Firestorm #21 (2006)

When I saw the cover for this issue on the web several months ago, I knew I had to buy this issue. It’s a clever takeoff on the cover to Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, the issue where Supergirl dies. You probably know the cover, since it’s appeared about a zillion times. It’s the one where Superman, in tears, holds the dead body of Supergirl, while dozens of heroes stand, mourning, on the cliffs and hills behind him. Well, on this cover Firestorm in tears, holds the dead body of Firestorm, while dozens of other Firestorms stand, mourning, on the cliffs and hills behind him. Each Firestorm looks just a little different from the next. There’s a lion-faced Firestorm and a Firestorm with a Superman "s" on his chest. There are Firestorms with puffy sleeves and others with no sleeves. The cover is pure geeky greatness.

Inside, the comic starts wonderfully, with a beginning like a cross-over to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. Ronnie Raymond and the Professor join together to become the Nuclear Man, and it’s pure nostalgic greatness, until the tone of the book shifts, and we see that this comic is from 2006, not 1986, and something bad has happened as part of the Infinite Crisis.

We find out that the new Firestorm has been split apart and that the new hero, Jason, has lost his partner. (If memory serves, Firestorm always had to be two guys joined together for some reason.) Jason somehow reaches into cosmic space and finds the Professor from the original Firestorm, and they basically chat for the whole issue.

Now the chat isn’t too bad, but it seems awfully padded, and the story really gets lost in a lot of cosmic strangeness: "This is Firestorm’s history… his past, present, future, and all his alternate lives. His worldline. Every moment of your life you float along the hypersurface of Firestorm’s path. I’m merely using the stuff of the matrix to illustrate the point graphically." Umm… wha?

Igle, Barrows and Stull struggle to keep up with this cosmic babble, turning in some nice images, but there are just too many scenes of a guy talking with a disembodied cosmically aware floating head to keep things interesting. Trust me on this: as a rule, comics with cosmically aware floating heads are generally not all that great.

I have the beginning class in DC history necessary to get a good grade from the cosmically aware floating head Professor, but not the advanced class. The cover and first few pages are great, but the comic loses steam quickly.


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