David Drake, seeking revenge as Typhoon, forms a massive hurricane in the Atlantic and guides it into Pittsburgh leading to a confrontation with Firestorm.
Behold the whirlwind. Once it was a man, a research scientist named David Drake. He was married and had a wife and two small children and the house in the country and his life was very normal.
Then he sailed with Professor Martin Stein and Anton Hammer on the Concordance Research ship ‘The Neptune Explorer,’ and his life fell apart. Drake had designed a revolutionary nuclear-powered bathyscaphe, ‘The Manta.’ Hammer had forced Drake to perform tests - - over protests of both Stein and Drake - - in the teeth of a typhoon.
When the Neptune Explorer foundered, Hammer panicked and cut the cable to the Manta. Firestorm was able to save the bathyscaphe, but Anton Hammer did not want any witnesses to his blunders and shot David Drake as he emerged from the sphere.
The mortally wounded Drake fell back into the bathyscaphe as seawater shorted out the electric system and the nuclear pile blew up. David Drake did not die, however. He emerged in his new persona, Typhoon, determined to revenge himself on the men he held responsible for what had happened to him: Anton Hammer and Martin Stein!
The resultant clash with Firestorm caused Typhoon to revert to David Drake, whom Firestorm sped to Australia for treatment. It was during that recovery that Drake learned his wife was divorcing him. By the time Drake was able to return to the States, she had remarried…and his two children were calling their step-father ‘Daddy.’
With his rage, his power returned and again Drake struck out as Typhoon, only to be stymied again by the Nuclear Man. Drake had carried off his two children, determined that they would live with him. Seeing their fear of his Typhoon powers, however, induced Drake to return them to his ex-wife.
It was a less than joyous reunion. Drake had destroyed the family home when he seized the children. It was strongly suggested that he not return anytime soon.
There was little left to Drake’s life now, save revenge. Revenge against Martin Stein; revenge against the Nuclear Man. To do that, he needed more power. In his Typhoon persona, Drake fled to the Atlantic, training himself until he was able to create and meld with the hurricane.
Now he’s back and all that stands between him and his revenge on Stein and Firestorm is the city of Pittsburgh. Too bad for Pittsburgh.
The hailstones weigh as much as a pound each. They start their fall from the cumulonimbus clouds about five miles up. Gravity accelerates them by 32 feet every second. By the time they hit the ground, they’re traveling (allowing for wind resistance) at about 750 feet per second, or more than 500 miles per hour.
The winds gust suddenly up to 150 miles per hour, far beyond the tolerance levels of some of these buildings. No one expected them to face that kind of stress. Typhoon’s tornadoes and waterspouts take out the Fort Duquesne and Fort Pitt Bridges first and then the Rake Point State Park. Then they proceed along the Penn Lincoln Parkway. Leaping across the city blocks, the tornadoes land on the Civic Arena where an exhibition is being held. The death toll here alone is close to a thousand people.
In the skies surrounding the airport, the pilots think they have flown into hell. “Pittsburgh, where’d you get this wind?” a nervous pilot radios from the controls of his buffeted 737.
“Who knows?” a panicked air traffic controller answers. “All planes, get clear of the surrounding area! We have hurricane force winds! Abort all landing procedures!”
In the cockpit of the 737, the pilot and copilot strain their eyes to see through the gale. Suddenly, a small jet materializes just ahead of them! “Mayday! Mayday! Pittsburgh, I can’t control her in this wind!” the 737 pilot radios in horror. “Getting blown into the path of this unidentified private jet! Pittsburgh..!” The planes collide and…SHWA-KOOOMM!
Then, for a moment, the storm quiets and the rolling thunder speaks! “FIRESTORM! BRING ME FIRESTORM!” Typhoon bellows in a voice that rolls and echoes through the city. And the city wonders…where is Firestorm?
“Heckuva storm out, huh, Professor?” Ronnie Raymond asks. He leans against the Professor’s desk. The two sip coffee, looking outside at the driving rain. “I guess I can see Doreen’s reason for dropping me,” Ronnie continues. “I thought there were all kinds of good reasons not to tell her our secret. I never thought she’d think it meant I didn’t trust her. But listen, about this tumor thing that…that’s killing you, we’ve got all this power as Firestorm! I can’t believe there’s nothing we can do.”
Stein stares down at the floor and slowly closes his eyes. “You’re going to have to learn to accept it, Ronald,” Stein answers. “As I have. The inevitable must be faced, Ronald. The facts, however cold and uncomfortable, must be dealt with. And one of them is that, after my death, Firestorm will no longer exist.”
Ronnie takes a drink of coffee and Professor Stein walks closer to the window. “You’re sure of that, Professor?” Ronnie asks.
“Quite sure, Ronald,” Stein replies. “The real question is…What shall we do with those powers while they still exists that would mean something?”
Ronnie thinks for a moment. “Beats me,” he answers. “Have you got an angle?”
“I…,” Stein begins to reply,
SHINNGG! Suddenly, the apartment window blasts inward! A cascade of broken glass falls as wind and rain blows in. From outside, a hideous angry voice bellows “FIRRRESTORRRM!”
Ronnie and the Professor peer through the rain. “Good Lord!” Stein exclaims.
“Professor! It’s Typhoon!” Ronnie blurts. “Last time we fought him, it took all we had to defeat him, remember? The effort drained us and made us fission back to ourselves. It took a while before we could achieve a fusion again!”
The two stand next to the jaggedly broken window. “I know,” Stein replies. “But the only reason he could be here in Pittsburgh is to get back at us. At me. We have to face him, Ronald. He may destroy the city otherwise.”
Ronnie glances over at him. “And just chance him destroying us, right, Professor?” he asks.
Stein nods. “…Yes…” he answers softly.
Atomic light fills the room as the two men fuse into the Nuclear Man. FZAAP! Ronnie flies out of Stein’s apartment and into the sky above campus. “What they hey, Professor! You can also get killed crossing the street, so let’s go get the booger,” Ronnie answers. “What do we do first?”
Professor Stein surveys the horrible damage down below them. “Good heavens, Ronald! Look at the carnage he’s wrought! I had no idea! Our first step must be to aid the city!” he exclaims.
KRAK! Just ahead, the suspension cables of a bridge packed with commuter traffic begin to snap under the strain of the storm. “Ronald, that bridge! Those people on it will die!”
Ronnie aims a restructuring burst at the water below the bridge. “Maybe someday, Professor, but not today and not on this bridge!” FZAAP! Ronnie creates giant supports to brace the bridge’s spans.
“Ronald, there’s a small boat on the River that’s about to capsize?” Stein warns.
“On it!” Ronnie answers. FZAAP! Ronnie creates a large pedestal underneath the boat to lift it safely above the turbulent waters.
“Up above, Ronald! Two planes are flying blind and are being blown into each other!” Stein directs.
“Got it!” Ronnie answers. He zooms upwards and guides the two planes away from each other with nuclear beams. “Professor, so far we’re fighting a strictly defensive action!” Ronnie worries. “We’ve got to go on the offensive!”
Fwakwap! Wapkrak! Hailstones whip through the winds and pound against Firestorm. “Urgk!” Ronnie grunts as they smack into his body, “Looks like Typhoon’s beating us to the punch. Make that punches!”
SHAKASHAKOOM! KKKKKKK! A bolt of lightning blasts out of the clouds and strikes Firestorm! “AAAAAAA!” Ronnie yells in pain. The powerful electric impact stuns him and he plummets from the sky!
THWUMP! Firestorm lands hard on the ground! Ronnie lifts himself up, trying to shake of the rough landing. “We can’t take much more of that kind of treatment, Ronald,” Stein cautions. “We’re going to have to go on the offensive.”
Ronnie gets to his feet. “I’ll buy that,” he replies.
“We need to get above him, Ronald,” Stein instructs. “And to do that, we’re going to have to fly through him.”
Ronnie looks up into the driving rain. “Gee, it sounds like fun, Professor. I can hardly wait,” he answers.
“Our best hope lies in speed and surprise, Ronald,” Stein suggests.
“And maybe some protection from the elements,” Ronnie replies.
“Ronald, what are you doing?” Stein asks in curiosity.
“Giving myself a metal coating, Professor,” Ronnie answers. “Something to protect against the hail and lightning!” Ronnie readjusts his molecular composition. “And there you have it…Iron Firestorm!” he continues. “The hero with the crisp metal coating and the warm, tender human inside! The globes at the wrists and ankles will let me redirect any lightning that strikes us, I hope! Got the whole idea from a comic I once read.”
Stein looks over their newly adjusted costume. “I think it’s the silliest thing I ever saw,” Stein scoffs.
Ronnie leaps up and flies into the storm. “Never said it was a good comic book!” he answers.
BRANG! KRANG! Lightning rips out of the sky, striking Ronnie’s new outer layer. “Ow! Coating’s taking the worst of it, but I feel like a bell being gonged!” Ronnie exclaims.
“Brace yourself, Ronald!” Stein cautions. “That ozone smell indicates we’re about to be hit with another bolt of lightning!”
KKKKKKKK! Another lightning bolt smashes into them! “AAAAAGGG!” Ronnie yells in pain.
“Ronald! Are we all right?” Stein asks anxiously. KKKRAKKKLE! THOOMM! SIZZLE! The storm churns angrily around them.
“Hangin’…in there…Professor! Let’s see…if I…can…redirect…this…back!” Ronnie groans as he fights against the gale force winds.
SIZZLE! KKKRAKKLE! “Suck these electrons, creep!” Ronnie yells as he reflects a lightning back to where it originated. “Well, I’ll be..!” Ronnie says with relief. “They worked, Professor! Typhoon’s stunned!”
Ronnie banks in the air and flies towards the center of the storm. “Then quickly, Ronald! Fly through him!” Stein directs.
“On my way!” Ronnie cries out. FWOOSH! SWOOSH! Ronnie barrels through the swirling winds, rapidly gaining altitude. After a few moments, he breaks into clear skies above Typhoon’s raging clouds.
“Professor, are we clear?” Ronnie asks.
“Yes, look, his hand is falling back. Even with all his powers, there are still some natural laws to which Typhoon is subject,” Stein observes.
“ARRrrr!” Typhoon yells out from somewhere down below. “Bring us a little higher, Ronald,” Stein instructs. “I need to get a picture of the storm’s full extent so I can gauge our next move!”
Ronnie quickly gains altitude. “And if you don’t mind, I’m going to shed some of this body armor as we go,” Ronnie answers. As they climb, the metal coating protecting them melts away. “Peu! Remind me to use some industrial strength deodorant before we try something like that again!” Ronnie exclaims as he raises his arms out in front of him.
“This should be sufficient, Ronald,” Stein observes. “Let’s have a look, hm?”
The two men stare down at the incredible sight below them. “O no!” Ronnie gasps.
The storm sits like a cancerous blot, 150 miles wide over a five-state area, encompassing half of Pennsylvania, most of West Virginia, part of Maryland, and the eastern fourth of Ohio. Its influence is felt all through the Upper Midwest to the Atlantic Seaboard. Youngstown suffers like Pittsburgh. Detroit, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Toronto are all assaulted by heavy storms. Tornadoes arc through Illinois and Kentucky and strike as far away as Iowa. Flash floods rip through the Ohio River Valley and down to the Mississippi. And for most, there was no time to prepare. And it has all happened for one reason.
“He’s done this…just to get at us, Professor..!” Ronnie says in disbelief.
“We must stop him, Ronald. Let’s examine what we know of hurricanes,” Stein answers. “It’s too cold for a hurricane to occur at this time of year in these latitudes. Most likely, Typhoon is heating water vapor taken from the Pittsburgh reservoirs with his own nuclear energy. His powers must be at their absolute limit! Lower the temperature or remove the water vapor and he can’t exist. And then there’s the eye of the hurricane, a low-pressure, still area surrounded by high-pressure, high-velocity winds. Disturb that and the hurricane will degenerate into a storm.”
Ronnie pivots in the air and starts back down toward the tops of the storm clouds. “Let’s go, Professor! I’ve got some ideas!” Ronnie answers.
“Good start, Ronald!” Stein observes. “Absorbing heat from areas outside the storm will force it to slow down, and sending it into the upper atmosphere will keep Typhoon from being able to reclaim it.”
Ronnie aims his hands out at the clouds. “Just stage one, Professor! Now on to stage two!” Ronnie replies. FZAAP! FZAAP!
“Ah! You’re transmuting the debris inside the storm into sodium!” Stein watches with admiration.
“Sodium crystals the size of boxcars, Professor! It’ll absorb the air’s moisture! Typhoon’s own winds will scatter it throughout his system!” Ronnie explains.
“I’m impressed, my boy!” Stein answers. “Is this something else you got from a comic book?”
Ronnie flies into the clouds, continuing to create sodium pockets in the air. “C’mon, Professor! I do go to some of my classes!” Ronnie answers.
“My, my, and here I thought all you were interested in was studying anatomy with Miss Day,” Stein teases.
“You know, Professor, if you’re not careful, you’re going to develop a sense of humor,” Ronnie replies.
“Heaven forbid,” Stein answers. “What are we doing now, Ronald?”
Ronnie quickly gains speed. “Thought I’d shake up the eye by popping a sonic boom inside of it,” Ronnie explains. “Hold your ears, Professor! Here we go!”
BBOOOOOMM! Air thunders away from Ronnie as he goes supersonic! “AAAAAAA!” Typhoon cries out in agony as the blast wave rakes through him. Ronnie sees a human form just ahead in the storm clouds. He reaches out and grabs David Drake!
“We did it, Professor! We popped the storm!” Ronnie cries out as he wraps his arms tightly around Drake. “Typhoon’s reverted to his human self and it looks to me like he may be burned out! We did it!” Ronnie says with relief.
The hurricane quickly weakens and the storm clouds begin to dissipate. Ronnie flies down to the city streets where Police Chief Ferguson and Commander Davis stand waiting. “Chief, Len…Got a package of delight for you,” Ronnie tells them as he lands. “His name’s David Drake. As Typhoon, he caused this deluge. He’s a bit out of it right now, but you might want to call your buddies down at Belle Reve to keep him on ice.”
Davis handcuffs David Drake and leads him to a waiting police paddy wagon. “One man caused all this? Why? What was he after?” Ferguson asks Firestorm.
“Me, I’m afraid,” Ronnie admits.
“You’re telling me this was a grudge match?” Ferguson asks in disbelief. “What about the damage done to the city?”
Ronnie turns and starts to walk off. “I’m sorry, but I’m beat..!” he replies.
Ferguson quickly walks in front of him. “Too damn bad! We got problems here!” he tells Firestorm. “We got widespread flooding, but no drinking water ‘cause the reservoirs are all fouled! We got bridges out, power down, and folks screamin’ for help! We can’t even get to half of them because of the debris in the streets! And this flooding’s going to follow all the way down the Ohio into the Mississippi.” The Chief glares at him, asking, “What do you intend to do about it?”
Ronnie points a thumb at himself. “It’s not my fault! Typhoon caused it, not me! I put my life on the line to stop him!” Ronnie answers.
“Hey, c’mon, Chief!” Davis interjects and reaches a hand to the Chief’s shoulder., “You don’t want to make Flame-Top angry!”
Ferguson looks at his Commander. “Why?” he asks. “What’s he gonna do to me - - turn me into a lump of stone if I’m not nice?”
Ronnie frowns. “Couldn’t do that if I wanted to, Chief! My powers don’t work that way!” he answers. “Listen, Pittsburgh is my city, too, Ferguson! I live here and I care what happens to it! And I’ll do my best to put it back together again. Maybe part of the responsibility for what happened here is mine, but more importantly, you need me!” Ronnie leaps into the air, calling down, “Remember that Chief: You need me!”
And over the next few days, the Nuclear Man attempts to prove it. Working with little food or rest, restoring, rescuing, damming some waters while purifying others. He works like a man driven, doing all that a Nuclear Man can do. But there are some things beyond even Firestorm - - the lives, the innocent lives, lost in Typhoon’s attack. People whose only crime was that they lived in the same city as a hero. And so Firestorm works on. But no matter how much he does, there always seems to be more and, for all his powers, he is still only one Nuclear Man.
An exhausted Firestorm checks in with Chief Ferguson and Commander Davis at Police Headquarters. “They got a school over near the Civic Arena that’s been damaged. Walls could fall over at any second. Get over there,” Ferguson directs Firestorm.
Ronnie stands with shoulder slumped down looking exhausted. “I…no. I can’t…I’m sorry, gotta go…rest,” Ronnie mumbles.
“Look, you may think you know what’s happened, but you don’t. There’s costs you can’t even see: Increased welfare, loss of tax revenue, increased insurance rates, not to mention the lawsuits.” Ferguson explains. “How many businesses are gonna leave because of this mess? How many can we afford to lose?” He leans over his desk and scowls at Firestorm. “You’re gonna work until you drop, man, and then you’re gonna work some more and that’s how it is! You owe!”
“Flame-Top’s a volunteer, Chief!” Davis argues. “He laid his life on the line in a battle he didn’t ask for and did everything he could to make it right. Get off his back!”
Ronnie turns and slowly heads for the office door. He looks back over his shoulder. “No, he’s sorta right, Len. I’ll take care of the wall,” Ronnie replies. “Then I’ll go collapse, and after I get some rest, I’ll be back , do what I can.”
FZAAP! Ronnie lowers his density and phases up through the ceiling. “Feel better, Chief?!” Davis asks grumpily.
“Dandy, Len,” Ferguson replies. “I’ve learned something about our hero’s limitations and that’s always good to know.
Shortly thereafter, near Martin Stein’s apartment… “Hurry, Ronald! I can’t maintain this fusion much longer! Feel so…ill..!” Stein warns anxiously.
Ronnie phases them through the building’s exterior wall and lands inside Stein’s living room. “Okay, Professor! You’re home! Relax!” Ronnie answers. Atomic light fills the room as Ronnie reverses their fusion and the two men step out of the Nuclear Man.
Brinng! Brinng! The telephone on Stein’s desk rings. “Yes, I…oh, it’s the phone…I…” Stein mumbles softly. He stumbles towards the phone. “I got it, Professor! Take it easy!” Ronnie tells him. Brinnng! Stein staggers. “Yeeess…must take it…eeeeas…yyy…” Suddenly, the Professor collapses! Ronnie yells fearfully, “Professor!”