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A test explosion of an underground nuclear bomb inadvertently unleashes Brimstone in Nevada. S.T.A.R. Labs Chief Lobbyist Walter Reilly arranges for Martin Stein's return to Vandermeer University. Ron and Mikhail are surprised when Firestorm forms without either of them initiating the fusion. Firestorm, joined by Firehawk, battles with Brimstone.

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

They are doing this to protect us, they say. They are our government. This is a nuclear device in a natural rock formation beneath the sands of Nevada. It will be detonated in a few moments. Despite the protests, here and elsewhere, our government insists this must be done - - otherwise, the Soviets will gain an edge over us as a result of their secret testing. And the Soviets will watch this test and schedule another test of another nuclear device of their own - - for fear we will gain an edge over them. Then we will schedule another test and so on. All so the vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons that could reduce this planet to a cinder many times over do not become obsolete. This is for our protection, after all.

Technicians prepare the final stages of the detonation. The countdown nears its end as a strange pink aura surrounds the underground nuclear device. “5…4…3…2...,” the announcer’s voice crackles over the intercom system. Technicians stare closely at their monitoring screens in a control room.

“Control, I have an anomaly in the chamber! Halt countdown! Emergency override!” a technician nervously reports to her supervisor.

“Too late!” the supervisor answers. “We have detonation in chamber!”

SHA-BOOM! The nuclear device explodes in a cataclysmic burst of energy! Incredibly, in the midst of the explosion, a giant creature begins to take shape. “What is this? What’s going on in there?!” the supervisor asks in disbelief.

“Something’s being born,” the technician observes.

More properly, something’s being reborn. “Why, my lord? Why have you cast me out?!” cries the fearsome form of Brimstone! He stands in flames in the underground chamber, staring upwards with arms outstretched. “I beseech you - - do not turn your face from your faithful one!” Brimstone calls upwards. “Place me not here in exile far from your being! Please!”

The image of Darkseid appears, hovering in the air above Brimstone. “I created you for a purpose,” Darkseid explains. “You have not succeeded in that purpose. Until you have, you may not enter my presence.”

“No, my lord!” Brimstone cries out. “Do not abandon your servant! Please! DARKSEIIIIIID!”

Darkseid and his chief counselor, Desaad, stand watching Brimstone on a giant viewscreen. “What stratagem do you launch against Earth now, o mighty Darkseid?” asks Desaad.

“None, Desaad,” answers Darkseid. “I simply want to remind the inhabitants of that aggravating mudball from time to time that they are never far from my thoughts.”

Brimstone erupts through the surface of the Nevada desert. “Worshippers of false gods, beware!” he yells. “I have come to cleanse this world of false images. Only thus may I win back the love of my God! Prepare then to face the wrath of Brimstone!”

In the control room, technicians are stunned at the appearance of Brimstone. “Great. Last week it was this Sand Demon. Now it’s a character called Brimstone. Why are they all suddenly coming to Las Vegas?” a technician asks his colleagues. “Okay, let’s call all the authorities. Alert the air base. I don’t suppose anyone’s got Firestorm’s number, do they?”

Vandermeer University, Pittsburgh. Office of the Dean of the School of Science, Emily Rice. “I assure you, I’m personally delighted that Martin Stein has been found alive and that his brain tumor has disappeared,” she explains into her phone. “However, given that a portion of his brain was damaged to the point where he has forgotten most of what he knew, as Dean I can hardly offer him his old classes back. And unfortunately, he wasn’t here long enough to qualify for any sort of pension, so I’m not sure what the school can do for Martin, Mr. Reilly.”

In an upper-level conference room at S.T.A.R. Labs, Walter Reilly listens to Dr. Rice. Ed and Felicity Raymond and Lorraine Reilly sit around the table. Ron stands nearby. “It’s my understanding, Dean Rice, that your school’s trying to get funding to study the causes of metahuman powers, correct?” Walter asks into the speakerphone.

“Yes, some of our people are hypothesizing there must be some sort of genetic link between all those who have super-powers,” Dr. Rice explains. “If we can find that link, we might be able to create metahumans in the future. The military has shown an interest, so we’re trying to approach the project as part of our Strategic Defense Initiative funding.”

“They can pay $10,000 for a jet pilot’s toilet seat, but..!” Ron whispers with irritation.

“S.T.A.R. Labs has also been looking into this area,” Walter answers Dr. Rice. “In this day of reduced funding, we might be interested in pooling our resources. Martin Stein’s recovery suggests such a genetic strain might be in all humans.”

“Ye-es, I see what you’re saying,” Dr. Rice replies. “Martin could be a good object of study.”

“We’d have to insist he was well provided for, of course, and he’d have to be paid for his time,” Walter suggests. “He has been through a lot. So we’d also have to insist his personal physical trainer accompany him and be paid as part of this funding.

“And who is the young lady?” Dr. Rice asks.

“Nothing like that, I assure you,” Walter explains. “The young man who used to be a student at your school. Name’s Ron Raymond.”

“That would be acceptable, I think,” Dr. Rice concurs. “Provided S.T.A.R. can help arrange funding, I think we have a deal, Mr. Reilly.”

“Good. I’ll start getting the wheels in motion and get back to you later this week,” Walter replies.

“Looking forward to it. Goodbye, Mr. Reilly,” Dr. Rice answers. Clik! The line disconnects.

“WAHOOO!” Ron cheers happily. “You pulled it off!” Lorraine hugs her father as he and Ed shake hands.

“We’re very grateful, Mr. Reilly,” Ed tells him. “Martin’s become a close friend of the family.”

“Glad to help, especially if Lorraine keeps to her end of the bargain,” Walter replies.

“Daaaaad..!” Lorraine chimes in.

“What deal is that?” Ron asks.

“Lorraine’s also going to Vandermeer…and this time she’s going to finish her education,” Walter replies.

“I don’t believe you’re doing this to me, Dad,” Lorraine sighs, covering her eyes with her hand.

“I can’t thank you enough, Mr. Reilly! This was really great of you!” Ron says with a smile.

“I’m the Chief Lobbyist for S.T.A.R. Labs, Ron,” Walter replies. “Do this sort of thing all the time. I’ll keep you posted on our progress. Lorraine will see you down.”

Ron, Ed, Felicity, and Lorraine head to the hallway towards the elevators. “I hate to say this, but part of me actually feels guilty about all this,” Ron says. “I mean, we know what cured Martin’s tumor. But I don’t think we can sell nuclear weapons as a form of therapy!”

“Ron, I’ve helped my Dad with some of these grant proposals,” Lorraine explains. “Believe me - - better this money is spent actually helping someone than just being flushed down a $30,000 toilet for the Navy!”

“Besides, as I learned working with my software company, in research you sometimes find answers for questions you didn’t ask,” Felicity adds. “The same thing can happen helping Martin Stein. I’m very impressed with the way you got your father to help, Lorraine. Do you usually get what you go after?”

“Usually. Any problem with that, Mrs. Raymond?” Lorraine asks.

The four step into the elevator and head down. “It depends on what you’re going after - - and why,” Felicity answers.

“Is it my imagination or is there something going on here that I don’t understand?” Ron thinks as he listens.

“I hope Stein doesn’t mind us arranging his life for him,” Ed says.

“One thing that I noticed while we talked with him, Dad - - Martin’s real open to suggestion. And he really wants to get back out in the world,” Ron replies.

Dr. Easterly walks with Martin Stein in the courtyard of Nevada’s Dry Lake Mental Institution. “So…I understand you’re getting ready to leave us, Martin,” Dr. Easterly asks.

“Yes. I think it’s time. You yourself have indicated that there’s little more you can do for me here,” Martin replies. “Now that I know I have a name…a history…I want to know more.”

“How do you feel about having a name…a history?” Dr. Easterly asks.

“Well, better for knowing what they are, but they both seem…detached from me. It’s who I was but not necessarily who I am,” Martin answers.

“Keep in mind it will be a new world to you,” Dr. Easterly explains, “And potentially a frightening one…Eh?”

An orderly runs up, obviously distressed. “Doctor!” he calls out as he approaches. “Doctor - - we must evacuate the ground! On TV - - we saw - - ! The creature is headed here - - !”

“Calm yourself, George!” Dr. Easterly replies. “You’ll disturb the patients! What is this all about?”

“That! I’m talking about that!” George answers, pointing out into the hills Towering overhead and walking closer is…Brimstone! Martin Stein’s jaw drops in shock. In the next instant, an atomic ring forms in Martin’s eye.

U.S.S.R. Mikhail, Nina, and Serafina Arkadin sit together looking over some photographs. “All right, the story of the Firebird..,” Mikhail tells them. Suddenly, an atomic ring dances in his eye. “Ronald! My brother!” Mikhail thinks quickly. “Why do you - - ?”

In the S.T.A.R. Labs elevator, Ron feels the pull of impending fusion. “Not…me!” he answers. “Must be…Martin!” An atomic ring sparkles in his eye, and…FASHHH! Ron disappears!

“He said something about Stein initiating this? Can he do that?” Ed asks.

“If so - - why?” Felicity answers anxiously. “Let’s get to a television.”

In Nevada, Martin suddenly tenses and starts to collapse. “George, help me!” Dr. Easterly cries out as he moves to catch Martin. “He’s having one of his seizures again!”

FASHH! FASHH! Two fireballs streak down into the Nevada desert. FZAAM! In an instant, Firestorm appears hovering in the sky above Brimstone! “Hm! What’s going on here?” Firestorm asks.

Ed, Felicity, and Lorraine make their way to a monitoring room at S.T.A.R. Labs and quickly turn on a television. “We’re coming to you live from the area just outside the nuclear testing grounds in Nevada..,” a commentator announces. The TV screen holds an image of Firestorm floating in front of the giant figure of Brimstone.

“That’s the Brimstone creature! But wasn’t he destroyed?” Ed asks.

“Supposedly,” Lorraine replies. “What remained of the creature was brought here to S.T.A.R. Labs. My father saw it before it was stolen during the time the Parasite first showed up. From what Dad told me, I think I know how it can be defeated - - but I’m not sure Ron or Firestorm does!” She closes her eyes and concentrates. “And there’s only one way I can think of getting the information to them in time!” she explains. “As - - Firehawk!”

FASHH! Instantly, Lorraine transforms into Firehawk. FZAAP! SKREEEEE! She bursts out of S.T.A.R. Labs and rises quickly into the sky. “Nice, dramatic exit, Lorraine, but the fact of the matter is that Ron’s about 3,000 miles away and even at Mach speed, I’ll get out there too late to help him!” she thinks. “Unless I get high enough to use the Earth’s own rotation to help me!”

BOOM! A sonic boom echoes loudly as Firehawk gains speed and altitude. She crosses through the upper level of the atmosphere, and looks out into space. “Never…tried this…before!” she thinks. “Strain! Cold! Gotta hope…my powers will shield me from raditation…cold…long enough!”

Brimstone smashes his fist into a hillside. “You! You are one of the false gods I have been sent to smite!” he yells. “I shall cleanse this world and give it to my lord and thus regain his favor!”

“I don’t know if the rest of you recognize this guy, but his name is Brimstone,” Ron explains. “Last time we fought, Professor Stein doped out that he’s made of nuclear plasma given form by magnetic fields. The last time Firestorm faced him, he trashed our butt! And it looks like he’s going to do it again.”

WOOOO! Firestorm fires a nuclear blast at Brimstone. OOOOSH! PAFF! It lands harmlessly against Brimstone’s chest. “YARRR!” Brimstone yells angrily.

“Gentlemen, why is it the only time I exist I’m fighting for my life?” Firestorm asks. “We’ll have to discuss this later. If we have a later.”

“Hey! Here’s an idea! How about we lure this goon in front of the Hoover Dam, then open ‘er up and wash him away?” Ron suggests. Firestorm flies near the dam and Brimstone follows closely behind.

“Ronald! That’s a terrible idea! What of the people who live by the shore who would also be swept away?!” Mikhail answers.

“It’s what we would’ve done in the old days..!” Ron replies.

“These thoughts are somewhat less than helpful, Gentlemen,” Firestorm tells them. He stops sharply in the air. Brimstone’s foot trips against the edge of the Hoover Dam and he tumbles down into the Colorado River below, disappearing below the surface in a gigantic splash and burst of spray.

“I have an idea,” Professor Stein suggests. “A way of controlling nuclear reactors is with heavy water.”

Firestorm quickly flies down to the surface of the river. “Let’s try it,” he replies. FAZAM! Beams of energy stream from his eyes into the water.

“This water may help us control the creature’s heat..!” Mikhail observes.

Steam billows upwards as Brimstone resurfaces. “He’s still boiling the water away!” Firestorm says, hovering overhead.

“Then we must condense the steam back into water!” Stein explains.

“Father a storm,” Firestorm replies. FZAAP! FZAAP! He aims nuclear energy bursts into the clouds. Instantly, a huge storm from develops in the surrounding sky. SHAKA-KOOM! Brimstone stands in a thunderous explosion of steam, blasting the river away from him as he walks towards Firestorm. “Gentlemen, we need another plan,” Firestorm observes.

SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS-WOOSH! Firehawk appears suddenly, diving into the water just ahead of Brimstone! She floats back to the surface on her back. Firestorm dives down to her and quickly lifts her out of the water. “Firehawk?” he asks as they gain altitude together.

“Listen! Only time…to explain…once!” Firehawk says as she tries to catch her breath. “Brimstone’s heart…device in center…size of book! Defeated…last time…by laser beam…through device!”

Firestorm lands on the edge of the Hoover Dam. He stares closely at Brimstone’s chest. “I see it…The heart of the fire,” he explains. “Transmuting available light into single coherent beam.” FZAAP! A red beam of laser light streaks from Firestorm’s fingertip and smashes through Brimstone’s chest into the heart of the fire! But…nothing happens!

“His god has improved him,” Firestorm says as he watches. “The unit has a light-refractory coating. We’ll have to find something else.”

“Firestorm…Can we find it fast?” Firehawk asks as Brimstone towers overhead.

“The key is that device at its heart! We’ve got to rip that sucker out!” Ron exclaims.

“His interior temperature will be greater than the Sun’s. Can we survive such an attempt?” Professor Stein asks.

“What other choice do we have?” Firestorm answers as he jumps into the air. SHHHWOOMP! Firestorm goes immaterial, pierces Brimstone’s chest, and flies inside! “Aaaagh! The stress of his magnetic fields tears at us!” Mikhail cries out.

“And we’ll have to become solid again in order to grab the device!” Ron explains.

Firestorm reaches for the device. He raises his atomic density and grabs it. Instantly, his body is enveloped in fire! “YARRRRRR!” he screams in pain.

“YARRRR!” Brimstone yells as his heart is pulled away. SHUMP! Firestorm streaks out of Brimstone’s back, quickly climbing high above. WHOOMP! Flames explode around Brimstone and engulf him!

Firestorm speeds into space and flings the device away. He turns and dives back down to Earth. Brimstone stands in flames near the Hoover Dam. Firestorm banks down near the river’s surface. FZAAP! FZAAP! He fires bursts of energy that guide cascades of water at Brimstone. FZAPP! The water strikes the creature, and Brimstone disappears vanquished!

Firestorm looks and sees Firehawk still on the dam’s edge. He flies down to her, lifts her, and cradles her in his arms. “Stupid, isn’t it?” Firehawk says softly. “Hurt myself…to get here quickly…trying to help…and it was useless..,”

“No. Not useless,” Firestorm tells her. He gently touches her cheek and kisses her.



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