"Will You Believe Me When I'm Dead?"/The Secret History Of The Nuclear Man last edited by MickRory on 04/13/23 06:34PM View full history

    "Will You Believe Me When I'm Dead?"

    Fiona Webb files a formal complaint, at police headquarters, against her neighbor, police forensics scientist, Barry Allen. Webb accuses Allen of plotting her murder. The desk sergeant is reluctant to take action, as Allen is one of their own. The Flash places Doctor Alchemy into police custody. Overhearing Webb's accusation, the Flash asks to hear Webb's side of the story. While they're speaking, they come under attack by a flock of carrier pigeons, carrying miniature explosives. The Flash vibrates himself, and Webb, at super-human speed, into intangibility. After the initial blast wave passes harmlessly through them, the Flash contains the shock waves, to protect the innocent bystanders.

    Inspecting one of the pigeons, the Flash discovers a miniature camera, and a relay system to control the birds. The Flash opts not to scour the area for the perpetrator, choosing instead to use this opportunity to clear Allen's good name. The Flash races Webb to Allen's apartment. Moving faster than the eye can see, the Flash is able to create the illusion not only of himself appearing at the same time as his alter-ego, but also carry on a conversation. In this way, the Flash proves to Webb that Allen was home, sleeping, during the attack. Webb, though, is undeterred in her certainty over Allen's guilt, suggesting that he merely hired someone else to do his dirty work.

    Crestfallen, the Flash escorts Webb home. The Flash, as Allen, runs Webb's fingerprints through the law enforcement data base, and comes up empty. A fellow forensics scientist suggests that Webb's information is protected by a "Code-7", meaning that the Federal Government, itself, is protecting her information. Allen types the information back into the computer, then vibrates his way inside the computer itself. Allen chases the computer impulses, following their electrons to Webb's protected information. Allen discovers that Webb's real name is Beverly Lewis. Allen asks his neighbors, the Nathans, to keep an eye on Webb. Allen, as the Flash, looks into Webb's life, as Lewis, in Idaho.

    Sorting through town records on Lewis, the Flash is accosted by King Faraday. After ascertaining that the Flash is, indeed, the Flash, Faraday identifies himself as a government agent. Faraday reveals that Lewis witnessed syndicate boss, Ross Malverk, murder an associate. For her testimony against Malverk, Lewis was placed in the Witness Protection Program. To insure her past would never catch up to her, Lewis volunteered to be brainwashed, so that no trace of her previous identity would exist in her mind. Faraday informs the Flash that Malverk has escaped from prison, and hired a professional killer, a master of disguise known as Saber-Tooth, to take Lewis out.

    Faraday shows the Flash film strips of Malverk's trial, so that the Flash knows what Malverk looks like. Webb sits down to dinner with the Nathans. When the elder Nathan excuses himself to get more wine, he is beaten and bound, in the kitchen, by Saber-Tooth. "Nathan" returns to the table, aiming the bottle of wine at Webb. As he pops the cork, a jet of flame is released. The Flash pushes Webb to safety, then takes out Saber-Tooth. Webb unties the real Nathan, then returns home. There she finds Allen waiting for her, gun drawn, prepared to murder her.

    The Secret History Of The Nuclear Man

    Ronald Raymond continues to recount, to Professor Martin Stein, the story of how they became Firestorm, the Nuclear Man. Raymond had broken into the Hudson Power Plant, along with a group of protestors. Learning that the protestors actually planned to blow up the plant, Raymond threatened to contact the police. Raymond was beaten into unconsciousness. When Stein confronted the protestors, having seen them on the security monitors, he, too, was beaten unconscious. Raymond regained consciousness, just as the protestor's explosives detonated.

    When an experimental reactor exploded, Raymond and Stein were bathed in radiation, which caused them to fuse together into one being. Raymond quickly realized that he could actually see the atomic structure of objects, and could actually alter them on a molecular level. Raymond fashioned himself a costume, and dubbed himself "Firestorm, the Nuclear Man". As New York's newest super-hero, Firestorm battled against Multiplex, Killer Frost and the Hyena. After teaming up with Superman against Killer Frost, Firestorm was invited to join the Justice League of America.

    As Stein was unconscious when he and Raymond were first transformed into Firestorm, Stein has no memory of his activities as Firestorm. Stein believes that his "blackouts" were caused by excessive drinking. At the end of Raymond's tale, Stein bursts into laughter over the ludicrousness of the story. In anger, Raymond triggers the transformation into Firestorm. Stein's consciousness suggests to Raymond that he photograph their transformation, to provide proof to Stein of the veracity of Raymond's tale. Firestorm complies. Upon seeing the photographs, Stein is relieved to learn that he isn't having a nervous breakdown. Stein and Raymond forge a new friendship.

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

    A shabby apartment in a rundown neighborhood in Astoria, Queens, might not seem, at first glance, a place for weighty revelations to be made…But, at second glance…

    “I must be mad, sitting here listening to this,” Professor Martin Stein sighs. He sits at his kitchen table, resting his forehead on his hand as he listens to Ronnie Raymond. “You come to me with some wild story to explain the blackouts that have ruined my career…You seem to know me…but I don’t know you!” Stein adds in frustration, trying to understand. “I’ll get to it, Professor,” Ronnie explains, “I told you already my name is Ronnie Raymond - - and the two of us together are the guy called - - Firestorm, the Nuclear Man!

    “Firestorm! That name, why does it haunt me?” Stein asks. “Like I told you, Professor Stein, I’m just your average jock high school student. To impress a girl named Doreen Day, I did something pretty dumb,” Ronnie answers, continuing, “I joined a bunch of phony protestors who were planning to bomb the Hudson Nuclear Plant, the experimental plant you designed and built.”

    Ronnie sets a kettle on the stove and turns on the burner. “I think we could both use some coffee,” he says, continuing, “I didn’t know what they were going to do at the Plant until we got there that night, and broke in. They figured to use me as a patsy to take the blame for the bombing - - and when I made noises about calling the cops, they konked me. I guess that’s when you arrived, just in time for your own konking.”

    Stein nods, recalling that fateful evening. “I…I remember that night. Some hoodlums had invaded the Plant,” he replies, adding, “I saw them on the security monitors, tried to stop them. I was struck…”

    Ronnie pours two cups of coffee. “And the rest’s a blank, right?” he asks, explaining, “I figure the reason you can never remember what happens to us when we’re Firestorm is because you were unconscious when we first changed.” He hands the Professor a cup. “’Changed’?” Stein asks. “Me, I must have a thick skull,” Ronnie answers, “I woke up for the big bang…and when I saw that dynamite go off right next to your new experimental reactor, I was sure that was all she wrote! The next second, we were hit by a wave of radiation…I felt it pick me up, carry me on its crest…and right then, it happened - - the craziest thing in the world…

    Ronnie relives the cataclysmic maelstrom of transformation that occurred next. “I feel - - like I’m melting! No, not melting - - merging! Like stereo images coming into focus!” Ronnie cries out, “I’m changing - - but I’m still alive! My mind feels like its crawling with information! Things I never knew before - - couldn’t even guess before! Suddenly, I almost seem to know what’s happening to me! That wall - - blown apart by the explosion! Just looking at it, I can ‘read’ its atomic structure! I can see how it’s composed of various molecular combinations - - and if I can see that, I can change it!”

    Ronnie focuses nuclear restructuring energy at the damaged wall. “All I have to do is ‘touch’ the atoms of the escaping gas with a nuclear blast - - and I can mend the wreckage by rearranging the wall’s atomic structure. Fan-tas-tic!”

    Ronnie looks quickly around the room, scanning the atomic structure of nearby objects. “Everywhere I look, I can see so clearly now! Whoops! Talk about seeing things clearly - - where’re my pants? Well, if I can fix walls, I can sure sew up a new pair of Wranglers! And since I’ve got the powers of some kind of super-hero…I might as well have the duds to match!”

    Ronnie describes to Professor Stein how he lowered his atomic density to phase through the Plant’s wall, and then took flight for the first time in pursuit of Earhart and his gang. “After that, everything else sort of fell into place, Professor. The name, Firestorm…and the heroics…” Ronnie explains, asking, “I mean, if you’ve got power like that, you should use them, right?”

    Ronnie rinses out his coffee cup. “The first thing we did was capture those fake demonstrators,” he explains, “Then we had run-ins with your ex-lab assistant, a guy named Danton Black who was also there that night…and crazies like Killer Frost…the Hyena…I wonder whatever happened to the Hyena, anyway?”

    Ronnie walks closer to Stein. “There was just one thing wrong, Professor,” he continues, pointing a finger at his counterpart, “You. You could never remember any of our adventures. You thought you were having blackout spells. You started drinking. Pretty soon, word got around and your reputation was ruined. That’s why I quit being Firestorm for all these months, till Killer Frost came back, and I met Superman again and he asked us to join the Justice League.”

    Ronnie remembers his induction ceremony on the Justice League Satellite with Zatanna, the Flash, Batman, Superman, the Atom, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. “How could I say no? I mean, those guys are all heroes!” Ronnie explains, “I know I should have told you about us long ago…but I was scared…I was afraid you’d want to stop it, if you ever found out. I’m…sorry, Professor. I wouldn’t blame you if you quit.”

    Stein thinks for a few moments and then suddenly bursts into laughter! “Hahahaha! Quit? Oh, young man! How can I quit something that’s simply another drunken delusion!” he chortles, falling back in hilarity on his bed. “It’s too rich! Too absurd! Oh, my, my, my!” he laughs. “Huh?” Ronnie says as he looks on in confusion, asking, “You think this is some kind of a joke?” Stein continues giggling and snickering. “Not a joke, my boy. Just a very bad dream!” he answers. Ronnie grows irritated. “Oh yeah? You want proof, Professor…” he begins, turning to yell right in the Professor’s face, “…you’ll get proof!”

    BTHOOM! Instantly, Firestorm appears in Professor Stein’s apartment. Ronnie phases through the wall and flies out into the evening sky. “Ronald! What is the meaning of this?” Stein questions quickly. “Your subconscious persona is a lot more together than your up-front conscious mind, Professor! I told you the whole story - - but you didn’t believe it! After all my agonizing, you laughed at me!” Ronnie explains. Stein replies, “Ronald, try to understand. You were talking to a man who has lost most of his self-respect.”

    Ronnie speeds down straight into the path of an oncoming elevated train. The driver sees him and hits the brakes! SQQUUEAL! The train’s wheels screech along the track as the train slows rapidly. At the last second before impact, Ronnie makes a tight 90-degree turn and flies off at breakneck speed. “That’s it,” thinks the stunned train driver, “Tomorrow, I go back to my old job running the Toy Town Limited at Macy’s!”

    Ronnie flies down toward an industrial area near the train tracks. “How else could he react but with skepticism?” Stein asks, adding, “You must admit, our story is somewhat - - incredible!” Ronnie brings them to a landing on a factory rooftop. “You’re right, Professor. As always,” he answers. “The thing is, I promised him proof,” Ronnie thinks, “But how can you prove a thing like this? When he wakes up, he’ll think he’s just had another blackout. He’ll never believe the truth.”

    Stein thinks for a moment, then suggests, “Perhaps if you gave him a picture…” Ronnie wonders, “Huh? What’re you - - oh! I get it! A series of photos, before, after, and during a change! Perfect!” Ronnie aims a restructuring beam at a nearby TV antenna, transforming it into a camera mounted on a tripod. “Hope this works, Professor! I never did take a good picture…” Ronnie tells him.

    Not long after… “I don’t know what to say…” Stein says in shock. He looks over three incredible pictures showing the moments of fission when Firestorm transforms back into Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond. “…These pictures…Unbelievable! But…But I must believe them. It explains so much. And it means…I wasn’t having a nervous breakdown after all…” Ronnie smiles at him. “That isn’t all it means, Professor,” he replies, “It looks like we’ve both found a friend.”


    • This issue contains the Hostess Superhero Ad, Hawkman in "She's No Angel"


    User reviews Add new review

    This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

    Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

    Comment and Save

    Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.