Mikhail Denisovitch Arkadin was a nuclear technician at the Chernobyl nuclear plant. He was at his post when one of the reactors malfunctioned and exploded. Mikhail tried to prevent the meltdown but was buried along with the reactor core. He inexplicably survived the incident, but it was months before he completely regained consciousness. When he awoke, he has been transformed by the combination of the accident and his latent metagene. The most obvious change was in his appearance - his body was now a flaming skeleton.
A shady KGB operative by the name of Zastrow was put in charge of monitoring Mikhail. They took his family as captives almost immediately to use as leverage against him. As they learned of Mikhail's new abilities, the Soviet goverment dubbed him, Pozhar, which means "destructive fire". Pozhar could burn through nearly any substance. He could shoot fireballs from his hands. He could touch his hand to the ground and cause geysers of lava to burst out of the ground around him. To rebuild his own energy, he could convert matter into energy and consume it.Becoming Part of Firestorm
Russia called on its new hero when Firestorm, consisting of Ronnie and Martin, threatened to destroy the world's nuclear weapons if the super powers did not do so themselves. When the governments of the USA and USSR refused to cede to Firestorm's demands, they tried to capture him with their own forces. First the US tried and failed to stop him using the Suicide Squad in Manhattan. Fearing harm to innocents, Ronnie and Martin decided to make their last stand in the Nevada desert.
The Soviets sent Pozhar to Nevada to deal with Firestorm. Mikhail had no particular interest in stopping Firestorm, but he did so because of an implied threat to his wife Nina and his daughters, Irena and Sofia, if he did not do what the government asked. The reality was that the governments of both countries wanted to eliminate both Firestorm and Pozhar, believing them to be serious threats to the status quo.
Mikhail took Firestorm by surprise and asked him to surrender. In the fight that ensued, Pozhar seemed to have the upper hand until Firestorm transmuted away his protective suit. The true purpose of the suit was a containment vessel which was keeping Mikhail alive. To prevent Mikhail's heat from consuming him, Firestorm siphoned off some of the heat, then created a pool of heavy water in which most of the heat could be dissipated. Shortly after the pool was created, a dying Martin collapsed, ending the Firestorm merge. To make matters worse, they spotted the tactical nuclear weapon that was sent to destroy them. With moments before it detonated, Mikhail had Ronnie take his hand, planning to give Ronnie enough power to become Firestorm and stop the missile. The nuclear detonation happened when they were touching each other. From the smoke of the explosion arose a new Firestorm, consisting of Ronnie, Mikhail, and the amnesiac mind of Martin Stein.
Finding that no weapon could stop the new Firestorm, and observing how careful he was not to take any lives while defending himself, the United States government came to a new agreement with him and he was free to go. When Firestorm separated, Ronnie was returned to his apartment while Mikhail was returned to his wife, apparently restored to a normal body and lacking any trace of the powers of Pozhar.
The happiness of their reunion was cut short as he discovered that his daughters had been taken away by the state. They were being studied for abilities of their own. The tests on Irena and Sofia were inconclusive, and they were eventually released to their father.Mikhail's Career as Part of Firestorm
This incarnation of Firestorm was unique in several ways. While Mikhail and Ronnie were participants in the merge and could witness what was happening, neither of them directly controlled Firestorm. With effort, they learned to contact each other and eventually learned how to influence and communicate with Firestorm. They could merge from across the world. When separated, they returned to their respective homes. This version of Firestorm inherited some of Pozhar's powers, including the ability to create lava geysers and heat objects.
Initially, Mikhail decided to keep his Firestorm identity secret from his family. His three-week absensce during the Manhunter assault (DC's Millennium event) caught the attention of the KGB who once again took his family. He turned to his brother, Alexander for help. While Alexander was unable to help, Mikhail's problem was overheard by his teenage neice Serafina. Unbeknownst to both Mikhail and Alexander, she also had super powers and was part of a secret team of teens named Soyuz. She was later instrumental in saving Nina's life, making those who were investigating Mikhail forget their suspicions of him and creating a telepathic link between Mikhail and Ronnie so they could communicate before merging. Once the suspicions were dropped, Alexander was able to secure the release of the Arkadins by hinting that he knew of the prosecutor's dealings with the black market. When the family returned home, Mikhail revealed to Nina that he had become part of Firestorm.
Mikhail and Ronnie got along very well. Sometimes, Mikhail played the part of the voice of reason, such as when he prevented Ronnie from killing the man who killed his grandfather. With his knowledge of nuclear forces, he brought his own useful knowledge to the partnership. During this era, Firestorm saw his share of American, cosmic and African mystical foes, but also some uniquely Russian villains such as Zuggernaut and Stalnoivolk.
There were also other changes in Mikhail's personal life. Nina told the children that Mikhail was a hero like the Soyuz they had grown to admire. Alexander helped him get back his previous job as a teacher of nuclear physics at a university in Moscow. Mikhail reluctantly had to deal with his younger brother Dmitri, who was involved in the Russian black market./p>
When Firestorm was called to the South Pacific to defend the earth from a massive alien invasion Nina and the girls were nearly killed in their Moscow apartment when the aliens attacked Moscow. Mikhail found them in a field hospital, but Nina's resentment over his departure was too great. She asked him to leave. Despite the fact that she never stopped loving Mikhail, she and the daughters went to live with her father, who already had strong resentments against Mikhail. Mikhail moved in with Alexander and his family.Further into Firestorm
A top secret Soviet program attempted to produce a national hero through a cloning process and some tissue stolen from Firestorm. The result was a souless, powerful being named Svarozhich. Firestorm confronted Svarozhich only to have his powers stolen. Milhail and Ronnie were put back into their human forms, meeting for the first time in person. Unfortunately, they couldn't understand one another as the Firestorm matrix had previously translated their thoughts for one another. Soyuz once again intervened to save them from Svarozhich. Ronnie and Mikhail were taken to Dmitri, who revealed that he also had mental powers. Dmitri introduced them to Gregori Eilovotich Rasputin, a mystic who told them that Firestorm was created by the god if fire to act as earth's fire elemental. He also told them that they must surrender themselves to this elemental force if Svarozhich was to be prevented from destroying humanity by fire.
Mikhail, Ronnie and eventually Svarozhich were persuaded to join as one being, earth's fire elemental. This version of Firestorm was powerful but tempered with humanity. Yet, neither Mikhail nor Ronnie existed as distinct beings within. Being a representative of one of nature's forces, this Firestorm was particularly concerned with the protection of nature which led to conflicts with other heroes including Firehawk. Firestorm also found himself defending humanity from the more militant forces of nature. In this incarnation, Firestorm was driven to visit Nina, who told Firestorm that he was welcome to return to visit whenever he wanted.Home at Last
As earth's fire elemental, one limitation that this version of Firestorm faced was that it could not leave the atmosphere. This became a serious problem when Brimstone threatened to destroy the sun. Martin, in council with Rasputin, devised a plan that involved dissolving Firestorm, then forming a new one consisting of Martin as its only human component. To enact the plan, Firestorm allowed himself to separate, thereby releasing Mikhail and Ronnie, who were returned to their homes. Mikhail was reunited with his family who had since returned to their Moscow apartment. At last, the family was reunited and all were happy.Sudden Reappearance
After years of inactivity, Mikhail once again appeared as a hero calling himself Firestorm. The cause of the return of his powers is still unknown, but it's possible that they reappeared spontaneously as did Ronnie's. Interestingly, Mikhail chose to reveal himself to Lorraine first in her Washington D.C. office.