Moonbow ambushes thugs from Arnie Benedict's Pittsburgh gang. Felicity Smoak's lawsuit against Firestorm begins in Manhattan. The Pittsburgh Police Department asks for Firestorm's help in apprehending Moonbow. Ronnie helps fellow student Bree Brandon hand out Drama Club flyers at Vandemeer University. Firestorm encounters Moonbow in Pittsburgh when she ambushes thugs from Tony Molina's gang.
Downtown Pittsburgh. A few minutes before dawn. “I’ve watched them for three nights running. They haven’t varied their delivery schedule once,” she thinks. She walks along the rooftop, dressed in form-fitting blue. Her hair is short-cropped and platinum white. She clutches a whitish-silver bow, a quiver of arrows hanging from her hip. She leaps down, sailing past a ‘Classic Cola’ billboard. “Every night, the same pattern. Pick up cash from the dealers…count it at a safe house…then make an early-morning deposit at an obliging bank downtown,” she thinks, “Neat. They make it so easy.” She stares down at the sidewalk below as a man approaches a black limousine that has just pulled to a stop outside a bank. A white-suited man exits the limousine carrying a briefcase. She reaches into her quiver and loads a canister-tipped arrow into her bow…
TTHHANNG! The bowstring snaps as she releases it. STHOOK! The arrow lands on the sidewalk between the bank and the limousine. Instantly, the area is enveloped by a small cloud of a green, gaseous fog. “Hey, what - - ?” the briefcase man yells is surprise as the other man coughs on the fumes. TTTHHAANG! Another arrow strikes and lodges in the bank sign, trailing a guideline back to the mysterious archer. Armed thugs jump out of the limousine. “Ambush! *cough* Leo, Milt… *cough-cough!” the briefcase man gasps, “We’re bein’ hijacked!”
The archer wraps her bow over the guideline and slides down quickly to street level from the rooftop. She lands on the back of a stunned thug, wrapping her legs tightly around his neck. “AAKKK!” he groans. She squeezes around his throat, choking him. “Unnng,” he moans, clutching at her legs.
“It’s a woman!” another gangster yells. He aims his pistol, calling to his partner, “Hang on, Leo. Gimme two seconds and I’ll nail her - - GNNNG!” The archer whips her bow across his skull, and he tumbles unconscious onto the hood of the limousine. She leaps off the incapacitated thug who falls with a crash to the sidewalk. She walks toward the still coughing men.
“Wh-Who sent you?” the briefcase man coughs, “Molina?” The archer snatches the briefcase out of his hands. “Nobody sent me. I work for myself,” she answers, turning to make her escape. “But…*cough-cough*…Who are you?” the man asks. She looks over her shoulder at him momentarily before continuing on. “If you need a name…try Moonbow,” she replies, “Tell your friends. They’ll be hearing from me.”
Shortly after, police and paramedics work the scene. The injured are tended to and questioning of the witnesses begins. “…no doubt about it, Chief,” a police captain explains, “Same M.O. as the last three hijacks. Only this time she gave a name. Moonbow.” The Chief nods, lighting his pipe and taking a puff. “This used to be a quiet town, Len,” the Chief answers, “We had our share of crime…vermin like white suit here, selling drugs to kids…and we were fighting back. We had a chance to bring it under control. But how can an urban police department control something like this?” He and Len look over at a department photographer taking pictures of the strange gas bomb arrow that lies on the sidewalk nearby. “A costumed criminal with a trick weapon,” the Chief sighs, “it’s beyond my experience. This used to be a quiet town.”
Len thinks for a moment. “Chief, can I make a suggestion?” he asks, continuing, “You remember what happened at the Civic Center this weekend? A group of costumed types broke up a computer show. We couldn’t stop them. My men were out of their league. Then Firestorm arrived…and that was all she wrote. He lives in Pittsburgh now. Maybe he can help.” The Chief nods. “’Set a thief to catch a thief’? Is that what you’re suggesting, Len?” he asks. Len adjusts his uniform baseball cap. “Well, Firestorm’s no thief…But, yeah, that’s the general idea.” The Chief turns to talk to other investigators. “Find him. I want him in my office by nightfall,” he directs Len. “You’ve got it, Chief,” Len nods. “Open mouth, insert foot,” Len thinks, “I should’ve remembered I heard on the news this morning…Firestorm is in New York…Today’s the day he goes to trial…”
Firestorm soars into downtown Manhattan. “Nervous, Ronald?” asks Professor Stein. “Only from my hairline down, Professor,” Ronnie answers anxiously, “I still can’t believe this is happening. Part of me kept hoping Felicity would drop her lawsuit after we saved her and Dad from Multiplex and his gang at the Civic Center. I guess I’m lucky she doesn’t remember Ronnie Raymond knocked her out - - so we’d have a chance to turn into Firestorm without her seeing us.” Stein thinks of the odd situation. “Awkward, isn’t it - - Firestorm being sued by Ronnie Raymond’s future stepmother? Perhaps if we revealed our secret to her and your father…” he asks.
Ronnie makes a sharp turn around a helicopter near Central Park. “Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind, Professor Stein,” Ronnie answers, “But it wouldn’t be fair to Dad. Felicity Smoak blames Firestorm for ruining her business…and then humiliating her to boot. And the truth is, I did act like a jerk. If she dropped her lawsuit just to protect Ronnie Raymond - - it would put a wedge between her and Dad. Maybe even destroy their relationship. Dad loves Felicity. He’s happy for the first time since Mom died.”
Ronnie swoops through a flock of surprised pigeons. “How can I take a chance with his future?” he asks. “My boy, I’m proud of you,” Stein answers. “Yeah, well, proud or not, here we are, going to court and we don’t even have a lawyer,” Ronnie continues, “Trouble is, I kept hoping this wouldn’t happen. But it’s happening, all right. Look.”
Down below, outside the courthouse, a huge throng of spectators and reporters are amassed. Satellite trucks line the street for the news networks. Ronnie lands and is immediately mobbed by overzealous reporters. “Firestorm! Any comment about the trial?” one asks. “Is it true you moved to Pittsburgh to avoid this lawsuit?” barks another. “Who’s your attorney?” another prompts. “What about the rumors of an out-of-court settlement?” “Do you think Miss Smoak has a chance?” “Do you think you have a chance?” The questions fire in rapid succession on top of each other. Ronnie dodges as microphones are shoved in his face. TV cameras record his every move as he tries to get through the mobs.
At the top of the courthouse steps, Ed Raymond and Felicity Smoak stand together looking down at the media feeding frenzy. “Y’know, watching those reporters, I almost wish I hadn’t taken a leave of absence from the Daily Express,” Ed observes, “I’m like an old hound scenting a fox. All I want to do is give chase.” Felicity asks, “But that wouldn’t be ethical, would it?” Ed nods in agreement. “Conflict of interest,” he explains, “A journalist shouldn’t cover a story involving the woman he loves. Might be biased.” She smiles at him. “You don’t say. My, my. Does that rule hold for City Editors as well, Mr. Raymond?” she asks playfully. “Especially City Editors, Ms. Smoak,” he answers.
Ronnie makes his way to the top of the stairs with the media in hot pursuit. “C’mon, guys, give me a break. You wanna ask questions - - ask her,” Ronnie sighs, gesturing the media towards Felicity Smoak, adding, “She started this. She’s got all the answers.”
The reporters and cameramen clamor around Felicity as Ronnie walks inside. “Ms. Smoak - - any comment about the trial?” one asks. “Do you think Firestorm moved to Pittsburgh to avoid this lawsuit?” another chimes in. “What about rumors…” starts a third. “Who’s your attorney?” asks another.
Shortly after, Firestorm sits alone at the Defendant’s table. Felicity sits across from him at the Plaintiff’s table. Ed Raymond sits just behind her in the public seating area. The judge continues his statement. “…Plaintiff and Defendant have waived a jury. Defendant’s petition to act as his own counsel is granted. The Plaintiff and Defendant will now make opening statements,” the Judge explains. He nods towards Felicity’s attorney, saying, “Mr. Holsum.”
Felicity’s attorney gets up from the table and unbuttons his suit coat, striding between the two party’s tables. “Your Honor, we live in a complex world. Every day the average citizen encounters danger from a hundred, a thousand different directions,” he begins, “Poisoned cheese…Faulty brakes in a new car…Industrial pollution…Medical incompetence…Bankrupt financial institutions…The threats to our well-being are manifold, and common to all of these threats is a contemptuous disregard for the safety of the American citizen.”
He strolls back and forth, looking out to the spectators. “Where can the citizen turn for protection against those who would harm him by their negligent disregard for his basic human right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?” he asks, “Only here, Your Honor. To the courts.” He waves his hands as he walks for added emphasis. “Here, the defenseless citizen is given armor against those who would crush him without a thought,” he continues, “Here, redress is made, however inadequate, for the injuries caused by uncaring, incompetent, cynical betrayers of society’s trust.”
Mr. Holsum approaches the bench, speaking directly to the Judge. “Your Honor, the concept of professional malpractice is well established in law and legal tradition. The doctor, lawyer, or other professional whose negligence or incompetence brings injury to a client can be sued for damages,” he explains, “Malpractice is usually associated with the exchange of a fee for services…and there are those who might argue that the Defendant, a self-styled ‘super-hero,’ performs his services gratis, without recompense.”
Holsum turns to Firestorm as photographers snap pictures. “What ‘payment’ does the ‘super-hero’ receive for his deed?” he asks, “The answer, I submit, is obvious. For his services, the ‘super-hero’ receives a princely fee…public adulation. The ‘super-hero’ is indeed well paid in a coin most of us will never see. The public is the ‘super-hero’s’ clientele; the fee is simply fame. What ego! What arrogance!”
Mr. Holsum grows agitated and louder. “Self-anointed ‘heroes’ endangering the lives of innocent citizens, destroying property without qualm or consideration. Unlicensed and uncontrolled grandstanding for the reward of a two-minute feature on the evening news!” he growls, asking, “And who pays for the damage these ‘super-heroes’ cause when their deeds go awry?”
He points around at the spectators. “We do, Your Honor, the citizens of the Republic,” he explains, “We pay. Every man, woman, and child in the country. I say enough!” He walks near Firestorm, glaring and pointing at him. “Let those who cause the damage pay for their contemptuous incompetence! Let us judge them by the same standards we use to judge ourselves!” he fumes, adding, “This man, Your Honor, the Defendant known only by the alias Firestorm, destroyed my client’s established business by a reckless misuse of power. He must pay, Your Honor, in our common coin. We ask one million dollars in damages and punitive payment. And he will pay, if there is any justice left in this sorry world. Thank you.”
The courtroom is quiet as Mr. Holsum makes his way back to his seat next to Felicity. The judge gestures towards Firestorm. “Does the Defense have an opening statement?” he asks. Ronnie gets up hesitantly. “…Uh…I guess I do,” he answers, rising to stand at his table.
“The thing is, I agree with a lot of what Mr. Holsum said,” he begins. Felicity looks over at him a bit surprised. “It’s true! I like being a hero. I like getting cheered when I do a good job…and that’s part of the reason I do what I do. But it isn’t the only reason,” he continues, explaining, “Look, I didn’t ask for the power I’ve got. More times than not, it’s been a pain in the…uh…neck. When people see me, they probably think ‘What a lucky guy. He’s a nuclear man, he can fly through walls, he can zap metal into plastic, water into wine. He can do anything he wants, anything at all.’”
Ronnie pauses. He walks between the tables. “I wish,” he announces, continuing, “When you’ve got power like mine…you don’t own your life anymore. If you want to help people, you do it on their time, not yours…When they need you, not when you need them. That’s just the way it is.” Ronnie walks near Felicity. “There’ve been times when I was tired, times when playing ‘hero’ was the last thing I wanted to do…Times when I just wanted to be alone with my girl, watching a movie or taking a walk…and I’d hear a cry for help” he continues, “and what else could I do but answer it?”
He turns back to face the judge. “Sure, I want the glory, but if the glory stopped tomorrow, Your Honor, I’d still answer that cry for help. Because I’ve got this power,” he explains, adding, “And if I didn’t use it to help people…how could I face myself?”
He turns to Felicity, asking, “How could you? I’m not saying I don’t make mistakes. I’m human, human beings make mistakes. That’s what human means. But if you think I make mistakes because I don’t care…you’re so wrong…I make mistakes because I do care. And if that’s a crime in this sorry world, then there is no justice…and I guess I’m guilty as charged.”
Ronnie quietly returns to his seat. Felicity and Mr. Holsum lean close together whispering to each other and she makes a slight waving motion with her hand. “Mr. Holsum, are you ready to call your first witness?” the judge asks. Mr. Holsum stands, answering, “Your Honor, Plaintiff requests a recess until tomorrow.” The judge nods, asking, “Does the Defense have an objection?”
Ronnie, momentarily lost in his own thoughts, snaps back to attention. “Huh? No, Your Honor, no objection,” he answers. BANG! The judge pounds his gavel sharply. “Court is recessed until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow,” he announces.
Ed leans in, asking, “What’s going on, Felicity?” Mr. Holsum glances at him, then back to his client. “That is precisely the question I was about to ask, Miss Smoak,” he notes. Felicity looks slowly at the two of them. She then gazes at Firestorm. He stands watching her, rubbing his chin with his hand. “I…I…I need time to think, that’s all,” she answers after a few moments, “Just some time to think.” She gathers up her papers from the Plaintiff’s table and turns to leave. Stein watches her go, saying softly, “I wonder…” Ronnie takes a long breath. “So do I, Professor,” he answers, “So do I.”
Vandemeer University, amid the hills of the city named Pittsburgh. In a secluded part of campus, a familiar molecular transformation takes place, as one nuclear man fissions into two very human beings…College professor Martin Stein…and college student Ronnie Raymond.
“It’s almost too bad the trial didn’t last longer this morning, Ronald. Now I have no excuse for missing the faculty lunch,” the Professor sighs, glancing at his watch. Ronnie gives him a wave as they head off in different directions. “Life sure is tough sometimes, Professor,” he answers. “Stay away from the bread sticks, okay?” he teases, “We’re putting on weight.”
Ronnie walks along the sidewalk as the leaves of fall slowly drift down from the trees above. “At least I’ve got the morning free. I scheduled my classes to leave time for my trial,” he thinks, “Guess I could fall by the gym, shoot a few baskets till lunch…”
A voice calls out to him and interrupts his thoughts. “Hi there. You’re Ronnie Raymond, aren’t you?” a gorgeous young lady asks him. “Hm? That’s right…” he answers, admiring her very eye-pleasing appearance. “Thought so. I saw you at football practice,” she explains. “My name’s Brittany Brandon. My friends call me Bree,” she continues, asking, “Wanna make a friend for life? Help me pass out these flyers.”
She holds out a leaflet for him to see. It announces auditions for Drama Club this coming Thursday. “Drama Club…” Ronnie asks hesitantly. She nods, explaining, “We’re doing ‘Pirates of Penzance.’ Gilbert and Sullivan. Why don’t you try out?” Ronnie smiles as he looks over the flyer. “No thanks. My life is booked solid,” he answers, “But I’ll help you pass out flyers.” She hands him a stack. “Great. Look me up sometime. I’ll buy you dinner,” she smiles as she heads off, teasing, “Maybe breakfast too…if you’re lucky.”
Ronnie breaks into a huge grin. “Don’t even think about it, Raymond. Between Lorraine Reilly in New York and Doreen Day here in Pittsburgh, your life is complicated enough already,” he sighs, “But I can dream, can’t I?”
Dusk, a few hours later, at the Vandemeer U. Student Union… “Wow, Ronnie - - what started your motor running?” Doreen asks as Ronnie cuddles with her closely. “Not that I mind…that tickles,” she giggles, adding, “…But you haven’t been this attentive in…What was I saying?”
They sit on the couch as the TV evening news airs. “…police have tied this morning’s robbery to two similar attacks, also against known criminals,” the announcer explains, “Sources at Police Headquarters confirm that the robber, calling herself Moonbow, wore a disguise and used a steel longbow.” Ronnie and Doreen kiss, oblivious to the newscast. “Mmm,” Doreen whispers.
“This afternoon - - S.W.A.T. commander Leonard Davis made a startling announcement,” continues the newscaster. The camera cuts to a shot of Captain Davis being interviewed. “Frankly, we need help apprehending Moonbow,” Davis explains to the camera, “That’s why we’re asking Firestorm to contact Chief Ferguson as soon as possible.”
Ronnie’s ears perk up at the mention of the Nuclear Man. “Huh?” he thinks, glancing at the screen, “No sir, not tonight. Just once I want to live my life.” He reaches around for the TV remote. Klick! The screen goes dark, and he resumes kissing Doreen.
“Rats,” Ronnie sighs after a moment, thinking back to what he said in court. He gets up off the couch. “Doreen…Don’t hate me for this,” he explains, “but I just remembered I promised Hugo Hammer I’d help him with his math tonight…and, ah…I’m late. Bye.” He quickly heads down the hallway as a somewhat perplexed Doreen looks on. “One of these days I’m going to figure that man out,” she decides, “and then I’m gonna kill him.”
Shortly after, Firestorm meets with Chief Ferguson and Captain Davis at Police Headquarters. “…I’ve discussed it with the Mayor and the District Attorney, and they agree, we need your help against Moonbow,” the Chief explains, “And to make it legal, you’ll be appointed a Special Investigator, working for the D.A.’s Office…with full police authority.”
Ronnie smiles in disbelief. “Are you kidding?” he asks happily. “The Chief never kids, Firestorm,” Davis answers, asking, “What do you say?” Ronnie reaches across the desk to shake hands with the Chief. “What do I say?” Ronnie answers, “Chief Ferguson, you’ve got yourself a deal.” The Chief nods, blowing a puff of smoke from his pipe. “Good,” he explains, “Now here’s what we have on Moonbow’s M.O….”
Midnight. An after-hours pick-up at the China Star Laundry. An unbroken routine…until tonight. Two men carry heavy bags of laundry to a waiting van. They reach to open the van’s back doors when the doors suddenly burst open! “Change of plans, boys,” Moonbow announces from inside, holding an arrow poised in her bow at them. “Tony Molina doesn’t get tonight’s dirty laundry,” she tells them, “I do!’
TTHWAANK! Her bow springs, launching the arrow through one of the bags. Dozens of dollar bills spill out of the bag from the arrow’s holes. Moonbow lunges from the van, kicking a foot out at each of the surprised men. KWHAM! KWHUMP! Her strikes land with devastating effect, knocking both men to the sidewalk unconscious.
The driver of the van exits at the sound of commotion outside. He looks back at Moonbow, kneeling next to the laundry bags by the motionless figures of the men. “Hey! How’d you get in my truck?” the driver yells to her, drawing his pistol, “Keep away from that cash or I’ll - - Huh?”
FZAM! Atomic rings swirl around the pistol and it instantly starts to melt in the thug’s hand. Firestorm swoops down next to him. “Naughty boy. It’s not nice to point guns at people,” Ronnie tells him. The driver tries to rush Firestorm, growling, “Why you…” Ronnie yawns in casual indifference. “I hate these late-night jobs,” he sighs, “don’t you?”
KPAM! Quick as a flash, he punches the driver on the nose! “Oh, whoops,” Ronnie says. “Ung!” the driver groans as he falls to the sidewalk. “Guess I saved your life, Miss,” Ronnie announces, “So why don’t you drop the bow, and come along quietly to the Chief’s office for a nice little cha…Hey!”
He looks back and forth quickly but Moonbow is nowhere in sight! Ronnie leaps into the air, quickly scanning the area. “While you were showing off, Ronald, the lady took off…with the ‘laundered money’ belonging to Tony Molina’s gang,” Professor Stein explains.
“Go ahead, Professor, call me a jerk, I deserve it,” Ronnie steams, “Chief Ferguson gave us a hot tip, and look how I screwed up. According to the Chief, Moonbow’s hijackings have alternated between the town’s two rival gangs. Last night she hit Arnie Benedict’s people. Tonight was Tony Molina’s turn.” Ronnie uses nuclear beams of light projecting from his hands to illuminate the streets and alleyways below as he searches for her.
“She seems to specialize in stealing hot money during pickups and drop-offs. The police have been watching the China Star Laundry for weeks, and figured it a likely target for Moonbow’s next hijack. They pulled their surveillance to give me a clear shot,” Ronnie explains, asking, “Now how do I tell the Chief I let her get away?”
Moonbow leans in a darkened doorway nearby, clutching the laundry bags, just out of the reach of Ronnie’s light beams. “We’ll do better next time, Ronald,” Stein suggests. A slight smile forms on Moonbow’s lips as she watches Firestorm pass by overhead. “Yeah…if there is a next time,” Ronnie worries, “Boy, do I feel dumb.”
Vandemeer University. The student dorm. “That was fun. I wonder if Firestorm will try to catch me again next time?” Moonbow thinks. She places her blue uniform on a hangar and tucks it into her closet. “Hope so. The last couple of hijacks were so easy, I was just about to quit,” she ponders, “No challenge…no thrill. And without the thrill…what’s the point?”
She sits at her vanity table, removing her makeup and the moon symbol she has painted in blue around her left eye. “A girl’s got to do something to fight the boredom of college life,” she thinks, “I sure don’t need the money. Daddy saw to that when he left me a sizable little trust fund in his will.” She reaches for a long, flowing, red wig. She places it over her short platinum white hairdo, adjusting it here and there to fit. She stands and turns to grab the laundry bags. “So what do you do with this, Bree?” she asks with a smile, “Burn it, bury it, or give it away? Sure. Give it away…just like Robin Hood. Now that’s an idea with style!”
And almost in spite of herself, Brittany Brandon giggles with delight…