The Fury of Firestorm #54

    The Fury of Firestorm » The Fury of Firestorm #54 - Rock and Roll Fantasy released by DC Comics on December 1986.

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    Guitarist Steve Brockman flunks an audition with a rock band. Dejected, he vows to himself to bring his music to the people. At a nightclub in Pittsburgh, Ronnie and Doreen dance the night away. Then, a strange musician named Trash attacks the club wielding a mystically powerful guitar, leading to a battle with Firestorm.

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

    This used to be the fantasy. You’re born. You live. You die. Somewhere in between, you wind up here, with a family and white picket fence. “But the times, they are a’changin,” wrote a man who helped change them. For now the fantasy is electric…and it’s called rock and roll.

    Inside a country house, a rock band works their music in the garage as their friends look on. “…kick on the starter, give it all you got…” the lead vocalist sings out. “All you got, all you got!” the backup vocalists harmonize.

    The lead vocalist stops playing his guitar and the song breaks down. “Wait. Hold…Cut! Jeez, but we sound lame, man!” he gripes. The keyboard player walks over to him. “Been that way ever since Larry quit,” he tells the vocalist, “and it’s gonna stay that way until we get another guitar, Dave.” Dave answers, “I got the word out all over, Tucker, but nobody’s shown up to audition yet.”

    A man walks into the garage, guitar case in hand, and calls to them. “Wrong, I’m here…and all your worries are over,” he announces. Dave looks him over skeptically. “Unless you’re Stevie Ray Vaughn, I doubt it,” he replies, asking, “Who’re you?” The man sets down his guitar case. “Name’s Steve Brockman,” he answers, “I may not be in Stevie Ray’s league, but I’d like to try out for the band.” Dave glances at his bandmates and nods. “Sure. We got some paying gigs next week…and nobody’s gonna pay to hear us playing like this,” he tells Steve.

    Steve pops open his guitar case and slings his guitar over his shoulder. “Just let me get plugged in,” he says as he connects to the amplifier, “Okay. All set, guys.” Dave looks over Steve’s guitar with appreciation. “Hey, where’d you get that guitar, Brockman?” he asks, adding, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.” Steve grabs his pick and gets ready. “Yeah, and you’ve never heard one like it either. Ready?” he asks, and the band launches into a song.

    Steve Brockman plays, his fingers seeking out the rich, full sounds that reverberate from his guitar. This is the fantasy brought to life…only to find itself wanting in life’s harsh light.

    “Hold it, hold it!” Dave yells. The song screeches to a halt. “Hey, Brockman…I thought you said you could play that thing,” he asks Steve. “Huh?!” Steve blurts in surprise. “Yeah, look, thanks for coming around,” Dave continues, adding dismissively, “Don’t call us…y’know what I’m saying?” Steve stutters in disbelief, “B-But…I thought you needed a guitar player real bad..?”

    Dave shakes his head. “Yeah…but not that bad. But, you know, despite what you were doing to that guitar, it sounded pretty cool,” he answers, asking, “Where can I get..?” Steve interrupts, answering, “Y-You can’t. I made it myself.” Dave walks him to the door. “No kidding? You wanna sell it?” he asks. Steve tucks the guitar back into his case. “It…It’s not for sale, okay?” he answers, adding, “I’m going to play it myself…in a band…” Dave scoffs. “Yeah? Better try in a punk band, man…You trash that music,” he says as Steve walks out, “Matter of fact, I’m surprised the E.P.A. doesn’t bust you for noise pollution!”

    Steve walks slowly down the driveway. “C’mon, Davey, lay off the guy, huh?” a girl standing by the garage door says, adding, “He looks miserable enough.” Dave watches Steve depart. “What’re you, his lawyer? Besides, I was only joking with him,” Dave answers.

    Well, it’s no joke to him. It’s got to be terrible when someone tells you you’re not good enough to get your dream… “Self-important creeps!” Steve thinks as he walks, “B-But…I’ll show them. They’ll be sorry they ever made fun of my music. Real sorry.”

    Fantasies and dreams can get battered and beaten, but they aren’t easy to kill. No, not easy at all.

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s not just music. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of talking and dressing and thinking. Of being. One day, you grow up and love the music still, but know that your youth was a…rock n’ roll fantasy. But until then…until then, life is fast and funky…and nothing says it better than music.

    Club A-7 hums as the band rocks the house from the stage. Dancers mass on the floor just below the stage. People sit along the dance floor at their tables, sipping drinks and talking. “Ronnie - - this place is great,” Doreen says, happily looking around the club. “I didn’t know there was anywhere outside of New York that boogied like this,” she tells him. Ronnie wraps his arm around her. “Stick with me, Doreen. I know how to show a girl a good time,” he answers.

    They walk down towards the dance floor. “You sure do, Mr. Raymond. I haven’t been out dancing in ages,” she tells him, asking, “How’d you know I wanted to do this?” Ronnie smiles at her. “Hmmm. It might have something to do with the hints you’ve been dropping all week.” A man dancing yells out near them, “The band’s hot tonight! That new dude on guitar’s cookin’!”

    It blasts from the amplifiers and makes their world shake. Heavy bass reverberates, and the sound is infectious, sweeping from the band’s fingers and throats - - and it crawls beneath their skin, setting heart and soul in pounding rhythm with the beat…and it makes you just want to move!

    “So? We auditioning for the role of lumps, or do we dance?” Ronnie asks. “Lead the way…and watch your toes,” Doreen answers as they step onto the dance floor.

    The sound builds, the floor fills. Ronnie and Doreen join the pack and let the music wash them along in its pulsing tide. On stage, Dave rips into a vicious chord pattern and sings out the lyrics. Behind him, a light sphere shines colorful, almost mesmerizing patterns out into the audience.

    “Can you feel it comin’? It’s lookin’ for you now! Can you see it, baby…See it! Hear it! Feel it…Yeah! Lissen to the beat,” he sings fiercely, “’cause it’s you…and it’s me…so…can…you…feel…it…Feel it, man!”

    The crowd feels it, and they howl their approval. They can scarcely breathe for the pounding beat squeezing chest and lungs. It’s the way they want it. Fast, hot, loud! That’s why it takes a few moments for someone to realize that something is wrong.

    “D-Doreen…Doesn’t it sound kind of l-loud to you..?” Ronnie yells to her over the thundering beat. “I…waitaminnit! Up there…” he yells as a figure descends from the rafters to the stage, guitar in hand. “W-Who the devil’s that - - ?” Ronnie yells in surprise.

    His hand slices across the strings. Once…and the whole world explodes in vibrating agony in C sharp. The man lands on the stage as the light sphere bursts out a kaleidoscope pattern of colors spreading out in circular waves. The band staggers and falls off the stage, covering their ears with their hands.

    “Rock ‘n roll, boys and girls!” yells the new arrival. His green Flying-V style guitar hangs from its sling as he raises his hands triumphantly. He wears an unusual costume, his brown hair protruding Mohawk-style through a blue winged hat. “That’s what it’s all about, ain’t it?” he yells, “You want sound to ram through your skulls and out your feet…You wanna keep movin’ till you drop, well, forget these turkeys, my friends.” He looks down at Dave and the stunned musicians contemptuously. “’Cause I got the sound…I’m makin’ the music now, and you’re gonna listen ‘cause you gotta listen…I’m Trash, babies - - and that’s what I’m gonna do to your rock ‘n roll souls!”

    Music, like a wall of sound, hits - - and Trash laughs. “They’re listening now. Ain’t nobody laughing now,” Trash thinks as he bashes out another series of power chords. He wonders if Dave recalls how Steve Brockman came up with his new name.

    “Uhnngh! F-Feels like my eardrums are about to shatter,” Ronnie groans in the deafening roar, “This nut needs h-handling…if…only I could th-think straight…to hook up with Professor Stein…and make us into Firestorm!”

    At that moment, Professor Martin Stein sits in a quiet lecture hall listening eagerly to a scientific presentation. “…so we find that the reaction of the stress factors will overcompensate for the energy release we seek,” the lecturer explains. “I’ve been waiting years to hear Connolly talk,” Stein thinks as he listens. “We arrive at these conclusions by knowing how the interactions are related..,” Connolly continues.

    Suddenly, Stein feels a presence in his mind. “Huh? I could have sworn I…’felt’ something touching my mind!” he thinks. He quietly gets up and starts toward the door. “It’s almost the same as when Ronald reaches out to me prior to our becoming Firestorm,” he thinks. A colleague watches him pass by whispering, “Phsst! Where you going, Stein? He’s just getting to the good parts.”

    Professor Stein passes through the exit doors to the foyer. “Wait…That is what’s happening,” he thinks worriedly, “But…something’s wrong. It’s as if there were some sort of interference - - preventing Ronald from completing the transformation.” He walks quickly into the lobby where a few people are coming and going. “…If only I could find a secluded place in which to do it,” he thinks, turning into a darkened hallway. “All right. Since Ronald can’t do the job for some reason, it’s up to me,” he decides, “I just need to think the correct thoughts, and…”

    FZAM! Stein disappears in a burst of atomic light!

    “How ya doin’ everybody!? Ha! Ha!” Trash yells from the stage. He strums the guitar as the light sphere continues to send out waves of light in every color of the spectrum. “Get off your knees, my friends. Music’s to make you move, so grab your socks and let’s all boogey to the beat,” Trash yells out.

    Ronnie watches in shock as one after another, dancers fall and collapse to the floor, overpowered by the crazed musical noise. “O-Only boogeying b-being done…is f-from convulsions from…t-the sound!” Ronnie thinks, trying to concentrate, “T-this crazy’s killing us all…Doreen’s a-already passed out…Don’t know how m-much longer I c-can…hold out…b-but…gotta…give…it…o-one…more…try…b-before the roof…falls in!”

    The wicked decibels shake the building. Debris begins to crack and fall from the ceiling as the roof weakens. KHA-WHOOM! Suddenly, the roof collapses!

    FZAM! Firestorm appears in an instant. “Oh, Professor Stein, if you had a face at the moment, I’d kiss you,” Ronnie exclaims as they fuse, “I never could’ve made it alone.” Stein politely declines the offer. “Er…I’ll accept an explanation instead if you don’t mind, Ronald,” he replies. “Kind of what you’d expect in a nightclub…only moreso,” Ronnie explains, “This guy with a weird guitar calling himself Trash is bringing down the house - - literally.” Stein nods, suggesting, “This calls for a bit of atomic restructuring power.” Ronnie hits the falling debris with several transforming beams. “Coming right up,” he replies, “From fall-out…to feathers.”

    Instantly, the heavy rain of steel and concrete turns into a gently falling shower of feathers. They float and swirl among the surprised dancers. “Feathers?!” a girls asks. “Feathers!” her friend answers.

    Ronnie quickly flies up to the stage. “Okay, Trash, the concert’s over…and your gig’s been cancelled,” Ronnie tells him, asking, “Don’t you see what you’re doing to this place?” Trash keeps right on playing. “All I see is people diggin’ my music, Hothead,” he answers, “and you can’t stop the rock, man. Try it and see.”

    Ronnie balls up a fist and starts toward Trash. “Oh, don’t worry, friend. I’m going to try all right,” he replies, “And in case you haven’t heard as much about me as I haven’t heard about you…I’m usually pretty successful…”

    FWA-THWANG! Trash leans back as Firestorm gets near him and a burst of colorful energy radiates out of his guitar. “UHLK!” Ronnie blurts as he is knocked back in the air, stunned from the blow. “Surprised you, huh?” Trash asks, explaining, “Bet you thought all this axe of mine could do was make noise - - but it can also do all kinds of things, like set up sonic barriers to protect me from attack.” Ronnie flies back upside-down over the dance floor from the impact. “I noticed,” he answers, adding, “And I’ve got to admit…I’m at least a little impressed!”

    SWTAKK! Ronnie smashes through the brick wall of the club! He lands on the sidewalk outside amidst a sea of bricks and mortar chunks. “Hmm. More to this lad than meets the eye,” Stein observes. “Yeah,” Ronnie says as he sits up and rubs the back of his head. “Perhaps we ought to try and reason with him..?” Stein asks.

    Ronnie gets to his feet. “This guy’s a wacko, Professor. You try reasoning with him,” he answers as he flies back inside, “Me, I’m gonna bust that bozo wide open! He’s getting his giggles dumping a building on people’s heads and busting their eardrums…and that makes me mad.”

    Ronnie flies back inside and re-approaches the stage. Dancers lie crumpled on the dance floor below. “Trash! I’m going to count to three - - and either the music stops - - or I do some break-dancing on your face,” Ronnie yells to him. “No can do, Hothead. I got the music in me and I gotta share it with everybody,” Trash answers as he continues to play. “Maybe somebody oughta share guitar lessons with you first…” Ronnie tells him.

    Trash raises the neck of his guitar. “Oh, man - - you’re just like the rest of ‘em, aren’t you? You wouldn’t know good music if it hit you, Firestorm,” he yells, “…And hittin’ you’s just what it’s gonna do!”

    He rips a chord across the guitar strings and a wave of energy smashes into Firestorm! “Ughhnn!” Ronnie groans as he is blown back, “That blasted guitar…setting up solid walls of sound! I…I can’t get through it to Trash. C-Can’t even concentrate because of all the noise…Don’t know if I can s-stay…aloft!”

    Unable to clear his mind, Ronnie falls hard to the dance floor. “Oooff!” he grunts, “Guess that answers that. This place looks like an emergency room after a twelve bus pile up! His sonic assault’s killing these people. I’ve got to get him out of here…and that’s going to require some ingenuity. Atomic restructuring power…do your thing!

    FZAAM! Ronnie transforms the stage below Trash. “Faaar out, Firestorm. Thanks for the lightshow. It really adds to the act,” Trash says as he plays. “You’re welcome,” Ronnie answers, explaining, “Except it’s not a lightshow. I’ve turned the stage into one big springboard - - and you can now consider yourself sprung!”

    SPROINNNG! The base of the stage suddenly launches upwards, throwing Trash into the air! “YIIKES!” he yells in surprise. “Better watch it, Trash…You’re heading for the wall,” Ronnie warns him. “Oh…wow!” Trash blurts. “Here. Allow me,” Ronnie answers.

    FZAM! Ronnie restructures the wall, creating an opening that they both fly through. “Okay, pal. We’re out in the open where you can’t…you can’t…you’re…flying?!” Ronnie cries in disbelief. Thwannngg! Trash strums a chord and incredibly walks in the air. “Uh-uh. Coasting on a carpet of solid sound, Firestorm,” he answers, “Rock n’ roll can really take you high!”

    Stein watches their opponent carefully. “Ronald…forget about Trash,” Stein suggests, “Concentrate on his guitar. That’s the source of his power.” Ronnie nods, answering, “Riiiight, I should’ve thought of it myself. In fact, if anyone asks, I’ll tell them I did.”

    FZAM! Ronnie launches twin bursts of atomic energy at Trash’s guitar. “Uh…on second thought, Professor…credit’s all yours,” Ronnie says as he watches the bursts land with no effect on the strange instrument. “Nothin’ gets past my wall of sound!” Trash says as he strums away.

    “Uh-oh! Trash is making a beeline for that park. If it’s an audience he’s after, there’s a good-sized one there…everyone of ‘em a potential customer for a hearing aid…unless I put a lid on Trash!” Ronnie says as he pursues.

    Trash comes down to land on the park’s entrance archway . He stands over the crowds and continues his playing. “Hel-lo, everybody! Are you ready to rock?!” he yells out to the surprised people. “Wh-What’s that horrible noise…?!” a bystander cries out. “Arrrgh! M-My…h-head…” groans another.

    The crowds start to scatter, trying to get away from the massive sound. “Hey, don’t run off, boys and girls. I got the music in me…and I wanna let it out…share it with the world!” Trash yells out.

    BBBWANNG! The world hears him. It can’t help it. It starts low, sliding through the air - - building as it goes, like the roar of a distant wave as it barrels toward shore. They know it’s there, then, they can feel it in the air - - pulsating about their heads - - making everything inside shake with the power of the music. Trash can hear their screams, and he laughs. They hear him now. Nobody’s going to tell him he can’t hold an audience. He is the music. He’s the heart of rock ‘n roll…and he’ll prove that to them if it kills them!

    “Kee-ripes! I’ve whipped up some earplugs for myself - - but those folks don’t have my power,” Ronnie says as he flies overhead, “and anything that can shatter car and apartment windows for a six-block radius - - well, I don’t even wanna think about eardrums!”

    Ronnie flies down to the archway. “Yo…Trash! Over here!” he yells. “Huh..?” Trash says. “Hi. It’s me again. Sorry to bust in on the concert, but I’ve got to tell you…you really stink!” Ronnie tells him, adding, “And if you don’t believe me, listen for yourself. Here…I’ve turned some air molecules into a solid shield - - to bounce some of that noise you call music right back at you.”

    Waves of sound reflect off the shield and blow back into Trash. He bends back from the energy. “You don’t have any right to stop me! I’m allowed to play!” he yells, grabbing at his guitar neck. “And the rest of us are allowed to tell you to shut up,” Ronnie answers, “And since I’m the only super-hero-type in the neighborhood…”

    FZAAM! “Hey!” Trash blurts as a wave of earthy soil erupts around him. RRRFOOOM! The soil envelops Trash, silencing the maniacal music. “…that happy duty falls to me,” Ronnie continues, “A touch of the old power - - and you’re history, pal…trapped beneath that mound of dirt! No applause, please.”

    Ronnie lands and approaches the dirt mound. “And that’s the name of that tune…if you’ll pardon the expression,” Ronnie says. Two police officers walk into the park as the stunned bystanders start to get themselves back up to their feet.

    “Firestorm, I thought it was you,” an officer greets him, asking, “What the heck is going on here? Sounded like someone was torturing a truckload of cats.” Ronnie turns to them. “Everything’s under control, Officer…Now. I’ve even got a prisoner for you…provided you don’t mind bringing in a backhoe and digging him up.” The officer looks at him a bit confused. “Ehh…come again, hero?” he asks. “Never mind. I was just being flip,” Ronnie replies, adding, “His name is Trash, and he has a sonic guitar.” The officer thinks for a moment, asking, “’Sonic’ guitar..? I guess the cops in New York are used to this kind of stuff…But I gotta tell you, pal, it gives me the willies!”

    Rrr-rrr-rrr-rrr-rrr! The dirt vibrates ever so slightly at the base of the mound. “Ronald! Look over at the…” Stein says. “Not now, Professor!” Ronnie interjects. “Oh, you’ll get used to it, Officer,” he continues with a casual grin, “We super-heroes are a handy lot to have…” Stein persists. “If you won’t listen to me, Ronald - - then I’m afraid Trash will inform you…much less gently than I.”

    KER-THWAANNG! In a blast of musical energy, Trash erupts to the surface, unleashing a powerful sonic blast! Firestorm, the police officers, and bystanders are blown down by the vicious wave of noise. “Yeow!” Ronnie blurts, “Waitaminnit…I was supposed to’ve had this under control - - ?”

    Trash gestures out at Firestorm as the musical assault continues. “Yeah…but you don’t know about music,” Trash answers, “You just wanna shut me down…that’s all everybody wants to do to my music. Well, to Hell with all of you! I’m gonna play - - and I don’t care if the whole world hates it!”

    Firestorm sits up on his knees, rubbing his neck. “Uhhn!” he groans, calling to Trash, “B-Believe me, Trash…we do. So why don’t you take the hint and just…” Trash readies his guitar menacingly. “I ain’t listenin’, Firestorm! I feel a song comin’ on,” he yells, “and as for your advice, you can take it…” THWATHWHANNNG! “- - and blow it, man!” he cries as he hits a wicked chord of energy.

    “Ooofff!’ Ronnie grunts as he is blown back, exclaiming, “Soundwaves…knocking me off my feet…battering at me despite my earplugs…” He gets to his feet and somehow gets into the air through the pulsing sounds. “There! Managed to pull free of the storm…but the rest of those folks aren’t so lucky,” he says watching helpless people fly into the air, “Those park benches…right in the line of flight. Perfect - - to turn them into fluffy pillows for them to land in!”

    FZAM! FLUFF! Ronnie quickly transforms the line of benches into a wide bed of pillows. The people fly down and land on them safely. “And now for something completely different,” Ronnie decides, “I go after Trash, only this time - - I kick in his leather-clad tush! A nice fireblast to stun and confound him, and then…huh?”

    Ronnie watches in disbelief as his fireblast dissipates around Trash. “Don’t look so confused, Flame-Brain,” Trash tells him, “I got me my supersonics to shield me from your stuff - - and do all kinds of other things.” Ronnie halts the flow of the fireblast. “Oh yeah. I forgot,” he answers.

    “But you’ll remember now, Firestorm. Nobody’s gonna be able to forget the day they first heard Trash do his music,” Trash continues, “So hit it, man…’Cause the good times’re gonna roll!” He rips into his chords, blasting the air with waves of sound. “Sheesh! Couldn’t you at least take a break between sets..?” Ronnie asks. “Naw. Besides, that’d be kinda stupid, wouldn’t it?” Trash answers, adding, “Soon as I stop playing, you could get your super-stuff through my sonic barrier - - and where would that leave me?”

    Ronnie spins in the sonic wave, trying to hold his position. “Er…hopefully locked up in a rubber room somewhere…Ooff!” he groans as another wave ripples past. “C’mon, Professor - - any bright ideas? I’m not getting anywhere with this clown,” Ronnie exclaims. “So I see, Ronald,” Stein replies, “but I’m afraid I’m at as much of a loss for a plan as you. And yet…I can’t quite shake the feeling that we’re missing a solution so obvious as to be ridiculously simple.”

    Ronnie approaches Trash, readying another fireblast. “Swell. Lemme know when it comes to you, okay?” he asks, “Meanwhile, I’ll see about blasting out the ground from under him.” FHABLOOOM! Ronnie watches as there is no effect. “Nope,” he observes.

    “You might as well give it up and let the music take you away, Firestorm. You can’t take music from the air!” Trash calls to him. Stein thinks quickly. “’Music…the air!’ Of course! It is simple!” he blurts. “Er…What is?” Ronnie asks, “You’re forgetting that I can be on the simple side myself sometimes..!” Stein rapidly explains, “Hardly, Ronald, but we’ve been taking the wrong approach in our attempts to halt Trash’s rampage. The real villain here is sound, which requires air through which to travel and…” Ronnie nods excitedly. “Riiiiight! I get you now!” he answers.

    KATHOOOM! Ronnie aims transforming energy at the ground below Trash. “I gotta give you this much, Flame-Brain,” Trash tells him, “you’re a real trooper! You ain’t got a snowball’s chance of winning - - but you keep pluggin’ at it!”

    FZAM! Ronnie aims transforming energy at the park’s gateway arch. “Yeah, some people’ve called me a cockeyed optimist,” Ronnie explains, “Others just think I’m stupid. I like to think of myself as tenacious. But I’ll let you be the judge…after you see my latest trick. Hope this doesn’t get the Parks Department too miffed. Most folks object to having their monuments turned onto big plastic domes, y’know.”

    Ronnie guides transforming energy and a large dome takes form around Trash. “Yeah…Especially when it’s a waste of time and material,” Trash scoffs, “Man, don’t you know my super-sonics are gonna smash this toy like an eggshell!?” Ronnie looks down at him. “Maybe…but at least it’ll muffle that screeching you call music for a couple of seconds.” Stein cautions Ronnie. “Really, Ronald, there’s no need to goad the lad,” he suggests.

    Trash grows enraged. “Screeching?! This’s music, Creep. Real rock ‘n roll!” he yells furiously. “Uh-huh. Suuure!” Ronnie answers as he lands just outside the dome. “You’ll see, man - - you’ll see that you can’t stop me or my music,” Trash taunts from inside the clear dome. “Wanna bet?” Ronnie asks, unimpressed. “I’m gonna trash you, man…make my music tear you apart!” Trash threatens. “You’re gonna pay for…for…huh?” he blurts in shock, “M-My…sonic waves…they’re not affecting you..?!”

    Trash strums and strums quickly, but nothing happens. “That’s ‘cause I can’t hear ‘em, Trash,” Ronnie explains, “See, while you’ve been making noise in that dome - - I’ve been pumping the air out, creating a vacuum…” Trash gasps. “…c-can’t…b-breathe…” he coughs. “…and any schoolkid knows that sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum!” Ronnie continues, “Far as I’m concerned, these last couple of seconds you’ve just been playing air guitar - - minus, of course, the air!”

    Trash drops his guitar and collapses to the ground. “…n-need…air…” he gasps. Ronnie walks next to him, standing over the guitar. “And, once I transform the dome and airpump back into the monument…” he says. FZAAAAM! “…you’ll be minus the guitar as well!” he continues. FZAM! “I’ll change it into a nice, safe water fountain,” Ronnie tells Trash, “At least it’ll finally be used for something constructive.”

    Trash staggers up from the ground, gulping air into his lungs. “N-No…it…it can’t end like this,” he sobs, “I…I…just wanted to play…but all anybody ever did was make fun of me…S-Said I c-couldn’t…N-Nobody takes me…seriously…”

    The two police officers approach. “Firestorm! What’ve you got for us, Hero?” one asks. Trash looks up at them. “M-My name’s…Steve…S-Steve Brockman…and…and I hadda show them…hadda make ‘em listen to…to…my music…” he cries despondently.

    Gently, the police load the sobbing young man into a car. Nobody knows what to say to him. “A job well done, Ronald,” Stein observes, asking, “I suppose we ought to be getting back to our respective lives, eh?” Ronnie remains quiet. “Er…Ronald” Is something the matter..?” Stein asks.

    “What? Oh, no, Prof. Everything’s just fine,” Ronnie answers, adding, “Except…well, sometimes stopping the bad guys isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…Especially when you find out the bad guy’s not really so bad…just a sad, disappointed person…” Stein nods. “Yes,” he answers, “I suppose that for all the good we do…sometimes, just sometimes this job is far from totally gratifying…”

    The End



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