at Ronnie, and it strikes him hard on the chest. “Hey!” Ronnie cries out as the football bounces off of him.

If you’ve ever been insulted without reason, then you know how Ronnie Raymond feels now…Believe us, it’s going to get worse! “All right, class, when was Charles the First of England beheaded?” asks Mr. Taubman, the history teacher. Ronnie starts to raise his hand, thinking, “Easy! That was in…” Cliff bolts his hand up, blurting out, “1649, Mr. Taubman! By an Act of British Parliament!” Ronnie looks over his shoulder quickly at Cliff. “Huh? He jumped me on purpose!” Ronnie fumes.

“Excellent, Clifford!” nods Mr. Taubman, asking, “And who replaced the dead King?” Ronnie starts to raise his hand again, thinking, “A cinch! I read that last year back in…” Cliff thrusts his hand up, calling out, “Charles the Second, Mr. Taubman - - during the Restoration in 1660!” Mr. Taubman walks over near Ronnie’s desk. “Very good, Clifford,” he replies, asking, “Now, who was Oliver Cromwell an…” Ronnie blasts his hand up, yelling out, “I know, Mr. Taubman!” The history teacher is surprised. “Eh?” he says as he gives Ronnie a sideways glance.

“Young man, this is not a football field! There’s no need for shouting or rudeness,” Mr. Taubman chides Ronnie, adding, “Perhaps you were a star player on your team in your last school, but here, what counts is academic achievement!” He turns to the gloating Cliff, asking, “Clifford, will you answer the question please?” Ronnie hangs his head and groans in frustration, “Arrgggh!”

Who is this kid named Ronnie Raymond, you ask - - and why is he important to Firestorm? Wait and see, dear reader…

“I hardly know Carmichael, Doreen - -so why is he dumping on me?” Ronnie asks. He and Doreen carry their lunch trays through the cafeteria. “Jealousy?” Doreen suggests as they find a table and take their seats. “Of me? A guy who barely gets a ‘B-‘ average? Why should he be jealous?” Ronnie asks. Doreen smiles at him, asking, “Really, do you care, Ronnie?” He thinks for a moment, answering, “Nah, I guess not…”

Ronnie looks over his shoulder and sees Cliff watching him. “Liar! Who wants to look like a dummy in front of a smart lady like Doreen?” Ronnie asks himself, “Cliff made me look stupid and that burns me…” Cliff calls out to Ronnie in a loud voice. “Well, whaddya know! Raymond can chew and cut meat at the same time! A-maz-ing!” he teases with a grin. Ronnie grows steamed, yelling back, “Carmichael, I warned you!” He stands and whips around to face Cliff and….CRASH!

“Oh, no!” Ronnie gasps as hand splatters his lunch all over Doreen! “Man, have I blown it! Spilling my lunch all over Doreen!” he frets to himself nervously. “Doreen, I’m - - I’m sorry! I guess Carmichael’s right - - I am a moron!” he groans in embarrassment, abruptly turning and sprinting for the nearest exit.

Doreen stands up as milk and food run down her shirt. She stomps angrily over to Cliff, pointing and snarling, “Clifford, for a boy with a genius I.Q., you act like you’ve got the wits of a retarded oyster!” Cliff laughs with glee. “But I don’t look like a human lunchpail, Doreen dear!” he chortles, “Look at you! You’re as bad as he is!” Doreen scowls and yells, “Carmichael…You die!”

Meanwhile, outside… “I hoped I could find friends in this school, now that Dad’s promised to settle down at his new newspaper job,” Ronnie worries to himself as he steps outside into the school courtyard. “We were always moving from city to city before - - I never had a chance to make friends before we moved again!” Ronnie thinks. He closes his eyes for a moment’s peace. “But after today, how can I ever get people to like me?” he wonders dejectedly, “First grandstanding at that football game…then getting a teacher angry…and now, messing up my chances with a really neat girl! Raymond, you are a real loser!”

And, as a depressed Ronnie Raymond wanders the school grounds waiting for lunch period to end…worried eyes watch him from the offices of the school principal, Dr. Wallace Hapgood:

The Principal takes a puff on his pipe. He rests a hand on the window ledge as he watches Ronnie. “Ed Raymond is an old friend, but his son has me concerned,” Hapgood thinks, “He seems such a tense young man. Perhaps I’ll have a talk with him…”

But Ronnie isn’t the only member of our cast vitally connected to Firestorm…At the new experimental Hudson Nuclear Power Plant, we’ll find another character equally crucial to our hero…the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who designed and built this installation - - Professor Martin Stein:

“Finished, after all these months…and years…it’s finally done,” Professor Stein smiles with pride. “Tomorrow the Governor arrives for the oh-so-necessary political ceremonies - - but as far as this man is concerned, the plant is ready for operation now - - today!” he thinks. He punches up a security camera monitor on a control panel, and his screen displays images of an anti-nuclear power demonstration going on outside. “The world’s first fully automated fail-safe nuclear generating plant - - quite an achievement,” he thinks as he watches, “not that those young protesters out there would admit it, even if they understood it. I don’t blame them for their fears, however, many nuclear plants are unsafe - - but not this one. This building has more backup computer controls than Washington has bureaucrats, and how much more secure can…eh?”

Suddenly, the control room door slams open and three men walk in swiftly. “Black! What the devil are you doing here?” Stein exclaims as he whirls around to look. “Protecting my rights, Stein,” Danton Black growls back. “Your rights? What…?” Stein asks confusedly. Black glares at him, gritting his teeth. “Danton Black is no man’s fool, Stein!” he explains, “When I worked as your assistant, you stole my plans for this plant…” Stein is outraged by the accusation and interjects quickly, “That’s a damned lie!” Black scowls at him, answering, “Prove it to a jury, Stein. Gentlemen, do your duty.”

Two men in business suits accompany Black. They approach Professor Stein and one hands him a lengthy legal document. “Professor, I represent the Nuclear Regulations Council. Until we’ve investigated Doctor Black’s allegations - - we’re forced to enjoin the opening of this plant!” one man explains. “But this is absurd! The man’s a crook!” Stein blurts in shock, adding, “I fired him for stealing equipment - - and now he frames me?” Black sneers at him as he turns to leave. “Life stinks, doesn’t it, Professor?” he asks, barking, “See you in court.” Stein crumples the injunction in his fist, glowering at Black. “I’d sooner see you in Hell!” he yells.

Stein looks around the control room, downcast and dejected. “Damn! I know how the public reacts! If this plant closes for any reason, people will believe it’s due to faulty design!” he worries, “Civic groups will pressure the government to keep the plant closed - - and all my work will have been for…nothing!” He pounds his fist on a control panel in frustration. “By God, no!” he cries angrily. “Injunction or no, I’m placing this plant online tonight,” he vows, “and no one is going to stop me!”

Several hours later, rejoining our other cast-member…A telephone rings in the Raymond family kitchen where Ronnie is busy preparing dinner. “There goes the phone! Dad isn’t home yet - - sot it has to be him!” Ronnie thinks, “Just once, I wish he’d be like a normal father. With Mom dead, there’s no one I can…” He picks up the phone. “Hi, Dad!” he answers, “Oh, sure, Dad. Lots of work at the paper…can’t make it home for dinner…Disappointed? No, Dad, I don’t mind…honest…”

Shortly after, Ronnie sits alone in the living room eating his dinner and watching the evening news. The broadcast is featuring coverage of the protests at the Hudson Nuclear Power Plant. “…protesters from the Coalition to Resist Atomic Power have marched outside the new plant all week,” the announcer’s voice explains, “Their leader, Edward Earhart, had this to say earlier today…” The screen cuts to an image of the reporter questioning Earhart. “Now is the time for all intelligent people to join in the battle against nuclear proliferation - - right here in America!” Earhart tells the camera, “It’s a cause demanding attention from all serious men and women - - and I’m proud to stand in the vanguard of…” Ronnie snaps his finger and his face lights up with inspiration. “That’s it!” he says with a smile, “I know how I can prove to Doreen I’m not a dumb jock!” He races to the phone and dials her number.

“…you’re joining Eddie Earhart’s group?” Doreen asks moments later, “Ronnie, is that wise?” Ronnie explains, “I just want you to be proud of me, Doreen.” Doreen is a little worried. “Me? What about you?” she asks, “Ronnie, your self-esteem is more important than - - Ronnie?” Clik! The line goes dead in Doreen’s ear. “He hung up!” she exclaims, “But - - he won’t do anything rash! Ronnie’s a smart kid. He’ll be okay - - I hope!”

Not long after, on a shadowed street in Manhattan’s Upper West Side… “Hi - - uh, is this the Coalition Headquarters?” Ronnie asks at the doorway of a rundown building. “It sure ain’t the Sanford Arms, kid! Whatsamatter? Ain’t it fancy enough for ya?” asks the man that answered Ronnie’s knock. “No - - I mean, not that! I just expected - - something different,” Ronnie answers. “Don’t we all. My name’s Eddie Earhart, kid - - you might say I’m the Head Honcho.” Earhart puts his arm around Ronnie and invites him inside. “I’m Ronnie Raymond. I…uh…thought, if you want volunteers…” Ronnie offers. Earhart nods, replying, “We always want volunteers, kid. Grab a chair.”

Ronnie steps across the room to find a seat. “Eddie, hey - - what’s the idea?” an activist nicknamed Wolf-Man whispers, “We’ve got a big job tonight - - who needs a punk tagging along?” Earhart frowns at him. “You dummy,” he whispers back, “This kid’s got no ties to us, right? He’s new - - which makes him the perfect patsy!” Wolf-Man grins, grasping the scheme. “Smart! That way the cops’ll never connect us to the bombing!” he whispers. “There’s hope for you yet, Wolf-Man!” Earhart answers softly.

And so, a short time later, a battered gray van thumps its way north on the Henry Hudson Highway - - while, within… “Funny, but you talk different from the way you sounded on TV,” Ronnie notes as he watches Eddie drive. “Politics, kid,” Earhart answers, “You wanna make an impact on the masses, you gotta sound special - - comprende?” Ronnie sighs, “Uh…I guess so.”

Soon, after an hour’s bumping drive into Westchester… “Isn’t this the experimental plant where you were demonstrating this afternoon?” Ronnie asks. “You’re real bright, kid!” Earhart snorts sarcastically, “Only tonight we’re gonna do more than just wave placards!”

Ronnie looks on with confusion as an activist cuts a hole through the plant’s security fence with bolt cutters. He walks inside nervously behind Earhart. Several activists carry a heavy wooden crate. “Uh, but, listen - - isn’t breaking in like this against the law?” Ronnie asks anxiously. Earhart glares at him, answering, “Yeah. So?”

Ronnie stops and points at Earhart. “So? So - - maybe you better tell me what we’re doing here!” Ronnie demands. “Whadya think, kid?” Earhart snarls, “We’re gonna make an example of this joint - - by blowing it sky high!” Ronnie’s eyes get wide in shock. “No! People might be killed! I won’t let you…” Earhart rushes Ronnie. “Kid - - what makes you think you can stop us?” he yells. KRAK! Eddie surprises Ronnie with a left cross into his jaw and Ronnie falls unconscious into the snow!

Professor Stein has been watching the altercation on the plant’s security monitor. “Hell - - and double Hell!” he thinks as he gets up quickly from the control panel, “With the plant officially shut down, there’re no security guards!” He runs to the hallway leading to the plant entrance. “I’ve been watching the monitors myself, while bringing the atomic pile to full power. And I think I’ve seen quite enough!” he decides.

Earhart leads his henchmen into the plant. Two carry Ronnie’s limp body between them. Professor Stein throws open the hallway door to confront the intruders. “You, there! Release that boy and get out - - before I call the police!” Stein yells. Earhart runs up to the Professor. “You shoulda called the cops first, Pops! Too bad - - for you!” CHUNK! Earhart pounds across Stein’s jaw with a vicious backhand blow! “YUNNGH!” Stein groans, collapsing in an unconscious heap on the floor.

Earhart’s men quickly unload the heavy wooden crate and busy themselves readying and placing dynamite charges. “Leave ‘em together over by the atomic pile!” Earhart orders his men, and they drag Ronnie and the Professor across the floor. “When this gizmo goes off - - there won’t be enough left of both of them to make one man! Let the fuzz figure that one!” Eddie tells his crew. He sets the timing fuse and activates it. “Now come on!” he orders “We’ve got us another date at the Brooks Atomic Plant in Jersey!” Ronnie slowly opens his eyes as the activists make their exit. He sits up, rubbing his jaw. “Uh…my head…where, what…?” he mumbles confusedly as he comes to.

With a squeal of aging axles, the battered van speeds off, and as it does, it passes another vehicle heading in the opposite direction - - a car driven by Professor Stein’s treacherous former assistant, one Doctor Danton Black:

“Now is a perfect opportunity to sneak a look at Stein’s computer designs,” Black thinks as he stealthily exits his car, “then I can copy his plans to support my claim that - - eh?” He stops abruptly. “A hole in the perimeter fence, a broken doorlock - - both signs that someone has broken in here!” Black thinks, “If one of my enemies has beaten me to Stein’s material - - I may need to resort to violence!”

Simultaneously, a dozen steps away…Tik-tik-tik-tik! An ominous sound catches Ronnie’s ear. “Dynamite - - with a timer set to explode!” Ronnie sees with horror. He sprints toward the device. “I can’t leave this old guy lying here!” he panics, looking at Stein, “Gotta grab the bomb before it…”

At another time and in another place, under different circumstances, both Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein would be dead in less than three seconds. Fate, however, has other plans! A few minutes ago, this plant was activated for the first time - - and in a way inexplicable, it now blooms to full fury - - catalyzed by the thundering dynamite detonation! A million ergs of radiation pour through man and boy like sunlight through a pair of windows - - very special radiation, unlike anything previously unleashed by man!

And they’re not the only living creatures touched by that nuclear fury - - for, in the corridor beyond, Danton Black is also struck by waves of ravaging radiation - - a tide so powerful, it slams him back into total unconsciousness! And as he sprawls there, flamelets dancing on the smoldering remains of his Yves St. Laurent sports ensemble, his body seems to shimmer momentarily - - before starting to shine with a soft amber glow…

While, inside the main reactor room, Ronnie Raymond finds himself whirling in a bizarre maelstrom… “I feel - - like I’m melting!” Ronnie groans, “No, not melting - - merging! Like stereo images coming into focus! Atomic rings spin and whirl, drawing the two forms of Ronnie and the Professor closer together in an unbelievable nuclear fusion! “I’m changing - - but I’m still alive! Ronnie cries out.

Suddenly a single being with flaming hair stands where there were once two men! “Yet that isn’t possible! An explosion of that magnitude - - coupled with exposure to such colossal radiation…” Ronnie exclaims. He stops abruptly, thinking quickly, “Huh? Did I say that - - rattle off that scientific jargon? My mind feels like its crawling with information! Things I never knew before - - couldn’t even guess before!”

The newly fused being stands in the blinding nuclear light. “Suddenly, I almost seem to know what’s happening inside me!” Ronnie says with amazement, “That wall - - I can look at it, and it’s as though I can ‘read’ its atomic structure - - just by glancing! Yes - - yes, I can!” The being looks around quickly, studying his surroundings in an entirely new way. “I can see how the wall is composed of various molecular combinations!” Ronnie says, “And if I can see that - - I can change it! All I have to do is just touch the atoms of the escaping gas and air - - and I can mend the shattered wall by rearranging the air’s atomic structure - - with all the ease of Aladdin rubbing his Magic Lamp! Fan-taas-tic!”

Ronnie watches in wonder as nuclear energy flows right out of his fingertip. “Everywhere I look, objects seem so different! It’s like a fog breaking on a sunny day!” Ronnie exclaims, “Before, the world was hazy, indistinct - - but now, I’ve changed somehow, and I can see things more clearly than…” Ronnie stops abruptly as he looks down. “Whoops! Oboy - - talk about seeing things clearly!” he blurts, “Where’s my pants?”

The being flexes his arms and focuses nuclear energy in the palms of his hands. “Must’ve lost them in the explosion! The same explosion which made me something new - - a Nuclear Man!” Ronnie cries out, “Hey! If I can fix walls, I sure should be able to sew up a new pair of jeans! And since I’ve got the powers of some crazy super-hero - - I might as well have the duds to match!” In an instant, the being is clothed in an iconic red and yellow costume. “What is it you call the aftermath of a nuclear explosion?” Ronnie asks. “A firestorm! That’s it!” he decides excitedly, “That’s what I’ll call myself - - Firestorm, the Nuclear Man!”

Then, abruptly, the air quivers as though in a heat wave, and the youth called Firestorm feels a splitting sensation, as… “There’s - - there’s someone else inside me - - in my mind!” Ronnie thinks as he senses another person’s presence in his thoughts. “W-Who…?” he asks anxiously. “The name is Stein, Ronald. Martin Stein,” the mental presence answers, “You’re apparently communicating with my subconscious. You might say I’m your other half…” Ronnie gasps. “Then - - that merging I felt after the explosion - - was real?” he asks breathlessly, “I’m you - - and you’re me!” Stein nods, answering, “And it seems we’re both the super-being you named Firestorm! We appear to be victims of an uncanny nuclear fusion!”

Ronnie thinks for a moment, asking, “But - - if we’re both inside - - then who’s in charge?” Stein explains, “You are, Ronald, because I was unconscious during the accident - - my personality is in a passive mode! Our decisions will have to be made by you alone! I can only advise - - provide information - - and contribute half our strength!” Professor Stein returns their focus to more pressing matters. “Our personas are rejoining, Ronald - - for, if I remember properly, we have a mission to perform.”

Ronnie lowers their atomic density and they fly through the plant wall out into the sky. “Eddie Earhart!” Ronnie quickly recalls, “While I was coming around, I heard him mention a Jersey atomic plant! I’ll get him, Professor, but first I wanna test my new powers! Something tells me this is gonna be a gas!”

And, as the Nuclear Man swoops toward distant Manhattan, his atomic structure altered to less than the density of air, he leaves behind Doctor Danton Black - - who continues to glow weirdly - - though now he shifts position, and starts to wake, with a muffled groan.

A moment frozen in time: the wound of memory heals, and Firestorm girds himself for battle renewed - - with a grin!

“Gangway, losers!” Ronnie yells as he blasts into Eddie Earhart’s mischievous thugs, “You bozos have caused enough trouble for one night - - so get ready to pack it in!” Activists are knocked and scattered as Firestorm speeds through them. “Wolf-Man…Stomp ‘im!” Earhart yells. Wolf-Man picks up a 2 x 4 and swings it at Firestorm…but the wooden weapon simply passes right through the Nuclear Man! “Neat trick, huh?” Ronnie asks with a laugh, “Wait’ll you see the rest of my act! Mainly - - this!” SHOOOOM! Ronnie fires a restructuring burst at the floor underneath the miscreants, instantly opening a large hole and the stunned activists plunge! “Hey! Where’s the floor?” one yells. “Somebody throw me a rope!” another cries out. “Whoa, Momma!” a third chimes in shock.

Professor Stein detects a danger, warning quickly, “Ronald, to your rear.” One of Eddie’s thugs approaches with his gun drawn! “I saw him, Professor - - almost like I have eyes in the back of my head!” Ronnie says, whirling around to face the gunman. “Let’s see you duck a bullet, Buster!” the thug snarls as he aims his revolver, “Fancy suit or not, you’re a dead - - cucumber?” The thug stares blankly at the cucumber he now holds, placed there by a restructuring burst Firestorm aimed at the gun. “Chew on that, Micro-Mind!” Ronnie calls out to him.

Reeeee-Reeeee! A swarm of police cars approaches rapidly. “Sirens! We must’ve set off the alarms - - now the fuzz are almost here!” worries Earhart, “Everything’s gone wrong! I wanted to make a splash, be important - - but I blew it, just like I always blow everything! Damn! My whole crummy life has been a bust! Flunkin’ college, losing all my jobs - - well, not this time!”

Earhart makes a dive toward the dynamite charges, leaping right past Firestorm. “This time, if I’m going down - - I won’t go alone!” Earhart vows as he lights the fuse. “Earhart, are you nuts?” Ronnie yells in horror, “You’re setting off the dynamite!” Ronnie turns and sprints towards the explosives. “I have to move - - try something far-out - - and if it doesn’t work - - we’re all gonna end up part of the woodwork!”

KA-BLAMMMA! An instant of thunder, a second of flame, and then, incredibly, survival! Earhart looks around incredulously. “Wh-What’d you do? Wh-Why aren’t we dead?” he stammers confusedly at Firestorm. “We didn’t die because I absorbed the blast into my own bod,” Ronnie explains, “And brother, do I need an Alka-Seltzer! But first…” He slowly walks closer to Earhart, clenching both fists. “Why’re you lookin’ at me that way? The cops are here now - - you wouldn’t…” POWW! Ronnie smashes his fist mightily into Earhart! “Oh, wouldn’t I?” Ronnie asks as Earhart tumbles away like a dry leaf in a windstorm.

Moments later, a fiery figure arrows up from the Brooks Nuclear Power Plant, soaring eastward across the muddy Hudson River…Eastward, to the isle of Manhattan - - and the street that Ronnie Raymond is beginning to call… “Home! Wait’ll Dad gets a load of me in this - - huh?” Ronnie stops abruptly as he sees his reflection in a large window. The face of the flame-haired Nuclear Man looks back at him. “A reflection in that shop window! Who the heck is - - me?” Ronnie cries out in shock. “But it isn’t me! What’s happened to Ronnie Raymond?” he yells, “I don’t want to be Firestorm forever! I want to be me! Me! MEEEEEEEEEE!”

And, as suddenly as that (and as inexplicably as it began) - - the freakish fusion ends:

“Uhhhh!” Ronnie groans, “Seeing myself in that makeshift mirror must have been a trigger! Me and the Professor are splitting up…But for good…or only for a little while? Funny. Never thought I’d believe it, but maybe I’ll be glad if we never join again…yeah…maybe…”

Ronnie bends down to help Professor Stein, who looks a little wobbly and disoriented as he tries to get up. “W-Where am I…?” Stein mumbles, “Last thing…I remember…an explosion!” Ronnie reaches an arm under Stein’s shoulder to steady him and help him walk. “Here, Professor. Lean on me,” Ronnie suggests. Stein looks at him with wide-eyed confusion. “Wh-Who are you?” Stein asks in bewilderment. “A friend, Professor,” Ronnie answers reassuringly, “Yeah…Can you believe it? A friend.”



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