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Brightest Day #22 Post-Game Report **SPOILERS**

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Warning, the following contains SPOILERS for Brightest Day #22.








Okay seriously, we’re about to discuss some HUGE Firestorm-related spoilers.  If you haven’t read the issue, I strongly encourage you to avoid reading what follows.








After several issues with no Firestorm appearance, this time we’re treated to an entire issue devoted to our favorite Nuclear Man!  The general premise of the issue is Firestorm trying to rescue the White Lantern from the Anti-Monitor.  A lot happens and Firestorm’s subplots are wrapped up to make way for the big Brightest Day finale.


This is the comic book I never wanted to read – the death of Professor Martin Stein.  Ouch, it’s not pleasant to type either.  Old school fans will be quick to point out that we watched the Professor die back in 1987 in Firestorm Annual #5, but I never really believed he was dead (and I was eventually proven correct).  This time it looks like a definitive death for him.  In my 30 years reading comics, I’ve seen several characters die. For whatever reason this one is bothering me more than most. In fact, this is bothering me more than Ronnie’s death back in 2004.

Brightest Day #22 - The Death of Professor Martin Stein

Brightest Day #22 - The Death of Professor Martin Stein

I reached out to Firestorm co-creator Gerry Conway to ask his thoughts on the death of Professor Martin Stein.  This is what he had to say:

Well, not to be too cavalier about it, but it isn’t the first time he’s died, as I recall. I’m sorry they decided to kill him off but I understand why they did it — to clear the way for the Ronnie/Jason duo, and to put some emotion behind it, as well as balance the death of Jason’s other half.  Honestly, I prefer having Martin die heroically rather than being written out the way they dealt with him in the past.

Anyway, for me, the important result is the return of Ronnie Raymond and the basic dynamic of ordinary jock fused with extraordinary intellectual. Having them both be teenagers, with the complicated history they now share, seems like a smart idea. I just hope it results in a successful revival of the character.

As for Martin being dead… Being dead in comics ain’t as permanent as it used to be, right?

I think Gerry touched on several good reasons why DC decided to kill the Professor in Brightest Day. While I grasp the storytelling reasons for killing Martin, it still saddens me.  I believe with the amazing creativity of Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi they could have found another way to push Ronnie and Jason forward as a team without killing the Professor.  Great characterization doesn’t always have to stem from another characters death.  Martin’s role throughout Brightest Day demonstrated that he was still a viable supporting character. Professor Stein has had such a difficult life (check out Mark Baker-Wright’s blog to see exactly how hard Stein’s life has been), it’s sad to see it end so tragically.  Heck, I find him so interesting I would have read a monthly comic about a powerless Martin Stein and his scientific mis-adventures!

While I understand their reasons for killing Professor Stein and respect their right to make that decision, I’m still disappointed.  With that said, I gotta admit the death scene itself is very well-written.  It really pulls on the heartstrings.  Ronnie’s attempt to save Jason, and Martin’s attempt to save them both was touching.  Stein’s last line was exactly what it should have been.


The art in this issue is exceptional!  Scott Clark and Dave Beaty really outdid themselves this time!  Just to clear up any possible confusion caused by the credits, the entire issue is penciled by Scott Clark and inked by Dave Beaty (with the exception of the last two pages that were done by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado).  My thanks to Dave Beaty for providing me the straight scoop on that.

Compared to Clark and Beaty’s earlier issues of Brightest Day, this one is a lot darker.  The use of heavy shadows and darker backgrounds sets a bleak and claustrophobic mood.  The action scenes are very dynamic and contrast the aura of impending doom.  You really get the sense that the entire story has been building to this moment and everything is on the line.

Some of my favorite artistic moments include: the opening splash page of the Anti-Monitor over the White Lantern (see below), Firestorm shadowy splash page as he begins his attack, the Anti-Monitor without his helmet (LOL!), the giant match, and Professor Stein’s entire death scene.  Truthfully I love every panel, but those are some that jump out at me.

Brightest Day #22 splash page - click to enlarge

Below you’ll find the standard cover by Gary Frank and Nathan Eyring and the variant cover by Ivan Reis.  While both covers are nice, I really wish they’d let Scott Clark and Dave Beaty draw a cover for this one.  They’ve earned it.

Brightest Day #22 cover featuring Firestorm and the Anti-Monitor by David Finch

Brightest Day #22 cover featuring Black Lantern Firestorm Deathstorm by Ivan Reis


Several issues ago the White Lantern entity spoke to both Ronnie and Jason giving them a mission.  “Ronald Raymond of Earth, you need to study. Jason Rusch of Earth, you need to get your head out of the books. Learn from each other so you can stop him. Don’t let him destroy me.” In this issue, Ronnie and Jason work together really well and save the White Lantern.  Then White Lantern declares their mission accomplished.  Here is where I’m confused a little.  If their mission is to prevent the Anti-Monitor from destroying the White Lantern, then shouldn’t their mission be accomplished the moment Firestorm gets a hold of the lantern?  Instead the White Lantern waits seven pages to declare their mission accomplished.  In the meantime Professor Stein is murdered.  Nothing changes with the lantern itself during this time, so really it should have declared the mission accomplished the moment Firestorm grabbed the White Lantern.  Does this make sense to anyone else?  I understand the delay from a storytelling perspective, but not from the mechanics of the mission.


The ending feels somewhat anti-climatic.  In the blink of an eye, the White Lantern defeats the Anti-Monitor, Deathstorm, and the Black Lanterns.  Additionally, Alvin Rusch is safely whisked away home.  This deus ex machina robs us of a big showdown between Firestorm and Deathstorm.  After 22 issues, I feel we deserve to see Firestorm totally stomp Deathstorm. I can’t help but wonder if this was always planned or was a shortcut taken due to the recent page reduction from 22 to 20 pages.

I believe it’s safe to say we’ll see Deathstorm again some day.  In fact, Brightest Day Editor Eddie Berganza said at the C2E2 convention this past weekend when asked about the Black Lanterns, “One of my rules is that if you see a toy of a character in Wal-Mart, it’s pretty likely they’ll stick around.”  He noted that Deathstorm had appeared in a two-pack with Firestorm.

Over at The Indigo Tribe, our buddy liquidcross points out in his review of Brightest Day #22 that we still don’t know where Deathstorm originated.  Great observation!  Was he a creation of the Anti-Monitor?  Was he the original Black Lantern Firestorm that killed Gehenna?  If so, how did he survive the end of Blackest Night?   It is looking like Brightest Day will end with these questions unanswered.  Hopefully whatever spin-offs come from Brightest Day will provide us with a rematch between Firestorm and Deathstorm and some answers.


Overall I really enjoyed this issue!  Great action, lots of drama, and multiple subplots resolved.  The death of the Professor stings, but the best thing we can do is keep moving and look forward to future adventures with Ronnie and Jason.  Things are really ramping up for the big Brightest Day finale!  I can’t wait to see where things go from here!

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  1. Ed says:

    It wasn’t really as much of a disappointment to me, regarding Martin’s death, as it was to you because I know one day he will return. I find it difficult to get emotionally moved or shocked to see a character die these days in comics because characters don’t stay dead in comics. In fact, I would have been more surprised if the Martin Stein saving of Jason and Ronnie would have resulted in Martin not dying. More so, I would love to see that in comics, the surprising non-death of a character. Killing a character off has become so clichéd in comic books these days.
    Conway nailed it when he stated, “As for Martin being dead… Being dead in comics ain’t as permanent as it used to be, right?”

  2. liquidcross says:

    Thanks for the shout-out! And excellent commentary, as usual. You picked up quite a few things that I missed.

    FYI, the regular cover was illustrated by Gary Frank and Nathan Eyring, not David Finch. (He’s been taking a well-deserved break, I imagine.)

  3. Shag says:

    @liquidcross – Thanks for the clarification! I thought it didn’t look like David Finch, but I was going by the DC original solicit. Also, the “GF” signature looks a lot like “DF”. I’ll edit the main article to reflect this correction.


  4. Brandon DP says:

    Well, Stein did die in an event where they are bringing back dead characters. Maybe we’ll see him again in a couple of weeks.

  5. Ben Ronning says:

    I had a feeling that Martin Stein wouldn’t make it out of Brightest Day alive at about halfway through the series. Then again as everyone has already said here, since when is death permanent in comics? (Or any other mediums for that matter.)

  6. I’ve already said much of this to Shag privately, but I’ll go public here.

    I still haven’t provided an update to the third part of the “Hard of Life of Martin Stein” series, and am not yet sure how and when I will. As I note there, Stein’s status was left ambiguous at the end of Countdown. Honestly, I don’t see 1) how he survived at all, 2) how he got back to our Earth from any of the multiple Earths he might have been abandoned on during that series. At any rate, Stein was certainly not rejoined to the Firestorm matrix at that time, and we remained stuck with Jason/Gehenna until Blackest Night. From the beginning of Blackest Night–when we get our first confirmation that the professor is both alive and on the “main” Earth–to his death here, I can’t really tell that he does anything of value other than die again. (He does give us a bit of an info-dump on the current nature of the Firestorm matrix, but this could easily have been accomplished by the Atom on his own, and I still question the reliability of some of Stein’s theories, which strike more as “guesses” based on limited evidence rather than real “conclusions” borne out by the research.)

    Back when Jason was paired with Stein, there was such promise. Older mentor with new guy. And so much of that was wasted (Stein was kidnapped and pulled out of the matrix for roughly the first half of that last part of Jason’s series run, and then pulled out again at the end of it). We’ve been left to accept that Stein and Jason bonded during “One Year Later” without ever really getting to see any of it.

    As has been said, at this point, it’s best to move on. I’m not really holding out any hope for a Stein resurrection this time. The writers have signaled their clear intention for the future (even if they did so quite sloppily, in my opinion, by saving Jason’s dad off-panel while keeping Stein dead), and it’s too late to fill in the potential that should have happened several years ago at this point.

  7. Spinks says:

    I agree mostly with you here Shag. Solid job. Strong comments here too…

    The “death” of Stein, and a Gina for that matter, will be subplots for the new series (fingers crossed). I don’t see these characters–ideas or in the flesh–going away here soon.

    I will point out that “Salt” is necessary for life.

    Perhaps a new hero/villian called “The Salt Shaker”… okay, this idea here is just stupid.


  8. Frank says:

    I won’t read my copy for another few weeks, but my sentiments seem to echo Conway’s. I like Stein, but I feel like he dilutes Rusch as the resident brain, and I think you get better tension/dynamic out of two young men of different stripes without Stein playing referee. It’s more important to me to build and maintain Jason Rusch as a permanent fixture, and Stein’s death really secures Jason as the anchor of the Firestorm matrix.

    I also have to disagree on Scott Clark’s art, which I find close to terrible. I liked him from Alpha Flight backwards, but his modern computer enabled stick figures with crosshatching totally turns me off.

  9. I don’t have the issue in front of me, but doesn’t the White Lantern ONLY say “Ronald Raymond of Earth. Mission Completed”? What about Jason?

    Or did the Lantern call Jason’s name too?

  10. Wait, I’m a moron. Jason wasn’t resurrected. Of course Ronnie would be the only one the White Lantern would return life to.

    Nevermind. I’m dumb.

  11. Spinks says:

    Hmm… does Firestorm look different when he is returned to Earth?

    Is he drawn slightly differently because Ronnie is really alive now “Misson Accomplished. Life Returned”–as the white lantern states?

    Or is just a artistic thing? the face he’s in the white light of the lantern? Or just that my artistic eyes are too bad?


  12. Shag says:

    Spinks – I think it’s just artist interpretation. I think the costume is basically the same.

  13. Spinks says:

    Shag–yeah, you probably right. Color tones are always tough for me to see (my wife claims I’m a bit color blind). Also, sometimes I read to much into things. But hey, that’s part of the fun right?

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