Firestorm (2004 Series) #1
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Eye Contact
Jason Rusch just wants to keep his job, save some money and go to college. Fate has other plans…
Writer: Dan Jolley
Inks: John Dell
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Phil Balsman
Editor: Peter Tomasi
Cover Art: Chriscross & Chris Sotomayor
Publisher: DC Comics
It’s interesting, but with almost any superhero comic book that has premiered in the last several years, be it a new character or a revival of an old character, you can follow a strict pattern in the first issue: Introduce the main character, show snippets of his/her life, throw them in danger and, in the last sequence, either give him his powers or have them manifest for the first time. Pesky things like origin stories can wait until later.
Now don’t get me wrong, just because Dan Jolley follows this pattern to the letter doesn’t mean he doesn’t serve up an entertaining read. Jason Rusch, heir apparent to the Firestorm mantle, is a guy I think most comic readers can relate to – just trying to make ends meet and get to college, keep up with his friends who score autographs of celebrities while he’s stuck at home, and dealing with his father. His plans get derailed when some bruises on his face cause him to miss his job as a waiter, cutting into his savings. He turns to a less-than-desirable element for some help and gets in over his head.
Jolley even manages to work in some surprises in this issue. We meet one character and, within a few panels, are convinced he’s responsible for Jason’s fate, only to have the whole thing turn around on us. By the end of the book you don’t know how (exactly) or why Jason is suddenly sporting Ronnie Raymond’s powers and costume, but you do know you like this kid, you feel for this kid, and you want him to come out okay.
The former Captain Marvel art team of Chriscross and Sotomayor reunite, joined by inker John Dell, and they put out an great-looking comic book. Chriscross draws strong, dynamic characters and does a great high-speed sequence near the end, and Soto contributes with everything from flashy speed effects and bright fire effects to small but appreciated touches like varying the skin tones of the characters to help give them each their own identity.
A lot of people are upset that DC is going ahead with a Firestorm series without the same guy in the driver’s seat we’ve known all along. I can’t argue with them, I was a fan of Ronnie myself. But this new kid seems to have the same sort of feel and same heart that made me a fan of the character in the first place, and it is certainly worth sticking around on this book to see where it goes.