Thursday, November 11, 2010

Firestorm the Nuclear Man #91 (November, 1989)

After Alan Moore revised Swamp Thing into an Earth Elemental, it was only a matter of time before somebody felt compelled to complete the quartet. I believe Red Tornado began shifting into the Wind Elemental in 1985's Justice League of America Annual #3 during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, although he probably wasn't dubbed such a thing for a few more years. John Ostrander turned Firestorm into the Fire Elemental, and with the creation of Naiad as the Water Elemental, ignited "The Elemental War."

I think somebody had the bright idea at one point to try to make Captain Atom the Quantum Elemental, which blessedly never took, but Nathanial Adam did get a cameo during the aforementioned four-part story arc. On base, the Captain felt a nagging sense of being needed elsewhere, and a touch of dissociative identity disorder, but dismissed both out of a desire to not be bugfug crazy like his enemy Major Force.

A couple of issues later, the war was over, and Red Tornado was in need of a new android body to help him manage his anger issues. The elemental incarnation of Firestorm had sworn off using his transmutation powers because objects effected by them were structurally unstable, but he was convinced by Swamp Thing to make an exception this one time. Tornado was a tad (understandably) hesitant, and offered a name capable of providing a more permanent solution: Captain Atom!

Wh-what?!? Nathanial Adam? The guy who let himself get blown up as part of a military experiment after losing a murder case? Even the brilliant scientist Charlton version, Allen Adam, wasn't one of those ridiculous Silver Age polymaths that could just randomly up and build a robot. Nathanial Adam, while no dingaling, was no rocket scientist either. I guess both characters had their history with Nate, though. "I know Captain Atom. A... fair choice." Fair? Was Firestorm still a Russkie, because we know how the Captain feels about Russkies?!

Anyhow, Firestorm (the guy known for puffy sleeves and flared shoulder pads) and Red Tornado (who accessorized a red & yellow striped costume with a blue vampire collar cape and a traffic arrow on his forehead) combined their awesome anti-aesthetic to create an exceptionally hideous fashion crime punishable by fines levied against DC Comics in nine states. Red Tornado, even as a robot with multiple long term wardrobe malfunctions on record, was aware that there was something "stiff-- strange" about his ensemble. Reddy (who was awful yellowy all of a sudden) flew to get a new body from Captain Atom as swiftly as this "vivified shell" could carry him, and I understand a federal couture statute prohibited this outfit from ever being seen or mentioned again. You can totally tell Captain Atom had a hand in the next (birthday) suit too, as Red Tornado was essentially a monochromatic "naked" dude for the next several years.

Thanks to Shag for supplying the above scan, as I've never read the issue, but always welcome Captain Atom material on this blog. I will be reading his coverage of "The Elemental War" at Firestorm Fan. Also, the Red Tornado end of the story will be handled by Doug at Red Tornado's Path, which will offer a wealth of scans related to the appearances. Follow the links below to experience the tale for yourself!

The Elemental War


Mark Baker-Wright said...

I don't have the issues, but I seem to recall that Red Tornado DID show up in Captain Atom to get his new body (I remember seeing the vacated shell, in fact).

Re: Captain Atom as Quantum Elemental, I'm more certain. IOt deserves mentioning that Ostrander followed-up on that concept in the final issues of the then-current Captain Atom comic book (ending at the same time as the Armaggedon 2001--infamous for it's switching gears about the identity of Monarch from Captain Atom to Hawk--and War of the Gods crossovers)

I still have those issues: #54-57

Diabolu Frank said...

I have a vague recollection of the Quantum Elemental stuff from the few latter-day issues of Captain Atom I read. Like most Ostrander super-hero work, I try to wish it out of my memory. If it wasn't for Grimjack and Suicide Squad...