July 16, 2012

Judging the New 52 #6: Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men

Firestorm is just one of those characters that DC won't allow to die. I'm not sure he's anybody's favourite character. I don't think I've met any keen Firestorm fans. He's never had a cartoon of his own, he's not really known outside of the DC fan community, and no matter how many times DC release a solo Firestorm comic it seems guaranteed to bottom out and get cancelled. Yet, like clockwork, DC simply waits a few years and relaunches the title again.

The first volume of Firestorm was published in 1978 was cancelled after five issues. The second volume, published from 1983, actually managed to scratch out a 102 issue run until it was cancelled in 1988. This is actually the volume I've read quite a bit of, and it's quite good. In 2005 the third volume was published, lasting 36 issues before once again being cancelled for low sales. Finally, in the New 52 we receive the fourth volume of the title, now called Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men.

This fourth volume has been quite messy, marred by creative changes and a distinctly uneven tone and quality. Personally I found it fairly unreadable and quit after three issues. Anyone who's read further is encouraged to give her or his opinion in the comments below.

If you look at the sales - this compares the last two years of the third volume (simply titled Firestorm) with the first 10 issues of Fury of Firestorm - you can see that Firestorm is simply not a character with a dedicated core audience. You basically need a solid readership of about 20,000 to be sustainable at DC, and no matter who's writing, Firestorm seems incapable of staying at that level. It's about 5,000 readers short every time. You can even see above that people really did give Fury of Firestorm a decent chance with more than 45,000 people buying that first issue. Two thirds of those new readers have already left.

If I was King of DC Comics (and I should be, naturally), I'd find a solid team book into which I'd place Firestorm and hopefully attract some of those 15,000 fans with his presence. Despite my disbelief, it seems that some people like the character - if we put all the DC heroes like him into a single book, DC might just manage a sale.


  1. I think it's fair to say that lots of people like the character of Firestorm, but aren't willing to get off their wallet for a monthly book. Aquaman was like that for years. Huge fanbase, but with the exception of Peter David and Geoff Johns, no one has been successful with a monthly Aquaman comic since the 1970s.

    Admittedly, I'm a bit biased. I run the FIRESTORM FAN site. http://firestormfan.com/


  2. That's an awesome website! Thanks for your comment!

    I noted while reading your site that Jurgens is returning Firestorm to just being one character when he takes over - I think this has a good chance to improving the current version significantly.

  3. Grant - Thanks for the compliment on my site.

    Fingers crossed that Jurgen's Firestorm sells like hotcakes!


  4. I read about six issues of Firestorm, and I just didn't get much of a feel for (a) what sort of a character he/they are, and (b) what the book is all about. It may develop into something interesting, but the first half dozen issues just felt kinda rambling and amorphous to me.

  5. I think the biggest problem this version of Firestorm has had is that there's no clear angle on what they're trying to achieve. With Dan Jurgens taking over and the character dropping down to a single persona, it may clear up a bit. From the sales, however, I suspect Jurgens is only going to have 6-12 months before the book gets cancelled.


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