Hi Robbie (and folks new to Firestorm),
Congratulations on being cast as Ronnie Raymond in the upcoming CW show, THE FLASH! I wanted to send a note welcoming you to the wonderful world of Firestorm the Nuclear Man! Reaction to your casting from fans of Firestorm (affectionately known as “Match-heads”) has been incredibly positive! Everyone is excited by the news and your joining the show. I’m not sure if you’ve had a chance to research Firestorm, but I thought providing a high-level overview might be helpful to you and folks unfamiliar with the character.
You’re the third actor to tackle the role of Ronnie Raymond, but the first in live action. Previous actors who voiced Ronnie Raymond in animation were Marc L. Taylor and Bill Fagerbakke, so you’re in good company.
Firestorm was created by Gerry Conway (writer) and Al Milgrom (artist) and first appeared on comic book shelves in December 1977. In addition to creating Firestorm, Conway is also known for creating Marvel’s Punisher & Batman’s foe Killer Croc, a lengthy and popular stint writing Spider-Man comics, and several writing and producing credits for TV & film. Firestorm went on to join the Justice League of America in March 1980, a tale also written by Conway.
As originally conceived, the character of Firestorm (and thus Ronnie Raymond) was similar to Marvel’s Spider-Man. An impulsive teenager with fantastic powers, an upbeat attitude, quick with the snappy banter, and adventures full of personal drama. The primary difference between Ronnie Raymond and Peter Parker (Spider-Man), was that Ronnie is more of a “dumb jock” than a brainy nerd. Ronnie’s heart was in the right place, but he didn’t always make the best decisions. The descriptive word most often associated with those early Firestorm adventures is, “Fun.” Firestorm was a fun comic to read and fun character to cheer for. This translated into success for the character and was one of DC Comics bestsellers in the early 1980s.
One of the unique aspects of Firestorm is that he’s a composite being. At will, two people fuse together to form the “nuclear man” Firestorm. While there have been several variations on the character over the years, typically Firestorm is formed by the merging of Ronnie Raymond and either Martin Stein or Jason Rusch. Originally Ronnie partnered with Nobel Prize-winning physicist Professor Martin Stein through the late-1980s. In more recent years, Ronnie has been partnered with the scientifically-gifted teenager Jason Rusch. Ronnie is prominently in command of the Firestorm form with the second person acting as a voice of reason inside his mind. Banter between the two individuals making up Firestorm is a hallmark of their adventures. Below you’ll find Firestorm’s Who’s Who entry from 1985 detailing the characters origin and powers, followed by his more recent Who’s Who in the New 52 entry from 2012. Click the images to enlarge.
Ronnie Raymond has an interesting and surprising history in the comics with the character of Felicity Smoak, a regular on Arrow played by Emily Bett Rickards. In the comics, Firestorm’s super-heroic actions caused 8 million dollars worth of damage to Felicity’s software company. Her response was to sue Firestorm for negligence! Meanwhile Felicity had fallen in love with Ronnie’s father, eventually marrying him and becoming Ronnie’s step-mother. I suspect that same story won’t play out between Arrow and The Flash. Another character from the comics connected to Firestorm is Caitlin Snow, a regular on The Flash played by Danielle Panabaker. In the comics, Caitlin is the latest incarnation of Killer Frost, Firestorm’s arch-nemesis. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out on The Flash given the announcement that Caitlin Snow will be Ronnie Raymond’s fiancee. Exciting!
If you are interested in reading more about Ronnie Raymond and Firestorm, I recommend two collected editions of his adventures. Firestorm: The Nuclear Man features the earliest adventures of Ronnie Raymond & Professor Martin Stein (comics from 1977-1980). While The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Vol. 3: Takeover collects the more recent adventures of Ronnie Raymond & Jason Rusch (comics from 2012-2013).
Ronnie Raymond has a substantial fan base. Beyond those reading his adventures today, there are many people who fondly remember his appearances on the Super Friends cartoon and his 1980s comics. I started this FIRESTORM FAN blog back in 2009 as a way to celebrate all aspects of the character. With over half a million visitors, more than 900 posts, writer and artist interviews, and lots of followers on social media, I’m proud this site has become the primary source for Firestorm fandom.
I think I speak for most Match-heads when I say we’re excited to finally see this character come to life! Whatever direction the writers, producers, directors or you take the character, we’ll be supporting you in this role and watching every week!
Shag Matthews (a.k.a. The Irredeemable Shag)
PS: Support Firestorm! Fan the flame!