Firestorm rescues steelworkers at the Samson & Goliath Steel Mill in Pittsburgh when a giant cauldron of molten metal breaks loose. A storm rains heavily down on Manhattan. A critically ill patient in the ICU at Manhattan General Hospital awakens from a coma and breaks out, unbelievably ascending into the storm clouds. Ronnie tries out for the football team at Vandemeer University. David Drake, once thought dead by his wife, surprises her when he appears at her Long Island home. Multiplex reappears and breaks into the FBI's National Crime File. A news broadcast angers David Drake, leading to a confrontation with his wife during which he becomes...Typhoon!
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, near the end of the afternoon shift at Samson & Goliath Steel, Incorporated. A time of day when accidents happen with life-threatening regularity. Steel workers in heavy protective gear work in the hot cauldron conveyor room. KKRAK! An overhead cauldron of molten metal shudders as its suspension track fractures from the heavy load. “Hit the alarm!” a worker yells in warning, “Number 3’s breaking loose!” AAARUNNT! AARUNT! The loud danger alarm activates as workers scramble. The cauldron breaks loose and falls! It crashes to the factory floor, spilling its payload of superheated liquid steel! SSSSHHHHH! The molten wave sizzles and steams as it burns its way toward the terrified workers.
FZZZAM! The workers gasp in shock as the melted steel quickly congeals and forms up from the floor. In seconds, the steel cools into the familiar form of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ sculpture! The workers stare at it incredulously as Firestorm emerges from a nearby corridor. “Quick thinking back there, Ronald,” Professor Stein commends him. “Y’know, Professor Stein, I’m gonna like Pittsburgh,” Ronnie answers, “After all the stuff that’s happened the last few weeks, Steeltown feels like a vacation camp.”
FZAM! Ronnie aims a restructuring burst at the fallen cauldron, instantly reshaping it into a replica of Nike’s Winged Victory of Samothrace sculpture. A surprised steel worker looks down from a catwalk in disbelief. “Fortunate for these men that this mill is on the route from my apartment to Vandemeer University,” Stein notes. Ronnie flies up as the relived workers look on. “Fortune didn’t play, Professor,” he replies, “The way I see it, things happen because they happen. Sheer coincidence. I don’t believe in fate anymore.”
Stein ponders for a moment. “Ronald, you’re a college freshman…” he asks, “What can you know about fate, fortune, or destiny?” Ronnie phases through the factory ceiling, returning their course to the University. “I know this much, Professor,” he answers, “Fate won’t get me on the University football team this season if I don’t show up for tryouts tonight. Hint-hint.” Ronnie banks down toward Stein’s building on campus. “Football? What about your studies?” the Professor asks. “’Sound mind in a sound body,’” Ronnie replies, quoting the Greek philosopher Thales, adding, “ ’sides, it’s cheaper than buying a season pass.”
Manhattan, New York City, New York. A torrential rain pours from darkly overcast skies outside the entrance to Manhattan General Hospital. Doctor Ellis strides into lobby, folding her dripping umbrella. The hospital PA crackles to life. “Dr. Caldwell to X-Ray…Dr. Fiscus to Emergency…Dr. Ellis, Code Yellow,” a voice announces from a wall-mounted speaker nearby. Doctor Ellis walks to an adjacent house phone. She picks up the receiver and dials. A voice answers. “Ellis here. I just got in the door. I’m on my way up now. What’s his condition?” she asks. A nurse nods as she listens to Doctor Ellis over the phone. She stands in an intensive care room. She looks on at a critically ill patient strapped tightly to a hospital bed. A doctor busily tends to the man as she relays an update to Dr. Ellis. “Worse, Doctor. The last hour, he’s convulsed four times,” the nurse says anxiously, “We followed your instructions…Thorazine, full ICU monitoring…But his blood pressure is peaking out at levels I’ve never seen before. Please hurry. I think he’s waking…” The patient moans and writhes angrily against his restraints. Slowly his eyelids open. His pupil-less eyes glow dark red, and a strange white light spreads like a fog from each.
TTHOOOM! “My God!” shrieks Dr. Ellis as the intensive care room wall suddenly explodes into the lobby hallway! Staff, patients, and visitors are blown down by the blast. Strangely and inexplicably, the ICU patient’s bed floats gently in the lobby air for a moment before following in the blast’s shockwave. The debris is carried out into the street. Skkreeech – honnnnk – skreeech! Cars and trucks slam on their brakes to avoid the mess. Dr. Ellis steps outside into the driving rain. “Oh, Lord…Oh, dear Lord…” she says softly, gazing up in fear. Just above her, a naked man shakes off his ICU gown. His long flowing hair whips in the wind as he ascends into the gloomy storm clouds overhead.
Vandemeer University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “I don’t understand why you won’t even try for the University basketball team, Ronnie. Back at Bradley High, you were a star player,” Doreen Day tells him. They stand on the sidelines of the football field as players make their way about for team tryouts. Ronnie stands in his red and white football uniform bearing the number 81. “Back at Bradley High, I was one of the tallest kids in the school,” Ronnie answers, “Have you had a look at the Vandemeer basketball team? Not a guy there shorter than 6’ 7”. I barely top off at 6’ 1”.” Doreen taps his jersey with her finger. “So instead you’re going out for football?” she asks, adding, “Look at you, Ronnie. Next to those monsters out there, you’re a beanbag.” Ronnie frowns. “What a morale booster. Gimmie a kiss. I’ll be back in a flash,” he puckers. She reaches for his chin and gives him a playful push. “You’ll be back, all right…” she says as he jogs off, “…in a body bag. Men. They’re such boys.”
Ronnie runs over to football Coach Percy and taps him on the shoulder. “Raymond, huh? You fast on your feet, Raymond?” Coach Percy asks as he scans his roster of candidates. “Fast enough, Coach,” Ronnie answers, stretching and limbering up. “Good man. We need a fast wide receiver. Our last man got trampled by Philly U. in the playoffs this spring,” the Coach explains, “Run for me Raymond, and just to make it interesting…” He turns and yells to another player. “Hugo! Raymond’s going out for a pass. Bring him down, understand?” Coach Percy instructs him. Hugo Hammer, Cliff Carmichael’s cousin, wrangles a football in his hands. “Uh…Got you, Coach,” Hugo answers. Skolp! He accidentally squashes the ball like a grape, blurting, “Uh…whoops,” he mumbles.
Ronnie grabs a football and sprints across the field. Hugo in his number 75 jersey thunders behind him in pursuit. “Oh, great. The semester just started and already I’m a dead man,” Ronnie frets as he runs, “Hugo probably doesn’t even remember we met. So no use hoping for mercy. The guy makes Bubba Smith look like used toothpaste! Oh, Momma!” Hugo bears down on him, extending his arms for the tackle. “I’m too young for radical dismemberment!” Ronnie thinks, “Only got one chance…Feet, don’t fail me now!”
Ronnie makes a brilliant cut move right at Hugo! “Yoww!” Ronnie yells “Uh…huh?” Hugo asks confusedly as Ronnie somehow gets past him. From the sidelines, Professor Stein and Doreen watch nervously, but can barely look. Doreen slowly lowers her hands from her eyes. “Ronnie?” she calls softly. She runs over to him, squeezing him into a tight hug of relief. “You’re alive!” she yells. “And more or less in one piece, too,” Ronnie says, slightly out of breath. “Raymond, that was an excellent play,” the Coach smiles, adding, “ ’Course, you ever try that in a game, I’ll personally break you in half.” Ronnie turns to him, asking, “You mean I’m…?” The Coach nods. “Dead straight, Raymond. You’re on the team,” he answers.
“YAH-HOO!” Ronnie yells, exuberantly lifting Doreen off her feet in celebration. Hugo stands nearby, looking a bit skeptically at his tricky new teammate. “I wish I shared Ronald’s enthusiasm for contact sports,” Professor Stein sighs, “How are we going to manage full-time University careers, Ronald as student and I as teacher…not to mention our part-time career as Firestorm, if Ronald becomes involved in such an energy-consuming activity as football?” He turns to walk from the field, leaving the cuddling Ronnie and Doreen behind. “Ah, Martin, admit it. Ronnie has energy enough for three full-time careers. The truth is, you don’t,” he thinks, glancing back, “I haven’t been around so many young people since I left college myself twenty years ago. Like it or not…I feel old. So very old.”
At Manhattan General, the hospital staff and police congregate near the shattered ICU wall. “You saw what? Wanna run that by me again, Dr. Ellis?” Detective Wilson asks in disbelief. “I saw a man in the storm,” she explains, repeating herself. “What, you mean somebody out there in the street, in the rain?” Detective Mackey asks. “One of the patients blown through the hospital wall by that explosion…?” the guard asks. Dr. Ellis looks around at the damage as they walk down the corridor. “One of the patients, yes…But not in the street - - in the sky,” she answers with emphasis. “Oh, sure. Flying like a bird,” Mackey scoffs dismissively. “Maybe you should see a doctor, too, Doctor,” Wilson suggests. They step to the side of the hallway as an orderly passes by with a patient on a stretcher.
“You think I hallucinated. You could be right,” Dr. Ellis answers, “What I saw was impossible. A man in the storm. Part of the storm. Controlling the storm…killing all those people, those people…” Her voice trails off as she relives the unpleasant imagery. “Okay, Doc, I’ll bite,” Mackey tells her, asking, “This ‘Man in the Storm’ was a patient of yours? What patient?” Dr. Ellis opens the door to her office and leads them in. “I don’t know, Officer,” she answers. “Yeah, but you said…” Wilson replies.
Dr. Ellis walks to her file cabinet and starts sorting through patient records. “The man I saw is…or was…my patient,” she explains, “But I don’t know his name. No one does. To us he’s always been the Man in Room 39. You remember the big storm last year...? The one some people say was caused by a creature called Typhoon. Floods…electrical fires…hundreds of people injured by falling glass from shattered skyscrapers, others almost drowned in flooded subways…TV and newspaper reports at the time said Firestorm managed to destroy the storm single-handedly. The creature Typhoon, of course, was never found.”
She pulls a file from her patient records and scans over it quickly. “Until tonight, I thought those stories of some storm-controlling half-human monster were simply mass hysteria, an after-effect of the disaster,” she continues. She hands the file to Mackey and he flips it open to gaze at the patient’s picture. “But now you’ve got a different idea?” he asks.
“Oh yeah,” she answers, nodding at the photo, “Twenty-four hours after the storm, a man was found floating naked in the East River. That man. Near dead from drowning, comatose, vital signs on the edge…He looked like he had at the most thirty, maybe forty hours left to live. He fooled us. He never regained consciousness…until tonight. The nurse on duty said he was showing signs of coming around. I got here as quickly as I could - - maybe I was lucky not to have arrived a few minutes earlier. Or I might be as dead as the others in that room.” She turns and walks to her office window, gazing out at the heavy rain and black clouds outside. “Let’s wrap it up neat, Doc. You’re saying…?” Mackey asks. “I’m saying there’s a chance Typhoon was not destroyed by Firestorm as the world thought,” she answers worriedly, “For the last year, he’s been the Man in Room 39. But not anymore. Typhoon is back…and God only knows what he wants now…”
Typhoon soars in an angry rage atop a funnel cloud of churning wind and water. His anguished wail rides the winds like a banshee’s cry of terror.
Riverhead, Long Island. Typhoon spins down from the sky into the quiet bedroom community neighborhood. Leaves whip into the air as he settles to the ground. He pauses for a moment, gazing up at the moonlit sky. Then, he slowly begins walking down the street. Shortly after, the headlight beams of a patrolling police car fall upon his naked figure. “Uh-oh, catch this, Leroy,” an officer in the car says. “Why is it the weird ones who come out after a rain?” his partner sighs as they pull up next to the man.
Ddring – drrring! Two children and their mother look up as their front doorbell rings. “Doesn’t anyone in this house answer doors but me?” the woman says as she gets up. “Mommy, David won’t let me play with his dinosaur,” the young girl whines. “Snitch!” squeals her brother. “David, share with your sister,” their mother, Sarah Drake, scolds as she unlocks the door, “And, Lisa, don’t be a snitch.” She turns back to open the door. “Kids, you give them an inch, they take a - - Oh, my God,” she says, wide-eyed as looks out to her porch.
Two officers stand on either side of her long-lost husband, David Drake. He stands wrapped in a gray police blanket. “I know what you mean about kids, Ma’am. My youngest is quite a handful. Sorry to bother you,” one officer greets her. “Thing is, we found this man out in the street - - he says he lives here,” the other officer explains. “Oh, my God,” Sarah repeats. David cracks a slight smile at her. “Hello, Sarah. Long time no see,” he says. She looks him up and down anxiously. “David…you can’t imagine the shock…please come in,” Sarah answers. David steps back inside the house he once called home.
“Everything okay, Ma’am? You know this guy?” an officer asks. Sarah nods and reaches for the door handle. “I was married to him for eight years, Officer,” she replies, “Thank you…Everything’s fine.” The officers look unconvinced and suspicious. “Yeah, but…” one starts to say, but Sarah closes the door. “And thank you too, Ma’am,” the officer says, slightly offended, asking, “What is it with people, Leroy? Sure, they want a cop when they’re in trouble, but when the trouble’s over…Goodbye, Charlie.” They walk back to their patrol car. “Human nature, Buzz,” Leroy answers, “We’re walking bad news. Folks can’t stand bad news. Anyway, look at the bright side. At least the storm’s cleared up.”
Elsewhere this night. Washington, D.C. To be precise, 20550 Constitution Avenue…the Department of Justice…Headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Multiplex appears in the shadows on an adjacent rooftop, quickly scanning the Justice Building. “The computer room is on the third floor…second window over. Alarms around the window frame…but not in the air-conditioning unit,” he schemes, “One of my duploids should get in and out without being seen or heard.”
Multiplex reaches to the edge of the building, wrapping his gloved hand around the building’s electrical supply wires. “Concentrate…use the energy from this power line…create the fission…” he thinks. Yellow energy starts to flow around his silhouette. “…split…expel…reform!” he yells in his mind.
Instantly, a miniature duploid appears, standing on the parapet wall next to him. “We share the same thoughts, the same identity. You know what to do,” Multiplex commands the duploid. He scoops the duploid up in his hand. It looks back, answering, “We share the same thoughts, the same identity. You know what to do.” Multiplex rears his arm back, preparing to throw the duploid. “We need that computer file. Get it and bring it here.” The duploid squirms in his hand, answering, ““We need that computer file. Get it and bring it here.” Multiplex flings his arm forward and releases the duploid like a baseball pitcher. “I hate it when he repeats everything I say,” Multiplex sighs. His duploid flies through the air, calling back, “I hate it when he repeats everything I say.”
The miniature Multiplex lands across the street on the third floor windowsill atop the window-mounted air-conditioning unit. “In the months since Firestorm put my previous employer, Tokamak, out of business, I’ve been forced to lie low. Thinking, planning my comeback,” Multiplex thinks. He reaches down and scales the air-conditioning units vent edges like a ladder, squeezing himself inside easily. “Even with fission powers like mine - - that allow me to split into hundreds of duploids if necessary - - it’s obvious I can’t make an impact alone,” he thinks, “I need allies, and I’ll find them here…in the main computer banks of the FBI’s National Crime File!” He emerges out of the air-conditioner and leaps across a desk. He hops across the computer keyboard, typing with his jumps. “Ah, wonderful!” he smiles as the computer screen flickers to life, “It won’t be long now - - before Firestorm and the whole nation learn to fear the power of Multiplex, the Multiple Menace!”
Pittsburgh. A streetcar clangs along its track in the early evening twilight. “Ronnie…Where are we going?” Doreen asks. “Back to campus. We did a little sightseeing, we took a walk, now we’re…” She punches him playfully on his arm. “Dummy. That’s not what I mean. Where are we going? You and me. Us,” she asks. Ronnie looks down at her hand. “Ow! Watch the knuckles, Doreen!” he smiles. The streetcar pulls to a stop, and Ronnie and Doreen walk off to the street.
“Seriously, Ronnie. We’ve known each other a couple of years. We’ve had our ups and downs,” she says, asking, “We’re together now, but for how long?” They walk along, arms tightly wrapped around each other. Doreen rests her cheek snugly against Ronnie’s chest as they pause near campus. “Wow, where’d this come from?” Ronnie asks. “Tonight, watching you try out for the football team - - I was so worried about you I couldn’t breathe,” Doreen explains. Ronnie thinks back to his quick collision-avoiding cutback. “Hugo wouldn’t have hurt me, really - - I think,” he counters. “That’s not the point. I care about you. I want what we have to last forever,” she says, and asks, “Do you?” They look closely into each other’s eyes. “What do you think?” Ronnie says. They kiss passionately under the moonlit sky.
From the corner of a campus building, Cliff Carmichael looks out at them standing in the trees nearby. He shoves his hands in his pockets. “Young love, so sweet. Makes me sick,” he steams, “Doreen could have been my girl, back at Bradley High. Once Raymond showed up, she wouldn’t give me a break. Cliff Carmichael doesn’t rate a chance in her book. Top student in the graduating class, and I’m not good enough. Just wait, you two.” He turns to walk away, glaring over his shoulder at the two kissing lovebirds. “By the time I’m done, you’ll be finished at Vandemeer,” he vows to himself, “We’ll see who rates then.”
Riverhead, Long Island. “David, the divorce was final over a year ago. You’re welcome to borrow Lou’s clothes. But you and I, we’re not married anymore…This isn’t your home,” Sarah explains. David asks, “And these aren’t my children?” He sits on the couch watching the evening TV newscast. Lisa and Davey lay curled up sleeping, resting their heads contentedly on his lap. “That’s not what I said,” Sarah replies. “But it’s what you meant. You took them away from me, Sarah. Whatever happened between us, you had no right to take them,” David answers, a pained expression of emotion visible in his eyes. Sarah grows aggravated, waving her fist in frustration. “You never listen. What choice did I have?” she asks, recalling, “The children needed a father…but you were gone for months at a time. Then that last horrible project for Concordance…when we all thought you’d been killed at sea…”
She walks in front of David, leaning over in front of the TV set. “What kind of life did we have? What kind of life did Davey and Lisa have?” she asks, growing emotional, “After the divorce, I met Lou. He’s a good man. He tried to be a father for…” Suddenly, David shoves her aside. “Shut up,” he barks. She turns away as tears stream over her cheeks.
“Two stories about Firestorm in the news tonight…” the voice of the news broadcaster announces, “A court date has been set for the groundbreaking malpractice suit brought against the Nuclear Man by Felicity Smoak, a New York businesswoman whose computer software company was allegedly ruined by Firestorm earlier this year.” The screen cuts from the announcer to a picture of Felicity being interviewed. “What about rumors Firestorm has left New York for Pittsburgh, Ms. Smoak?” the interviewer asks. “I don’t care if he’s hiding in east Idaho. The trial starts in two weeks. If necessary, I’ll accept a judgment by default,” Felicity explains to the microphone next to her face.
Sarah walks back into the room. “David…?” she calls softly. He stares intently at the TV, his expression growing upset. “As for Firestorm - - seen here after rescuing workers at a steel mill in Pittsburgh this afternoon - - the Nuclear Man was unavailable for comment,” the news announcer continues. David scowls at the screen, gently sliding his children from his lap. “Will you at least try to see things my way?” Sarah asks. “That’s rich. You ruin my life, and you want me to see your point of view.” He turns to face her, seeming to grow more and more angry with each passing second. “Would you like to know where I’ve been the last year, Sarah? Would you like to see things my way?” he says, slowly wrapping his hand into a fist. Faint flecks of light start to emanate from his eyes. Sarah steps back fearfully.
“Remember that last assignment for Concordance Research…? A man named Martin Stein and I were in the South Pacific aboard the Neptune Explorer, testing a newly designed deep-sea research vessel powered by an experimental nuclear reactor,” David explains, “While the tests were under way, a tropical storm sprang up - - and the Neptune’s Captain, a coward named Hammer, lost his nerve…He cut The Manta loose, damning me to a sure death…and when I tried to escape, Hammer shot me. I suppose he wanted no witnesses to what he’d done. I should have died. Maybe I did die.” David’s rage grows as he remembers. “Water poured in, sparks erupted. The experimental reactor’s controls must have short-circuited,” he continues, “I’ve relived that moment a thousand times in memory…but I’ll never know what happened next…”
Sarah cowers against the living room wall, trembling at the terrifying person that now stands before her. David has become…Typhoon! “I changed, Sarah. Don’t ask how, it makes no sense to me. The reactor exploding, the storm, the lightning,” he recalls to her as a miniature funnel cloud swirls around the deep blue skin of his body. “I changed. I wasn’t human anymore. I was beyond humanity, in a different place. But, I could remember what I’d been. I could remember what I’d lost,” he tells her, “By the time I’d recovered from that first brush with madness and the storm…you’d divorced me. When I was well enough, sane enough to understand what you’d done, I wanted to kill you.” Typhoon’s winds start to tip over furniture. His children wake and gaze at the fearful human storm that is their father.
“Instead, I tracked Hammer down…and killed him. Next I went after Stein, for building the reactor. I would have destroyed this whole city if I could have, but Firestorm stopped me,” David explains. Davey calls out in a meek, scared voice, “Daddy. Mommy…” David reaches his blue hand out to Sarah. “For months, I lay in a coma…unknown, ignored, until tonight, when a storm’s presence revived me,” he says, “And so…finally, my love…I’ve come for you.”
Sarah shakes with fear, reaching out her hand defensively. “No, David, the children…” she pleads in horror. “Don’t worry about the children, dear…Father knows best.” Suddenly, he thrashes Sarah with his hand, throwing her back helplessly across the room. He turns to the cowering children on the couch. “Mommy!” Lisa yells as her terrified brother clings to her side.
Lou Shephard hates working late. He hates anything that keeps him away from Sarah and the kids. He pulls into the driveway and steps out of his pickup truck. Suddenly, his entire house seems to shake from within. RRRRUMBLE! He’ll always regret that this was one night he didn’t insist on leaving work early. KRRRROOOM! The roof of the house explodes as Typhoon smashes through it and swirls up to the sky. He carries Davey and Lisa in his arms. Lou dodges the rain of wood and roof fragments cascading down into the yard. “No, Oh, God, no!” he yells in horrified shock as Typhoon passes overhead. In seconds, Typhoon and the helpless Davey and Lisa disappear into the turbulent storm cloud overhead.
Lou scrambles into the collapsed wreckage of the house, searching feverishly. He quickly finds Sarah lying stunned amid the wreckage. “Where are they…Davey and Lisa…where are they?” she asks in a frail voice. “I don’t know. God help me, I don’t know…” Lou asks, reaching to help her.
Typhoon soars westward over the Manhattan skyline. He clutches his children tightly in his arms as they look down with nervous amazement at the sights passing below them. They’re going west with their father. West. To a city called Pittsburgh.
To be continued…