Did you think that two heroes sharing the same super-identity was enough for a single tv show? Well, think again, because yet another component of Firestorm is coming to The Flash, and made a brief photograph-only appearance in Revenge of the Rogues. We’ve seen him on Caitlin Snow‘s tablet while she makes some researches on the F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. project, the same that may hold the key to understanding what happened to her not-so-dead fiancé: we’re speaking of Professor Martin Stein, who will be portrayed by Victor Garber. As for now, we know he was the head of the project, and that he called some mysterious friends for funds when the university wanted to shut him down… then he disappeared. Waiting to see what has happened to him in the show, let’s see what his fate has been in the comics… and I don’t think they will differ much.
Born in New York City, Martin Stein showed since his youth a natural talent towards science, and grew up to become a skilled physicist. Brilliant and self-confident, Stein gained the interest of a young woman, Clarissa Clemens, and he fell in love with her in turn: the two got married, and she supported him while he continued his researches. Stein specialized in nuclear physics, and his ideas for a new way of harnessing nuclear energy brought him to win the Nobel Prize. After that, his researches obtained a universal acclaim, and he even earned a job as a professor in Hudson University, where he could bring on his researches, while searching for young and fresh minds to nurture (some of the most brilliant ones would have become his assistants). One of his best students, a girl named Crystal Frost, even developed a schoolgirl crush on him, but he refused her attentions being faithful to his wife Clarissa. It was during his years in university that Stein came up with the idea he would have dedicated his entire life to: the Hudson Nuclear Power Plant, the world’s first absolutely safe atomic testing center, the synthesis of an entire life spent in research. The power plant became an obsession for Stein, and he dedicated all of his time to its design: completely focused on his project, Stein neglected to pay some attention even to his wife, who soon got tired of coming for second in her husband’s line of priority and obtained divorce. Distressed by the failure of his marriage, Stein had to face yet another trouble when he found out one of his coworkers, Danton Black, was stealing his work to sell it to rival firms: the professor fired Black, but he swore revenge, threats that Stein wrongly didn’t take seriously.
The night before the inauguration, Stein was still in the plant to check the last data, but the place was attacked by an environmental extremist group called the Coalition to Resist Atomic Power. The Coalition’s leader, Eddie Earhart, wanted to destroy the power plant for good, and when Stein tried to stop him, the younger man easily knocked him out. Tied up and unconscious, Professor Stein was left in the core room with tons of TNT ready to explode: he was saved by one of the members of the Coalition, Ronnie Raymond, who had changed his mind about the group’s ideas when he saw what Eddie was ready to do. Ronnie took Stein on his shoulders and tried to run away, but it was too late: the explosion invested them both, and the immense burst of energy disrupted the two men to a molecular level. Instead of killing them, however, the explosion fused them into one being: since Stein was unconscious at the time of the explosion, he now existed as a disembodied conscience inside Ronnie’s mind. As soon as he realized what had happened, Stein tried to find a way to separate himself from the teenager, but he gave up the moment the process seemed to be irreversible. The explosion of the power plant had created a form of energy that would have been known as the Firestorm Matrix, the same energy that was now keeping Martin Stein and Ronnie Raymond together as a single being: the two of them decided to use their newfound powers to protect New York, and became the superhero known as Firestorm, the Nuclear Man. Stein’s past kept haunting him, as the first two nemesis that Firestorm had to face were his old acquaintances: one was Danton Black, now the villain Multiplex, who had obtained superpowers in the same explosion that had created Firestorm; the other one was Crystal Frost, Stein’s former student, who had become the super-powered villainess known as Killer Frost. Luckily enough, Stein was old and wise enough to guide the young and rushy Ronnie (when he wanted to listen to him, of course), and he also understood the potentialities of their powers thanks to his knowledge of nuclear physics: together they formed the ultimate combo team.
Martin Stein is a brilliant man, an absolute genius in his own field whose intellect however brings him often to egocentricity, arrogance and even depression (he’s been an alcoholic for a while). As Firestorm, he possesses a variety of incredible powers, going from flight to energy absorption and emission, from augmented physical attributes to regeneration, from density control to increased brain functions, resulting in one of the world’s most powerful beings. As a disembodied talking head (at least, that’s how Ronnie sees him), Stein must be the voice of reason in the young man’s conscience, instructing him (and scolding him) on what to do and how to do it… with all the frustration coming from being constantly and deliberately ignored.