New Reviews of Old Comics
Firestorm is one of those characters I’ve always wanted to like, but just never read many of his stories. I’ve got a few issues floating around here and there. When I saw this one for a buck I figured how can I go wrong? Hard to go wrong with almost any comic for a dollar, but that’s beside the point.
To me annuals should always be self contained stories. This one, “All the Answers” written by Gerry Conway with art by Rafael Kayanan and Rodin Rodriguez was the continuation of a story from the regular Fury of Firestorm issues. Not surprisingly it didn’t take very long to catch up and get into the storyline. A guy who was once an invalid now inhabits a suit of armor looking contraption that has turned him into a living nuclear reactor named Tokamak (what does that mean, and how do you pronounce it?) He’s kidnapped a senator’s daughter, who is also Firehawk (like a female Firestorm) which leads to a big fight scene around the National Mall in Washington DC. Surprise, surprise Firestorm wins with a little help from Firehawk. The surprise ending is Ronnie Raymond (one half of Firestorm) finds out his father is really alive and not dead like Ronnie thought. Maybe his dad will help straighten him out and make sure he doesn’t wear those purple pants again. What self respecting man, even in the early 80s would wear purple pants?!?!
The story is pretty standard far by just about any measure, with the art being above average. Firestorm as a character has a generally cool look about him as is Firehawk. This seemed like a story that could have been done in any regular issue fitting nicely within 20 or so pages and felt drawn out for being in an annual. Like I said before, I always though annuals should be self-contained stories and they would seem to be a good opportunity for a significant story; big character introduction, notable disruption to the ongoing story, spinoff to another title. Despite that annuals tend to be also ran stories that are just made longer than usual. Yeah, I know there have been gimmicks to fold cross-over story events into annuals (remember Marvel’s “Terminus Agenda”? No? Count yourself fortunate), but rarely does anything notable come out of annuals.
Notable Ads: Hands down the Sgt. Rock Playsets by Remco! Joe Kubert is credited with the art for this ad hawking three playsets (is there anyone else who should draw Sgt. Rock? I think not). Each one comes with a “tough action soldier” (duh) and equipment specific to the playset. Two come with a walkie-talkie that looks more like one of those giant satellite phones you needed two hands to hold up. Yeah, I know it’s not THAT thrilling of an ad, but, c’mon, it’s Sgt. Rock! Really, it was slim pickings for ads in this issue. A Bubble Yum Jumble (super easy by the way); a center spread for NBC Saturday morning cartoons (Mr. T saying “NBC Saturday Morning. We got the jazz!” What does that even mean?) Or the obligatory Grit newspaper ad? I’ve seen ads for Grit going back into the early 70s so I guess someone must have bought it at some point. I’ve never actually seeing an issue. Wonder if I’m missing out on something…