Firestorm struggles with a raging swarm of animated stuffed animals, brought to life by the medicine-magic of Black Bison. An aerial confrontation ensues near the Statue of Liberty when Firestorm pursues the helicopter carrying Black Bison and Silver Deer to Washington, D.C. Black Bison and Silver Deer seek assistance at a foreign embassy in Washington, where they meet with an Ambassador to organize the next phase of their plan.
Firestorm826's Panel-by-Panel Story Summary (Spoiler Alert)
Firestorm crawls along the sidewalk, reaching out for help. He has been swarmed by a massive sea of attacking stuffed animals that have been animated to life by Black Bison’s shaman coup stick and medicine magic. Deadly cobra venom flows in his blood, the result of a bite from shapechanger Silver Deer. A crowd of bystanders looks on warily. “Somebody…anybody…help me!” Ronnie struggles to say. “Ronald, they don’t understand - - we’ve been poisoned - - by cobra venom,” Stein observes of the crowd, “Feel our heart - - racing!”
“Uh, Flame-Hair, this is a gag, right?” Detective Wilson asks, leaning over the squirming animal pile. Ronnie sputters against the venom’s effects, trying to tell Wilson that it is no joke and he is in pain. “No use, Wilson and Mackey are policemen…the rest of these people are bystanders…none of them can help us,” Stein figures, “They see these toy animals…and think it’s a joke.” FZAM! Ronnie frees a hand and blasts an animal with a restructuring burst, turning it into a football. “Then we better - - help ourselves, Professor,” Ronnie says, “Venom’s…in our blood. Gotta draw it out somehow. Zap that football…switch its molecules…turn it into a tourniquet for my leg. Need suction. That toy frog…zap it on over here…” FAM! The frog flies to him. “That toy may draw off the venom - - but we’re too weak to work its pump,” Stein says. Ronnie picks up a small teddy bear. “Never said I would,” he answers, “Bear’ll do it.”
Detective Mackey walks over, observing, “Firestorm, you don’t look so good - - what are you doing?” FZAM! A small restructuring burst connects the bear to the toy store’s alarm system. “Thanks for noticing, Mackey,” Ronnie gasps, “I’m hooking bear…to store power supply…” Electricity begins to flow to the bear, animating the drumsticks it holds. It starts to beat on the pump for the toy frog. Ronnie places the mouth of the frog over Silver Deer’s cobra bite. Bam-bam-bam-bam, the bear drums. Wilson suggests that they better call an ambulance for Firestorm. “He must’ve tangled with Black Bison and that Indian femme,” Mackey tells his partner, “Huh? Beat that! Lookit that little frog go! Why do you suppose he’s - - Oh, my God! Wilson, Firestorm must’ve been bit by some kind of snake! That’s why he’s doing all this! We should’ve realized!”
His head spins like an overworked clothes dryer: hot, fast, and dizzily. As he rises to his feet, the muscles in his arms and legs tremble. But he stands, nonetheless, as the crowd of bystanders draws back in astonishment. Sergeants Mackey and Wilson of the NYPD reach to steady him, but he waves them away - - a false bit of bravado, perhaps, but one that gives him tremendous satisfaction. Then he remembers: Black Bison and Silver Deer - - they couldn’t have gotten far by now. What was it they’d said, after they’d beaten him…something about stealing a copter at the nearby heliport? Firestorm stands and stretches skyward. “Firestorm! You can’t take off - - we’ve got to call an ambulance! You’re sick!” Mackey exclaims. “Save it, Mackey,” Wilson tells his partner, “The man ain’t listening.” Mackey replies, “But Wilson, where’s he going? In his shape, what can he do?”
Black Bison: He was a man called John Ravenhair, a teacher at Ronnie Raymond’s high school…until the mysterious Silver Deer appeared, bearing the sacred Talisman of the Bison Cult. Under its influence, John Ravenhair vanished…his personality submerged under that of his grandfather, a great shaman of the Cult…a man committed to a resurgence of Native American power. It was Black Bison who animated the toy store animals with his shaman’s coup stick - - and sent them to attack Firestorm; and it was the shapechanger, Silver Deer, who transformed herself into a deadly cobra - - and left her venom to spread through Firestorm’s veins. Some people just aren’t very nice.
Firestorm flies along the Hudson River, spotting a helicopter in the air near the Statue of Liberty. His approach is spotted by the passengers in the helicopter. “Silver Deer!” Black Bison warns, “He follows - - and you swore you’d finished him!” Silver Deer leans next to the pilot, pointing him along. “Keep your eyes on the controls of this helicopter, foolish man, and go exactly where I tell you,” she tells him, answering Black Bison, “Who follows, my lover?” Black Bison points at their pursuer, yelling, “Firestorm!”
Ronnie dives around the helicopter as Stein warns they are in no condition for battle. “We’re weaving - - and still so weak,” he cautions. Ronnie banks around to trail the helicopter. “Nuts! I’m fine, Professor. Promise. E-whoops,” he answers, narrowly missing a large bridge cable. He aims a nuclear burst at the helicopter! Fizzit! The burst sputters from his hand, never forming. “’Fizzit?’” Ronnie stammers, looking dumbfounded at his hand. “Uh-oh. Gotta clear me head. Still woozy,” he decides, breaking from pursuit to refocus. “That’s putting it mildly, Ronald. Let them go,” Stein suggests, “We’ll have a better chance at capturing them if we give ourselves time to recover!” Ronnie turns back on the tail of the helicopter. “Nope. Gonna do it now,” he tells Stein.
Black Bison leans out of the open helicopter door. Firestorm flies up, arms ready to attack. KWHAM! Black Bison pivots a powerful kick into Firestorm’s head, shouting, “I will do the rest!” The pilot looks back at the unbelievable battle taking place. “All I ever wanted was to run a nice little helicopter sightseeing service - - and then Geronimo and Pocahontas here hijack my chopper and me with it!” he thinks as he works the control sticks, “Now this! I’m gonna lose my license for sure.” Firestorm flies back near the helicopter. “Aw, no - - you guys have got to be kidding!” the pilot cries out in amazement.
“Be silent!” Black Bison commands him, “Hold this steel bird steady, little man.” He leans out to look for Firestorm. His coup stick at ready, he wonders, “Eh? Where did he…?” WHUMP! Firestorm strikes him with a sudden kick! “Right behind you, Bison,” Ronnie announces as he attacks, “I may be woozy, but I ain’t dumb.” THOOOM! Black Bison counters with a powerful attack! “Fool. You are a man, but I am a shaman. The spirit of my people gives me strength. Their rage, their fury, is a living force within me,” he calls to Firestorm, “What are you against the anger of a nation? You are a gnat, an insect - - and I will swat you down.”
The two combatants trade blows back and forth. Black Bison snatches Firestorm’s right ankle when he flies near! “This day, in the city of your leaders, a new history will begin,” he says, pulling Firestorm back in the air, “You are a memory of the past, Firestorm. A memory - - to be forgotten!” Black Bison pulls the vulnerable Firestorm to him and explodes forth his rage! KWHAM! An incredible left jab slams into Firestorm with a concussive impact. He flies backwards, arms and legs flailing in the wind. “Oh, my Lord…!” Stein cries out. TTTWWANNNG! Firestorm lands amidst the suspension cables of the nearby Brooklyn Bridge.
The thrusting attack causes Black Bison to lose his grip on the helicopter’s landing skid. He plummets head first, calling back, “Silver Deer - - I fall…” Silver Deer instantly uses her shapechanger powers to transform herself into a giant silver squid. “…But not far, my lover,” she calls to her Chief as a gleaming tentacle reaches out of the helicopter. It wraps around Black Bison and pulls him to safety inside the helicopter. “This ain’t real, Larry, you’re dreaming,” the stunned pilot tells himself. “Your medicine is greater than mine, Silver Deer,” he tells her, “With my coup stick, I may control things - - but your magic controls your very shape. Could you see? What happened to the flame-hair when I fell?” Silver Deer returns to her human form, answering, “He struck the Brooklyn Bridge, Black-Cloud-In-Morning…And as soon as he works himself free, I fear he will be after us again…”
Ronnie struggles to free himself from the spaghetti-like tangle of cables. “They’re getting away, Ronald,” Stein looks, “Just as well.” Ronnie snaps a cable, freeing himself. “The hell it is,” he answers angrily. Taking flight, he turns to launch a repairing nuclear burst at the broken cable. “Maybe I can’t think straight, Professor,” he says, spotting the helicopter, “But we’ve got a job to do, and we’re gonna do it.” He turns to intercept, still shaky in flight. “No!” Stein cautions.
The helicopter hovers over the Statue of Liberty. Ronnie approaches and is stunned by what he sees! “Bison must be crazy! He’s dangling from the copter ski - - reaching his coup stick toward the Statue of Liberty!” he cries out, “What does he think he’s - - uh-oh.” Black Bison hangs upside down, legs wrapped to the helicopter skid. Magical energy flows in yellow waves laced with dancing red spheres from his coup stick into Lady Liberty. “Ronald, he’s used his shaman powers to animate the statue!” Stein exclaims. The Statue’s left hand sweeps fast through the air, plucking Firestorm in its grip like an apple from a tree! “Know something, Professor Stein?” Ronnie answers, “I figured that out!”
FZAM! He unleashes nuclear energy to force the Statue’s hand open. She turns and swings her torch! WHOOOOOSH! It speeds past Firestorm, barely missing! Firestorm careens through the air near her to avoid her other hand. Turning to focus a restructuring burst, he shakes his head saying, “I’m gonna hate myself for this - - but the thing is, I’ve got no other choice! FZOOOOM! The burst hits the Statue and she transforms…into an inflatable punching bag! “Ronnie, you turned the Statue of Liberty into a giant-sized bop bag?” Flying down and looking back at his handiwork, Ronnie answers, “It seemed like a good idea at the time. My aching head. You were right, Professor. The way I feel, I never should have gone after Bison and his new pal. I’ve botched things up but good.” SPRIZZZZ! The inflated Statue leaks air and collapses slowly on its pedestal. “No Ronald, I was wrong. You did your best…and we can’t stop now,” Stein counters, “I think we have a pretty good idea where Bison is headed next…don’t we?” Ronnie recalls, “’The city of your leaders,’ he said. Washington, D.C.”
Not long after, in that celebrated city on the Potomac…Two men walk down the steps of the landmark U.S. Capitol Building. “Well, Mr. DiSalvo, we tried,” Boswell says. “That we did, Boswell,” DiSalvo answers. He puffs on his cigar, thinking as he walks. “Gotta hand it to Reilly, he’s a man of principle. Even with the Senate Ethics Committee breathing down his neck, he won’t take my bribe…” DiSalvo ponders, “won’t let me help him. Too bad. If you won’t let Carmine DiSalvo help you, Senator, then I’ll do my best to bury you.” A voice calls out to him, interrupting his scheming thoughts. “Mr. DiSalvo! Can I have a word with you?” inquires reporter Roxanne Sharpe. DiSalvo turns to look, thinking, “It’s that Sharpe girl, the TV reporter. Perfect timing.”
The two meet on the Capitol stairs and greet each other. “You were seen coming out of Senator Walter Reilly’s office, Mr. DiSalvo,” she asks, “Mind telling me what Washington’s most powerful lobbyist was doing with the discredited Senator from New York?” DiSalvo blows a puff of cigar smoke, and answers, “Well, now, Ms. Sharpe, Walter Reilly is a dear old friend of mine. Right, Boswell?” His underling agrees, saying, “Senator Reilly and the boss go way back, Ms. Sharpe.” She looks at DiSalvo quizzically, asking, “You mean Reilly’s been in your pay all this time?” DiSalvo’s brow furrows at the accusation. “’In my pay?’ That’s a crude way of putting it, young lady,” he replies, “Let’s say I believe in helping my friends. Naturally, this is off the record.” Sharpe shakes her head, answering, “I didn’t agree to that.” A helicopter can be seen nearing the Capitol as DiSilvo answers, “You didn’t? My, how foolish of me.”
DiSalvo smiles: in the back of his mind, he’s aware of a helicopter passing above, but he has more important matters on his mind. Perhaps, if he could see within, he might think twice. “Washington. Where do we go now, Silver Deer?” Black Bison inquires. “An embassy not far from here,” she directs, “There, we will prepare the future.” At Silver Deer’s command, the helicopter swoops away, leaving Carmine DiSalvo behind…leaving behind, as well, two other members of our cast…who have been watching DiSalvo from the upper floor office of Senator Walter Reilly: They are the Senator and his daughter - - Lorraine Reilly, aka Firehawk.
“Dad, who did you see down there with DiSalvo?” Lorraine asks her father. “It doesn’t matter,” he replies, turning from the window to embrace her, “Nothing matters anymore. Except you. I’m so sorry you were dragged into this, Lorraine.” She shakes her head and answers, “Don’t say that…It’s my fault you’re in trouble with the Ethics Committee. Henry Hewitt kidnapped me, and used me to blackmail you…I can’t see why you just won’t let them…” He cuts her off, growing angry. “No! They’re right: I betrayed my public trust when I gave Hewitt my vote - - no matter what my reasons,” he groans, “Can’t you see that?” Lorraine turns to look outside. “All I see is a good man, who’s let lesser men tell him what’s right and what’s wrong,” she replies, “Think of all the good you’ve done, and all the good you still can do. Fight them, Daddy, please, fight them.”
Suddenly, Firestorm sweeps through the air in front of Senator Reilly’s window! “Wh-what? Outside - - Firestorm?” Lorraine thinks, “He must be looking for me! A few days ago, when we were fighting Bug and Byte, he promised to help with our problems down here…Truth is, he couldn’t have come at a better time!” Firestorm pivots in the sky, looking back at Senator Reilly’s window. “Think she saw us, Professor?” Ronnie asks, trailing a stream of atomic rings in the sky behind him. “How could she miss us, Ronald?” Stein replies, “You’ve been buzzing the Washington skyline for fifteen minutes!” Ronnie wonders if Lorraine has been attacked by any more drone jet-fighters. “Ask her yourself, Ronald,” Stein observes.
Sweeping skyward on her beautiful wings of flame, Firehawk soars next to Firestorm. “Hi, Stormy,” she calls out happily, “What’s a good-looking guy like you doing in a place like this?” Ronnie turns to greet her. “Hey, Hawk,” he answers, “Wow, every time I see you, it’s like I realize all over again just how beautiful you are. How’s your Dad?” The two fly close over the District of Columbia skyline. “Not so good,” Firehawk tells him, “I’m glad you’re here, Ronnie. I need your support.” Ronnie nods, replying, “Me, too. Do you remember a guy named Black Bison…”
Firehawk reacts with surprise, recalling the man who once attacked her as a way to get at her father, the Senator…Simultaneously, on the rooftop of a certain foreign embassy not far away, the helicopter carrying Black Bison and Silver Deer has come in for a landing. “Little man, I am done with you,” Silver Deer tells the trembling pilot, “Look at me. Look at the eyes of Coyote’s daughter.” Her words are hypnotic and mystifying. Strange energy seems to flow from Silver Deer’s eyes towards the mesmerized pilot. “Destroy yourself,” she commands him.
Fifteen seconds later… “Ronald, forgive me for interrupting your conversation with Firehawk,” Stein interjects, “but isn’t that…” Whtt-whtt-whtt-whtt! The sound of rotors grabs Ronnie’s attention. “The copter Bison stole back in New York!” Ronnie answers, completing Stein’s thought, “Hey! It’s weaving out of control - - diving toward the river!” He launches himself in pursuit, Firehawk close alongside. “And it’s headed right for that flock of geese,” she calls out. “Block the birds, I’ll handle the chopper!” Ronnie yells back.
Firehawk sweeps in front of the huge mass of birds, creating a wall of fire that flows back from her wings. “Road’s closed, fellas. Try a detour,” she tells the surprised geese. “Stormy, about Bison: Wasn’t he discredited by every Native American group in the country?” she asks, “Who would want him back?” Ronnie banks into position below the diving helicopter. “Someone as crazy as he is, Hawk,” Ronnie tells her, “There was a woman with him…” Firehawk flies next to him, asking, “Uh-huh, blame it on a woman, right? What are you doing, Storm?”
Ronnie aims and fires a restructuring burst at the helicopter. FZOM! It transforms into a giant cola bottle! “Too late to keep that copter from hitting the water,” he explains, “At least like this, it’ll float.” The bottle spins down. SPLOOOSH! It hits the water and bobs along the surface. Ronnie flies close and peers inside, seeing only the bewildered pilot. “Say, where’s Bison and the lady? I thought they’d be inside…but they’re not! We’ve lost them!” he yells to Firehawk. Stein chimes in, “If I may offer a suggestion, Ronald - - perhaps the pilot can tell us what we need to know?” Ronnie concurs, aiming a restructuring burst at the water to create an oversized bottle opener. “So let’s pop the question, shall we?” he asks. SPTOT! The bottlecap pops off. “I can’t believe you said that,” Firehawk scoffs.
The helicopter pilot wriggles his way to the top of the bottle. “N-never saw eyes like hers before…All black and empty, like there was nothin’ on the other side…nothin’ human,” he rambles, “’Destroy yourself,’ she said. I knew what was happening - - but I couldn’t stop it. Like I was in a car, and the brakes wouldn’t work, and nothing I could do would stop it from happening.” Ronnie waves a nearby small boat over to assist. “The man’s hysterical,” Stein worries, warning, “Whoever this woman is, she has a tremendous force of will.” Ronnie reassures the pilot, saying, “Let’s get you into that boat over there, pal. Can you tell us - - where did you leave Bison?”
Ronnie bends the giant bottle down in the water, allowing the pilot to step out onto the deck of the boat. “Bison? The big guy with the buffalo on his head?” the pilot asks, “Some embassy…copter pad on the roof.” He starts to shake off the trance, asking, “Copter…Where’s my chopper?” Firehawk sits perched on top of the giant cola bottle, bemusedly suggesting, “Tell the man, Storm.” Ronnie leaps skyward, telling the pilot squeamishly, “Uh…I’ll fix it later, okay?” Ronnie joins Firehawk and they fly off. “Any idea what embassy he’s talking about, Hawk?” he asks her. “A few,” she answers, turning to lead their flight, “In fact, one in particular comes to mind…”
Inside that very embassy, a meeting is taking place. “We are particularly grateful for your assistance, Comrade Ambassador,” Silver Deer explains, sitting on a large decorative table, “Have the preparations been made, as we discussed?” The primly attired Ambassador nods, replying with a smile, “Naturally, my child, the invitations were issued two days ago. And, as expected, we have had 100% positive response. Every official in Washington will be at tomorrow’s…entertainment.” He gestures for them to follow. “Come this way. I will show you the rest of what we’ve done,” he invites. A nearby butler offers a drink for them to refresh. “No,” Black Bison tells him curtly, “Silver Deer, why have we come here?” She follows the Ambassador down a large stairway. “We need help, my love,” she explains, “Help that friends in another land have promised to provide.”
She and Black Bison follow the Ambassador into a large casino room. Slot machines, roulette wheels, and card tables fill the area. “Excellent, Comrade Ambassador,” Silver Deer smiles, “Everything is exactly as I requested.” The ambassador leans on a blackjack table next to her. “Yes, Silver Deer, as you requested - - but you still have not explained why you wanted all this,” he says, gesturing around the room, “Gaming tables - - a costume ball and ‘charity casino’ for the elite of Washington…What is the purpose?” She nods reassuringly, answering, “Your superiors trust me, Comrade Ambassador. They believe I will succeed. Surely that’s enough for you.” The Ambassador reacts to the mention of his superiors, replying, “Of course. But succeed at what, I wonder? Ah, well, I will learn tomorrow night, will I not? Until then, dear woman…” He waves and steps away. “Until then,” Silver Deer echoes.
Black Bison approaches her as the Ambassador disappears down a corridor. “Will you tell me what you would not tell him, Silver Deer?” he asks inquisitively, “How will all of this change the injustice done to our people - - the stealing of our land, the theft of our heritage?” She leads him to a nearby roulette table. “I am Coyote’s daughter, Black-Cloud, Coyote, the Trickster. But I am also the child of Brass, the Gambler. All games of chance are mine to control,” she reveals, “Tomorrow night, we will play a game with the powers that be…the Senators and Congressmen, the bureaucrats and statesmen…” She reaches to give the roulette wheel a spin. She tosses a ball into the wheel. Clink-clink-clink! It bounces in and spins swiftly. “And when the game is done, I will control them,” she says as a flick of her wrist brings the ball leaping back into her hand, adding, “as completely as I control this silver ball. They will belong to me, mind and soul. And they will do precisely what I tell them.”
Black Bison takes a breath to absorb her plan, asking, “The way you control me, Silver Deer?” She turns to him, smiling coyly. “My love, what are you saying?” she asks, “You are Black Bison, a shaman and great chief.” He stands with her, gazing into a large wall mirror at their reflection. “Whose truth is that, I wonder? Yours or mine?” he asks, “There are moments when I do not recognize the face in the mirror…Moments when Black Bison seems like a dream.” She stands behind him, wrapping her arms around him and resting her head against his muscular back. “No. If you are a dream, my Chief - - then all life is a dream, and I am a dream,” she says, turning him towards her to gaze into his eyes, “Am I a dream, Great Chief?” They lock into a passionate embrace against the roulette table, kissing each other deeply. Silver Deer relaxes her hand on the table, and the little silver roulette ball falls out of her palm. Tink! It softly lands on the felt of the betting surface, and rolls away….coming to a rest…between seven and eleven!