Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Firestorm and Spider-Man



I always saw Firestorm as DC's first real attempt to create a Peter Parker-type character.  He was an adolescent superhero who was not a sidekick or spin-off of any existing character, and had lots of outside trials and tribulations that complicated his crime fighting efforts. Heck, One of my first letters ever published was a missive that I sent off to the editors of Fury of Firestorm in their first year comparing Ronnie Raymond with Peter Parker.  At 13 years old, I got a real kick out of seeing my name in print... in the pre-internet era, that was about the only way to express your views to fellow comic fans!

16 comments:

F-Troop said...

wow, you were a lucky dog, Ross. I was about the same age, and my letters to the New Teen Titans, Arak or All Star Squadron never saw the light of day! May I request a pair-up with Amethyst?

Cathy and Dave said...

Dave sez,

Was that YOUR letter? I remember Fury of Firestorm was a must read #1 - like #50 or so - whenever Ronnie's house was blown up. I stopped at the end of that storyline.

But I do remember - was it Gerry Conway? - or someone in the letter column admitting that Ronnie Raymond was inspired by Peter Parker. That Peter had reached a wall, and then there was Ronnie Raymond to freshen things up.

Fury of Firestorm, New Teen Titans and All-Star Squadron - those were the best of the '80's.

I look at Firestorm anymore and he's like The Flash - he's almost TOO powerful.

Rick said...

Firestorm and Spider-man do have a lot in common but I always thought Nova (Richard Rider) had even more in common with Firestorm than Spidey did.

Anonymous said...

Funny someone here should mention Gerry Conway--he worked on Spider-Man before creating Firestorm!

SmearySoapboxPress said...

Another fun cover! Firestorm was the first character I was able to follow from his creation, so he holds a special place in my comic fan's heart. While the early stories are my favorites, Ostrander's run was another interesting take on 'Storm. This "new 52" version... not so much.

Justin S. Davis said...

I always loved Firestorm and his villains, as they occupied a quirky place in the DCU.

Slipknot, Multiplex, Typhoon, Hyena(s)...man, I enjoyed those books.

Great cover!

Anonymous said...

In fact I would say that the most obvious comparison can be found in hoe much of Polar opposites they are. Everyone knows that pre-spider Peter was a Nerd who was mocked by those with athletic prows was superior to his own, where as Ronnie was a talented athlete who struggled in school and was even mocked by a chubby nerd.

The Irredeemable Shag said...

Ross - LOVE THIS! An ideal team-up given Ronnie Raymond and Peter Parker's similarities. Congrats on getting your letter printed in FIRESTORM! Color me jealous!

If you want the complete lowdown on Gerry Conway creating Firestorm and his connection to Spider-Man, check out this interview I did with Gerry a couple years ago. He was incredibly generous with his time and really delved into the creation of Firestorm.
http://firestormfan.com/2010/01/13/gerry-conway-firestorm-interview/

Again, great cover! And you can guarantee it will be featured on FIRESTORM FAN soon!

Keep up the great work!

The Irredeemable Shag

Red Ink said...

What was it about the 1980's? Any analytical take out there on why that particular period was a special one in the industry in regards to writing and artwork?

pblfsda said...

@Red Ink:
The explanation for what happened in the 1980's is a long one but it starts with Star*Reach, a publisher that spent the 1970's trying to cultivate alternate avenues of distribution created by undergrounds and the comics fanzine network in order to sell creator owned material made by the stars of mainstream comics (Starlin, Chaykin, Russell, Adams, etc.). By the end of the 1970's not only was HEAVY METAL on newsstands but CEREBUS and ELFQUEST had become fan favorites and companies that were created to distribute fantasy publications and merchandise began testing the waters of publishing themselves (Eclipse, Pacific, Capitol, etc.). Marvel and DC had to recognize that the smaller ardent fan base was buying more comics than the larger casual fan base, and they had to step up their game. The result was EPIC ILLUSTRATED, and direct-only, no-ads titles like MOONKNIGHT. Both companies began publishing graphic novels and switched cheap butchered reprints for carefully selected reprints presented on archival paper. Ultimately, the writers and artists wanted the freedom they had with independent publishers and better pay for better-selling results.

It's more complicated than that, of course, but that's the 'quick and dirty' version.

Red Ink said...

excellent analysis pblfsda. The "pre-mutant mania/obligatory summer crisis cross-over" 1980s were a special time.

Rick said...

Firestorm's hayday was in the 80's but don'r forget that he was created in the 70's. Late 1977 or early 1978. He only lasted 5 issues. Like Anonymous said Spider-man and Firestorm were actually opposites. The reason I say that he had more incommon with Nova is that Ronnie was not a good student and neither was Richard Rider. However, Richard wasn't a good athlete either so he was having a harder childhood then Ronnie. At least Ronnie was a star athlete.

SuperSonicSix said...

Funny, I initially thought Firestorm was some kind of villain when I first saw his image in the '80s. I thought he looked quite bizarre and frightening at first. Old "flamehead" has the most unique character design, I believe, in graphic novella!

Matt Celis said...

DC's first adolescent non-sidekicks would be the Legion of Super Heroes, predating Peter Parker.

Matt Celis said...

Cliff Carmichael was skinny, not chubby.

Matt Celis said...

Got any numbers to show this small fan base bought more comics than casual readers? The massive decline in sales since comics left newsstands and markets would seem to contradict this assertion.

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