Firestorm faces off with a terrorist intent on blowing up a gas refinery in New Jersey. Plastique attacks the offices of the New York News Express. Firestorm neutralizes Plastique with a 'creative' use of his atomic restructuring powers.
Firestorm826's Panel-by-Panel Story Summary (Spoiler Alert)
Bursting onto the scene of a police standoff, Firestorm appears. Ronnie points at the standoff, and tells Professor Stein that events like this are why he is a TV news addict. While watching “Live at Five” Ronnie saw the coverage of the police standoff with a man threatening to blow up a large section of South Jersey. The police view Firestorm warily and point weapons at him, fearing that they now have another weirdo to deal with. Firestorm reassures them that he is on their side, but transforms an officer’s service revolver into a squirt gun with an atomic burst. Suddenly, shots ring out and bullets strike around the police officers. They duck for cover, urging Firestorm to take shelter or be cut down by the gunman. Standing impervious to the bullets, Firestorm has lowered his density to let the projectiles pass harmlessly through him. Stein is concerned that Ronnie is showing off for the assembled TV cameras, and Ronnie admits that he sometimes is a ham.
In the home of Doreen Day, she sits watching the news. Her father stands next to her, wondering why he pays $20 per month for cable channels from across the country and his daughter chooses to watch nothing but the local news station. Doreen is focused on TV coverage of Firestorm at the standoff, and tells her father to watch as well. She explains to him that a terrorist is barricaded on top of a gas storage tank in New Jersey and that Firestorm has just arrived there. She worriedly mentions that there’s something about Firestorm that really spooks her.
Professor Stein refocuses Ronnie from the TV cameras back to the problem at hand. Ronnie concurs, and turns skyward. On top of the storage tank, the man continues to fire an automatic rifle. He is clad in a tight fitting blue and red costume with dark glasses covering his eyes. Firestorm approaches and questions the man about whether he has better things to do with his free time, commenting that this event is causing Firestorm to miss re-runs of “The Odd Couple.” Speaking with a French accent, the man recognizes Firestorm as an American superhero he has seen on “la television.” He warns Firestorm not to approach, or he will set off the explosion. He wears a backpack full of explosives and holds his hand on the detonating switch mounted on his chest.
Firestorm offers to mediate in whatever beef the man has that led to this standoff. He asks if the man is French, and the man explains that he is actually from Quebec. The man asks if Firestorm is an agent of the capitalists that have robbed his country of its heritage. He explains that the gas in the tank is from Quebec, stolen for use in American factories. The man demands that the pillaging of his land cease immediately. Firestorm departs suddenly and tells Stein that it’s time to “pull his plug.” Stein is apprehensive and mentions the bombs. Thinking it’s all a harmless bluff, Firestorm fashions a large set of tongs with a restructuring burst and approaches the terrorist to grab him. The man sees Firestorm approaching with the tongs, drops his rifle, and pulls the detonation switch. With a massive explosion, the bomb ignites the huge gas storage tank. The blast blows Firestorm upwards as the fiery wave flows away from the tank towards the assembled crowd and first responders. They will surely be incinerated. Ronnie quickly laments that he didn’t take the man seriously and that the deaths of the people will be completely his fault unless he somehow makes good. Using a powerful atomic energy burst, Firestorm sucks the heat and energy of the explosion to him. Stein worries about what the strain of absorbing so much energy will do to their fused form, and Ronnie tells him they’re…about…to…find…out. The energy overwhelms Firestorm and he collapses out of the sky to the ground.
Coming to, Firestorm sees several blurry faces of people shifting into focus next to him. Voices describe their amazement at what they have just seen. Firestorm starts to see the forms of a police officer and a reporter kneeling at his side. With a sigh, Firestorm asks if anyone has a Bromo-Seltzer. The reporter tells him that was the most amazing thing he has ever seen in his twenty-year career. The reporter introduces himself as Ed Raymond of the New York News Express and asks if Firestorm would mind answering a few questions. Ronnie is extremely surprised to see his father, Ed. Declining to be interviewed, Firestorm abruptly launches himself skyward, leaving Ed Raymond and the police officer below. Stein asks who the reporter was, and Ronnie tells him that is was in fact his father. Ronnie says there was no way he was going to be grilled by his father.
In a medium-priced hotel near the Manhattan Garment District, a solitary woman sits watching television coverage of the standoff and explosion in South Jersey. Speaking in French, she takes notice that Andre failed at the storage tank. She comments that Andre was good, but not the best. Reassuring herself that there are still other targets, she reaches into her open suitcase that rests on the bed next to her. She says success or failure in this game she is involved in ultimately means nothing. Pulling a purple outfit from the suitcase, she says what really matters is terror!
Near Times Square in midtown Manhattan, Ed Raymond has returned to the tall skyscraper that is the home of the New York News Express. Ed notes that he has just fifteen minutes before the deadline for the night owl edition of the newspaper. He worries that all he has to report is an old news re-hash of a story that was covered at six o’clock. He recalls a time not long ago when newspaper city rooms were busy beehives of noisy activity, with typewriters rattling away and reporters yelling “Copy!” as they turned in their stories. In today’s age, computer terminals have changed the atmosphere and television has changed the pace of reporting. Walking across the room lost in thought, he does not notice a very sultry woman in a long, gray overcoat that passes by him on her way to the managing editor’s cubicle. Wishing that he could have gotten a fresh angle on the story from Firestorm, he thinks of the Nuclear Man’s odd exit from the scene. He also wonders…why does he seem so familiar?
If Ed Raymond could see in a nearby alley, he would see the reason for that familiarity. In a burst of energy, Firestorm lands and transforms back into Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein. Oblivious to that spectacle, Ed Raymond picks up the phone and contacts the State Department. Speaking to a source there named Dave, Ed asks for an angle on the man from Quebec that detonated the bomb. He is surprised to look up and see his son Ronnie walking up to his desk. He asks why Ronnie isn’t at basketball practice, to which Ronnie reminds him that there is no practice during the summer. Ronnie says there is something he wants to talk about. The two are suddenly distracted by a commotion nearby. From out of an office, the managing editor and the sultry woman emerge. The editor loudly yells to her that she can’t waltz in and make threats. He tells her that he will have her arrested and directs Lacey, a clerk nearby, to call the police. The woman looks back at the editor and tells him to go ahead and call the police. They will tell the editor that she does not make threats. She only makes promises, promises that she has the power to keep. Her gloved hand drops a small object. The object suddenly explodes, shattering the glass of the office window. With her gray overcoat dropped to her feet to reveal a form-fitting purple outfit laden with more bombs, the woman instructs that her demands be met quickly or everyone will die. She says that is no idle threat. It is a promise from…Plastique!
In a nearby coffee shop, Martin Stein sits quietly eating a hamburger dinner. He hopes that he gave Ronnie good advice in suggesting that Ronnie reveal the secret of Firestorm to his father. The screech of tires and wail of sirens from several police cars arriving outside disrupts his thoughts. Stein walks out of the coffee shop and finds TV news reporters setting up to cover another hostage drama. The reporter speaks of the earlier incident at the New Jersey gas storage depot, and then says that the New York News Express building is the target of the latest attack. Police direct Stein to move behind the nearby barricades while the SWAT team is summoned. Stein knows that Ronnie is up above in the office building, and sees the flames from the explosion emanating from the shattered windows. He worries that Ronnie is surrounded by people and would thus be hesitant to transform into Firestorm. Stein fears that Ronnie may have to become Firestorm if the situation worsens or he may die.
Upstairs in the newspaper offices, Ronnie tells Plastique that she has made her point and that she should present her demands. Plastique sharply orders silence! She says she will reveal her demands when the proper authorities arrive, and threatens to ignite the explosives on her suit if anyone tries to approach her. Ronnie wishes his dad weren’t standing so near, and mentally links Plastique to the bomber at the gas tank. A door swings open, and a TV news crew arrives. Plastique happily sees them, and reporter Dan Whether of GBS News tells her she is now being broadcast live on satellite and offers her the chance to speak. Plastique launches into a verbal tirade about the puppets of American capitalism. Sitting in her home, eating popcorn while watching “Shirley Loves Carmine,” Doreen Day is shocked as the breaking news interrupts her show. Dropping her popcorn, she exclaims “Oh my God!” as Plastique continues her diatribe. Doreen has recognized Ronnie standing in the background behind Plastique, who says she will kill everyone in the office if the New York News Express does not abandon its paper mills located in Quebec.
Having entered through the rear lobby of the News Express building, a sweating and nervous Martin Stein peeks around a wall into an elevator foyer. The police had been distracted by the TV crew that just snuck past the barricade, allowing him to get in while he questions his sanity for doing so. He had planned to find his way to the power shut-off to quell the lights in the offices and allow a moment of confusion for him and Ronnie to fuse into Firestorm. Paralyzed with fear, Stein is unable to proceed with his plan. A police officer sees Stein and yells to him. Stein tries to flee as the officer orders him to stop. In his flight, Stein’s glasses fall off his head and fall into his path where they are smashed by his foot.
In the News Express office, Plastique points to a wall clock. The hands of the clock read 9:35 pm, and Plastique warns that if her demands are not met in full by 10:00 pm, she will destroy the building and everyone in it. Ed Raymond whispers that he’s not going to stand for anymore of this, and Ronnie whispers back that they are helpless. Taking action will only make things worse, Ronnie warns. Ed says he never thought he’d raised a quitter and questions what Ronnie knows about taking risks. He tells Ronnie to keep away from him.
Down in the street at 9:45 pm, the police commander is on his patrol car’s radio describing the craziness of the situation. He will need permission to activate the anti-terrorist squad. That permission can only come from the White House, and the commander asks for the President to be awakened. Upstairs, an assault team prepares to storm the office. Their leader reminds them that they have been training for situations like this since Tehran. Dividing the team into two squads, he directs the A squad to ascend the north stairway. The B squad will go with him up the south stairway. The squads will launch an integrated assault at exactly 9:59 pm.
At 9:50 pm in an office away from the commotion, Martin Stein cowers behind a large potted plant hoping to avoid discovery. The police officer that had been pursuing him walks in, saying loudly that he won’t leave until he locates the object of his chase. Stein, half-blind from losing his glasses, realizes the precarious position he is in. Thinking an apology to Ronnie for failing him, Stein figures their secret will have to be exposed after all. The police officer answers a call on his walkie-talkie. Informed that the federal team has arrived, the officer’s supervisor directs him to return to base. The officer says he has a suspect still at large nearby, but his supervisor again directs him to exit. The supervisor mentions that Plastique’s deadline is running out, now just eight minutes away. Turning to leave, the officer hopes the federal terrorist squad knows what it is doing. Still hidden, Stein wonders if he has enough time. He wonders if it is worth the risk to all those lives to preserve a secret.
At 9:57 pm, Plastique stands with arms crossed. She says that she feels officials have not taken her threat seriously. She questions the American life of a soft, pampered reality. She says they have no comprehension of true commitment, which they will learn to their sorrow. Under the watchful eye of the cameras, a co-worker tells Ed Raymond that they have to do something, perhaps rushing Plastique before she can set off her explosives. Plastique demands silence, commenting how fear makes some men brave and that bravery makes them foolish. She grabs the arm of a nearby copy-girl, announcing that she wants the woman next to her as they all count the remaining seconds until their deaths. Ronnie sees that the hostage will be the first victim if anyone attempts a rescue. Feeling he can’t hold off any longer, he thinks that the TV crews are about to get a really hot scoop!
At 9:58 pm, a half-blind Martin Stein has found his way to the circuit panel controlling the lights. Unsure which is the right switch through his blurred vision, he reaches for one that looks right.
At 9:58:50, the A squad of the anti-terrorist team radios their leader to say they are in position awaiting the order to move. Down below, the exasperated police commander yells again for somebody to wake up the President.
At 9:59 pm, Plastique wraps her arm menacingly around the copy-girl's throat, telling the office workers that their masters have apparently placed little value on their lives. She urges them to think about that for the last sixty seconds of their lives. Ronnie asks his father about that statement regarding risk-taking, and says it’s time he took one.
At 9:59:52, the office lights suddenly go out. In an instant, Ronnie begins the transformation into Firestorm. As the two become one, Stein urges Ronnie to hurry like he’s never hurried before.
At 9:59:54, Firestorm zooms skyward. His vision is blurry for some unexplained reason and he questions it. Stein says he’ll explain later, and yells for Ronnie to move faster. Moving with unbelievable speed, a shock wave hits Firestorm and Ronnie fears they are too late. Stein calms him, explaining that the shock wave was Firestorm breaking the sound barrier. Lowering his density, Firestorm passes through the wall of the office building. Blasting up through the floor, Firestorm appears directly in front of Plastique. He asks her to dance, offering to try the old Terrorist Tango. Plastique is momentarily stunned by his arrival, shouting “Sacre Bleu!” At that instant, the anti-terror squads burst through the office doors. Directing everyone to freeze, the squad leader sees the copy-girl standing right in their line of fire. Plastique tells them the copy-girl will die first if the squad opens fire. With a sudden lunge, Ed Raymond jumps at Plastique!
Events happen with lightning rapidity. Ed Raymond lands on Plastique and the copy-girl. Bursts of atomic energy surround the weapons of the assault squad, and the guns disappear before the shocked officers’ eyes! Plastique flings the copy-girl and Ed Raymond away from her. She reaches and pulls a bomb off her outfit, tossing it at the falling pair. Ronnie sees the danger, and uses a restructuring beam to make a hole in the floor beneath them. Ed Raymond and the copy-girl pass through the hole as the bomb explodes. Firestorm is blown back. The explosion blows out of the building as the TV news cameras in the street capture the scene.
In the swirling smoke stands Firestorm. Stein asks Ronnie if he is alright. Ronnie worries about his father and the copy-girl, and that the next explosion will be far worse than the small blast that just occurred. Nearby, Plastique stands angered at the games and distractions. She announces that she is ready and eager to die. Pulling the remaining pins from the bombs on her outfit, she calls death her weapon and her lover and asks for them to take her. She calls Firestorm a failed capitalist fool. Her bombs will explode in just six seconds, making her a martyr for her cause whether Firestorm saves the people or not. With a swift atomic restructuring burst, Firestorm makes Plastique’s outfit disappear. As she stands naked, the bombs begin to fall to the ground. Telling Plastique that martyrs don’t waltz around in their sunshine suits, Firestorm grabs the falling bombs and flies skyward. As the crowd laughs at the now-helpless Plastique, Firestorm flings the bombs away where they explode harmlessly into the air. Stein compliments Ronnie on being cruel, but brilliantly cruel as Firestorm flies off.
Hours later, Ed Raymond is seated on a stretcher in the street outside the office building. Ronnie walks up and greets him. Ed, shocked, asks where Ronnie has been and what kind of stunt he tried to pull upstairs. Ronnie explains that he was simply caught in the confusion when the lights went out, and that the police took him and several other newspaper people off to some medics. Ed says he was worried sick. Ronnie retorts that with the way Ed acts, it seems that he was glad to be rid of Ronnie. Ed, taken aback, reconsiders. He tells Ronnie that he’s a pig-headed jackass and suggests they walk home to talk. With his father’s arm around him, Ronnie says that’s all he’s ever asked for.