As DC Comics has relaunched its entire universe, the approach to each character has differed. Some comics change very little, while other change a lot.
With Fury of Firestorm, the new comic from Gail Simone, Ethan Van Sciver and Yildiray Cinar, the relaunched universe meant a combination of old and new, taking the former Ronnie Raymond version of Firestorm and meshing it with the new Jason Rusch one.
And even more surprising to readers of the new Fury of Firestorm series, the combination of the two characters has created a brand new "Fury" type of Firestorm — explaining the comic's title.
The new series also introduces the idea that there are several Firestorms throughout the world. And promises that readers will soon meet them.
To follow up on some of the comic's new concepts before this week's issue #3, Newsarama talked with Simone to find out more.
Newsarama: Gail, I think probably the most surprising thing we've seen in Fury of Firestorm is the creation of Fury. Can you explain who Fury is and what he represents?
Gail Simone: I’ve gone back and read some of the original Firestorm stories, and they are quite remarkable, they are full of fun ideas, and some genuine optimism, and some really likeable characters. They were also created by some of my favorite writers, guys like Gerry Conway and John Ostrander.
I think the problem we had was that the world’s view of nuclear energy got some serious rethinking recently, with events in Japan and elsewhere. Whether that’s fair or not, it’s something that is very powerful.To me, Fury represents terror, the kind of panic that started with the cold war, that we are dealing with forces just barely under control, and when they are set loose, the results are devastating.
Nrama: What did you two think the creation of "Fury" would add to the Firestorm character's dynamic?
Simone: Our heroes are basically good guys, they’re decent young men. Fury isn’t decent, and he’s someone even the Justice League have to keep a close eye on. He adds that measure of unpredictability that both Ethan and I cherish.
Nrama: Is the control of Fury coming from inside Jason and Ronnie's minds? Or outside of them?
Simone: They don’t know the answer to that either, not right away, although there are clues.
Nrama: It's been revealed that there are many Firestorms around the world, and solicitations for #6 reveals that Pozhar is the Russian Firestorm. How many Firestorms are there, and when will we find out more about all of them?
Simone: There are many, and their motivations are as different as soldiers for a dozen different countries.
Nrama: Are there any hints you can give us about the types of Firestorms we might see coming up?
Simone: Long-term Firestorm fans might recognize a couple of them already from the hints and glimpses we’ve given.
Nrama: Can other Firestorms combine to create their own versions of "Fury?" Or is that unique to Ronnie and Jason?
Simone: That is Ethan’s favorite part of the book. There is definitely some flavor mixing coming up.
Nrama: With all these different Firestorms representing different countries, it seems like politics might play a large this comic. Is that part of what we'll see?Yes, we are dealing with a world where Twitter and Facebook can literally change the power in a country, can shine light where it’s never been shone. These kids grew up in that. And we deal with the idea that in the future, borders will be economic, not geographic.
Nrama: We saw Tonya have a vision that Jason attempted to explain via science. How does that vision come into play later, and how much of a role will Tonya play in the book?
Simone: Tonya saw an awful future. The DCU is a different place with Firestorms in it. They have the power to reshape everything. They just don’t KNOW it, yet.
Nrama: Who is the Martin Stein of this universe? Will we find out more about him soon?
Simone: Yes, every issue we learn a little more.
Nrama: Will there be more supporting cast members? If so, is there anything you can tell us about them?
Simone: It’s actually a fairly large cast that we’ve set in motion, but I think the focus is on the core four characters.
Nrama: What were your thoughts behind creating Zither?
Simone: Our lives are connected to strings pulled by people we didn’t vote for, and don’t even know exist. People who control technology control seismic shifts in the way we live, they control whether or not we have a career. Zither is that face behind the curtain, for good or ill.
Nrama: What can you tell us about Helix, the force that's being introduced in this week's issue #3?
Simone: He loves to go fishing.
Nrama: There's been some discussion in the comic about whether Firestorm/Fury has a scientific origin or a mystical origin. What was the thought behind this distinction/theme?
Simone: I don’t see it as mystical, except in the sense that to even the intelligent bystander, sufficiently advanced science might as well be magic.
Nrama: Will you be using classic Firestorm villains? Or new ones?
Simone: Absolutely, but they all get a new spin. I love the Firestorm villains and have been using them for years, I’m really fond of them.
Nrama: As teen heroes, it's unusual that these two are having to give everything up and leave their parents. Is that an ongoing situation? Or will their parents play a role in the comic?
Simone: There’s a very different spin on that coming very soon. It’s not the run-and-hide story it sounds like, at first.
Nrama: One of the things that stands out about Ronnie and Jason so far is that even though they hate each other, they're going to fight for each other. What's driving that? Does it prove that they're true heroes?
Simone: I think doing selfless things for the right reasons proves people to be heroes. Ronnie and Jason find themselves on the opposite sides of significant cultural divides of race, privilege and personality. Even if you forgot everything else, it’s still a jock and a brain. Their relationship is the key of the thing: If two kids can’t find common ground despite all of that, what hope do the rest of us have?
Nrama: Some of the comics in the relaunched DCU have continued the character histories from Brightest Day, while others haven't. What was the thinking behind your decision to go with a new story? And does it still have a connection to Brightest Day?
Simone: That’s still to be discovered in the story, but we did feel like Ronnie and Jason were both great characters and wanted to use both. Having Ronnie be that much older presented a less equal dynamic, so we took advantage of the relaunch!
Nrama: How did the design of all these characters come about? Is Yildiray doing it? Or Ethan?
Simone: That’s the most fun thing for me, seeing Ethan, Yildiray, and Jim Lee designing these characters, often completely different takes on the same people. It’s great to see — there’s no ego, they pick the one that works the best.
Nrama: What has Yildiray Cinar brought to the interiors of the comic?
Simone: I love that guy — he’s perfect for this, his dynamism, his monsters, I just love his storytelling and designs. And he loves drawing Firestorm. Also, he’s an idea man. He adds tremendously to the stories.
Nrama: What are each of your strengths as writers on the comic, and how have you been learning to work together to utilize those?
Simone: Ethan and I have been working together on another project for a while. We know each other’s strengths and play to those. Ethan’s one of the best concept guys in the business.
Nrama: It's fun to imagine that, since there are two very different characters starring in this comic, you two might come to represent each of those "sides" to Fury of Firestorm. But is that true? Is one character more like you, Gail, and the other more like Ethan?
Simone: It’s true, but I like both. I definitely feel more sympathy for Jason at first, but I also feel like Ronnie has been misjudged a little bit, and that stings too. I think they’re good kids who have more questions than answers.
Nrama: Firestorm has previously been part of the Justice League. But with this new approach to Firestorm, is that a possibility? Could Jason and Ronnie join together, or separately?
Simone: It is a possibility, and it might be awesome.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell fans about Fury of Firestorm?
Simone: It’s a book that talks about things other books shy away from, and on just a surface level, it’s full of monsters and bizarre superheroics. It’s great fun to read and it’s drawn beautifully. What more can you ask for?FACEBOOK and TWITTER!