What does Firestorm have to do with the Villains United mini-series?
The solicitation for Villains United #4 says, in part:
The renegade Six - the criminals who have refused to join the ever-increasing ranks of the villainous Society - are given an unlikely and potentially deadly mission: rescue one of the DCU's most powerful heroes!
I believe Firestorm is the hero mentioned in this solicitation.
How do you know they're referring to Firestorm?
First, it's an appropriate description of Firestorm. While he's currently held back by his inexperience, the nature of his powers certainly make him "one of the DCU's most powerful heroes".
Way back in April, Firestorm's writer Stuart Moore mentioned his collaboration with VU writer Gail Simone for "Firestorm's appearance in Villains United". Then, at DC Universe panel at San Diego Comic Con in July, DC executive Bob Wayne stated that Firestorm would play "an important part" in VU. If that wasn't enough, the end of Firestorm #16 had him being dragged off captive by one of Luthors villains (not saying who). The end note of the issue invites the reader to follow the story into VU #4.
All this leaves little room for doubt. If I'm wrong, I'll eat my copy of Firestorm #16. Well, minus the staples.
What might the Society want with Firestorm? Why would Mockingbird want to risk the team to intervene?
There was a hint in Countdown to Infinite Crisis. The Society's plans involve acquiring kryptonite to deal with Superman. When a supply the group had intended to steal dissappeared, Luthor pointed out that there were other ways to get kryptonite. As he said this, the faces of Firestorm, Breach and Power Girl where shown on the monitor. Just to make things a little more ambiguous, however, Luthor also mentioned that there were "other goals" as those faces were being shown. This exchange between Stuart Moore and a fan also complicates things:
Q: ...what I want to know is there any truth to the rumor about Firestorm messing around with Kryptonite in the near future and making red or gold kryptonite?
A: Oh hell, let's make this one a real spoiler: No.
Note that he might just be denying that Firestorm successfully creates kryptonite. But, it's hard to tell. I'd say that it's a safe bet that they're interested in Firestorm's powers for one reason or another..
As to Mockingbird's interest in having the Six interfere, we can only infer that he or she sees it as critical to foiling the Society's plans. It's difficult to say without knowing their exact plans for Firestorm.
Who is this Firestorm? What happened to the original one, Ronnie Raymond?
Jason Rusch is the new Firestorm. Jason is an 18-year old from Detroit, Michigan finding his way into adulthood. The original Firestorm, Ronnie Raymond, was stabbed by Shadow Thief during Identity Crisis. His containment field ruptured, but his essence survived to enter an unsuspecting Jason, thereby granting Jason his powers.
For a complete biography of Jason Rusch, see this page.
What are his powers?
Doesn't the solicitation to Firestorm #17 pretty much reveal how successful or unsuccessful the Secret Six's mission to rescue Firestorm is?
Yes, it does seem to. You might want to stay clear of it if you haven't seen it already or don't remember it. Still, I'm counting on lots of surprises because I have a great deal of trust in Gail and Stuart.
Who is Gehenna?
Gehenna is a new character in the DCU. Villains United #4 will be her first appearance. Very little is known about Gehenna other than she has superpowers and, I'm not kidding here, "she's cute". Stuart has hinted that she will become an important player in the Firestorm title. Her name alone is enough to intrigue me.
Is the Firestorm title any good?
Of course, I'm going to tell you it's the best book out there today because I love it. It's without a doubt the most unpredictable book I'm reading - something happens every few issues to turn Jason's situation on its ear. I loved the intensity and human drama in the early issues by Dan Jolley and I'm having a great time with the humor and character growth in Stuart Moore's current issues. The art is also a big draw. From the pencillers to the colorists, I've seen things in this book that I've never seen before.
But I heard it's close to cancellation.
Nope. The numbers aren't where we fans would like them to be, true enough, but it's a few thousand copies above the cancellation point and DC has shown its commitment to the title in many ways recently, including this cross-over. Stuart is working with his editor and Geoff Johns on plots that lead well into next year and beyond.
And, hey, we can count on you to make sure you're getting your copy and spreading the word, right? ;)
Is now a good time to jump onto the title?
Yes! Stuart has spent much of his career in comics as an editor. Because of this, he's very conscientious about making stories accessible to readers. If you're looking for an issue designed specifically to be a starting point for new readers, though, pick up #14 and start there. Of course, I'd tell you to go back to #1 but you can also catch up with these issue summaries.
What if I have other questions?
Stuart Moore has a great Q & A thread on the DC message boards in which he answers most non-spoilerific questions. Drop me a line if you'd like to know something (see the Contact link at top), too. That'll help me know if I need to expand this page.