Friday, April 26, 2013

“This City’s Not For Burning!”

When last we left our hero, he was trapped, pinned beneath the falling supports of a burning building and the culprit, Firefist, appeared to be moving in for the kill. Well, after 30 days of waiting the team of Len Wein, Paris Cullins and Bruce Patterson return to finish Blue Beetle’s first adventure in the post-Crisis DCU.
Outside the Fire Chief laments that fighting this fire is doing no good. “…we just as well be spitting on those flames!” Not sure about the Chief’s grammar, but I get the point. When another fireman asks about BB,and the Chief continues spreading positive energy saying if he’s inside the fire he can “kiss his blue butt goodbye” Firefist has taken his arson skills to a new level!
Inside the burning building BB wonders how he ended up in this mess, and a very cool sequence, of 20 small panels over 1 ½ pages, that take us through Blue’s pinned down, claustrophobic, desperate attempt to escape while pinned in the burning rubble. And just as the building collapses, the Blue Beetle manages an escape worthy of Mister Miracle. But I did have to wonder…where was Firefist? Last issue ended with him closing in on Ted, but now? Ted appeared to be all alone inside. A quick page flip later and we see Firefist has headed back to his secret lair…a seedy hotel! We also get an origin/motivation flashback. See Firefist was once Lyle Byrnes, a lab researcher who was caught in an explosion. When the firemen responded a series of unfortunate events prevented them from saving him…and he although he survived, he was disfigured and full of vengeful hate.
Meanwhile, back at Kord Inc. Jeremiah and Melody are analyzing some charred wood Ted had dropped off. As they wrap it up Jeremiah notices that another piece of equipment is missing, “the fifth or sixth thing I’ve lost this month!” The mysterious janitor from last issue is still lurking around with his mind set on intercepting a delivery of promethium from STAR Labs. And we find out who, but not why, has caused those items to disappear from around the lab…Angie the receptionist! And on Pago Island, Conrad Carapax has set up camp when he begins hearing noises. He grabs a flash light to investigate and we get teased with a shot of one Jarvis Kord’s robots.
Ted has started been doing some detective work and figures out Firefist’s next target…the grand opening of the new Chicago Museum of Firefighting! That’s not all he knows…Ted knows Firefist’s identity. As they fight, Ted calls Lyle Byrnes by name several times which seems to rattle the flammable foe. They battle across the rooftop again, until it collapses, and Firefist is seemingly destroyed by the explosion of his own tanks…and takes out the entire museum with him.
Have I mentioned that I’m a big fan of Paris Cullins’ art? Like Ed McGuinness, a few years later, Cullins’ style had just the right blend of comic art and animation that for me made the pages come alive. The larger eyes, the facial expressions, the action...brilliant stuff!
See you next week! 

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1 comment:

  1. Just re-read this for the first time since '86. I used to have all 24 issues, lost them somewhere in the '90s, but managed to get them all over again for about $20 a couple weeks ago. Huge fan of the Ditko Beetle, have all the Charlton appearances too. No interest in the JLI one-note Beetle or the later versions.

    Anyway, this plot was used almost exactly on that Arrow TV show a few weeks back! I think these early issues were pretty good, and they sold well per the editor's notes in the letter columns.