Ronnie to the left of me, Jason to the right, here I am, stuck in the matrix with you...Firestorm
is a DC Comics
character created by Gerry Conway
in the late 1970s
, as part of the "DC Explosion", a large push of new characters and comics series in the dawn of The Bronze Age of Comic Books
. He first appearance was in Firestorm
vol. 1 #1 (March, 1978). Unfortunately, this was also one of the titles canceled in the "DC Implosion". Ending with issue #5 (November, 1978). But the character survived, first appearing in back-ups in The Flash
comics, then joining the Justice League of America
, and finally returning to his own book. Fury of Firestorm
(later renamed Firestorm the Nuclear Man
) lasted for 100 issues, running from June, 1982 to August, 1990. A third Firestorm series was launched in 2004, with a new character in the costume
, and ran for three years. A fourth series, The Fury of Firestorm
vol. 2, started in September 2011, as part of DC's New 52
Firestorm is usually a composite character, with two or more individual characters making up the Firestorm identity, fused together in what is called the "Firestorm matrix". The resulting being has the abilities to rearrange the atomic and molecular structure of objects, fire nuclear "fusion blasts", fly
, and phase through solid matter
. At will, the members can separate and resume their normal lives; usually this is instigated by the dominant personality.
The exact "membership" of the Firestorm matrix has changed from time to time in the comics:
- The original makeup was high school student Ronald "Ronnie" Raymond and Professor Martin Stein. Caught in the blast when a nuclear reactor Stein was working on was sabotaged and exploded, the two were fused together into a single being, whom Ronnie dubbed Firestorm. Because Stein was unconscious when the explosion occurred, he takes a passive role in the composite, acting as an advisor to Ronnie, who controls Firestorm.
- After Firestorm and the Russian hero Pozhar (Mikhail Arkadin) were hit by a nuclear bomb, the new Firestorm was composed of Ronnie, Mikhail, and a third personality based on the now-amnesiac Martin Stein. This third personality was in charge, with Ronnie and Mikhail both acting as advisors. An African man named Jama was also part of this combination for a few issues.
- When a Russian experiment created the fire being Svarozhich, it was revealed that Firestorm had been intended to be Earth's fire elemental, and that it was necessary to resume this role to prevent the creature from running rampant. As a result, Ronnie and Mikhail fused with Svarozhich permanently, and were unable to separate. Stein was not a part of this incarnation of Firestorm. The fusion had its own personality as Earth's fire elemental, and was more concerned with the environment than with heroics.
- With the Earth threatened by a minion of Darkseid inhabiting the sun, Firestorm needed a way to get off-planet (as the elemental was bound to the Earth). Releasing Ronnie and Mikhail from the matrix, Svarozhich took Stein — revealed as the original intended recipient of the elemental powers — into orbit and detonated, re-creating Stein as the new Firestorm elemental. Stein dealt with the problem, and then departed Earth.
- When Ronnie was in the hospital dying of leukemia, Stein returned and cured him. This also had the effect of sparking Ronnie's meta-gene and granting him the powers of the original Firestorm without the need to fuse with anybody. Ronnie resumed being a superhero until he was killed during Identity Crisis.
- Upon Ronnie's death, the Firestorm matrix was released and came to rest within Jason Rusch, a young man struggling to get into college. Initially Jason merged with anybody who was convenient (often homeless people), which could be dangerous for them, as his powers were unstable and could "burn them out", killing them. A visit with Martin Stein in outer space led to a regular partnership with Stein, stabilizing the Matrix; he also frequently merged with Firehawk, or his girlfriend Gehenna. This iteration appeared in the movie Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, where Jason was voiced by Reno 911 alum Cedric Yarbrough.
- Blackest Night ended with Ronnie's resurrection, and a Firestorm comprised of both Ronnie and Jason, who took turns in the driver's seat. It's not without its problems, as the two don't entirely get along. This iteration is used on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, where Jason is voiced by Tyler James Williams, and Ronnie is voiced by Bill Fagerbakke.
- The Fury of Firestorm: In the New 52, the series was rebooted so that Ronnie and Jason are just now getting caught up in an international arms race regarding "the Firestorm Protocols", which Dr. Stein was involved in. Each one can become an individual Firestorm on their own, and they are just two of several Firestorms worldwide including Pozhar and Firehawk.
In addition to the comics, in Western Animation
, Firestorm was a prominent character in the final two seasons of Superfriends
and appeared in Batman: The Brave and the Bold
. The character made his live action debut in The CW's Flash
series in 2014, with Ronnie Raymond played by Robbie Amell and Dr. Stein played by Victor Garber, with Jason Rusch also appearing as a "non-component".
This character and series provide examples of:
- Abusive Parent: Alvin Rusch, Jason's father, has hit him on occasion.
- Action Girl: Firehawk
- The Alcoholic: Martin Stein fell into this early on after the explosion, due to his (to him) unexplained blackout periods (see Laser Guided Amnesia, below). When Ronnie finally explained what was happening, he started to pull himself back together.
- Alliterative Name: Ronnie Raymond and Cliff Carmichael.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: With Spider-Man, of sorts. DC Comics wanted to get in on the "wimpy college student imbued with power", with a touch of Blessed with Suck.
- Badass Bookworm: Stein by himself verges on this from time to time. He isn't particularly formidable, but multiple characters refer to him as the most courageous and noble of the characters who form part of Firestorm.
- He once took out Hector Hammond after Hammond had managed to defeat the entire JLA.
- Cliff Carmichael is a villainous example, having great intelligence and working out over the summer to be able to fight Ronnie
- Beast Man: Or woman, as the case may be. The two versions of the Hyena, one woman, one man, who become raging were-hyenas.
- Book Dumb: Ronnie, by his own admission. Stein thinks he's too hard on himself.
- Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Villains Black Bison and Silver Deer both sport versions of this look.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Lorraine Reilly was kidnapped and subjected to extensive programming to kill Firestorm (and transformed into Firehawk to have the ability to do so). She threw it off, but not before a fight.
- Breakout Character: Firestorm's Arch-Enemy Killer Frost has proven popular enough with fans and writers that she has been used in Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice, as well as several video games and animated movies. The kicker? She appeared in most of these WITHOUT Firestorm. The only adaptation she appeared in that also included Firestorm was The Brave and the Bold.
- Felicity Smoak, who became Ronnie's stepmother in the second series, is another example, as she began appearing in Arrow's first season without any connection to Firestorm. Since then, she has become an integral part of Arrow and has been added to the New 52 Green Arrow as a character similar to her TV counterpart, but separate from Firestorm.
- The Cape: Ronnie, Martin, Mikhail, and Firehawk. Jason's learning.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Poor, poor Gehenna.
- Damsel in Distress: Lorraine Reilly, during the kidnapping that turns her into Firehawk.
- Death Is Cheap: Even while dead, Ronnie briefly comes back during the Jason era due to the matrix storing his personality. Later he comes back for real.
- Defeat by Modesty: Ronnie defeats Plastique by vaporizing her clothes (in front of TV cameras!), both because it amuses him and because it's a convenient way to separate her from the bombs on her suit. He later does this to a woman who is suing him for damages out of spite... she goes on to marry his father. Awkward.
- Disposable Vagrant: Jason initially merges with homeless people when he needs to become Firestorm; this can put their lives at risk of being "burned out" by the matrix's power.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Firestorm using his powers to strip Plastique naked and leaving her to be laughed at in public while he took the bombs her suit carried to be disposed of elsewhere could be seen as taking it too far. Then again, she was going to blow up lots of innocent people so you can't feel too bad for her.
- Distaff Counterpart: Lorraine Reilly is turned into Firehawk by being forcibly subjected to the same type of reactor meltdown that created Firestorm. Her powers are similar, but are more focused on nuclear fire than molecular restructuring.
- Doing In the Scientist: Partly. John Ostrander's run revealed that Firestorm was really Earth's fire elemental, and that the nuclear explosion should have killed Ronnie if not for his own meta-gene.
- Dying to Be Replaced: Ronnie for Jason, and subsequently Gehenna for Ronnie.
- Easy Amnesia: When Firestorm is caught in the nuclear blast that first changes the membership of the matrix, Stein is both cured of his cancer and left amnesiac.
- '80s Hair: Ronnie, since it was the Eighties.
- Einstein Hair: Professor Stein has acquired this in the 2004 run.
- Elemental Baggage: Usually how Typhoon is defeated.
- Elemental Embodiment: As noted above, one of the character's phases.
- Elemental Powers: Besides the elemental phase, there's the villain Typhoon, who has powers over sea storms.
- Enemy Without: Shadowstorm for the elemental Firestorm, Deathstorm for the Ronnie/Jason fusion.
- Energy Absorption
- Executive Meddling: According to the Late Dwayne Mcduffie, he was told by his editors to add Jason Rusch to his Justice League line-up, contrary to the erroneous belief that he did so to add ethnic diversity to the team.
- Expy: Late 80s villain the Zuggernaut basically is the Guyver, from how it looks to how it merges with its host.
- Flaming Hair: All versions of Firestorm, and Firehawk as well.
- Fusion Dance: And how.
- Genius Bruiser: When Stein is in the matrix, Firestorm not only has his usual ability to restructure molecules, he now knows what he's doing.
- Genre Savvy: The Pionic Man names himself and fights according to the "rules of metahuman combat".
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the first issue of the original series, the group that is responsible for the creation of Firestorm is the Coalition to Resist Atomic Power.
- Giant Poofy Sleeves: Part of Ronnie's costume. Jason's initially lacks them, but he adds them back later.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: Part of the technique to brainwash Lorraine Reilly.
- Grand Theft Me: Strong-willed personalities can take control of the matrix from Jason, leaving him a passenger in his own body.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Ronnie's father, initially, due to his job. He gets better about it.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ronnie and Martin gradually become this, despite the gaps in age and personality
- Hilarity Sues: Felicity Smoak sues Firestorm after he inadvertently wipes out her company's computers twice with magnets. She drops the case when Firestorm's speech during the trial both convinces her that his noble intentions outweighed the harm done, and causes her to realize he's her step-son.
- Hotblooded Sideburns: Cliff Carmichael, who apparently has had them since grade school
- An Ice Person: Killer Frost, a recurring villain. Unlike some comic book characters, she doesn't "project cold"; she freezes things by absorbing heat.
- I Love Nuclear Power: Creates Firestorm, Firehawk, Multiplex, Tokamak, Typhoon, Pozhar, and the Pionic Man.
- The New 52 reboot has turned the series into a metaphor for a nuclear arms race.
- Inconvenient Summons: Sometimes happens to the one partner in the matrix initiates the change at a time that is inconvenient to the other.
- Intangible Man: One of Firestorm's basic powers is to phase through matter
- Invocation: Though she doesn't need to, Lorraine Reilly tends to say "Firehawk!" upon transforming.
- It Has Been an Honor: Professor Stein, who while dying, tells Ronnie that he loved his time as Firestorm, and that he considers Ronnie to be his son.
- Jerkass: Both Ronnie and Jason can have their moments, but the king of this trope in the series is Cliff Carmichael, who progresses from bullying Ronnie to trying to get him crippled or killed, simply out of schoolyard rivalry.
- Jumped at the Call: Ronnie's first inclination when discovering he had powers was to be a superhero.
- Kill It with Fire: Averted in the first comic with Killer Frost, Firestorm assumed all he needed to do was "melt" her with a blast of heat. The opposite happened, she basked it in, smiling. That led to a Eureka Moment on how to deal with her.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: Initially, because he was unconscious at the time of the explosion, Stein couldn't remember anything he had done while being part of Firestorm. Jason's unwitting partners also suffer this initially.
- Legacy Character: Of sorts. There's usually some element of a previous incarnation included in the current makeup. Likewise, there have been no less than three incarnations of Firestorm's archenemy Killer Frost, the second of whom explicitly took up the identity as a tribute to the first.
- Logical Weakness: His transmutation powers don't work on organic substances because he has to know the atomic structures of the molecules he is transmuting and the atomic structures of the molecules he intends to transmute them to. When its just Ronnie or Jason piloting Firestorm, they're even more limited because neither of them are scientists, and they have to study chemistry to make the most use of their powers. Presumably a superhuman intelligence could overcome this weakness.
- This troper remembers that actually Jason Rusch could transmutate organic matter. However, after an early mishap with a superpowered foe left in a One-Winged Angel form, he elected to refrain himself, limiting his powers to non-organic matter again.
- See Weaksauce Weakness: Firestorm is as powerful as the smartest brain in his fused makeup is schooled in chemistry and biology. When Doctor Megala controlled the Firestorm Matrix, he beat up Captain Atom and reshaped Mount Rushmore in his likeness in a whim: the Jason and Ronnie Firestorm had actually to concentrate, study several pictures of Mount Rushmore and envision for long minutes every detail of the monument to restore it. Furthermore, Firestorm is usually able to perform amazing feats when Stein (a true scientist) or Jason (a somewhat accomplished student) are at the helm, but when Ronnie was alone in the matrix he had to rely on external help, his transmutations were simple and haphazardly accomplished and he relied more on physical strength and the occasional energy blasts than the rest of his powers.
- Mad Scientist: Martin Stein is often perceived this way after the initial disaster (as he designed the reactor). There are plenty of real cases of it, though, such as Killer Frost and Tokamak.
- Me's a Crowd: Multiplex, a villain created during the same accident that originally created Firestorm
- Missing Mom: Ronnie's mother died when he was young. Jason's abandoned him after his father's abuse of her.
- The Nudifier: Firestorm did this to Plastique during her first appearance. He vaporised her costume, leaving her naked and humiliated in public, while he took the bombs that had been attached to her costume away to explode in a safer area.
- The Obi-Wan: Martin Stein
- Odd Couple: Jason, the somewhat uptight nerd, and Ronnie, the hard-partying jock. Made even more explicit in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, where Jason is portrayed as a scrawny weakling, while Ronnie is a muscular dimwit.
- Parental Substitute: Martin Stein, for Ronnie Raymond, at least until Ronnie's relationship with his father is patched up.
- Parent with New Paramour: Ronnie initially dislikes Felicity Smoak (largely because she's suing Firestorm) and after she marries his father he initially refuses to even call her his step-mother. Later, they bond and he starts calling her "Mom".
- Pure Energy: In the form of nuclear blasts.
- Raised by Wolves: Gehenna, being raised in a lab at an accelerated rate.
- Secret Identity: Maintained by all versions where the component personae can separate.
- Secret Keeper: Ronnie's step-mom figures out he's Firestorm before his dad does.
- Shout-Out: In the Cancelled Comic Cavalcade story, there's a sailor with many of Popeye's characteristics, such as the hat and corn-cob pipe, named Segar (after Popeye's creator, E. C. Segar).
- Something Completely Different: John Ostrander's run on the title created the elemental mythos and focused on environmental issues rather than superheroics
- Spirit Advisor: The role of whoever is in the matrix's "back seat". Represented in comics as a transparent floating head that only the "driver" can hear.
- Teleporters and Transporters: Gehenna can teleport herself and others.
- Two First Names: Ronnie Raymond.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Firestorm can't affect organic material without suffering painful feedback. Also, initially if Firestorm was formed while Stein was missing his glasses, Firestorm would be nearsighted.
- Despite the organic matter limit has been revisited during the years, the one consistent main limit of Firestorm is that Firestorm is as good at using his powers than the smartest fusee in his makeup. While Stein is an accomplished scientist, thus making Firestorm able to achieve complex feats with simple manipulation, Jason, a mere student, is somewhat slower and less competent, but still a force to reckon with. As for Ronnie Raymond? For a short period in which he was the only mind in the Firestorm makeup, he had to rely on The Atom's counseling to do anything remotely useful.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Martin's reaction to Ronnie forcing them to become Firestorm on an issue Stein disagreed with. Ronnie's step-mother explicitly draws a parallel to rape. Ronnie is remorseful, but it takes time for the trust to be rebuilt between them.
- Witness Protection: Why Ronnie's father had them traveling from place to place during Ronnie's youth.