Firestorm delivers an ultimatum to the nuclear-armed countries of the world. President Ronald Reagan requests a face-to-face meeting with Firestorm. In Russia, KGB Major Zastrow watches as Pozhar (Mikhail Arkadin) tests his incredible abilities. Firestorm flies to the Statue of Liberty to meet with President Reagan and is ambushed by Captain Atom. Their battle leads them right through...the offices of DC Comics! President Reagan contacts Amanda Waller at Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary in Louisiana.
“I now present an ultimatum to the nuclear-powered countries of the world. Disarm your nuclear weapons. Or I will. And next time, I won’t transmute the warheads. I’ll detonate them. If I don’t have an answer in twenty-four hours, I’ll demonstrate that ability,” a TV image of Firestorm announces to the world.
The TV screen cuts to a view of a newscaster. “That was the threat made yesterday by the super-powered being Firestorm, the self-styled Nuclear Man,” the newscaster explains. “To prove his ability to carry out his threat, he transmuted the warheads of both American and Soviet nuclear missiles. In less than a half hour, the President will go on national TV to make his reply. We have been trying to get reactions from various other super-heroes, but they have been hard to find. Several groups, such as the Teem Titans and Infinity, Incorporated, have been away on missions of their own. The only member of the Green Lantern Corps that we have been able to locate, the alien Kilowog, said – and I quote – ‘The poozer may have the right idea.’”
In Washington, D.C., three men watch the newscast. “The man should be shot!” General Eiling scoffs.
“On general principles, General? Or because he’s breaking your toys?” a Captain asks.
“They’re not toys and they’re not mine and they scare me, too!” the General replies. He takes a puff of his cigar. “It’s not that easy, Captain, and you know it!” he continues. “The sheer number of nuclear arms makes it tough to do in a way that won’t leave one side or the other vulnerable while it’s done.”
Doctor Heinrich Megala watches the newscast as the two military officers debate behind him. “True. You have to make sure that every single one is disarmed, or you’re leaving yourself open to future nuclear blackmail,” he tells them. Dr. Megala turns his wheelchair to face the men. “And how do you erase he knowledge of how to put one together?” he asks. “College students can tell you how, these days. And if you did disarm, what then? Russian conventional forces are far greater than ours! A balance of power makes for stalemates that prevent wars.”
The Captain leans on a desk next to Dr. Megala. “Maybe,” the Captain answers. “Or maybe Firestorm’s little stunt would give the world some breathing space. Maybe we need some time to consider where the Arms Race is going.”
General Eiling frowns at the Captain. “A traitor like you might think that way,” he tells him.
“I’m no traitor, General Eiling, and neither is Firestorm,” the Captain replies. “He’s a fool, but a well-meaning one. My sympathies are with him, which is too bad for both of us.”
The three men are quiet as the newscast goes on. “There has been no official reaction from the Justice League, although reports indicate debate within the group on Firestorm’s actions has been intense,” the newscaster explains.
“I’ll kill that Commie scum!” yells Green Lantern. Oberon sits on his shoulders, wielding a giant mallet. Mister Miracle, Doctor Fate, Martian Manhunter, Blue Beetle, and Captain Marvel look on. “We said ‘No!’ Not unless we all agree! Get him before he uses the ring!” Green Lantern yells.
“Say goodnight, Gracie!” sneers Oberon. WHOK!
“Sixty seconds, Mr. President,” a staffer in the Oval Office announces.
“Thank you, ahhhh…Bill,” replies President Ronald Reagan. He sits at his desk and turns to face Superman standing in front of him. “Well, here goes,” Reagan explains. “This would be a lot simpler if you’d cooperate a bit more. The Russians are very upset, you know.”
“I won’t let anything destroy this planet, Mr. President. I’ve already told you that,” Superman replies.
Reagan nods and scans his speech notes. “I know, son. But you still won’t bring this Firestorm fellow in,” he replies.
“I have a lot of sympathy for what he’s trying to do, sir. Thoughts like it have crossed my mind from time to time,” Superman answers.
Reagan gets up from his desk and walks in front of a large open window. “What he’s done…What he’s doing…is in defiance of international law!” Reagan tells him.
“So are some of the things I’ve done, sir, or you, for that matter. Never without what we felt to be good reason. He probably feels the same,” Superman replies. “And with all due respect, Mr. President, I am not, nor do I ever, intend to be your enforcer.”
“Never thought you were, son. I was just…looking to make things a bit easier, that’s all,” Reagan answers.
Superman steps near the window. “You’ll do what’s right, sir. I’m sure of it,” he says.
Reagan looks down at the floor. “I’ll do what’s necessary, son. You can be sure of that,” he replies as Superman leaps through the open window and soars off.
A Presidential Aide approaches. “Time, Mr. President,” he announces.
“Fine. Tell the Russians I’ll take Mr. Gorbachev’s message immediately after the press conference,” Reagan replies.
“Yes, sir,” the Aide answers.
Reagan joins his Aide and they walk towards the White House Press Briefing Room. “And then tell General Eiling and Mrs. Waller to stand by,” Reagan instructs.
The President walks to the podium in the Briefing Room where a cadre of reporters awaits. “Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States,” the aide announces in a loud voice.
“Thank you,” Reagan begins. “I have a short statement to make before we get to your questions. I’m here to make a reply to the ultimatum Firestorm made yesterday. I have talked with Soviet Chairman Gorbachev and we are in agreement. Both our country and the Soviet Union are proud and fiercely independent nations, and we do not take well…to threats and ultimatums from those who would impose their will on us. However, as the world well knows, we have both been attempting to find answers to the threat of nuclear annihilation that lies over us all.”
Professor Stein and Ronnie Raymond watch the press conference at Stein’s apartment. Reagan continues, “We are neither accepting nor rejecting your ultimatum, Firestorm. We are asking for a meeting, face to face, so that we may determine how best to achieve disarmament.”
Stein smiles as he watches the President on TV. “I knew it!” he exclaims.
“Knew what, Professor?” Ronnie asks.
“That they’d have to give in!” Stein explains.
“We’re prepared to meet you anywhere, anytime, Firestorm. You can pick both, just, please get in touch with us,” Reagan adds.
“Uhhhh, I don’t think we’ve won anything yet, Professor. All they want to do is talk,” Ronnie says.
“Nonsense, my boy!” Stein replies. “It’s as I told you! They’re doing what they need to in order to make their eventual acceptance politically palatable! They have no idea we’re bluffing!”
Stein leans forward on the couch, smiling at the screen. Ronnie stands behind him, leaning an elbow on the back of the couch.
“We make this offer in the belief that you are a sane, intelligent being,” Reagan continues.
“I dunno, Professor. Something smells like a trap to me,” Ronnie worries.
“They daren’t risk it, Ronald!” Stein replies. “Besides, he did say we could choose the site. Our only choices, Ronald, are to agree to abandon the project or to blow up a missile. Which would you prefer?”
Ronnie sighs. “None of the above, but that’s not practical, is it?” Ronnie asks. “Okay, Professor, we talk, and I know how we get them the word.”
President Reagan’s voice crackles over the TV speaker. “Let’s all win,” he suggests, “Talk to us, Firestorm.”
Chief Ferguson and Commander Davis watch the press conference in the Chief’s office at Pittsburgh Police Headquarters. “Yes, Mr. Kent? I think I saw your hand first,” President Reagan says as he begins the question-and-answer portion.
“Sir, some Congressman are calling for a Presidential ban on super-heroes - - such as you called during the Godfrey situation. Any plans to reinstate that ban?” Clark Kent asks.
“Only the ones to vote Democratic. Heh!” laughs Reagan.
Suddenly, Firestorm phases through the wall and into Chief Ferguson’s office. “Well?” Ferguson asks him.
“Tell the President noon tomorrow on the Statue of Liberty alone,” Ronnie replies.
“I’ll pass it along. You never came back to finish cleaning up that mess you and Typhoon created,” Ferguson replies.
“I was busy,” Ronnie replies. “How’s it going, Len?”
Davis scowls at him. “I hope they kill you,” he answers icily He turns and storms out of the office. SLAM! He whips the door closed behind him.
“Len?” Firestorm asks in surprise.
“Don’t mind him, Flametop,” Ferguson replies. “He just got a look at your sneakers…and found them made of clay. Better get used to it, Firestorm. As far as some people are concerned, you’re a villain, now!”
Russia. SHHHHAKOW! A human figure flies just above the ground in heavy armor. The armor covers his body from head to toe. The boots, gloves, faceplate, and shoulders are red; the remainder white. A five-pointed star emblem bearing the Soviet hammer and tongs is on his chest. The emblem ‘C.C.C.P.’ is engraved on the front of his helmet.
FUMP! He lands hard on the barren ground. He coils his left fist over his head, and fire begins to flare around his hand. He slams his fist into the ground. WHOOMP! WHOOMP! WHOOMP! WHOOMP! WHOOMP! Five small geysers of fire erupt from the ground in front of him. Seconds later, four chest-high rectangular blocks grow from each of the geysers. A pedestal grows at the end of the blocks. He begins to slowly walk among the pillars. As he walks, he flows fire from his left hand, igniting each object.
“He was working at Chernobyl, was he not?” asks a scientist as he watches.
“Yes. He tried to save the reactor. He was inside when the explosion occurred. He was buried, along with the core,” Major Zastrow replies. “The blocks, from left to right, are granite, graphite, steel, and fiberglass. A diamond is on the pedestal. We have yet to find any substance he cannot burn. Hence the codename: Pozhar. Destructive fire.” Zastrow looks at Pozhar in the distance through a small viewing window. “One wonders why we are bothering with this blockhouse,” he observes.
“Protection merely against the side effects of some of the tests,” the scientist explains. “Against him, it is no protection whatsoever.”
Pozhar steps away from the blocks and picks up a large handful of soil. “Ah, he’s feeling hungry. Watch this, Comrade,” the scientist tells Zastrow. Fire emanates from Pozhar’s hands, enveloping then handful of soil. In seconds, the soil disappears. “He reduces any matter at hand to energy and then consumes it when he feels his power level down,” the scientist explains. “We have warned him of the danger of over-eating.”
Zastrow takes a drag off his cigarette. “And the Chernobyl accident caused all this? Or was there some latent ability?” he asks.
“Uncertain. Having the children to examine is helpful,” the scientist replies. “It may be genetic. You told him about all this, of course.”
Zastrow steps away from the window. The orange glow of fire radiates through the window glass. “He knows they are being examined for side effects resulting from Chernobyl, which is true enough,” he answers.
The scientist watches Pozhar closely. “One hesitates to advise the KGB on anything, Comrade, but I do have a suggestion,” he replies. “Do not say anything that could even be construed as a lie to Pozhar. He is not someone you would want to have angry with you.”
The next day, just short of noon… “The Statue of Liberty was a good choice. It’s a nice symbolic setting, Ronald,” Professor Stein notes.
Ronnie flies them past the World Trade Center towards Liberty Island. “I guess. My reason for selecting it was I figured they wouldn’t try to nuke us here,” Ronnie explains. “It might make Lee Iacocca mad, watching all his work reduced to a copper puddle. Besides, being out here in the Bay makes it a little hard for anyone to sneak up on us.”
Ronnie soars up to Lady Liberty’s torch and hovers. “Really, Ronald! Don’t you think you’re being…a little bit paranoid?” Stein asks.
“Oh, I hope so, Professor! I really hope so!” Ronnie answers.
At the World Trade Center, a flash of light appears near the top of the South Tower. Ronnie looks down and sees several men congregating at the base of the Statue. “Didn’t we tell the President we wanted him to come along?” Ronnie asks.
“Ronald, those are probably Secret Service men. They’re hardly likely to allow him to come to this meeting without them,” Stein replies.
President Reagan looks up at Firestorm. “He’s just…floating up there,” Reagan whispers to a Secret Service agent.
“Our man is on his way. We only need a few more moments,” the agent whispers back.”
Reagan smiles and waves up to Firestorm. “Well, son, I hope you’re coming down because I sure can’t go up!” he calls up loudly.
Ronnie looks at the President for a moment. “Well, Ronald? Shall we go?” Stein asks.
“It’s wrong. It’s all gone wrong,” Ronnie replies.
At the South Tower, a humanoid figure shoots out of the building aiming right at Firestorm! WHAM! Captain Atom smashes a powerful surprise punch into Ronnie’s jaw! “Tag. You’re out,” he tells Firestorm. Stunned by the blow, Ronnie falls into the Hudson River. SPLOOSH! He quickly turns and flies back above the water.
“So this is how you guys play the game!” Ronnie calls to Captain Atom. “Run up a white flag for parley and then sucker-punch the jerk who falls for it!” FZAAM! FZAAM! Ronnie fires two nuclear bursts.
“It’s no game, kid,” Captain Atom answers as the bursts hit his chest. “You’ve gone rogue. You’ve created an international crisis and someone has to bring you to account,” he warns. “Captain Atom cut you down to size before and I’ll do it again.” He unleashes an energy blast that explodes against Ronnie. SCHRAK! Ronnie quickly absorbs the energy!
“What…worked…once…won’t go…twice!” Ronnie answers. KLONG! Ronnie whips his left fist across Captain Atom’s jaw! “I’m trying to save the world and I won’t be stopped by some headline-hunting gloryhog!” Ronnie tells him.
Captain Atom sails back in the air. “Oh wow oh wow wow!” Ronnie groans, “Cripes! I think I broke my hand!”
“Perhaps you should have hit him with your head, Ronald. You might have done more damage,” Stein comments. “You no sooner see the Captain than you use the very tactics that proved ineffective the last time you fought him!”
Captain Atom recovers and turns to fly back to Firestorm. “Okay. Maybe we use more direct methods,” Ronnie answers. FZAAM! He focuses a transforming burst in his hand and produces a large baseball bat.
“All right kid, the gloves are off!” Captain Atom calls to him.
WHANGO! Ronnie blasts the bat into Captain Atom! “A green bat?” Stein asks in disbelief, adding, “Let me guess, Ronald; it’s something you read in a comic book.”
Ronnie watches Captain Atom turn back towards him again. “Naw, it’s made of kryptonite,” he explains. “I was kinds of hoping he has a weakness like Supes, but I guess not. He felt it, though, under that armored hide, and that gives me an idea. The Parasite was none too fond of this. Let’s see how Captain A likes it.”
WHUD! WHUD! WHUD! WHUD! Ronnie launches a barrage of bricks at Captain Atom! “It’ll take more than that to knock me out of this fight, brat!” Captain Atom yells as he fends off the assault.
“Okay. How about these?” Ronnie asks. Instantly, huge boulders appear on either side of Captain Atom. BAM! The boulders pancake into Captain Atom with a thundering impact. The boulders crumble from the force and Captain Atom floats stunned in the sky.
“Wahoo! Tag, Atom! You’re it! You’re…” Ronnie yells happily.
“Ronald! The strain! I…my head is exploding!” Stein cries out in pain, “I fear I may..!”
“Oh, no, Professor! Not another seizure! Now now…! YAAAARGH!” Ronnie cries out. His body begins shaking and he fires off nuclear blasts haphazardly.
“Uhng!” Captain Atom groans. He regains his composure and flies back towards Firestorm. “Got myself tagged before I could react!” he thinks. “Holy - ! What’s happening to Firestorm? He’s having some sort of attack! Might explain a lot of his recent actions! But it doesn’t change what I have to do, does it? No matter how much my sympathies lie with him or what he’s tried to do. Firestorm, in his current condition, is a menace - - to himself, to others, to the whole world. And it’s my assignment to do whatever is necessary to bring him in - - or to stop him. It’s time I did my duty.”
Below them on Liberty Island, Secret Service agents watch the super-heroes battle with concern. “Sir! We’ve got to get you under cover! Please!” an agent tells President Reagan.
“Nonsense! It looks like Captain Atom has things well in hand and I want to see the climax!” Reagan answers.
“Heuh…Cripes!” Ronnie groans, “Feel like I’m about to keel over!” Captain Atom quickly approaches him.
“..Ronald? I don’t know if I can maintain the fusion..!” Professor Stein tells him.
Captain Atom sails into Firestorm, wrapping an arm tightly around his neck from behind. “It’s over, kid. Make it easy on both of is, okay?” he asks.
FZAM! Ronnie unleashes a massive fireball aimed directly at the President! “I’ll make it real easy. You can nail me or save the President. Which do you want more?” Ronnie asks.
SIZZZZZLE! The fireball speeds down to its target. “Get out of the way!” a Secret Service agent yells as he dives in front of Reagan.
“I have it, Mr. President!” Captain Atom calls out as he speeds in front of the fireball. FOOP! The fireball abruptly stops. Instantly, a rain of harmless daffodils falls out of it. “I think I’ve been had,” Captain Atom thinks as he looks around at the cloud of flowers.
Ronnie speeds off. “Ronald, are you certain we didn’t actually endanger the President?” Stein asks anxiously.
“Yeah…just gave ourselves…a head start…for the city! I think we’re going…to need it.” Ronnie replies, still feeling the after-effect of the seizure.
Captain Atom quickly flies alongside Firestorm. “Give it up, Firestorm! We both know I’m faster than you and right now I’m a heck of a lot angrier! I don’t like being made to look like a fool!” Captain Atom tells him.
“Hey, take that up with your mother!” Ronnie retorts. He turns sharply. “And sometimes it’s not how fast you are, but how quick!” he calls back.
FZAAM! Ronnie lowers his density and phases into…the offices of DC Comics! “Yeah, I saw it and I think he’s over-reacting. Ahh, let’s just shoot him,” John Ostrander explains on the phone. FZAAM! SWOOSH! Firestorm flashes past him just overhead! FASHH! Captain Atom blasts through the wall in pursuit, knocking Ostrander to the floor. “Excuse me a moment,” Ostrander continues on the phone. “Some people just came in looking for Denny.”
Barbara Randall and Jon Peterson walk along the hallway nearby. “So maybe Flag’ll meet Corrigan and we’ll throw in someone like Mal and throw a spotlight on it, okay?” Jon asks.
“The O can’t do it, Bob. Not with the wedding coming up,” Barbara answers.
“So, Kim doesn’t see him for a week, she won’t mi - - Barbara, why are you pulling on me?” Jon asks.
FOOSH! Barbara and Jon are knocked down as Firestorm and Captain Atom blast past them! “Call John?” Barbara asks.
“Call John,” Jon agrees.
Further down the hall, Denny O’Neil and Joe Brozowski walk along reviewing some preliminary sketches. “I can do what he’s asking, Denny. Corridors are no problem,” Joe explains. “I’m just askin’ myself - - is anybody gonna buy this?”
Denny nods. “Hm. Yes, that’s the question, Joe.”
Firestorm barrels around a hallway corner sending Brozowski, O’Neil, and the sketch paper scattering out of the way. “Scooza,” Ronnie calls to them as he flashes overhead with Captain Atom in hot pursuit.
“I’ll call him. Let me get back to you on this, okay, Joe?” Denny asks as they watch the super-heroes race off.
FZAAM! Ronnie phases through the wall back into the sky above Manhattan. WHAM! Captain Atom blasts through right behind him. “At the finish, the race belongs to neither the quick nor the fast. It goes to the strong,” Captain Atom says as he wraps an arm around Firestorm. POW! He smashes both fists into Firestorm! Ronnie plummets toward an apartment building. KERASH! He smashes through a window. Instantly, a radiant atomic ring flashes out of the room!
Captain Atom flies down to the broken window quickly. He stands on the ledge looking in. “WHERE IS HE?” he bellows. Inside, looking back at him are…Ronnie Raymond and Professor Martin Stein.
“Gee, you’re Captain Atom!” Ronnie blurts out. “Oh, the flame-topped guy? He just came in and knocked over my Dad and then he just disappeared right through the floor, and…”
Captain Atom turns quickly and flies off. “BLAST!” he cries out in frustration.
Ronnie helps a weakened Professor Stein to his feet. “R…R-Ronald?” Stein asks.
“C’mon, Professor! We’ve got to get out of here,” Ronnie tells him. “Captain Chromebrain’s gonna be back when he can’t find Firestorm and we better make sure he doesn’t find us!”
Stein braces his arm around Ronnie’s shoulders, struggling to get up. “Yur right…all gone wrong…all wrong…” Stein says softly.
“It’s not over yet, Professor!” Ronnie answers. “I swear to you, we’ll make it right! But first we’ll get you to a place where you can get some rest.”
In her office at the Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary in Louisiana, Amanda Waller watches the President on television. “…no matter how noble the reason may seem, neither we nor any civilized country can afford to accede to the ultimatums of terrorists,” President Reagan explains. “We have therefore rejected Firestorm’s demands and we ask that anyone who can help us bring him to justice please step forth and do so.”
Brringg! The phone on Waller’s desk rings out. Clik! She turns off the TV with a remote as she picks up the phone. “Waller,” she answers. “Yeah, I saw him. Sort of expected you’d call. Flamebrain got away from your operative, I take it.” She listens for a moment. “Yeah, I got them all together, All of them,” she replies. Yeah, even him. I want the order to use that one in writing, you understand me?”
She opens a dossier and reviews several photos of operatives. “Yes, I am still that firmly opposed to using him. But I guess my opinions don’t matter in this case, do they,” she continues. “So where do you want them?” She looks over pictures of Parasite, Killer Frost, Multiplex, Slipknot, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and Rick Flag. “Where was he last seen?” she asks. “Fine. We’ll ship them off to New York. And next time Firestorm surfaces, he’ll find the Suicide Squad on his butt.”