Jason Rusch, an African-American teenager. Subsequently, Raymond was killed off during the Identity Crisis. It was revealed that during a battle with a villain called the Shadow Thief, Raymond was impaled by the Shining Knight's sword, which the Shadow Thief had stolen. The magical sword ruptured the nuclear man's containment field, resulting in Firestorm's body exploding, and his residual essence funneling into Jason Rusch's body, perhaps activating a dormant meta-gene.
Jason 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, 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's death. 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, 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, Ronald Raymond eventually returned within the Firestorm matrix, remaining with Jason as part of Firestorm until he appeared to dissipate.
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. Troia recruited Firestorm - this time comprised of Jason and his best friend Mick Wong - for her outer space team to fight the oncoming instability from Infinite Crisis. During his time on the team, he formed a friendship with Animal Man and perhaps a romantic interest in both Starfire and Supergirl.
As Donna's team headed further into the instability of Infinite Crisis, it was revealed that Martin Stein, alive in space as the "Elemental Firestorm", had sensed the presence of Jason within the Firestorm Matrix, but was unaware of the final demise of his friend Ronnie. When Jason, as Firestorm, was fatally wounded in the line of duty, Stein linked with him in a variation of the merge, promising Jason a new Firestorm body to let him return into battle (although Martin had been unable to save Mick) and asking him about the fate of Ronnie Raymond.
Accepting Martin's proposal, Jason asked Stein 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 Stein - 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.
It was revealed in Infinite Crisis that if the Multiverse had survived up to the present, Jason would have been a native of Earth-Eight.
It is revealed that Firestorm was fused with Cyborg due to malfunctioning Zeta Beam technology. Unmerged after several weeks, Jason, as Firestorm, tried to reform and lead a new Justice League, along with Firehawk, Ambush Bug, Super-Chief and the Bulleteer. After a failure in handling a time-displacement crisis staged by Skeets, the new League was disbanded in disgrace, adding strain to the already shaky friendship with Lorraine, as Jason still holds her and the rest of Donna's Space Team as responsible for Mick's demise. Finally, during the World War III event, the battle versus Black Adam, Jason settled all difference with Lorraine, rekindling their friendship and asking her for her powers, necessary to activate Firestorm after the mysterious disappearance of Martin Stein.
Professor Stein has mysteriously vanished, and Jason has been merging with Firehawk to become Firestorm, allowing him to use her powers as well. The two decided to look for Stein together. Stein had been kidnapped and tortured by the Pupil, a former teaching assistant of Martin's. Flanked by the D.O.L.L.I.'s, a group of cyborg soldiers of limited cognitive ability, the Pupil (formerly known as Adrian Burroughs) questioned the nearly-dead Stein about the secrets of the universe. Jason and Lorraine, along with the mysterious teleporter Gehenna, freed the captured Stein and restored him to full health. Jason is a college freshman at New York City's Columbus University and seems to have ties with Dani Sharpe, a member of the senior staff at LexCorp. Dani was the person who previously hired him at S.T.A.R. Labs Detroit to handle their final research filings.
The Firestorm team of Jason and Firehawk made several appearances across the DCU before the search for Martin Stein ended. This included dealing with the latest O.M.A.C. and teaming up with Superman. Firehawk later introduced Jason to Pozhar a Russian superhero who was once a part of the Firestorm matrix, together the trio take on a newly reborn Tokamak.
Jason Rusch and Martin Stein meet Mister Miracle (Shilo Norman), and are attacked in succession by Orion of the New Gods, and the Female Furies of Apokalips. Shilo Norman informs Stein and Rusch that one quarter of the Anti-Life Equation is hidden within the Firestorm Matrix, the other quarters are apparently held by Earth's other three Elementals, the Red Tornado, Naiad and Swamp Thing. Orion wished to keep the Anti-Life Equation away from Darkseid, and the Furies wished to secure it for him.
Powers & Abilities
Atomic Fusion: ability to atomically fuse his body cells with that of another human being in order to form a composite entity known as Firestorm. While in this form, Firestorm has access to a wide variety of superhuman abilities. Jason also possesses an enhanced version of the original "merge"; he could become Firestorm by merging with anyone he made eye contact with. Although the 'preferred' form of Firestorm would now be composed of Jason and Martin, both of them retain the ability to merge temporarily with another person; while the need for a battery has gone, a person could substitute for the other main member, sharing all his or her knowledge with an improved mind-link through the Firestorm Matrix.
Firestorm Matrix: Jason's powers have fluctuated during the course of his series. At the outset, he possessed similar abilities to the original Firestorm. Theoretically, according to Martin Stein, the powers of the Firestorm matrix are infinite. The return and subsequent dissipation of Ronnie Raymond left Jason with sufficient power to turn into Firestorm without having to merge with others, though he was still capable of the merge if the need arose. Unfortunately, his imprisonment by the Society depowered him to the point that he once again required the merge to become Firestorm. More recently, Martin Stein, using his knowledge of the Firestorm Matrix, managed to reconfigure Firestorm's present characteristics.
Firestorm Costume: The focus of Firestorm's costume was also made more practical, including control devices able to contain and direct the hero's nuclear energies. Firestorm's newer powers, such as his ability to control organic matter, were left out of the new design out of a fear that they might be too difficult to control without making the Firestorm hosts less human over time.
Tools and Gadgets: The Firestorm costume can now manifest various minor tools and sensors out of energy.