Firestorm Fan Rotating Header Image

Hi, My Name is Ronnie Raymond and I’m an Alcoholic

Many Firestorm fans have expressed concerns about Ronnie’s drinking in the current Brightest Day series considering his battle with alcoholism in the mid-1990s.  If you examine Brightest Day by itself, I think it’s quite understandable that a college-aged young man who just returned from the dead would enjoy a good drink.  However things become a bit more complex when you look at his history with drinking.

During the Extreme Justice series in the mid-90s, Ronnie Raymond began drinking heavily.  At the start of the series, Ronnie was no longer Firestorm and was undergoing treatment for leukemia.  Due to a series of incidents involving chemotherapy, the Justice League, and the Elemental Firestorm, Ronnie was miraculously cured of leukemia and he regained his Firestorm powers (this time he was flying solo with no one else sharing the matrix).  Somewhere in here Ronnie adopted a “live for today” attitude.  This translated into Ronnie drinking more often.  Eventually Ronnie’s drinking interfered with his superheroic activities.  See below…

Extreme Justice #16  (May 1996)

  • Writer: Robert L. Washington III
  • Pencils: Tom Morgan
  • Inks: Ken Branch

Firestorm and alcoholism in Extreme Justice #16

Firestorm and alcoholism in Extreme Justice #16

Firestorm and alcoholism in Extreme Justice #16

Now we skip forward a few pages…

Firestorm and alcoholism in Extreme Justice #16

The follow-up to this story was published in Showcase ’96 two months later.  It was a surprisingly dark and serious look at addiction.  See below…

Showcase ’96 #6 & #7  (July & August 1996)

  • Storm’s Clearing – Part 1: Drying Out and Chasing the Clouds Away
  • Writer: Robert L. Washington III
  • Artist: Randy DuBurke

Firestorm and alcoholism in Showcase 96 #6

Firestorm and alcoholism in Showcase 96 #6

Firestorm and alcoholism in Showcase 96 #6

The second issue continued the dark and serious themes.  Here is how the story ended…

Firestorm and alcoholism in Showcase 96 #7

Firestorm and alcoholism in Showcase 96 #7

As you can see, DC took the time to deal with Ronnie’s alcoholism very seriously.  It’s not often that a comic addresses real-life issues like alcoholism in such a way.   Whether you liked these stories or not, you gotta admire DC for being brave enough to publish them.

So as you can imagine, long-time fans of Firestorm are concerned about Ronnie falling off the wagon.  To be fair, in Brightest Day we’ve only see Ronnie drink a few times.  We don’t actually know how much or how often he’s been drinking.  It’s implied that he’s getting blitzed a lot, but we don’t know for sure.  It’s quite possible this is part of the building story.  Perhaps Brightest Day will deal with Ronnie’s continued struggle with alcoholism.  In 2002 during a JLA story it was revealed that Ronnie had at least one night of binge drinking, but that is the only reference I’m aware of after Showcase ’96 and prior to Brightest Day.  Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi are excellent writers and I’m hopeful this Brightest Day subplot will resolve itself, yet pay respect to what has come before.

This post was inspired by Scott Mateo’s entries on the Comic Book Resources forum and the ComicBloc forum.  On those sites Scott posted the majority of these scans.  I’ve added a few here myself to further show the impact of the story.  My thanks to Scott for his inspiration!  Visit the thread at Comic Book Resources by clicking hereVisit the thread at ComicBloc by clicking here.

Support Firestorm! Fan the flame!

Related Posts with Thumbnails


  1. SDF-7 says:

    Nice summary/recap.

    To be honest, though — Ron taking up drinking in the first place never sat right with me. After seeing Martin go through it and helping him back to sobriety, it just doesn’t seem likely that he’d leap into the
    bottle himself and he showed no real tendency to “party hard” back in high school or in his college days before Extreme Justice. Of course, neither does it seem really likely that after serving well with the League for whatever-time-DC-allows-after-the-last-Universal-reboot (what is it now, Dick Grayson was Robin for 2 months or something?) and coming to terms rather well with his father (the Showcase story really slipped on that — Ron hadn’t had Daddy issues for quite some time) that Underwear Model would be the top of his list of things to be.

    On the plus side — while the first couple issues really worried me, Mr. Johns clearly showing that Ron remembers more than he was letting on makes me more willing to wait and see… if this Ron is, in fact, putting on an act to hide what he really does remember [both from himself and from others], I can understand the behavior. Getting to this point (and any character development) by 1.5 pages every few weeks sure is frustrating, though…

  2. Frank says:

    Whatever happened to Randy DuBurke anyway? That guy fell right off.

    I usually like Tom Morgan, but those pages were terrible. I think he was still trying to exaggerate like Mark Campos, because I recall his later stuff on the book being better.

    I always thought drunk Firestorm was a stupid development, and having an Iron Man alum draw it only made the inspiration more blatant. It’s just like when pre-Ollie control freak Hal Jordan got that retroactive D.U.I. Even the original overrated “Demon in a Bottle” was simplistic crap. It all amounts to using a social ill to give a character a “realistic edge.” Only recovering alcoholic Denny O’Neil ever got it right, with the depressing downward spiral of addiction Tony Stark faced over a span of years, rather than a couple of sensationalist issues. In short: due nut wahn moar.

  3. Rick says:

    I never read these stories so I was not aware that Ronnie was an alcoholic. I was aware that Professor Stein was but not Ronnie. In the past with things like the death of Superman, death of Captain America, Wonder Woman’s costume change, etc. they made the mainstream news. How come important stories like this one against alcoholism doesn’t make the news?

  4. Scott Mateo says:

    Rick —

    Some tend to believe Ronnie’s alcoholism was derived from Professor Stein since they both shared certain traits due to the merging between the two individuals. As to why this never made the news, EXTREME JUSTICE wasn’t a title DC was pushing at the time. Actually none of the JL books were – this all took place before Morrisson reunited the “Big 7″.

    Hope this helps!

    P.S. Great article btw!!!

  5. Luke says:

    The Denny O’Neil run on Iron Man with Stark drunk on the streets is usually glossed over — and that’s pretty darn unfair, considering there is some great stuff in there. There’s some melodrama, too, but that’s to be expected. Stark’s recovery over the span of months and months (for the reader) is moving and involved, and damn fine comics.

    I don’t have such a harsh opinion about Demon In A Bottle. Bob & Dave had built up to that story for quite a while and they’re original plans didn’t have the “easy out” which Tony is often accused of having. I have always dug the alcoholism as a weakness for Tony, though. The chestplate/rechargable heart was passe by that time and too much of a crutch in the Silver Age, whereas the alcoholism makes more sense and doesn’t crop up every dang issue.

    Regarding Firestorm, I didn’t read much DC at this time besides Superman and Fate (yeah, Jared Stevens rocked the party that rocked your body) so I did not know he had a bout of binge drinking. Insofar as Brightest Day, I wonder — what age is Ronnie supposed to be? Maybe he doesn’t remember ever being a drunk? I suppose he was older during these Extreme Justice stories. Perhaps he is destined to start drinking to deal with the stressors of his life?

  6. […] stayed with the Extreme Justice team for about a year until his alcoholism began interfering with his superheroics.  After Extreme Justice, Firestorm languished in obscurity for nearly 10 years.  During this […]

  7. Robert Gross says:

    Scott Mateo is exactly right. Ron’s alcoholism works because it was long established that Ron derived thought patterns and traits from Martin due to the fusion. In the storyline leading up to Ron’s graduation from high school (FOF #40), Ron aced his chemistry test without studying, simply because he already knew the answers from sharing a brain with Martin. I still remember the dialogue to this day: “Professor, something weird happened today on my chem test. I knew all the answers.” “And the weird part?” “Professor, that *was* the weird part!”

  8. […] Ronnie’s bout with alcoholism wasn’t enough to deter him completely from the occasional drink. Next we return to the […]

  9. […] also wrote the two part Firestorm story “Storm’s Clearing” that appeared in the DC anthology series Showcase ’96.  “Storm’s Clearing” addressed the […]

Leave a Reply