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“Planetfall”

  • Writer: John Ostrander
  • Pencils: Richard Howell
  • Inks: Steve Mitchell, Dennis Janke
  • Colors: Nansi Hoolahan
  • Letters: Janice Chiang

Millennium was a comic book crossover event that ran through an eight-issue, self-titled, limited series and various other titles cover dated January and February 1988. The limited series was published weekly and was written by Steve Englehart, and with art by Joe Staton and Ian Gibson.  Guardian of the universe Herupa Hando Hu, and his Zamaron mate, Nadia Safir, traveled to Earth and announced to the world that they would select ten people who would become the new Guardians of the Universe, and give birth to a new race of immortals. They gathered Earth’s superheroes and sent them to find the chosen persons, who came from various parts of the world.  The robotic cult known as the Manhunters (precursors to the Green Lantern Corps) had found a sphere that Harbinger had used to store all the information she had gathered about the universe after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Because of it, they knew the secret identities of Earth’s heroes, and had planted their agents (including androids, willing human agents, and mind-controlled ones) close to them. On finding out about the search for The Chosen, the Manhunters decided to prevent it, and had their agents reveal themselves and attack the heroes.

Captain Atom #11 was a Millennium crossover that paired Captain Atom with Firestorm.  At this point in Firestorm’s history, the Nuclear Man has undergone a “rebirth” and is very childlike.  This issue falls after the events of Captain Atom #11, in week 5 of the Millennium event.

This issue opens with a group of Earth’s heroes gathered on an asteroid above the Manhunters’ homeworld.  In attendance are Firestorm, Captain Atom, Green Lanterns Hal Jordan, Katma Tui, and Arisia, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Dr. Fate, Superman, and Hawkwoman and they are planning a strategy.  Firestorm is not paying any attention to the heroes.  Captain Atom tries twice to get Firestorm’s attention before the Nuclear Man simply takes off and heads for the Manhunter homeworld.  Captain Atom goes after him, telling Superman, “Firestorm seems to have become my personal problem lately.”

Beneath the surface of the Manhunter homeworld, Harbinger is on the run having been captured once by the Manhunters and then released by Green Lantern Driq.  She creates duplicates of herself to distract and attack the robot drones that are after her.  Just as one of the drones gets the drop on her, Driq shows up and blasts it with his ring. Then Driq himself is blasted.

Driq was blasted by Firestorm, who thought the zombie Green Lantern was attacking Harbinger.  Hot on Firestorm’s heels is Captain Atom, who tells Harbinger to lighten up on the nuclear man, as he is new to the duper-hero game.  Harbinger says, “New? Firestorm I know: you I don’t.”

Firestorm creates a fire extinguisher to put out Driq while Harbinger and Captain Atom chat about Driq (Driq was a Green Lantern killed in the line of duty whose ring would not let his spirit leave his body).  Firestorm apologizes to Driq, shaking his hand and knocking some of the GL’s fingers off in the process.  Firestorm quickly uses his powers to fuse the fingers back on.

Harbinger bitches at Captain Atom while Firestorm attempts to make small talk with Driq.
There is a rumble as four of the drones descend on the four super-heroes.  Firestorm creates a bridge that causes the drones to crash into each other.  As the heroes blast away at more and more oncoming drones, they cause the cavern walls to collapse.  Firestorm is knocked out as they are buried by the avalanche.

When he wakes up, he finds he is in the bayou and his friend (and Manhunter agent) Ferguson is with him.  They are outside the Sonic Temple on Earth.  Ferguson tells Firestorm that the destruction of the sonic temple was a delusion.  He thanks Firestorm for bringing him a “new ally,” Captain Atom.

Captain Atom and Ferguson tell Firestorm that he must kill their enemies.  Firestorm does not like the idea of killing anyone.  He realizes that this isn’t the real Captain Atom and that he is still on the Manhunter planet.  When the Manhunters tell him, “No man escapes the Manhunters” Firestorm responds with “I have not come to escape, but to end,” before he starts blasting the androids.

Ferguson warns that the planet is being destroyed.  He promises to reveal secrets to Firestorm if he sides with the Manhunters.  He tells the Nuclear Man that Firestorm is made up of two different beings (a fact Firestorm seems unaware of).  He rejects Ferguson, but realizes there is truth to the Manhunter’s words.

Firestorm makes contact with Ronnie Raymond and Mikhail Arkadin, the two men who are inside his head (what will later be referred to as the “Firestorm matrix”).  He seems to be on the verge of freeing them when Driq, Harbinger, and Captain Atom show up and distract him.  They blast through the planet’s crust as it shakes apart and then meet up with the other heroes up in outer space.

The comic ends with Firestorm’s inner monologue: “There is more to me… to my life… than I had imagined.  But not more than I can imagine.  This… existence – this life – begins to make sense to me, at last.  It is a wonderful thing – this life I have.  I shall strive to be worthy of it.  I cannot wait to see what happens next.”

As far as crossovers go, Millennium was okay.  Not the greatest.  With this particular issue, I was far more interested in what Firestorm was up to than the Manhunters or the New Guardians.  Richard Howell’s art is fine and John Ostrander’s story is a little flat – but good considering what he had to work with.  I give Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #68 a C.

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