Firestorm, DC’s version of Wonder Man

Part of the new company-wide reboot going on at DC right now involves Firestorm. Apparently the editors decided it wasn't enough for him to be hideously dressed just once, opting instead to honor his long history of bad fashion choices by going for the rare trifecta of three bad costumes at the same time:

Like the Red/Blue Superman dichotomy, here we have Honkey Red Firestorm and Yellow Black Dude Firestorm, each with a version of the outfit that retains all the qualities we've come to love in the original design -- puffy sleeves, melting brain, puzzling Kirby stripes, and a wrestling helmet -- while adding exciting new elements like random lines and a monochromatic color scheme. My theory is that some version of the Flash is actually every single character in the DC Universe now, and that is why all their costumes look like his.

Luckily, Firestorm is two separate poorly dressed individuals who can use the fury of the atom to merge into one, even worse-looking, ultra-powerful form!

Proving once again that they are right at the cutting edge of super-hero trends, DC decided nothing sells better than zombies and so transformed Firestorm into the first atomic-powered, matter-rearranging super zombie in history. At some point this nuclear zombie ate the Thundercats, which is about the only way I can explain that logo. Furthermore, it's not really awesome enough to have just his brains on fire, so the editors have decided that all of his exposed flesh should also be in the process of melting down.

That's actually a lucky break, since if he were made of flesh and bones instead of melted nuclear goo, there's no way he'd be able to lower or rotate his arms out of that hard metallic shell's massive shoulder extensions and skin-tight sleeve holes. "I am Firestorm, and for the remainder of this fight I shall take the shape of the letter 'T'!"

You might ask why DC would re-launch a title with such an odd, flaming, nuclear zombie design, but shockingly, this is actually not the worst this character has ever looked. Much like the DC version of Marvel's "Wonder Man", this is a character steeped in sartorial infamy. It's hard to choose just one bad costume from his history to compare the latest travesty to, but I think this probably has to take the cake:

You know, when you're in trouble designing a costume, it's always worth saying to yourself "What would John Byrne do?" And then just steal his design for the iconic "Alpha Flight" relaunch. But -- and this is important -- you shouldn't just make your guy look like Sasquatch:

Unless your guy is a nuclear zombie who takes on costume elements by eating the flaming brains of other characters, in which case, go for it.

33 Responses to Firestorm, DC’s version of Wonder Man

  1. As a kid, I really liked Firestorm’s orginal costume. It was so diffrent for what the rest of DC’s heroes looked like, it just made him stand out. In the grim and gritty 90’s of course, he was made to look like everything that was bad about comics, because, oh my god, he has puffy sleeves!! How can you be EXTREME when you have puffy sleeves? I’m pretty sure he was even put in a book called Extreme Justice. I might be remembering it wrong, because the 90’s were just so damn EXTREME, that everything was called EXTREME!!! (Extreme of course would later be replaced by EPIC!!!) Anyway, I totally agree that the new look in dumb. I don’t like this new take, where the original concept was cool, with two people without powers becoming Firestorm. Now it’s two powered Firestorms that can become a more powerful Firsetorm? Or somthing like that? I’m sure it’s an EPIC new take on Firestorm!!!

  2. In a few years, EPIC will roll (back?) around to Chris Sims style AWESOME!! and he’ll be a robot gorilla instead of a zombie. Won’t that be special?

  3. I never liked Firestorm, just never could get past those puffy sleeves.

  4. I would say that everyone needs to read the first 2 volumes of Brightest Day. The second one, especially, since it tells a lot more about the Firestorm Matrix and why he becomes so damn powerful.

  5. Do they explain why he looks so bad? Or is he just not quite powerful enough to understand ugly?

  6. “Wonder Twin Powers Activate! Shape of … a Nuclear Zombie!”

  7. I think I know why his costumes suck. Look at his eyes, he’s blind! His mom probably picked-out his clothes and being a typical mom said “You look fine, hon! Here’s your lunch, have a good day at school!” Case solved. Please, no applause.

  8. Wow. Wait. I don’t know this one… Why is his brain on fire? Or was the hope that it looked like really cool fiery hair?

  9. Danny (7): Best explanation I’ve heard so far. Still, I never cared for the character either, and while I can’t explain, I’m sure it had nothing to do with puffy sleeves.

    I’m baffled by the Sasquatch redesign from ’89, especially since it looks like he also has exploding crotch.

    Actually, thanks for rekindling my anger towards this reboot, Jeff. Inside word was (from the man himself) that Brian Clevinger of Atomic Robo was picked to take a stab at writing Firestorm, but when DC decided to reboot, they scrapped that idea, and put it in the hands of Ethan van Sciver and Gail Simone. Now, I understand why they put this in the hands of more experienced writers, and IMO, Simone is one of the best, if not the best, writer DC currently employs. But if I want to read Gail Simone, there are other titles she’s working on that have characters I’m not apathetic to. But if they did have Clevinger write it, I’d at least pick up a couple episodes to see how he’s doing at it, and, you know, to help support his chances at breaking into major comic book writing. Oh well, your loss, DC.

  10. You know, maybe you should start doing contests where HM people redesign classic heroes using their HM or their own drawing talents?

    I mean surely we can do better than they did..

  11. Avatar Me, Myself & I

    Tim K. (10) no can do. That steps awful close to over the line regarding copywrite infringement.

  12. The old version of him you have at the bottom reminds me of how Sabertooth looked in the early 90’s X-Men cartoon…

  13. I always wondered what kind of message Firestorm gives but now I’m sure “When white people and black people work together you get nuclear zombie holokaust”

  14. Me, Myself & I (11)

    I don’t really see how. To my mind a HeroMachine redesign of a copyrighted character’s costume would count as fanart. And according to Wikipedia, fanart is protected under Fair Use if the use is done for noncommercial use, does not infringe on the copyright holder’s ability to make and exploit their own derivative works, and the “transformative” nature of the fan work. Admittedly I don’t understand that last provision at all, but a HeroMachine creation fits the other two easily I think.

  15. The UGO attorneys have spoken, and we will not be having any contests around copyrighted characters any time soon.

    Keep in mind that what you as an individual fan can get away with, we as a corporate entity who provides the software for you to do said anything with, are in a different boat. Also keep in mind that while we are confident we’d win any suit brought against us for allegedly infringing behavior sponsored and promoted by us, that doesn’t help pay the lawyer bills for defending ourselves.

  16. See I always thought the half-mask, simple spandex costume, and flaming hair was iconic. I do believe the wild hair version takes away from the idea of a energy-type character to a beast-type, but the classic Firestorm costume actually fits the powers Firestorm actually has!

  17. Interesting…. You should bring your suits to Brazil. Here if you get sued and win the opposing party has to pay your lawyer fees. Makes people think twice about frivolous lawsuits.

  18. Jeff (15)

    Fair enough. The lawyer fees probably would be a bitch even if you did win. More reason to support a loser-pays rule for civil suits.

  19. Hey Jeff, what you need is a contest with wacky, or satirical charecters.

  20. @punkjay, I was thinking the same thing. Like make a “Tick” type of character. Just something completely insane, like Chairface Chippendale.

  21. @ Dan I used to write my own comic called “The Sorry Squad” of all the reject super heroes who banded together for their own team.

  22. I like fire storm though, (the black one) hes awesome, you guys are just haters

  23. Check out this redesign over at Project Rooftop. Much better than the actual design DC is using:

  24. Thanks Tango! I meant to post a link to that earlier, I think that’s far and away the best Firestorm design I’ve ever seen. I love it.

  25. Speaking of costumes, how do these work? The image is a piece I got commissioned of the three true immortals from the comic I’m working on. The one on the right is the youngest, Frank Marion or Law Man. He is the grandson of McKnight (Michael Alan Colt or MAC), the central figure who happens to be the leader and founder of Hero Corps. The figure on the left is McKnight’s son, Overlord (Alexander Marion), the main villain of the series.

  26. Avatar Sean Murphy

    Wow, how long did you have to search to find that awful rendition of the Elemental Firestorm? When it was drawn half-competently all of that was flame, not fur, but that cover really does make him look like Sasquatch. Especially with the colors screwed up (that costume was all in reds and whites as I recall). Just – wow.

  27. On the subject of bad costumes, but not Firestorm, somebody please tell me that Supergirl never actually wore this.

  28. X-stacy (27):Ugh, that’s horrible. I mean, even Supes is holding his hand up as if he’s thinking, “Do not look directly at the costume, it is Kryptonite for the eyes.”

    Sadly, I can neither confirm nor deny that Supergirl ever wore that. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it.

  29. X-stacy (27): Holy cannoli, that is hideous! I think this cover actually represents the epic battle of ugliness between her costume and his supermullet.

  30. @X-Stacy, if it’s any consolation, that’s the stupid 90’s Supergirl that was an Angel(wait, WHAT???), but she wasn’t Kara Zor-El. It still sucks, but in a month, it will never have happened. Or something. DC is so confusing.

  31. That’s odd. She doesn’t look like an angel….

    Wait, wasn’t she also romantic with Lex-with-hair who was pretending to be his own son or something? And would that be the losing-his-hair guy who is also shielding his eyes from looking at her on that cover?

  32. @X-stacy. Yup. I swear to god, if the machines ever takes over, and we have to use the old “logic loop” to destroy the head machine, all we have to do is recite DC continuity. That’ll have it blown up real good like.

  33. @Dan: Not quite. When Supes had a mullet in the 90s, it was some alien thing that took the form of Supergirl. Angel Supergirl only came along later, and being written by Peter David, she was a damn sight nicer than the one we ended up getting later.