Firestorm rescues a foundering freighter when a strange summer storm hits Pittsburgh. Sarah Drake seeks help from the police after Typhoon disappeared with her children. Professor Stein adjusts to life as a college instructor. Ronnie catches Cliff snooping in his dorm room. Typhoon methodically plots his revenge.
In Japan, they’re known as ‘tatsumaki’ - - dragon whirls - - and it isn’t hard to see why. Terrifying, unpredictable, the spinning black winds look like nothing so much as the shadowy reflection of a mad dancing dragon in the noonday sky…Twister…Tornado…Black wind of destruction.
“A tornado in Pittsburgh at this time of year?” Professor Stein asks in surprise. They fly along over the turbulent waters at the confluence of the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers. “That’s not the worst, Professor,” Ronnie replies as they sail through stormy skies, “I heard on the radio before I joined us - - the tornado’s brought a hailstorm with it. Rocks the size of tennis balls!” Ronnie flies over a busy highway bridge. Drivers struggle along in the blinding rain and lightning. “All this isn’t as bad as the storms we had a few weeks back, Ronald…” Stein recalls.
Ronnie looks upriver. “Tell that to the guys on the freight barge. Another six seconds, the way the wind’s hitting that barge, it’s gonna capsize!” Ronnie cries in alarm, launching himself towards the foundering ship. FZAAAM! “Saving one ship is easy…Using our atomic restructuring powers to rearrange the molecules of those freight crates to something a bit more useful in a high sea…” Ronnie says as he works. FZZZAAAAM! With two quick bursts, the heavy crates reform as much-needed outriggers on either side of the barge’s hull. The ship quickly stabilizes in the stormy river.
“Now comes the hard part,” Ronnie observes, asking, “How do you stop a tornado, Professor?” Ronnie aims himself toward the center of the twisting funnel cloud. “Ronald, answer an old friend one question, please…” Stein asks calmly, then yelling, “Are you out of your mind? You don’t ‘stop’ a tornado…You get out of its way! This isn’t ‘The Wizard of Oz!’ Tornadoes kill!”
Ronnie hits the edge of the whipping winds and recoils back from the storm’s force. “Owww! And hailstorms aren’t much fun either!” he blurts, trying to dodge the icy projectiles. “Seriously, Professor…what stops a tornado in nature?” Ronnie asks. Stein explains, “The ‘heat islands’ around cities - - especially sizable cities with populations over several million - - are usually enough to dissipate the vortex.” Unseen by Firestorm, Typhoon glares at them menacingly from deep within the heart of the storm.
Ronnie flies down though the gale force winds to a riverside park. Stein continues, “But Pittsburgh, in spite of its heavy industrial base, apparently isn’t ‘hot’ enough…” FZZAM! Ronnie aims a restructuring burst at a park bench, reforming it into a large shield. “Hey, heat is my middle name, Professor,” Ronnie observes, “Let me get something to protect my head from those hailstones. Then I’ll show that twister a real hot date.” He grabs the shield and heads back up into the driving hail.
Ronnie flies along just above the river surface, holding the shield over his back. “Once upon a time, this would have been a cinch. I could’ve made all the heat we need myself. But lately I’ve learned my limitations. If we want heat, we’re going to need help,” Ronnie says as he heads for the nearby Samson & Goliath Steel plant. “Remember this place, Professor? We saved some steelworkers here day before yesterday, when a smelting vat broke loose,” Ronnie says, “Bosses must have shut the mill down for repairs.” He lands inside the steel mill, asking, “What do you say we borrow it? Stoke up some heat? Burn off that ol’ chill?”
FTOOM! Ronnie focuses nuclear energy into the plant’s blast furnace. It quickly crackles to fiery life. “More energy, my boy…For what you’re planning, you need more heat!” Stein directs. “Watch…my…smoke…Professor! You want hot…you’ll get…hot!” Ronnie stutters out in concentration. He feeds pure nuclear power into the furnace, and it quickly begins to glow with a white-hot aura.
Outside, Typhoon’s eyes close slightly as he focuses on the target of his fury. Tornado. Dragon whirl. Black wind of destruction. Windows break on the campus of Vandemeer University. Doreen sits inside a campus building. She looks out at the storm anxiously. “The hail’s falling so heavily, you can’t see ten feet!” she exclaims in worry, “I hope Ronnie found shelter when the storm broke. He can be so pig-headed.”
Ronnie stands in the factory flowing energy into the furnace as fast as he can. “Don’t be pig-headed, Ronald! We haven’t enough energy to do what you’re trying to do!” Stein cautions. Ronnie continues to focus his power. “Told you this is the hard part!” he yells over the roaring blast furnace. He raises his hands high and atomic rings swirl and twist around his body. Bright red beams of energy pulsate out of his hands to the furnace. “Burn…You sucker…BURN!” he yells.
FFLOOOMM! Tornado. Dragon whirl. Black wind of destruction. Heat like a god’s warm breath strikes the towering, twisting column of wind…blowing it apart, a candle flame in a breeze…until nothing of the dragon whirl is left but a few scattered whitecaps on the settling Ohio.
Two men slowly and carefully lift themselves up from the plant floor of Samson & Goliath Steel. The massive blast furnace still roars, but has subsided back to normal levels. Ronnie groans softly as Stein rolls over next to him. Both sit up, wracked with near-exhaustion. Ronnie holds his head in his hands, resting his elbows on his knees. “Talk about hangovers. You okay, Professor?” he groans. Stein adjusts his glasses. “That depends entirely on your definition of ‘okay,’ my boy,” Stein sighs, “I’m alive with no broken bones. Beyond that I wouldn’t venture an opinion.”
The two men turn and look out the large factory windows, seeing that the storm is quickly fading. “Apparently we expended so much energy stoking that furnace, we fissioned back to our non-Firestorm selves without using our own volition.” Ronnie looks at him blankly. “Uh, yeah. We changed back to Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond without wanting to,” he replies. “That’s what I said,” Stein nods. Ronnie gives him a sideways look. “Uh-uh, Professor. That’s what you wanted to say. What you said was something in academic-eze. Guess the life of a university professor is getting under your skin.”
Stein quickly stands up. “Oh, Lord, that reminds me,” he says anxiously, “My first class starts in less than twenty minutes. Ronald, I hate depending on our nuclear powers, but could you fuse us into Firestorm - - and hurry us back to Vandemeer?” Ronnie nods, answering, “No problem. What good’re nuclear powers if you can’t - - can’t - - hey.” Ronnie looks at Stein with an expression of profound shock. “Professor, I’m trying to transform us - - but nothing’s happening! It’s like a stalled-out engine! The power’s gone!” Ronnie exclaims nervously.
He has seen all that he wanted to see. Creating the tornado. Turning it on the city to cause maximum destruction, was done for one purpose. That purpose is achieved. He has seen his enemy. Firestorm is indeed here in Pittsburgh as the TV news reported. Typhoon smiles to himself. Compared to the next storm he will create, today’s tempest will seem no more than a summer sunshower. But that storm can wait. The needs of his children cannot. For while Typhoon is something more than human, a creature both of storm and flesh, David Drake is very much a man…and a father. With a father’s…concerns…and a father’s love.
Typhoon lands on a rocky hilltop near Vandemeer University. He slowly transforms from a living storm back into skin of David Drake. He reaches for his clothes and boots hidden nearby in the brush. He quickly dresses, and walks up the hill to the mouth of a cave. He steps inside and smiles at Lisa and Davey, calling, “Hi, kids. Miss your Dad?”
Lisa reaches for him happily, calling, “Daddy!” The two children quickly rush to his side, clinging tightly to him. “Whoa, tigers…why so scared? Didn’t I tell you I’d be back?” David asks the trembling youngsters. “There was an awful storm, Daddy! Wind and rain and everything! Davey cried!” Lisa says as she buries her head against his arm. “Did not!” Davey blurts back at her.
“Nothing wrong with being scared, son. When I was your age, I couldn’t stand thunder,” David explains, “Your grandparents let me crawl into bed with them whenever it rained. Storms are powerful, scary things. But I promise you this, as long as your Daddy’s around…you don’t ever have to be afraid of the rain.” He leads them by the hand from the cave, slowly walking with them downhill. “I’m not scared. I just wish Mommy were here,” Davey says, asking, “When’re we gonna see Mommy again?” His father looks down at him, answering, “Not for a long time.” He turns and looks off into the distance, thinking, “If I have my way…never.”
Riverhead, Long Island…Sarah Drake and Lou Shephard have sought help at the police station in David’s abduction of their children. “Look Ma’am, we’ve been over this all morning. Child custody is a question for the civil court. Until you get a ruling, it isn’t a police matter,” explains a detective in the busy and noisy precinct, “and there isn’t a thing I can do for you.” He turns to walk away. “He stole my children!” cries Sarah, “And you saw what he did to our house! He isn’t human!” Lou pleads, “Listen to her, blast you!”
The detective turns back to them impatiently. “Mister, I’ve done nothing but listen the last hour,” he grumbles, “Point one…What happened to your house. The Fire Department checked the scene. They say it was a freak tornado that wrecked the place. I’ll buy that over a half-human ‘wind monster’ any day.” He ticks off his points with his fingers. “Point two…I’m divorced, and I’ve got kids,” he continues, “and when the judge gave my wife sole custody, I almost went crazy myself. I’m not saying your ex did right, but maybe I’ve got sympathy for the poor guy. Who stole the kids from who, lady?”
Lou loses his temper and rushes the less-than-helpful detective. “You lousy…” Lou growls, pounding his fists on the detective’s chest and knocking him down. “Lou, no!” Sarah yells in shock. Officers rush to quickly restrain Lou. “Sarge, you want this guy busted?” an officer asks, tightly holding Lou’s wrist. The detective gets back to his feet. “Forget it. I was out of line,” he says, nodding at Lou and Sarah, “Maybe you folks better leave.”
Outside the station house, Lou rubs his wrist. “Creep,” he mutters. Sarah rubs his arm. “Was he right, Lou…?” she asks, “Did I take Lisa and Davey from David without thinking about his feelings?” Lou looks at her in surprise. “What’re you talking about, Sarah?” he asks, “You don’t think Drake had a right to kidnap…” Sarah shakes her head. “No, no - - David was wrong. But what about me?” she answers, “Haven’t I been wrong too? Divorcing David long distance…Not letting him see the children…Treating him as if he’d stopped being their father when he stopped being my husband. Why do we have to hurt the ones we used to love?” She leans against Lou and they hug. “You’re forgetting the guy’s a monster, Sarah,” Lou reminds her. “I know,” she answers sadly, “But if David’s a monster…what am I?”
New York State Civil Court Building, Manhattan… “Hi, stranger. Buy a lady lunch?” Felicity Smoak calls to Ed Raymond. She waves and walks with her attorney down the courthouse steps to meet him on the busy sidewalk. “Pick the place, Ma’am. Oh, yeah…these are for you,” Ed answers, handing her a pretty bouquet of pink and red roses. “Um, you spoil me,” Felicity smiles, smelling the flowers. She nods at her attorney, introducing him, “Larry Holsum, meet Ed Raymond, my favorite fiancée.” Larry extends his hand and Ed shakes it. “My pleasure, Mr. Raymond,” Larry says. “How goes the lawsuit? Will Firestorm show up for the trial?” Ed asks. “Impossible to say, Mr. Raymond. If he doesn’t, the court may issue a judgment against him by default.”
Larry’s car pulls up alongside them. His chauffeur steps out to open the passenger door for Larry. “Seems incredible…a super-hero being sued for malpractice,” Ed says as Larry steps into the car. “Miss Smoak is breaking new legal ground with her suit, Mr. Raymond,” Larry replies, “She’s a brave woman. Quite impressive.” The chauffeur closes the door. Larry rolls down the window to continue their conversation. “If I were thirty years younger, I might have tried to rival you for her affections,” Larry smiles. “You would have had a fight on your hands, Mr. Holsum,” Ed answers. “I enjoy a fight, young man. At my age, it’s what I live for,” Larry grins as the car pulls out into traffic and rolls away.
“He’s a sweet old man…except in court,” Felicity tells Ed as they embrace. “Ed, I’m going to win this case. I feel it,” she says. “Should I call the paper and have them set the headline?” Ed asks, suggesting, “’Felicity Smoak Predicts Victory in Firestorm Court Battle.’” Felicity laughs. “Don’t tease. Men don’t do it well,” she replies, asking, “So, husband-to-be, have you made plans for the weekend?” They turn to walk along. “How does a trip to Pittsburgh sound?” Ed suggests, adding, “I’d like to surprise Ronnie at Vandemeer…see how he’s doing.” Felicity holds his hand. “I never saw this side of you before, Ed,” she teases, playfully scoffing, “Pittsburgh. You’re so romantic.”
Vandemeer University, Pittsburgh…Professor Stein scribbles on the chalkboard as his class busily takes lecture notes. “…which brings the factor x into the equation as equal to m squared times y. That’s clear, I think. Any questions?” he asks. He turns to face his students. Several have raised their hands. Dddrring! The class bell signals the end of the session. “Ah, yes,” Stein says, pulling at his collar, “We’ll…we’ll discuss this further tomorrow.”
The class gathers their books and heads for the exit. Wendy looks up at Professor Stein. He walks to his desk and sits down, resting his head on his hands in frustration. “Relax, Martin. You’re going too fast for them,” Wendy suggests, “Slow down, and they’ll catch up. They’re bright kids.” Stein sighs, feeling a bit overwhelmed. “I’m not worried about them, Wendy. Heaven knows,” he explains. He points a finger at his chest. “I’m the problem. I haven’t been in a classroom since my graduate days at Stanford,” he explains, “How can I possibly teach kids when we don’t talk the same language?” Wendy smiles at him reassuringly. “Poor Martin. You need cheering up. Leave it to Dr. Wendy,” she answers, “Stu and I will pick you up at six.”
Stein walks out of the Science Building. He watches the several students, including Ronnie and Doreen, enjoying some Frisbee on a sunny afternoon. “Wendy thinks I’m worried solely about my inadequacies as a teacher,” he thinks, “That concerns me of course…But of far greater concern is what happened to Ronnie and me this morning.” He watches as Doreen and Ronnie sprint down the grass, chasing after a floating Frisbee. “We were unable to change into Firestorm for the first time since the nuclear accident that created our fused persona,” he continues, asking himself, “What if we’ve lost the ability for good?”
Ronnie makes a diving leap to catch the Frisbee. He and Doreen fall to the ground wrapped amongst each other. Stein stands for a moment watching them before walking on. “Ronnie doesn’t seem bothered by the possibility…Perhaps because he can’t conceive of a life without the Nuclear Man,” Stein thinks, “He’s absolutely certain the power is gone only temporarily. I wish I were as sure…and I wish I could understand my feelings on the matter. For years I’ve felt as if our Firestorm persona were a personal burden, interfering with my work, my career, my life.” He walks toward home with a quick glance back at Ronnie and Doreen. “Can it be I’ve grown fond of the power without realizing it? What will it be like if it’s gone?” he asks himself, “I feel as if a cloud were passing over my heart. And…I’m frightened…”
Doreen and Ronnie cuddle in the grass. “Ronnie! No Fair - - no tickling!” Doreen giggles. Ronnie lies with his back leaning against a tree. Doreen is curled across his chest. “Tickling? What tickling? Me tickle?” Ronnie asks innocently. “Ron-Ron-Ron-ie…P-puh-puhlease,” Doreen stammers through her laughter.
A tall shadow steps near, blocking the sunlight. “Uh…ah, guys,” Hugo asks, “…are we gonna…uh…you know…play…uh…” Ronnie looks up. “Frisbee, Hugo,” he answers. “Uh, yeah…Thanks, Ronnie,” Hugo replies, clutching the Frisbee in his large hand. “Guess not, Hugo. The game’s been called on account of rain,” Ronnie fibs. “Rats,” Doreen replies, feigning disappointment. Ronnie and Doreen get up from the grass as Hugo walks off. “Just as well. I’ve got a Lit test tomorrow. Gotta crack them books,” Ronnie explains, asking Doreen, “Meet me later for a midnight burger at Carol’s Place?” Doreen heads off, waving to him. “Bet your buns,” she answers.
Ronnie walks across campus to his dorm building. “Who’d have thought it?” he thinks, scratching his head, “College really agrees with me. Back at Bradley High, I always felt out of place. Here, it’s like I belong.” He heads up to his room and opens the door. “I feel great. I can’t wait to…” He looks inside his room. “Hey!” he yells out. Cliff Carmichael stands inside going through Ronnie’s things. Ronnie stomps over to him, grabbing a fistful of Cliff’s shirt. “What the hell are you doing, Cliff?” Ronnie snarls, “This is my room - - that’s my desk!” Cliff pushes back, trying to get away. “Good for you, Raymond. You remember where you live. And I’ll bet your Mommy didn’t even have to sew labels in your underwear,” Cliff sneers. Ronnie grows furious quickly. “Creep! My Mother’s dead and you know it. Tell me what you’re doing in here!” Ronnie yells, slamming Cliff into the wall. “Get your hands of me…Momma’s boy,” Cliff sputters, “Get them off or I’ll…”
Cliff grabs into Ronnie’s arm and pushes him. Ronnie falls back against his dresser and Cliff sprints out the door. Ronnie gets up and quickly chases Cliff down the hallway. “Carmichael, you lousy…” Ronnie yells. Other students scramble out of the way. Ronnie gets close to Cliff and leaps after him, wrapping his arms around Cliff’s waist to tackle him and bring him down. Ronnie pins him to the floor and punches him hard across the jaw. Cliff claws at Ronnie’s throat. Ronnie pulls his hand back for another punch…
“Quit it, Raymond,” his football Coach Percy orders, tightly grabbing Ronnie’s fist, barking, “Now, before you’re the first wide receiver in Vandemeer history to be suspended from the football team before you ever play a game.” He pulls Ronnie away from Cliff and Ronnie gets to his feet. “Coach Percy…I can explain…” Ronnie blurts. Coach Percy waves him off as he helps Cliff get back up. “Save it. Use your anger on the field, not in the dorm,” Coach Percy warns Ronnie, “I just posted the team list on the dorm bulletin board. Your name’s on it. If you don’t want your name on the Cut List next week, no more fighting for any reason.” Ronnie scowls in frustration. “Understand?” Coach Percy asks. “Yessir,” Ronnie sighs.
“How does Cliff do it?” Ronnie thinks to himself. Cliff walks off, turning back with a smug glance at Ronnie. “First at Bradley, now here…The guy knows exactly how to make me look bad,” Ronnie thinks. He walks back into his dorm room and leans on his dresser looking at his ‘The Who – Who’s Next?’ concert poster on the wall. “For a little while, Cliff and I were almost friends,” he ponders, “but it seems like now he hates me more than ever. And I was feeling so great a couple of minutes ago.” He lies down on his bed, feeling dejected and thinking, “Whoever said ‘Life isn’t fair’ sure got that right. Man.”
He is almost ready. Let the night thicken, let his enemy tire and long for rest. Then he will call the storm. And the storm will smash those who have hurt him. The glaring red pupil-less eyes of Typhoon look out over Pittsburgh. He stands on a rooftop near a gargoyle statue along the parapet wall. He raises his arms, commanding the winds. Clouds thickly form overhead, and the wind whips through his hands. A small voice calls to him. “Daddy, where are you? I’m scared…Daddy, please!” Lisa whimpers from nearby. Typhoon turns towards her voice. He steps back from the parapet. With each step he becomes less of Typhoon, returning to the form of David Drake again. He quickly dresses and goes to his daughter.
“When can we go home?” Lisa asks anxiously. He reaches down to comfort her. “You are home, Lisa. You’re with Daddy,” he answers. She reaches her small hand to his face. “I mean our real home, with Mommy and Daddy Lou,” she asks. David frowns ever so slightly. “Your real home…You miss your mother that much?” he asks. He picks her up and walks her back to their room. The plaster is cracked and a broken mirror hangs slanted on the wall. Davey sits watching a small TV next to an unmade bed. “Uh-huh,” she answers. “Don’t you love Daddy?” David asks. She looks up at him, appearing tired. “I love Mommy too,” she sighs, adding, “And sometimes Daddy…you scare me…”
Evening in Pittsburgh… “This is your car, Stu? Isn’t it a bit overpowered for a 16-year-old?” Professor Stein asks. He opens the door and gets into the back of a sporty convertible. “Actually, it isn’t Stu’s car, Martin. It’s mine,” Wendy explains, “Stu drives it for me.” Stein looks around the interior. The convertible top is down on a warm summer evening. “Your car…?” Stein asks with surprise. “Great piece of machinery, Professor,” Stu answers, “Runs like a top. And what a sunroof.”
Stu puts the car in gear and they drive off towards downtown. “But it only stopped raining a few minutes ago…Aren’t you afraid of getting wet with the top down?” Stein asks. “What’s a little rain? Besides, can’t you feel it…?” Wendy asks, pointing off in the distance, “We’ve got a west wind blowing. The storm is breaking up, heading east. No more clouds. No more storm. Stick with us, Martin. It’s going to be a lovely night.”
Stein looks up at the clouds, wind blowing through his hair as they drive along. “Strange. Perhaps I’m just responding to Wendy’s good spirits, but I feel as if that cloud I felt over my heart this afternoon…were passing away,” Stein thinks pleasantly, “I may enjoy this evening after all.”
He has not forgotten his enemy. But his enemy can wait. The needs of his children cannot. For while Typhoon is something more than human, a creature of both storm and flesh, David Drake is very much a man…and a father. With a father’s concerns…and a father’s love. He is taking his children home.