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The Elemental War: Splash Pages… literally

Back in 1989 the forces of nature engaged in fierce battle while the human race cowered in fear.  Water, fire, wind, and earth raged against one another to determine the fate of mankind.  This was THE ELEMENTAL WAR!

“The Elemental War” ran four issues through Firestorm vol II #90 – #93.  The comics were written by John Ostrander and drawn by Tom Mandrake.  The story featured a newly-created water elemental and the Red Tornado (in his air Elemental form) as they attempted to cleanse the Earth.  Firestorm (the fire Elemental) and the Swamp Thing (the earth Elemental) opposed water and air, eventually convincing them to give humanity another chance.

“The Elemental War” was such a fantastic storyline!  Excellent, thought-provoking writing combined with stunning visuals!  What more could you ask for?!?!?  For the rest of this week we’ll be looking at some pages from “The Elemental War”.  We’re only going to touch on certain elements of this story, rather than a comprehensive review.  If you want the complete story, be sure to pick up these comics from the back issue bins.  Along the way this week, a few other bloggers might join us in our coverage.  Stay tuned for more on that later this week.

As I re-read Ostrander’s run on Firestorm, I was once again impressed with the maturity displayed in these comics.  While most series in the late 80s featured a villain-of-the-month, Firestorm was regularly tackling socially relevant subjects such as: environmental pollution, international politics, famine, philosophy, cancer, and the grief resulting from the loss of a loved one.  These stories went well beyond other standard superhero comics of the age.  In fact, these issues really straddled the fence between superhero and mature reader comics.

“The Elemental War” focused primarily on environmental pollution.  This story also demonstrated how international the series was at the time.  These issues took our hero from the coast of Alaska to New York City, and then to Russia, Africa, and finally Japan.  He definitely got around!

Y’know, DC has pretty much closed the door on the Elemental Firestorm in Brightest Day, however, I believe this story is an ideal candidate for their new DC Comics Presents reprint program.  It’s a great self-contained tale that is big on action and writing.  I’d love to see it get the collected treatment.  In the meantime, be sure to seek out these issues from back issue dealers, or simply re-read them if you already own them.

Okay enough of my jibber-jabber.  Time for some beautiful Tom Mandrake artwork!  Below you’ll find the splash page to Firestorm #91.  Get it?  “Splash” page?  I’m funny.  Click the image to enlarge.

Firestorm #91 splash page by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake

Below you’ll find another splash page, this one from the climatic battle in Firestorm #93.  Click the image to enlarge.

Firestorm #93 splash page by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake

Below you’ll find the four gorgeous Tom Mandrake covers to “The Elemental War”.  Issue #91 features one of my all-time favorite Firestorm covers!  Also, I really dig the iconic pose for the Elemental Firestorm on the cover to issue #92.

Firestorm #90 by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake

Firestorm #91 by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake

Firestorm #92 by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake

Firestorm #93 by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake

That’s all for today.  Check back here tomorrow for more Elemental War action!

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  1. Ed says:

    I LOVED the look of Firestorm during this time. The cover to issue #93 was just plain awesome.

  2. Neil says:

    I got into Firestorm shortly after it was canceled and thanks to second-hand bookstores found a good portion of this run. I loved reading the elemental saga, I really think that was when Ostrander hit his stride. This, and the Vuldarian Guy Gardner represent some widely panned ideas that had excellent writing, but most people can’t seem to get behind the premise.

    Mandrake really knocked it out of the park, too, but the colorist should get some credit, because the colors on that first splash page were among the most vibrant in the days before computer coloring. Hard to believe that was before computer tools like Photoshop.

    I really liked the look of the Elemental Firestorm. I wish DC would utilize it as a “powered-up” form for Firestorm. I would love to see Jason and Ronnie be able to merge to this form for short periods of time when they both get on the same wavelength and need extra power. I’m not advocating for getting rid of the current look, just for them to use this every once in a while when the extra power is needed and both characters can be in sync. Brightest Day keeps pushing the negatives of their union, specifically destroying the universe if they continue to argue, shouldn’t there be an upside?

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