I’ve talked about this before, the name of the show is “The Flash,” but it, and the show it spun off from, “Arrow,” are wrapped in the mythos of another DC Comics superhero – Firestorm. Besides sharing his cast of characters, last season on “The Flash,” we even had the origin and appearances by the Nuclear Man, but in our season premiere, Firestorm gave his life (or half of it) to save Central City. Now a new Firestorm must be found, or his remaining half will die. Meet me after the super speed jump for my thoughts on “The Fury of Firestorm.”
Just to check ourselves, here’s a quick rundown of the Firestorm connections so far in what has become known as the Arrowverse – the shared continuity of “Arrow” and “The Flash.” All three heroes served as members of the Justice League of America, and when Firestorm initial comic book was cancelled, his adventures appeared as a back-up second story in the Flash’s title. Professor Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond fused to become the first version of Firestorm, and Jason Rusch, who we saw in “Revenge of the Rogues” was part of a later version of the hero. The showrunners sure do love Firestorm.
Besides Stein, Raymond, and Rusch, it should be noted that Caitlin Snow in the comics transforms into one version of the super-villainess Killer Frost, a major foe of Firestorm, who was glimpsed briefly in “Fast Enough.” The Flash has fought Multiplex and Sand Demon, both Firestorm villains. Two episodes have been named after him – his nickname “The Nuclear Man,” and this one “The Fury of Firestorm” was the name of the hero’s second series. And Felicity Smoak, a major character in both “Arrow” and “The Flash,” originated in the Firestorm comics. That’s just off the top of my head, I’m sure there will be more, some in this very episode…
The Real Ronnie Raymond
Now we know the real reason that Firestorm, or at least Ronnie’s half of Firestorm, died saving Central City in the season two opener. Actor Robbie Amell wanted to pursue a film career instead of being a big television star and live-action superhero like his cousin Stephen Amell over at “Arrow.” I like the positive attitude, but I didn’t think The DUFF did all that well, nevertheless, we are short one half of Firestorm.
Now it’s worth mentioning here, and it was also discussed on a recent episode of the Fire and Water Podcast, we haven’t really gotten the real Ronnie Raymond on “The Flash” yet. In the comics, Ronnie was a bit of a dumbass jock, nowhere near the physicist we’ve seen depicted on the TV series. With Professor Stein possibly dying without his other half, a substitute needs to be found. And this is not a far off concept in the comics as several folks other than Ronnie and Stein have been part of the Firestorm matrix over the years.
Caitlin has done some research on who might be an appropriate candidate to bond with Professor Stein to save him, and came up with two possibilities. One was Jefferson ‘Jax’ Jackson, played by Franz Drameh of Attack the Block and Edge of Tomorrow, who is the frontrunner because this episode opens on him making the winning high school touchdown the night the particle accelerator exploded. While saving a fellow student he catches a full dose of the blast. Hmmm… heroic, high school, dumbass jock… is this the real Ronnie Raymond? And it is worth noting that a Jefferson Jackson has been among Ronnie’s friends for decades.
The other is Dr. Henry Hewitt, a Hudson University graduate and physicist. Caitlin leans toward him because he’s a scientist – and a fellow Firestorm foe. Yeah, that’s right, in the comics, Henry Hewitt is the super-villain Tokamak. Like Firestorm he is nuclear-powered and had the ability to break down objects on a molecular level. One of his madder schemes involved cloning himself and merging with his clone in a similar fashion as our hero to gain Firestorm-like powers. Both mad scientist and corporate leader, he was evil double-time.
Caitlin was very happy to invite Hewitt to S.T.A.R. Labs and clue him into everything that was going on, short of Barry’s identity as the Flash, and let him know about the power of the Firestorm matrix. Since Jax had not been cooperative thus far, they tried to merge Hewitt with Stein… and nothing happened. Angry, and apparently looking forward to having great power with no responsibility as all future super-villains do, Hewitt left in a huff, but not before we get to see a flash of power emanating from his hand. We see it, but Team Flash doesn’t. That can’t be good.
When Barry finally gets Jax to come in to S.T.A.R., he asks about the treadmill and what kind it is. Barry answers, “Cosmic.” Love it! Here’s the gist – the particle accelerator blast messed up his knee, ruining his college football chances, and also his dreams. When confronted with merging with Stein and getting all those wacky Firestorm powers at first, he blows it off, and walks out.
Tokamak vs. Firestorm
Later in a fit of anger, Hewitt blows his lid, and manifests fire all over, but is also absorbing it as well. And it begins. When Caitlin goes to Jax to try to talk him into being a hero, he almost buys it until Hewitt shows up, spewing fire and energy. He’s mad, these aren’t the powers he was promised. Wow, what a spoilsport, no wonder he’s a super-villain. As Cisco and Caitlin later learn, the more angry and powerful Hewitt becomes, the more unstable, thus the name, Tokamak.
In the meantime, Jax has agreed to merge with Stein, and the Firestorm matrix takes to him quickly, and he takes to the power just as quickly. The best part is that Professor Stein is in his mind, more like the comics version of Firestorm, in so many ways, now more like the comics version. The battle is a lot of fun, if a lot of fire as well. And as in the comics, it takes more than one hero to bring down Tokamak. Jax as Firestorm is fun, and I want to see more, and look forward hopefully to a rematch with an armored Tokamak, just like in the comics.
In the comics, Iris’ adoptive mother was Nadine West, with Fran Russell being the name of her natural mother in the 30th century. Much like the comics West father Ira West the absent-minded scientist became detective Joe West for television, Iris’ mom has similarly become a deadbeat con artist drug addict. In their first adult meeting, Iris blows her off. She hasn’t needed her for twenty years, and she doesn’t need her now. Cold.
On that however, Francine West pulls her trump card – she’s sick, and not just sick, but dying. I know my BS meter was going off. Investigative reporter Iris is having none of that, she checks the facts, and finds out mom is telling the truth – but hiding something else. When Francine left the family, she was pregnant, and eight months later gave birth to a son. The fatherhood is up in the air, but could it be… Wally West?
The Wisdom of Joe West
While Barry’s father figure, and usually being right, Joe West has not always made the best decisions. Keeping the fact that his wife has been alive all these years is one thing the benefit of which could be debatable. He is wise, but not all the time. Just like he always knew about Barry’s feelings for Iris, he also gets the vibe that Barry and Patty are flirting. He presses his son, but as suspected, yeah, Barry likes Patty but she’s not Iris. Still, Joe encourages Barry to explore a little.
As the applied sciences department of Mercury Labs is robbed by the Earth-Two Harrison Wells, this prompts the returning Amanda Pays as Tina McGee to contact Joe on the sly. After all, isn’t Wells dead, and why would he be without his chair even if he wasn’t dead? Joe has an idea of course, but he forbids Patty to mention it to Barry. Patty has a hard time with lying. Yeah, the showrunners are turning up the soap.
Speaking of Patty, she’s also working on a case where citizens have sighted a giant human shark or a shark man, and even found teeth. Giving them to Barry to examine, he finds them to be human, possibly metahuman. Fanboy minds boggle – could it be the Shark, King Shark, or some new villain/creature? It’s left hanging for a bit.
Meanwhile, after the battle with Tokamak, who’s imprisoned in the Pipeline (why? Doesn’t Iron Heights have a metahuman section now?) Jax and Stein leave for Pittsburgh, a former homebase for Firestorm. I hope this isn’t for too long, as I enjoyed this episode. And who is the former colleague in Pittsburgh who trained Stein and Ronnie? I’m lost on this one, anyone have any idea? Lorraine (Firehawk) Reilly maybe?
And that’s when the shark shows up. We have more growing CGI as we did with Atom Smasher, and a very large shark-man, probably more King Shark than the Shark, sent by Zoom, and he attacks the Flash. The battle doesn’t go well, and when Patty empties her gun into the shark, he comes toward her. A hooded stranger with a ray gun of some sort takes him down… it’s the Harrison Wells of Earth-Two. Cue end credits.
Next: The Harrison Wells of Earth-Two, and Doctor Light in “The Darkness and the Light.”