Wrestler King Crusher rampages out of the sports arena, fueled by a strange designer drug given to him by his Martin Stein look-alike manager. Dr. Emily Rice and Professor Stein walk out of their dinner date and right into King Crusher's path. Doreen and Ronnie talk about Hugo and the suspicious circumstances with the football helmet. Firestorm tracks down the source of the pills that King Crusher ingested.
A quiet evening on the town in downtown Pittsburgh, perhaps a hint of romance: That’s all Martin Stein and Emily Rice had planned. A college professor and his Dean, two mature people testing the possibility of love. Funny how things turn out.
Professor Stein and Emily Rice stand on the sidewalk. Stein steps just in front of her trying to protect her. The massive figure of wrestler King Crusher towers over them. The wrestler ingested pills provided by his trainer, a Stein look-alike named Eddie Slick. During his match with Killer Mambo, the pills caused a bizarre transformation in King Crusher. Enraged by the designer drug’s effects, he chased Eddie out of the arena. Stein, exiting a restaurant with Emily across the street from the wrestling venue, was jostled by the fleeing Eddie. Panicked crowds rushed from the arena. King Crusher emerges from the lobby in a mad frenzy, mistakenly focusing his anger on Slick look-alike Martin Stein.
“…It hurts!” Crusher yells. His pupil-less eyes glow a ghastly yellow-orange. A strange green glow radiates slightly around his body. He reaches his massive hands out, clutching towards Stein. “M-Martin…Oh my God…That thing want you!” blurts Emily.
“EDDDIEEE!” Crusher yells, lunging at Stein. He ducks back, just evading the attack. KARROOM! Crusher smashes into metal garbage cans, knocking them over and spilling their contents.
“It came out of the Sports Arena,” Stein notes quickly, “and it seems to think I’m someone named ‘Eddie’.” He wraps an arm protectively around Emily and leads her away quickly. Crusher gets back to his feet. “Take it in steps, Martin,” Stein thinks as he runs with Emily, “First, get Emily to safety…Then find a place to summon Firestorm…” Emily tells him, “Martin, we have to call the police. Get help!” Police cars rapidly approach, passing them as they approach Crusher. “No need, Emily,” Stein answers, “they’re already on their…”
“ARRRHHH!” Crusher yells as the two police cars near him. He thrusts his fists down. SKKRASSH! His hands rip through the hood of the leading police car! The second police car crashes into the back of the first! Officers look on in horror at the crazed behemoth.
A noise behind him in the alleyway attracts Stein’s attention. He turns to look. “You,” he blurts, seeing Eddie Slick cowering near garbage cans. “Crusher’s gonna kill me,” Eddie says, “I’m walkin’, but I’m a dead man.” Stein rushes over, grabbing a fistful of Slick’s coat. “You ran onto the street just before that…creature…burst out of the Arena. Something familiar about you,” Stein tells him, asking, “What did you mean ‘Crusher’s going to kill you?’ Who’s ‘Crusher’?”
Emily looks quickly at Stein and Slick. “Martin…that man…he looks like you,” she says in surprise. “King Crusher! He’s a wrestler, a has-been - - I was his manager, okay,” Slick explains nervously, “He’s popped his nut! The pills, that’s what did it! Leggo, I’m tellin’ you! Leggo!”
Slick wriggles his way out of Stein’s grip and rushes off. In the street, King Crusher unbelievably holds a car over his head. He sees Slick running away. “ARGHH! EDDDIEEE!” he yells. Emily pulls on Stein’s arm. “Martin, please - - it’s coming toward us!” she warns. Stein bends down quickly to retrieve something. “Just a moment - - that man Eddie’s wallet…” he says as he grabs it off the sidewalk.
“NNRRGGHH!” Crusher yells, smashing his fist into a building. THWAMM! Bricks and mortar scatter from the impact as Stein and Emily run for their lives!
SHWOOM! The weakened wall gives way and King Crusher is buried in collapsing debris! The fleeing crowds stop sharply, watching as the wall’s debris settles in a massive pile that completely obscures any sign of the crazed giant.
“Did you see that?” an onlooker points. “Whole building came down!” another exclaims. “That’s the end-a him…” another says with relief.
The S.W.A.T. team van pulls onto the block. Captain Leonard Davis emerges and starts to take charge of the scene. “Ok, clear back, people,” he orders authoritatively, “We’ve got an officer down. What’s the story here?” Professor Stein and Emily stand near the van. “One’a the wrestlers at the Arena went crazy!” a bystander explains to Davis, adding, “Like nothin’ you ever seen before! Weird…”
Stein carefully slips away while Emily speaks with Davis. “Emily should be safe here, with the Police,” Stein thinks as he breaks into a sprint, “By the time she realizes I’m gone…I’ll have summoned Ronnie, and the two of us will have fused as Firestorm! Because, no matter what the crowd may think, it’s not over yet.”
The bystander leads Davis over toward the rubble pile. Davis and his men approach carefully, guns drawn. “…and once that building hit ‘im, that was all she wrote. You guys missed the fun,” the bystander explains, gesturing at the debris.
RRRUMBLE! Suudenly, King Crusher explodes up, standing and thrusting himself out of the debris! “RAARGH!” he bellows. Police and bystanders scramble back away! Davis yells out orders to his men. “Squad, take positions! Snipers, find your target! Move!” he quickly directs them. The police teams rapidly deploy. Shots ring out from multiple officers as they train their fire on King Crusher. “ARRGGHH!” he yells, flinging a car aside like a toy as he moves towards the police lines.
Captain Davis stands next to a patrol car, radioing a status report to Headquarters. “No good, Chief!” Davis explains, “We’ve got him surrounded - - hittin’ him with enough firepower to bring down a tank - - but nothing stops him! He isn’t human!”
Crusher’s bizarre transformation continues. His eyes glow bright yellow. His skin takes on a pale green color, rippled with strange circular marks. His teeth take on jagged, irregular shapes. He clenches his powerful fists, yelling, “EDDDDDIIEEE!”
Vandemeer University…Where, on a normal day, Emily Rice is Dean, Martin Stein is an instructor of Physics, and Ronnie Raymond is just another first-year student busting his head to make the grade. Eight minutes ago:
“Hugo is so brave, Ronnie,” Doreen tells him as they walk on the moonlit campus. “Think about it. His whole life, he’s lived for athletics,” she continues, “He came to Vandemeer on a sports scholarship…and now, because of some awful accident during a football game, he’s paralyzed for life from the neck down. But he’s handling it so well…” Ronnie nods. “The big guy’s a fighter, Doreen,” he replies, adding, “You’re wrong about one thing, though…What happened to Hugo Hammer was no accident.”
They pause on the stairs outside the dorm building entrance. “I know what you think, Ronnie,” Doreen answers, “I just find it so hard to believe…” Ronnie interjects. “Believe it. Somebody tampered with the helmet I was going to wear in the game,” Ronnie explains, “Hugo put it on by mistake…The strap broke when Hugo fell…and Hugo’s spine snapped like brittle glass.”
Doreen reaches her arms around Ronnie’s shoulder to comfort him. “I know. I saw the helmet before you gave it to Coach Percy,” she tells him, “But Ronnie, if it’s true, that means…” Ronnie anxiously clenches his fist. “Yeah. It was supposed to happen to me,” he answers. Doreen looks into his eyes. “Oh, God, Ronnie, I can’t think about that. You mean so much to me…” she says softly. They embrace tightly and kiss.
Ronnie opens his eyes, looking out towards the gym building down the path. “Huh?” he thinks. He steps back from Doreen. A figure slowly opens the door and slips into the gym. Ronnie can’t make out who it is from the darkness. “Who’d go into the gym this time of night?” he asks himself, “Can’t be Coach Percy. He’s still with the cops, telling them about…”
A flash of nervous worry ripples through Ronnie. “My helmet. Coach told the Police he put it in his office at the Gym. The helmet is evidence…” he thinks quickly. He turns to walk swiftly toward the Gym. “Ronnie..?” Doreen asks anxiously. “Phone the Coach, Doreen. Maybe you’ll find him at the hospital,” Ronnie directs her, “Tell him I think somebody’s stealing my helmet.”
Ronnie gets to the Gym entrance, slowly pushing open the double doors. The Gym is dark inside. Shielded by one of the doors, a figure stands in the shadows behind Ronnie. “Back at the hospital, I thought I saw Cliff Carmichael sneaking around,” Ronnie thinks, “Cliff’s hated me since High School. But would he have cut that strap on my helmet? Not even Cliff could be that…”
THUD! A hand weight rips across the back of Ronnie’s skull! “Uhhhhh!!” he groans, quickly collapsing unconscious. The unknown attacker rushes out the Gym doors, disappearing into the night.
FZZAM! At that instant, Professor Stein initiates the transformation to fuse them. Ronnie’s body disappears from the Gymnasium floor. FZZAM! Firestorm appears flying in the air over Manhattan seconds later.
“Uhhh…” Ronnie moans. “I know I’ll regret asking this,” Stein says, “But, Ronald, why does our head hurt?” Ronnie tries to shake off the effect of the stunning blow. “Somebody slugged me, Professor Stein,” he explains, “Maybe a half a second before you pulled me out of there! I’ll explain later. Usually you don’t fuse us without a reason…So what’s going on?” Stein answers quickly, “My boy, you wouldn’t begin to believe me without seeing for yourself. Listen…”
A quiet evening on the town in downtown Pittsburgh. Perhaps a hint of romance. That’s all Emily Rice had in mind when she began this evening. Funny how things work out.
Police, firefighters, and paramedics tend to the aftermath of King Crusher’s rampage as Firestorm arrives on the scene. A gas main under the street burns out of control, ruptured by the giant’s wrath. Emily Rice stands nearby, watching the firefighters work.
“Martin’s disappeared just like he’s done before,” Emily thinks, “But this time, I’m frightened for him. I’m not angry. Though we’ve known each other only a short time, really…I think we could have something good…If only I could start to understand the man..!”
Firestorm flies over the gas line and aims a restructuring burst at the pavement around it. Instantly, a protective shield forms over the broken line. “Take it easy, guys,” Ronnie calls down to the fire crews, “This broken gas main won’t bother you anymore now that I’ve sealed it with a nuclear burst.” The crews wave up to him with relief. “Thenk you, thenk you, no applause, please,” Ronnie answers in mock accent.
A TV reporter waves at him. “Firestorm! Over here!” he yells. Ronnie comes down to land next to the reporter and a group of cameramen. “SWAT Commander Davis says that the creature that tore up this street can’t be stopped by anything short of the National Guard,” the reporter explains to Firestorm, asking, “Are you going to tackle the thing alone?”
Ronnie starts to answer, “Well, actually, I…” Commander Davis walks up. “He’d be crazy to try,” Davis calls out. “Say, listen…” Ronnie replies. Davis cuts him off. “I’ve talked with people who were in the Sports Arena when one of the wrestlers - - a has-been named King Crusher - - went berserk,” Davis explains, “They say Crusher screamed…and then his skin broke open. Like some kinda plastic bag bursting from the inside. What came out wasn’t human anymore. Crusher started to grow and he’s been growing ever since…”
Ronnie floats back up in the air. “Heck, Len, you know what they say…” Ronnie says. He moves out of Davis’ sight around the corner toward where King Crusher stands. Ronnie continues, “…the bigger they are, the harder they…”
WHAMMM! Firestorm comes flying back, landing on the sidewalk near a wrecked car. He gets up, grabbing at his temple. “Told you,” Davis smiles at him. Ronnie looks wobbly as he gets back up. “…I’m okay, Coach,” he mumbles, “…Jus’ let me find the ball, Coach…didn’t even touch me…” Davis helps steady Firestorm as a paramedic looks him over. “Buddy, you’re lucky to be alive,” Davis tells him, “Whatever’s making that guy grow, it’s out of control. We need an army to stop him.”
Ronnie shakes his head to clear the cobwebs. “Making him grow…” he repeats. “That man I ran into,” Stein suggests, “Eddie…said something about pills, Ronald.” Ronnie rubs his chin. “Sounds like a guy we should get to know. How do I find him?” he asks out loud. “I have his wallet,” Stein answers. Ronnie focuses nuclear energy in his palm, and the wallet appears. “Got it, Professor,” he says. Davis looks on in curiosity at the Nuclear Man talking to an empty space in front of him. “Professor?” Davis asks himself confusedly, adding, “Must’ve been hit pretty hard - - he’s talking to himself.”
Ronnie opens the wallet and scans the driver’s license. “’Eddie Slick’…He’s got a name like a used car salesman,” Ronnie says, “Here’s an address: ‘Merkyl’s Gym,’ on 10th.” He leaps skyward. “On my way. Keep those home fires burning, Len,” he calls down. Davis shakes his head as he watches Firestorm gain altitude. “Poor kid,” he thinks, “Gone loonier than Daffy Duck.”
Ronnie flies towards 10th Street. Down below, he sees the monstrous King Crusher running in the same direction as terrified bystanders flee. “Eddie Slick is a popular guy,” Ronnie thinks, “Looks like King Crusher wants to see him, too.”
The gigantic wrestler thunders down the street, yelling, “EDDIEEEE!” Ronnie flies quickly ahead, landing outside Merkyl’s Gym. He lowers his atomic density and phases through the wall. Inside, he finds Eddie Slick cowering fearfully in the dark. “Yo, Eddie. Company’s coming,” Ronnie tells him. “Oh, God. Don’t let him get me,” Slick trembles nervously. Ronnie looks closely at Eddie. “Hey, I saw this guy at the hospital when I was visiting Hugo, Professor. I thought he was you,” Ronnie explains.
“The hospital…I shoulda left Crusher there like the doctors wanted,” Eddie answers, adding, “The pills I’d been givin’ him…to make him stronger…they made him sick.” Ronnie helps Eddie to his feet. “Crusher used to be the best. But now he’s just meat. Used meat,” Eddie explains, “The Mob wanted one last fight….They didn’t care…I didn’t care…just used meat…”
KRASHHH! The Gym’s front window explodes in a rain of glass as Crusher punches through it! “EDDIE!” he yells. “YAAHHHH!” Eddie screams in horror. FZAAM! FZAAM! Ronnie fires two nuclear bursts at the giant. He grabs Eddie and leaps upward, pounding through the ceiling and out the roof of the Gym.
“C’mon, Slick, we’re gonna pay a visit to the guy who gave you those pills,” Ronnie says as they emerge into the moonlit sky. “But Crusher - - he’ll follow us!” Eddie blurts. On the street below, Crusher has grown to monstrous proportions. His head and shoulders extend higher than the surrounding two and three story buildings on the block. “Uh-huh,” Ronnie answers, “You might say that’s my plan.” Crusher looks up at them. “Eddie…” he growls.
Far away, a meeting is taking place in a mountain chalet. “…you’re looking at a billion dollar industry here, Mr. Rust. And the beauty of it is it’s perfectly legal,” a sharp-dressed designer drug maker explains. He sits at a table in the chalet, several pill bottles lying in front of him. Rust stands, looking at the merchandise. “What do you mean, legal?” Rust asks, “We’re talking drugs here…Heroin, cocaine, speed, PCP…”
The chemist listens and nods. “Well, yes and no, Mr. Rust,” he answers, “Admittedly, my drugs have the same effect as those you mention.” He picks up a pill vial and points at its contents. “But, chemically, they are a tad…different. A molecule here, a molecule there,” he explains with a smile, “See, the drug laws are written to ban specific chemical formulas. Change the formula just enough - - and bingo, you’ve got a new drug, one that isn’t on the banned list.”
He stands, and Rust happily reaches his arm around him. “Yeah, I heard about that…Designer drugs, right? But are they safe?” Rust asks. “Safe? For whom? The addict?” the chemist answers, adding, “Mr. Rust, my friends were right - - you’ve got a sense of humor.”
Suddenly, atomic rings light up and swirl around the ceiling above the men. “Tell us about it, Sunshine,” Ronnie’s voice calls in, “While you’re at it, tell us about the pills you sold Eddie Slick…The ones that were supposed to help King Crusher get stronger!”
The ceiling opens, and Firestorm and Eddie Slick float down into the room. “Firestorm!” Rust yells out. Three men pull out their pistols and aim them at Firestorm. “Isn’t it wonderful how a guy’s reputation precedes him? Let’s hear it for the Six o’Clock News,” Ronnie replies.
FZAM! FZAM! FZAM! Quick nuclear restructuring bursts transform the weapons into stuffed animals! “You boys take a bath while the grown-ups chat,” Ronnie tells the guards. He walks to the chemist. “Arnold, tell me about the pills. I want to know the formula,” Ronnie orders him. “F-Formula…? I don’t…” Arnold sputters.
Ronnie grabs him by the throat, lifting him off his feet. “Now, Arnold,” he commands. “Of c-course, the formula,” Arnold quickly recalls, explaining, “Steroid compound. Chemical number…”
Several over-sized compound words later… “Got it. And I see where you screwed up,” Ronnie tells Arnold, still holding him above the floor by his lapels. “You inverted two symbols in the third equation,” Ronnie explains, “I should be able to…”
King Crusher’s voice yells out suddenly outside. “EDDDIEEE!” he screams. “Uh-oh,” Ronnie gulps. “EDDDDIEEE!” Crusher yells, towering over the chalet. He pounds his fists down onto the roof. THWAHOOM! The building shudders and crumbles!
For long seconds, there is no sound from inside the shattered house but the shifting of rubble, the clatter of collapsing beams and bricks. Then a man whimpers like a child, scrambling through the debris, desperate for rescue…
“Firestorm…Don’t be dead. Oh, please don’t be dead,” Eddie says nervously. He kneels in the debris next to Firestorm, trying to free him. “Crusher, he’s gonna waste me…” Eddie groans.
“EDDIE…IT HURTS!” Crusher yells, reaching for him. “…Oh please…YAAAIII!” Eddie screams, turning to run. “…PLEASE, YOU GOTTA STOP THE PAIN…” Crusher yells to his fleeing manager.
Ronnie awakens, groaning and rubbing his forehead. “Wow. Between this and playing football, I need a new body,” Ronnie says, “I’ve pretty much worn out the old one.” Stein looks out and gasps. “Look, Ronald…Look!” he cries out.
“EDDIEEE!’ Crusher groans as he corners the fleeing Eddie in the debris pile. “You can’t let Crusher kill that man…” Stein urges, “No matter what Slick’s done…” Ronnie wiggles his legs free from the rubble, getting to his feet. “But what do I do..?” he asks as he looks toward the monstrous Crusher. “Waitasecond! If I can zap those power lines behind him with a nuclear burst…”
FZZAAM! Ronnie’s burst hits the power lines, breaking them free from the telephone pole. “EDDIE…HELP ME!” Crusher yells. ZZAAAK! The power lines recoil from the loosened tension, wrapping around King Crusher’s neck and chest! “…EDDDdddiieee!” Crusher moans as the ends of the wires spark and arc around him. He steps away, trying to free himself.
“You did it! You got him” Eddie yells, running over to Firestorm. “Finish him off - - you gotta kill ‘im before he…” SWAK! Ronnie silences Eddie with a quick punch to the mouth. “Buddy, you give me the creeps,” Ronnie tells him.
On the ground nearby, a syringe rests in the debris. Ronnie aims a nuclear beam at it. He restructures it from its normal size into a gigantic syringe, longer than a man’s body. He lifts it over head, holding it like a javelin. “Will the stuff in this syringe work, Professor?” Ronnie asks. Stein nods. “It should neutralize the effect of the pills Crusher was given,” Stein answers, adding, “But whether the damage done can be reversed at this stage…I can’t even guess.”
Crusher stands entangled in power lines, struggling to free himself. “EDDDIIIEEeeee…” he cries out in pain. Ronnie launches the syringe like a harpoon. THAAKK! It lands, piercing into King Crusher’s chest…
Once, dinosaurs fell like this, with a sound of thunder. Now it is a man who falls, a giant…a King…TATHWOOM! And his fall, too, is greeted by a sound of distant drums.
Crusher lies trembling softly in the debris. Pink light shimmers around his body as Firestorm floats just above him. “He’s down, Professor,” Ronnie observes, “Listen. He’s trying to say something.”
Crusher’s body is quickly shrinking. “…you gotta tell me…” he groans, “…I always did what Eddie said…Why didn’t he help me? What did I do wrong?” The bizarre green hue fades from Crusher’s skin. His monstrous appearance softens…and softens…until a scared and exhausted man lies in the rubble looking up at Firestorm.
Ronnie lands and walks over to him. Eddie sits nearby, head hanging in his hands despondently. Ronnie carefully helps Crusher get to his feet. “Nothing, Crusher. You were the best,” Ronnie reassure him, adding with a glance at Eddie, “But I guess even a King can get poisoned by a snake.”