The Big Freeze last edited by Darkside_of_the_Sun on 08/10/19 06:05AM View full history

Le Flambeau detonates an explosion that destroys the Goodwear Blimp flying overhead and igniting a massive blaze that threatens to sweep through Manhattan. An out-of-control car threatens to hit Doreen, Jefferson, Stella, and Cliff, forcing Firestorm to intervene. Doreen thinks there is something strangely familiar about the Nuclear Man. Ronnie frets over his Chemistry final exam. Firefighters and first responders struggle to control the explosion that destroyed Dr. Louise Lincoln's New Jersey lab. Firestorm flies to New Jersey to investigate and finds...Killer Frost!

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

“Oh, no,” Oh yes. Ronnie gasps in horror at the airship being consumed in flames overhead. “Le Flambeau must have had a napalm-like explosive aboard that commercial dirigible - - and now he’s made good his threat to set Manhattan aflame!” Professor Martin Stein says with worry, “I-It’s unbelievable, Ronald! And there’s nothing we can do to stop it! Nothing!” The Goodwear Blimp is slowly sinking out of the sky, its back half covered in fire. “Oh yeah?” Ronnie challenges back, gritting his teeth, “Nuts to that, Professor Stein! I’ve never been a quitter before - - and I’m not starting now!” He launches skyward toward the Blimp. “We call ourselves Firestorm, right?” he asks, “Seems to me something like this should be right up our alley!”

New Yorkers are, by nature, a blasé lot. They’ve seen it all, heard it all, done it all. It takes quite a stunt to make a Manhattanite look twice. Setting the skyline on fire just might qualify. And among those looking twice tonight…are several fellow students of Ronnie Raymond, from Bradley High… “Look out, you guys!” Cliff Carmichael yells to his friends, “It’s raining fireballs!” Cliff, Jefferson, Stella, and Doreen stand just outside a movie theater. Bits of burning debris from the Blimp rains down dangerously around them. “Stella, Doreen - - keep back under the marquee!” Jefferson warns, calling, “Cliff! Watch out, man - - you’re gonna get burned!” Embers land on Cliff, igniting his pant leg! “Owwwww!” Cliff cries, falling to the sidewalk. Doreen rushes over to help. “Jefferson, Cliff’s on fire! We’ve got to douse the flames!” she yells as they help Cliff roll along the sidewalk. “That’s stuff’s like napalm - - I saw a TV show about it one time!” Doreen tells them, “Cliff’s lucky it just grazed his trousers. If it’d landed on his skin, it would have burned right through to the bone!”

They find shelter under the theater marquee as panicked people run about looking for cover. “Hey…You saved my life, Doreen!” Cliff says, “And I thought you didn’t like me!” Doreen reassures him, answering, “What’s liking you have to do with it? Heck, you can’t stand Ronnie…but you’d do the same for him if he were here, right?” Cliff wonders about his school rival. “Let me think about that…” he says snakily, annoying Doreen. “Cliff Carmichael, you’re just impossible!” she chides him. Jefferson sees something unusual approaching the Blimp. “Doreen, Cliff…Look up, overhead…up in the sky” he says, pointing out to what he sees. “Don’t tell me, Jefferson. Is it a bird or is it a plane?” Cliff asks sarcastically. “Neither, you jerk!” Jefferson snaps back, adding, “It’s Firestorm!”

FZAMM! FZAMM! Firestorm aims atomic restructuring bursts at the falling Blimp and the cascade of napalm-laced debris that is falling around it. “Firestorm! So weird, every time I see him I get a chill down my spine!” Doreen thinks, pointing up at him, “We keep crossing paths, but I don’t even know the guy! Or do I? Something about him always seems so…familiar!” Stella watches Firestorm work in the air above. “He’s zapping those fireballs with a nuclear blast,” she exclaims, adding, “and they’re changing into - - snowballs? How does he do that?” FAAM! FZAM! Firestorm quickly orbits below the blimp trailing twin beams of restructuring energy behind him in a wide arc. The rain of burning napalm embers pass into the beams and are instantly rendered into harmless blobs of snow. “I wish Ronnie were here. Sometimes I need him so much, it hurts,” Doreen thinks as she watches, “It hurts we used to be close, but lately we’ve been like strangers! Why do I think about Ronnie when I see Firestorm? He doesn’t…”

SCREEEECH! The squeal of tires nearby interrupts Doreen. “Uh-oh,” she gasps. A speeding Porsche has gone out of control in the fiery rain. It smacks against a parked car and jumps the sidewalk headed right at them! Stein sees it, calling a warning, “Ronald…quickly…” FZAAM! Firestorm launches himself directly into the car’s path! He emerges from the pavement waist-high as the car bears down. FZAM! He leaps up just as the car passes beneath him! It passes right through the shocked bodies of Cliff, Doreen, Stella, and Jefferson to land midway through the concrete theater wall behind them! The group of friends quickly looks around in relief as they realize they are completely unhurt! Firestorm lands alongside them as they catch their breath. “Wow,” Doreen gushes. “How do you do that?” Stella asks in disbelief. “Yeah, man…how?” Jefferson wonders. “Y’know, that’s pretty good,” Cliff says as he taps at the protruding back half of the Porsche. “Oh, I just rearranged a few molecules…Easy once you get the hang of it,” Ronnie casually explains.

Doreen stands face to face with Firestorm. A look of bewildered confusion is seen in her eyes. “The way he said that…The way he talks…Ronnie?” she asks herself. Ronnie stares back at her for a moment. “Doreen…?” he thinks. He quickly snaps out of the thought, telling the group, “Uh…Look, as much as I’d like to hang out with you guys…I’d better get going. Check a few spot fires. Things like that.” Stella clings to Jefferson, admiring the Nuclear Man. “Anybody ever tell you you’ve got great biceps?” she asks Firestorm. “Stella!” Jefferson gasps in surprise. She smiles back at him, answering, “Hey…It’s true.” Ronnie gives them a wave and leaps skyward. “Stella!” Jefferson protests. Doreen watches Firestorm fly away. “Ronnie…?” she wonders, then decides as she turns to walk home with her friends, “Nah…”

Stein has perceived Doreen’s uncertainty. “Your young lady seemed to suspect something, Ronald,” he says as they fly. “Doreen? How could she?” Ronnie asks, “As far as she knows, Ronnie Raymond’s just another teenager…A clumsy jock who barely remembers to show up for basketball practice. How could she possibly connect him to me…I mean…me to us?” Stein suggests, “People who share affection share a kind of sixth sense, Ronald. I’m only surprised it’s taken her this long to feel a connection between Ronnie Raymond and the Nuclear Man.” Ronnie thinks over the current state of his relationship with Doreen. “But, why now?” he asks, “We haven’t even been seeing each other that much lately…And if you don’t think I feel lousy about that, think again.”

They fly down into Wall Street, approaching the terrorist hideout. “That may be the reason you’re on her mind, my boy,” Stein offers, “I wonder how Le Flambeau and his friends have fared in our absence?” With a nuclear burst, Ronnie phases through the building’s wall. “Let’s check ‘em out and then head home, okay? Tomorrow’s my Chem test…and I’m bushed,” he says as they arrive back inside Le Flambeau’s hideout, adding, “Hmm. Somehow, Professor…I get the feeling they’re not happy to see us.” Below him, the blue asbestos-clad terrorists and their leader sit helplessly, hands wrapped tightly behind them and bound with metal chains. “Hi, guys. Hope those chains aren’t too heavy,” Ronnie tells them as he feigns sympathy, then directing them, “You’ve all got a long walk down to Police HQ.”

State Prison, upstate New York. A guard stands outside a cell in the women’s detention block, delivering an update on the events in New York City. “Just thought you should know, Plastique,” the guard tells the cell’s occupant, “Those friends of yours who said they’d burn Manhattan if you weren’t released? They’ve been caught.” Plastique stares down at the cell floor, taking an unhappy drag on her cigarette. “It was him, wasn’t it? Firestorm,” she disgustedly asks the guard. “That’s the way I hear it,” the guard answers, turning to walk back to her desk, “Your buddies never had a hope.” Plastique walks to her sink and leans on it in frustration. “Damn him,” she sighs.

Morning, at Bradley High… “This test is your last opportunity to improve your Chemistry grade before graduation,” the teacher announces to his apprehensive students, “so I suggest you pay close attention to the questions, and take all the time allotted. If you wish, you may write a bonus essay on a subject of your choice for extra points.” He passes out the exam papers and glances at the clock on the wall. “Good luck. You have one hour to complete the test. You may open the packet…now.” Ronnie flips open his test booklet, looking at it with anxious dismay. “Oboy, Raymond - - are you in trouble,” he worries, “It’s a good thing I like high school, ‘cause I’ve got a feeling I’m gonna be here a lonnnnng time.” He looks over the first question, thinking for a minute as the teacher strolls past his desk. “’Deliquesence…’ Wait just a kangaroo moment,” he analyzes, recalling, “Isn’t that when crystals absorb water from the air, so that the crystals dissolve and form a concentrated solution, such as when sodium hydroxide flakes deliquesce in air to form a solution? Sounds about right to me.”

Elsewhere in the Big City, at the ‘Door Chimes’ Coffee Shop across the street from Concordance Research… “I keep tellin’ you, Martin - - you eat that stuff, you’ll wind up dead before you’re forty,” Harry Carew observes of Stein’s menu selection. “Harry,” Stein says between bites of his doughnut, “I’m forty-three.” Carew sits down at the table, joining Stein and Belle Haney. “Yeah, but you look fifty,” he tells Stein. Belle adds, “Harry’s the proverbial fitness freak, Martin - - but I don’t have to tell you that. He’s been after me all week to go jogging with him.” Stein sips his coffee and finishes off his doughnut. “He’s right, of course. We could all use more exercise…Our jobs at Concordance Research are so sedentary,” Stein tells them, “But that’s not why I asked you to join me for breakfast…” he mentions. Belle looks at him, asking, “Something wrong, Martin? You look worried.” Stein explains, “Not worried, Belle…Bemused. These last few years, after the accident at Hudson Nuclear, I’ve felt adrift in my life. Even the job at Concordance seemed…well…transitory. I suppose that’s why I wasn’t more upset when I lost my position at Concordance, months ago…or more pleased when I was reinstated.” Belle tries to reassure him. “You have been distant lately, Martin,” she answers, “I’ve tried to get close to you…but I’ve felt as if there’s a part of you I can never touch.”

The waitress walks over to take Carew’s order. “’Scuse me a second, Martin,” Carew says as he turns to the waitress, “Miss, do you have protein bread here?” The waitress scoffs at the idea, replying, “White, wheat, and rye. This ain’t no health food dump!” Carew sighs. “I’ll have an order of whole wheat…Toasted,” he requests. The waitress scribbles on her notepad and heads back to the kitchen. “Okay, Martin, go ahead,” Carew says. Stein takes a drink of his coffee and collects his thoughts. “You two are the only friends I’ve made at Concordance…the only people I know who share a similar life experience in science. I need your advice,” he tells them as he places a large envelope on the table. “Yesterday, I received this letter in the mail,” he continues, “It’s from Vandemeer University in Pittsburgh. And old friend of mine is Dean there. He’s offering me a position as Visiting Professor of Physics…and if I impress the University Board…next year I’ll be named Head of the Department. Belle…Harry…You’re my friends. Tell me. What should I do?”

Exeter, New Jersey: Fires have raged through this crowded lab site not far from the New Jersey Turnpike for hours now, despite the best efforts of half a dozen firefighting companies, as well as the State Conservation Corps…Each time the flames seem about to be brought under control, a new blaze erupts from a source deep within the laboratory structure. It’s as if the buildings themselves want to burn, and are willfully struggling to stay on fire. Helicopters, fire engines, ladder trucks, and scores of first responders work to contain the inferno. The Exeter Fire Chief confers with the lab’s property manager as he considers his firefighting strategy options.

“You say this lady, Dr. Lincoln, was working on a private experiment last night?” the Chief asks. “Not ‘private,’ Chief Rogers,” answers the manager, “Not even a scientist of Louise Lincoln’s stature could use Exeter Labs for a private study. I meant to say - - her work was intensely personal. She was always a quiet, reserved woman…but after her encounter with Killer Frost months ago, she became even more withdrawn…isolated, alienated. We asked her to explain her work, but she refused…She said only that she was attempting to duplicate the low-temperature experiments of Dr. Crystal Frost.” The Chief assembles his crews in preparation to search for victims in the collapsed lab. “Know anyone who might understand what she was doing here?” Chief Rogers asks. “Just one man…Professor Martin Stein. At Concordance. He once worked with Dr. Frost,” the manager suggests, adding, “None of us can help you. Because of her long association with the lab, and the profitability of her previous discoveries, we allowed Louise to work more or less in secret. An unwise decision, as it turned out.” Chief Rogers puts on his SCBA and adjusts his protective gear. “Low-temperature work, eh? Sounds like it backfired,” he replies, voice muffled by his air mask. The manager nods sadly. “Obviously, Chief Rogers,” he says, asking hopefully as he watches the rescuers, “Is there even a chance?” Chief Rogers knows the answer. “That we’ll find someone alive in there, you mean?” he replies, looking at the wrecked building, “Not a chance, mister. Whoever was in there is dead, Count on it.”

Interlude: the Daily Express Building, where Ronnie Raymond’s father struggles to settle into his new position as City Editor… “Blast it, Mike, I’ve told you a thousand times: Give me the facts - - not opinions,” he critiques as he hands a story copy back to a reporter, “If I’d wanted an editorial about political corruption, I’d have written it myself. You’re a reporter. Go report.” The young reporter turns to walk back to his desk a bit dejectedly, passing another person that walks into Ed’s office. “Hi, Ed. Got a minute?” the woman asks with a wave. Ed leans on his desk. “Felicity Smoak…isn’t it?” he greets her, “We met in the owner’s office a few days ago.”

She nods and explains, “Right. You’re in Editorial. I’m in Legal. The thing is, I may have a story for you. Twice in the past few months, a guy named Firestorm interfered with my old company - - a computer software firm. He ruined my product, put me out of business - - and that’s why I’m here.” Ed listens, and then suggests, “Sounds tough. I’ll bet he didn’t do it deliberately.” Smoak gets a little annoyed. “That’s not the point,” she scoffs, continuing, “He’s responsible. Police departments have been sued for injuries to civilians accidentally caught in high-speed pursuits…Doctors for malpractice…Lawyers for ineptitude. Why not ‘super-heroes?’ What gives them the right to ruin somebody’s business? Who pays? Not me, mister. Not anymore. I’m planning a class action suit against this clown - - and if you don’t want the story, then…” Ed raises his hands defensively. “Whoa, slow down. You bet I want the story,” he tells her, adding quickly, “But I’d like to talk about it first…Say, tonight…over dinner?” He takes her hand in his and her demeanor immediately softens. “Hey, Ed,” she smiles, “I thought you’d never ask.” End of Interlude.

One hour later, back at Bradley High…Ronnie is busily working away on his Chemistry exam when…Sptat! A spitball splats into the back of his neck. He turns sharply, seeing the face of Cliff Carmichael behind him trying to play innocent. Rrrrring! The class dismissal bell sounds and the students get up to leave. “Wait till I get you outside, Carmichael,” Ronnie sneers quietly at his rival. “I’m shaking, Raymond,” Cliff quips back, “Positively shaking.” They get into the hallway and Ronnie angrily shoves Cliff. “Carmichael! I don’t like having my neck used for spitball target practice,” he growls, “As far as that goes, I don’t much like you.” Jefferson and Doreen see the brewing conflict and run over. “Cool down, man!” Jefferson urges. “Ronnie, don’t!” Doreen exclaims. Cliff shakes off the shove and steps toe-to-toe in front of Ronnie. “Go on, Raymond. Push me. I beat your face once before. I can do it again,” Cliff taunts. “Creep! You deliberately wanted me to screw up on that Chem test,” Ronnie argues, “You deliberately tried to…”

Jefferson’s strong arms reach under Ronnie’s shoulders, and he pulls Ronnie back away from Cliff. “Ronnie…it wasn’t Carmichael. He didn’t spitball you. I saw who did it,” Jefferson explains as he tries to restrain Ronnie, adding, “That kid, Winkel. The one Coach cut from the basketball team last week.” Ronnie starts to calm down, and Jefferson lets go of his arms. “Aw, no. You mean…?” Ronnie asks in disbelief. “Carmichael’s innocent, Ronnie,” Jefferson reveals, “Guess you owe him an apology.” Cliff stands with his arms folded in frustration. “Ung,” Ronnie says sheepishly, “Cliff…uh…I’m sorry.” Cliff gives him a dismissive wave and turns to walk away. “Forget it, Raymond,” he snorts, “What else can you expect from a guy who thinks with his biceps? Do me a favor. Drop dead.” Ronnie scratches his head, irritated by the confrontation. “Why me, Lord? Why am I such a klutz?” he asks. Doreen consoles him. “Guess you try too hard, Ronnie,” she tells him, asking, “Listen. Can we talk?” Jefferson turns to leave, saying, “Catch you later, Raymond. Don’t screw this up, too.”

And, a few minutes later, in the park across the street from Bradley High… “Remember when we used to come here after basketball practice - - back when we were dating?” Doreen asks. She wraps her arm around Ronnie’s back as they walk along. “It was like our own private place…Our special place, where we could be alone…and talk. Or neck,” she sighs, “I really miss this place, Ronnie. I miss you.” She leans against the tree, gazing into his eyes. “What happened to us? We were close. Some nights, all I could think about was when I’d get to see you again…’cause when we were together, that was the best time for me,” Doreen continues, “With you, I felt good about myself. I felt good about you. I felt good about everything. Then...one day…it was over. I never knew why. You just stopped calling me. Like you’d dropped off the edge of the world.” Ronnie leans a hand on the tree as she turns away from him. “I was worried about you, Ronnie,” Doreen starts to sob, saying “Until I saw you with that girl…Lorraine Reilly.” Suddenly, Ronnie starts to feel a familiar nuclear transformation beginning. He looks horrified. Doreen’s back is to him as she continues crying. “Okay. So you’ve found somebody else. I can live with that. But I still want to know what went wrong with us?” she asks through her tears, “Why did you stop loving me, Ronnie? Why?” In a little twinkle of light, Ronnie disappears. Doreen hears no response from him and turns around. Looking back, she sees only empty space behind her where Ronnie was just a few seconds ago. She closes her eyes and her tears continue to fall.

FZAAM! Firestorm appears zipping into the sky above the city. “Blast you, Professor Stein! What did you have to go and do that for?” Ronnie asks in exasperation at the bad timing. “My dear boy…” Stein starts to answer. “Don’t ‘Dear boy’ me, Professor!” Ronnie interrupts, snapping back, “Why did you fuse us into Firestorm? Why now? Are you trying to ruin my life, or what?” Professor Stein tries to calm him. “Ronald, I assure you…this is important,” he explains, “The New Jersey State Police just phoned my office at Concordance. There’s been an accident…at the laboratory of Dr. Louise Lincoln. They thought I might help. Apparently, Louise was trying to duplicate the low-temp experiment that created Killer Frost.”

Ronnie listens and turns them in the air towards New Jersey. “Oh, great. Never rains but pours,” Ronnie sighs, “Tell me the truth, Professor. When you were my age…did you ever wonder if you’d survive to be your age?” Huge plumes of smoke loom in the sky as they approach Exeter Labs. “Every day, Ronald,” Stein answers, “But here I am…In a manner of speaking.” Ronnie eyes the raging fire below them and looks for the commander of the first responders. “By the way, something weird happened during my Chem test,” Ronnie says, changing the subject, “I knew all the answers.” Stein is intrigued, asking, “And the weird part?” Ronnie explains, “Professor, that was the weird part. You know me, the original dumb jock. No way I could have known what I knew.” Ronnie guides them in for a landing near a group of firefighters. “You think some of your smarts are rubbing off on me?” Ronnie asks Stein as they land. “I think it’s time we examined our fused state more closely, Ronald,” Stein answers, “after we’ve dealt with this new emergency.”

Fire Chief Rogers looks up, calling out, “Huh? Firestorm?” Ronnie strides over, and the two men shake hands as firefighters continue to struggle with the monstrous inferno consuming the lab. “Heard you were having some trouble, Chief,” Ronnie greet him. Rogers looks at the out-of-control blaze, shaking his head. “It’s certainly more than my people can handle, Firestorm. Anything you can do…” the Chief starts to say. Ronnie leaps upwards into the air. “Say no more, Chief,” Ronnie calls down to him, “This should be a cinch.”

Ronnie soars above the burning lab structure. “Haven’t I warned you before against getting cocky, Ronald?” Stein asks. FZAM! Ronnie aims a nuclear restructuring burst at the collapsed lab. “Look, I’ve made a mess out of my personal life, but at least I can do this much right. What this fire needs is more water!” Ronnie replies. FZAM! Another restructuring burst lands and Ronnie fashions a giant fire hydrant from the debris. “With my luck, this’ll just attract a giant dog,” he sighs as he quickly moves around the building’s perimeter. “You’re restructuring the molecules of the pavement - - into giant fire hydrants?” Stein asks curiously. Ronnie launches four more nuclear bursts in quick succession to surround the building. “I figure it’ll take about six to do the job,” he explains, “Okay, gang - - let ‘er rip!” FWOOOOOOOOSH! With a nuclear command, Ronnie opens the flood of water from the six colossal fire hydrants. Immediately, the flames are surrounded and overwhelmed by the massive water flow, and the fire slowly starts to come under control.

“See how easy it is when you know how?” Ronnie asks as he circles above the scene. “Quick, Ronald,” Stein urges, “Get into the lab. If there’s even a chance that Louise Lincoln and her assistants are still alive…!” Ronnie makes his way through the smoke and steam towards the center of the lab. A giant dome of ice projects upwards from the lab’s floor, strangely intact in the middle of the burned out and collapsed structure. “Scratch that, Professor…I don’t know about Dr. Lincoln…but if those are her assistants, they didn’t make it,” Ronnie says as he lands, sadly observing two lifeless human forms frozen deep inside the ice dome.

“What I can’t figure is - - how come there’s a shell of ice here at the center of the lab, when the rest of the place around it was burning like a furnace?” Ronnie asks, trying to make sense of the illogical sight. “Possibly the fire was a side effect caused by the ice shell’s creation,” Stein hypothesizes, noting, “Killer Frost needed heat to stay alive in her icy form, remember…” Ronnie peers into the haze. “Uh-oh. Look ahead, Professor,” he says to Stein softly. “Louise Lincoln’s lab. Whatever happened, it started here,” Stein observes. Ronnie flies through a lab corridor, partially collapsed and covered in ice. “Uh…Professor. That big block of ice! Somebody’s in there,” Ronnie says with surprise. He lands next to a tall, cylindrical formation of ice that bears a blurry human form encased deep inside it. “Louise, I imagine,” Stein replies sadly, “Dead, of course.”

CRAACCCKKKKK! The ice that thickly coats the remains of the lab crackles loudly and fractures form across its surface. “I wish you hadn’t said that,” Ronnie says, looking back over his shoulder apprehensively. “Ronald!” Stein yells! KRRAAASSHHH! A huge wall of ice breaks off and falls down on top of them! “Oboy…Caught me by surprise,” Ronnie gasps kneeling to the floor and struggling to hold the collapsed wall above him. “Couldn’t move out of the way, Professor…I can’t clear my head,” Ronnie stammers, stunned from the wall’s heavy impact.

“Intense cold can have that effect, Firestorm,” a voice calmly calls out to him, “First, a sense of exhilaration…then a growing numbness…finally sleep…followed by death.” Footsteps softly echo in the shattered lab as the voice walks closer to him. Light twinkles and sparkles off icy crystals on arctic blue boots and a long, flowing gown. “Death is a subject with which I have become intimately familiar,” the voice continues, “You came, as I hoped and expected…and the cold has done its work, reducing the effectiveness of your nuclear power. Soon, even your strength will abandon you, and that icy shelf will come crashing down upon you, and at last…even in death…Killer Frost will have her revenge!”

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