Firestorm, the Nuclear Man #89

    Firestorm, the Nuclear Man » Firestorm, the Nuclear Man #89 - Sundering released by DC Comics on September 1, 1989.

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    Healing from the battle with Maser, Firestorm ponder the possibility of his own mortality. At Vandermeer University, Professor Stein wonders what has happened to Ron Raymond. James Hancock Finch, CEO of Vandermeer Steel, fumes after Firestorm's recent attack on the mill. Firehawk arrives at Vandermeer Steel to meet with Finch where she agrees to defend the mill. Firestorm returns to Vandermeer Steel and is confronted by Firehawk.

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

    At the heart of the Earth lies a womb of fire. At the heart of the Earth, the Man of Fire contemplates his newly discovered mortality.

    “Maser almost killed me,” Firestorm thinks. He sits perched on a large rocky outcrop inside a seething volcano. Lava flows below him, radiating its heat upwards. “I thought I was invulnerable - - that no one could touch me - - but I was wrong. Rasputin warned me but I wouldn’t listen. I fled blindly and somehow wound up here. Mother Earth must’ve taken me in, nurtured me while I healed myself - - remembered who and what I am.”

    Firestorm stands and looks skyward. “And if I am mortal, does it follow that I’m human?” he wonders. “The planet is mortal, but it is far from human. It is humanity that is killing it. To defend it, then I must be more than human.”

    SWOOOM! Firestorm lifts off, quickly gaining speed. “How long has it taken me to remember who I am? Finch must think I’m dead. He must be feeling very smug. It’s time to surprise Mister Finch.”

    RRUMMMBLE! WHA-ROOOM! Firestorm erupts upwards into the sky from the volcano. A trail of fire and ash sweeps out as he crosses the top of the caldera. “Vandermeer Steel will burn!” Firestorm thinks as he rapidly circles around the rising ash plume.

    Down below, several villagers look up at the smoking volcano and the fiery trail of Firestorm. “Look, Mama!” a young girl exclaims as she points at the summit. “The Fire God is angry!”

    Ogaden. East Africa. A jeep rumbles over the barren land leaving a wake of dust. “Thank you for agreeing to come, Sister Martinon,” says Colonel Occam as he drives along.

    “I was not aware, Colonel Occam, that I had a great deal of choice in the matter,” Sister Martinon replies. “I am, shall we say, not much loved by your people.”

    “Forgive me, Sister, but my people are the people of Ogaden - - and not necessarily the government. This area we’re arriving at was once near one of your refugee camps. The American hero Firestorm was reported to be in these parts. Sister, please look. Explain to me, if you can, what he has done here?”

    Colonel Occam brings the jeep to a stop. Just ahead lies an area of lush, green life in the middle of the barren lands. “Bon dieu!” exclaims Sister Martinon. “He made the wasteland into an Eden, mon Colonel. Now, somehow, it has become a bit of Hell.”

    Vandermeer University, Insititute for Metahuman Studies. Martin Stein stands at an office window, gazing down at the campus below. “Has there been any sign of Ron Raymond?” asks Dr. La Grieve. He sits on a couch nearby reviewing file.

    “No. Nothing. It’s been weeks now. Nothing has turned up,” Martin answers sadly.

    “Perhaps the boy just upped and left; there are those on campus - - ex-teachers and the like - - who have said Raymond was not the most dependable person on the world,” Dr. La Grieve says.

    “Then the Raymond they knew was obviously not the Ron Raymond I knew!” Martin replies. “They hired the boy - - Ron - - to watch over me. He was obsessive about it. I’ll admit that, at times, I almost felt smothered by his attention but I always felt it came from the boy’s heart! My welfare meant a great deal to the boy, for some reason. I just can’t see him upping and leaving without a word!”

    “For what it’s worth, I agree with you,” Dr. La Grieve answers.

    “And that boy is very important to me,” Martin continues. “He’s my friend and I really have no others. One way or another, I intend to find what has become of Ron Raymond!”

    “I…wish you luck,” Dr. La Grieve says. “You asked to see me, however, because of some dreams you’ve been having?”

    “Yes,” Martin explains. “I dream of Firestorm, of somehow being Firestorm. Some of the dreams are in Russian. I know it’s Russian even though I don’t speak Russian. And - - sometimes - - I’ll see this new Firestorm on the news or in the paper and I get very upset - - I get angry! I want to yell that it’s wrong. That he’s wrong. That that is not Firestorm! And I don’t understand why I feel this way! What does it all mean?!”

    Dr. La Grieve rests his chin in his hand and thinks for a moment. “I…could hazard a fairly shrewd guess, I think; however, it involves privileged information and I’d have to get another person’s permission to use it,” he answers. “Unfortuantely, that person is a little tied up right now.”

    In the CEO’s office at Vandermeer Steel, James Hancock Finch scowls as he listens on the telephone. “No! The National Guard’s being on stand-by doesn’t do it for me!” he fumes. “If Firejerk gets started again, we’ll be nothing but a smoking crater by the time they get here! We need another metahuman - - maybe a group of metahumans! How about the Justice League or this Suicide Squad bunch?”

    The voice on the other line continues. Fince gets angrier as he listens. He bangs his fist on his desk and knocks over his coffee cup. “We don’t know that he was destroyed in that battle. Just because we haven’t seen him..!” he snarls. “No, no, no - - that Maser guy is still in intensive care! It’ll be weeks before he’s good for squat! We need protection now!”

    SLAM! Finch bangs the phone down. “We’ll remember all your so-called ‘help’ come next election, buddy!”

    “The Governnor was less than helpful, I take it?” asks Finch’s assistant, Charthouse.

    “He said that if I was right, we wouldn’t be here come next election,” Finch replies as he lights a match and holds it a cigarette. “Just means there’s a lot riding on this next conversation. Hope she’s prompt.”

    FZAAM! A flash of fiery light burst into the office. As the light fades, Firehawk appears standing. She turns to face Finch and Charthouse, hands on her hips. “You had word sent that you wanted us to meet at this time?” she asks.

    “Indeed I did, young lady,” Finch replies. “I need your help and I intend to have it. You and Firestorm have been linked ever since you first appeared in public. We’re not sure what your replationship is - - maybe you’re husband and wife, maybe lovers. Maybe brother and sister - - but we know it exists. We believe Firestorm is still alive and we have to assume he’s still a threat to this company!” He scowls at her, pointing a finger in her direction. “And you’re going to tell us everything you know about this flaming freak!”

    “Or what? You’ll tie me to the railroad tracks?” Firehawk asks.

    “Railroading’s a good image,” Finch smiles. “Charthouse, read Miss Firehawk what we have on her so far.”

    Charthouse picks up a file and scans some documents. “We know - - from the TV news tapes - - that Firehawk has a human identity as well,” he explains. “Your appearances in Pittsburgh have been sporadic until recently, and they tend to center on Vandermeer University, suggesting you may be a student there in your human identity. We know that the Insititute for Metahuman Studies has run some tests on you. In fact, we have copies of the results of those tests. We are aware that the Head of the Institute, Dr. Simon La Grieve, knows your human identity. This is just part of what we’ve learned in 24 hours. Imagine how much we could learn if we put real time and money and effort into it. How much are you willing to let us learn? How far will you risk it?”

    Finch stands and takes a draw on his cigarette. “Tell me, Firehawk - - just how important is it to you that your private life stay private?” he asks.

    “It’s important - - very important. But not vital!” Firehawk replies. “I’ll help you - - but only on my terms! Firestorm has undergone a drastic, fundamental change recently. He’s no longer even human, He’s a Fire Elemental. Most of what I knew about him is no longer relevant; however, his actions seem dicatated - - compelled - - by concern for the environment.” She turns and looks out a window at the sprawling mill complex. “I understand what he’s trying to do here but I also think he’s going at it wrong. To the extent of my power, I’ll try to keep him from destroying Vandermeer Steel.”

    “I’m not interested in attempts; I’m interested in results!” Finch snorts.

    “You don’t understand!” Firehawk replies. “Firestorm’s powers dwarf my own…YIIII!”

    BADOOM! Suddenly, the office window explodes inwards. Firehawk ducks and shields herself with her wing from the rain of glass.

    “It’s time, Finch!” Firestorm yells from outside. He hovers above debris and rubble. “Time to finish what I began to do! Starting now - - Vandermeer Steel dies!”

    Finch races for the telephone and dials quickly. “Dammit!” he barks into the receiver. “Get the Governor back on the line!”

    Firehawk leaps through the window and up into the air. FZAAM! Firestorm fires a nuclear burst at a steel mill building. WHAROOOM! The burst explodes in a deafening concussion!

    Firehawk cautiously approaches from behind Firestorm. “Firestorm! Stop!” she calls out. “We have to talk!”

    “No more words,” Firestorm replies, turning to face her. “Stay out of my way.”

    “Why are you doing this?” Firehawk asks as she flies alongside him.

    “Vandermeer Steel is poisoning the air,” Firestorm replies. “I warned them what I would do if they didn’t stop. They didn’t listen. When I’m done here, others will. It’s that simple.”

    “And what about the jobs that will be lost?” Firehawk asks. “The families that will be ruined by the lack of work? This attack has repercussion beyond what you intend to do! You haven’t thought it through!”

    “I’m talking about the survival of the Earth and you answer me with economics?” Firestorm blurts. “AWAY!!!” WHAROOM! A blast of energy explodes from Firestorm, pushing Firehawk back in the shockwave.

    “Then let’s talk about pollution!” Firehawk says, quickly flying back to approach Firestorm. “How much will you create by burning the factory down?! And how many lives will be lost - - or doesn’t that matter to you anymore?!”

    “I do what I must,” Firestorm answers. “Vandermeer could have avoided all this and chose not to. Go yell at them. I’ll do as I see fit!” FAZAM! Firestorm blasts a nearby mill building on his right. FWAROOOM! A smokestack on his left shatters from a nuclear blast.

    “SO WILL I!” Firehawk cries out. WHAM! She sweeps a powerful left hand punch into Firestorm that sends him flying out of control. THWAKOOOM! Firestorm smashes through a smokestack as he barrels through the air.

    “You side with my enemies,” Firestorm says as he comes down to the ground amidst debris. “Very well, I will treat you as an enemy!” FZAAK! Twin beams of red energy burst forth from Firestorm’s eyes. “I am not playing games!!!” he yells.

    SCHRAAK! SCHRAAK! Firehawk dodges as both beams explode on a factory building behind her. “Strike one! Strike two!” she yells. “Foul ball!” she cries out as she fires a burst from her hand. WHARAM! It explodes against Firestorm.

    “Hurrrr…!” Firestorm groans, clenching his fists close to his body from the impact.

    “Great! I have him angry!” Firehawk thinks as she flies away. “He no longer wants to trash Vandermeer Steel - - just me! Maybe I can outrun him..!”

    Firestorm banks and flies quickly in pursuit. “RAHHR!” he yells angrily. He gains speed and sweeps past Firehawk on a blazing trail of fire. FWOOMP! The fire from his path sweeps over Firehawk!

    “NO!” Firehawk yells. “I’m burning! YAAHHHH!” Eyes wide with fear, Firehawk flies upwards in a quick succession of spirals, her body covered in angry flames.

    Firestorm turns to watch her. The anger melts from his eyes. “Firehawk…What have I done?” he thinks nervously.

    “YEAAARHHG!” Firehawk yells in agony.

    “Firehawk! Hold on!” Firestorm yells out as he flies towards her. “Let me pull the flames away!” Firestorm reaches out his hands and draws the swirling fire away from Firehawk. “I’m sorry!” he yells. “You made me lose my temper! Why did you do that?! Are you all right?!”

    “’Sorry’?!” Firehawk exclaims. “You nearly burn me alive and you say you’re sorry?!” She turns and races towards him. “I’ll give you sorry!!!” FZZZACK! She launches into him with a vicious right hand uppercut. Firestorm flies backwards head over feet as he tumbles in the air.

    “You’re sorry, all right!” Firehawk snarls. SPAKOW! She punches again across his face with a wicked right hand strike. KRAK! Firehawk’s left fist rakes across Firestorm’s jaw.”A sorry excuse for a hero!” she yells. “A sorry excuse for a friend! A sorry excuse for a man!” WHAM! Her right hand crashes into Firestorm’s head!

    Down below, tanks, jeeps, and soldiers assemble in between devastated steel mill buildings. “All right, you two!” the commander yells up. “Put a lid on this! This is the National Guard! Surrender or we won’t be accountable for what happens next! But if you want a war, you got one!”

    “Want a war!?!” Firehawk exclaims. “WANT A WAR!?!” FZZZSCRHRAK! She sweeps past a National Guard helicopter sending it out of control from her fiery slipstream. “NO MORE WAR!!!” she yells. FZAAAK! She blasts through the gun barrel of a tank, ripping it apart as soldiers duck for cover. “I am so sick to death of bruised male egos resorting to force with little regard for what happens around them! No more!”

    James Hancock Finch and Charthouse cautiously approach the National Guard commander. Firehawk hovers above them as Firestorm looks on from nearby. “This has all supposedly been about pollution!” Firehawk says. “Firestorm claims he wants the pollution Vandermeer Steel creates to be cleaned up while Mister Finch here claims more controls would cost too much money. Instead of working together to find a solution, the two of you entered into a confrontation - - two male wills battling for dominance! Typical!”

    “Why should I help a corporation make money when they life of the planet is at stake?!” Firestorm asks.

    “Because it’s not just black and white!” Firehawk answers. “People are involved and people are also part of life on this planet! A fact that seems to have escaped you, even if part of you was once human!” She turns back to Finch. “And you, Finch - - wouldn’t a non-confrontational approach have worked better?!” she asks.

    “I was just doing my job - - protecting the rights of the corporation!” Finch snorts.

    Firehawk gestures around her at the burning and devastated steel mill. “Really?” she counters. “You call this protecting the corporation?! The environment be damned! This was about ego! You didn’t even look for alternative solutions! This has all been a matter of power - - who could make who obey!”

    “Nonsense,” Firestorm replies. “I’m an Elemental. I don’t have a male ego.”

    “Bull! You’re just trying to deny your humanity!” Firehawk argues. “After you hurt me, you couldn’t raise an arm to fight me! Why? Because inside, part of you still loved me! You won’t admit it because that would mean you’re not just some sort of quasi-god, but a man! That part of you is still human!”

    “No. It’s not true..!” Firestorm replies softly, closing his eyes in thought.

    “Then go ahead and kill me,” Firehawk says, poking at Firestorm’s chest with her hand. “If saving the planet is your only concern, then you’ll go through me to finish the job you started. And believe me, Mister, you’ll have to go through me!” She leans close, her face just inches from Firestorm’s. “Don’t hold back. I won’t,” she continues. “You’ve already killed whatever may have been between us.”

    SPAKOW! Firestorm bursts upwards, flying quickly away into the sky above.

    “Ha ha ha ha!” laughs Finch. “Well, all right! Looks like the good guys win one for a change, eh?”

    “If they did, you’re not one of them, Finch. You have won nothing!” Firehawk answers. “It’s going to take a lot of money to make Vandermeer Steel operational again! I hardly think your Board or your stockholders will be pleased at how things turned out!”

    “They’re not,” Charthouse says, drawing a scowl from Finch.

    “My, my, Mister Finch,” Firehawk adds. “Hope you packed your golden parachute.” FZAAK! She turns and speeds up into the sky.

    At the heart of the Earth lies a womb of fire. At the heart of the Earth, the Man of Fire contemplates his newly rediscovered humanity. And weeps tears of fire, for what he has found - - and lost. “Firehawk…I’m so sorry…” Firestorm sobs.



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