Firestorm

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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 The Bronze Age of Comic Books. His first appearance was in Firestorm vol. 1 #1 (March, 1978). Unfortunately, this was also one of the titles canceled in the "DC Implosion", the series ending with issue #5 (November, 1978). 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 relaunch.

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. The members can separate at will 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. In the early part of the series, Stein would have no memory of his activities when he separated from 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 Martin 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 both of 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.

Tropes used in Firestorm include:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Cape (trope): 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 was 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.
  • Did Not Do the Research: In Identity Crisis, Ronnie is stabbed by a sword and blows up because "everybody knows what happens when you puncture a reactor". Except Ronnie's not a nuclear reactor, he just has nuclear-based powers, and nuclear reactors don't explode when punctured.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Eighties 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.
  • Flight
  • 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".
  • 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
  • Sued for Superheroics: 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 is 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 when 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 appearnce. He vaporised her costume, leaving her naked and humilated in puplic, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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