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Firestorm II
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  • Real Name: Jason Thomas Rusch
  • Alias: Firestorm, The Nuclear Man
  • Identity: Secret
  • Alignment: Good
  • Gender: Male
  • Hair: Black, Eyes: Brown
  • Occupation: University student; former food server at "Bryson's Family Treat"; former mascot at "Ho-Ho Charlie's Chicken Shack"; former intern at S.T.A.R. Labs
  • First appearance: Firestorm Vol 3 #1 (July, 2004)

History[]

Jason Rusch was a seventeen year old teenager living in Detroit, who wanted nothing more than to escape his home city. He lived with his father, who had turned abusive after he lost his hand in an industrial accident. His mother left his father sometime after the accident, leaving the young Jason with his father. Jason later recalled that his father had hit him on four occasions. With the loss of a job he needed to fund college, so Jason turned to a local tough for money, accepting a job as a courier. It was on that job that he encountered the Firestorm Matrix, searching for a new host after Ronnie Raymond's death.

Ronnie had been fighting a supervillain called the Shadow Thief. Taking the Shining Knight's sword, the Shadow Thief drove it through Ronnie's chest. The magical sword ruptured the Nuclear Man's containment field, resulting in Firestorm's body exploding, and his residual essence funneling into Jason's body. In the aftermath, Jason struggled to cope with his new identity and powers - a struggle that led to the death of the man who'd hired him.

Eventually, Jason managed to develop a degree of control over his powers. Unfortunately, being Firestorm drew a lot of attention towards him, some of it unpleasant, and Jason found himself up against a number of supervillains - some interested in Firestorm's power, others seeking revenge for the actions of Ronnie's Firestorm. However, when Jason initiated a merge with Lorraine Reilly, the superheroine Firehawk, something in the combination brought out Ronnie Raymond, or at least that part of him which remained in the Firestorm Matrix. Ronnie remained with Jason as part of Firestorm until he appeared to dissipate during battle with Cliff Carmichael, the Thinker.

Shortly after Jason's eighteenth birthday, a few weeks after Ronnie's dissipation, Jason was kidnapped by the new Secret Society of Super-Villains for use as a power source in a hidden complex. Freed when the new Secret Six launched a raid on the complex, Jason discovered two important things: he had a fellow prisoner (a mysterious girl named Gehenna), and his imprisonment by the Society had significantly depowered him.

Together, Jason and Gehenna escaped the complex, destroying it in the process. Gehenna disappeared in the aftermath but telepathically promised Firestorm that she'd see him again. Donna Troy recruited Firestorm - this time comprised of Jason and his best friend Mick Wong - for her outer space team to fight the oncoming disruption from the Infinite Crisis.
Infinite Crisis

Firestorm was fatally wounded in the line of duty during the Crisis, but Jason was rescued by Martin Stein, still alive in space as the "Elemental Firestorm" (unfortunately, Martin had been unable to save Mick). Martin linked with Jason in a variation of the merge, promising him a new Firestorm body to let him return to battle, and asking him about the fate of Ronnie Raymond. While Martin had retained his link to the Firestorm Matrix, he had been unaware of Ronnie's death, and the Matrix's transfer to Jason.

Accepting Martin's offer, Jason asked him to become the permanent second member of the Firestorm Matrix. Sensing his "errors", including Mick's death, were the result of his youth and lack of experience, he sought the experience and maturity of the elder Professor Stein. Martin refused at first, but Jason managed to find a spark of humanity in the distanced and apparently cold Martin - his sorrow for both Ronnie's death, and the deaths of a planet of aliens he had watched over. Martin finally accepted Jason's request, thus ensuring both a new Firestorm body and the reconstruction of human bodies for both Jason and Martin. Firestorm returned to action, confronting the source of the instability, the cosmological interference of Alexander Luthor, which had torn a rift in space. Firestorm's intervention stopped Alex's interference at a critical moment, closing the rift.

The sealing of the rift unleashed a reality-warping wave across the region. The assembled heroes attempted to use a Zeta Beam to teleport themselves back to Earth, but something went wrong, and the fractured Zeta Beam ended up either drastically transforming the heroes, or sending them to places far removed in space or time. Firestorm ended up back on Earth a month after the Crisis, fused with Cyborg in a twisted parody of the Firestorm merge, their nervous systems joined together. Fortunately, the two were eventually separated.

Over the months that followed, Martin helped Jason in dealing with the trauma of the Crisis, talking him through it, being patient with him. As Jason managed to get his life back in order, he thought of going to Lowrance University, near Detroit, but Martin encouraged him to go to Columbus University in New York. Martin got himself a job teaching physics at Columbus, and assisted Jason in getting financial aid. Firestorm also joined a shortlived Justice League, which quickly fell apart following a devastating attack by a possessed, upgraded, Skeets.

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