Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
In the first issue of Futures End, Green Arrow was killed and Firestorm didn’t help save him, because the controlling half of the superhero, Ronnie, turned off his phone to have sex, meaning the passive half of the superhero, Jason, had to run around and find him, wasting too much time in the process to be of any help. In the second issue, Jason continued to berate Ronnie at the funeral of Green Arrow even as Arsenal irrationally blamed Firestorm for the death of someone he took no role in killing. In the third issue, Ronnie has, apparently, not stopped being Firestorm since that time, basically holding Jason hostage. This is the most interesting plot in Futures End. This is what I love about this comic.
Within both ‘real world’ and ‘comic book world’ morality, what Ronnie is doing is wrong. It just is. He’s holding Jason hostage in the weird Firestorm mental limbo that Jason is forced to inhabit when they are joined to form the superhero. Jason has no control and is just a disembodied mind as Ronnie has total control. There is no way to justify Ronnie’s actions.
The best part of their exchange is when Jason argues that his being trapped within Firestorm will ruin his life: he’ll miss final exams, he’ll lose his scholarship, he’ll lose his job… BEING A SUPERHERO 24/7 WILL NEGATIVELY AFFECT HIS PERSONAL LIFE. His argument for why Ronnie should let him go is the very thing he blames Ronnie for doing: wanting a life outside of Firestorm. Would Jason leave his cell phone/JLA communicator/whatever superhero calling device he may have on during a final exam? If it rang, would he answer it? Would he leave? Would he sacrifice what’s important to him for the greater good? And, if he turned off his phone while taking a final exam (as is one of the rules of every final exam I have taken), would he be at fault if Green Arrow was blown up by someone? No reasonable person would think so.
Yet, Ronnie is at fault for turning off his phone for personal reasons? While one could argue that a final exam is more ‘important’ than sex, that’s really a matter of the person. One of the pieces of dialogue that sticks with me comes from Ronnie: “You say that being a hero takes precedence. I’m giving Firestorm to the world 24/7. Isn’t that what you want?” Jason says that it isn’t what he wants and we’re meant to understand that his puritanical judgment of his partner walks a fine line between advocating being a superhero nonstop and… actually, I’m not sure what he means. He seems to mean that having sex isn’t a good enough reason to have a private life. For Jason, his life seems based around his schooling; for Ronnie, it’s based around his social life. Each would claim that the other has his priorities in the wrong place, but both would be wrong. Each is seeking to experience their life as they want. Neither answer is more valid than the other. If Jason is entitled to his personal life, then so is Ronnie. Ironically, if Ronnie blamed himself, I have no doubt that Jason would absolve him of that guilt. That’s fucked up, man.
As often seems to be the case in superhero comics (and a lot of fiction, actually; almost every episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, for example), I find myself siding with the person deemed to be In The Wrong. By token of his forced confinement of Jason, Ronnie is wrong. There is no escaping that. Yet, the point he makes is valid. Based on Jason’s words, neither man has room for a personal life when it could distract from saving the lives of others. Why aren’t they Firestorm 24/7? It seems that Firestorm doesn’t need rest considering he’s been active nonstop since Green Arrow’s funeral. There seems to be no reason not to be a superhero all of the time. Except Jason has his life and he doesn’t want anything to infringe upon it. He may go about it wrong, but Ronnie exposes the shameful hypocrisy of his partner. For that, Jason vows to kill Ronnie. Not everyone’s cut out to be a hero, I guess.
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