December 5, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #260: Red Tornado

A Silver Age Justice Leaguer hasn't been seen much in a while. I don't know why. Do you?

So, what happened to the Red Tornado?  The longtime Justice League member hasn’t really been around much of late.  Granted, he has never really been much for holding down a series of his own, mostly acting as a member of mostly the Justice League.

But he hasn’t been around as much in a while, so here we go.

Red Tornado, originally, was a comedic character known as Ma Hunkel.  But I covered her before, so we’ll skip ahead to the next one.

Yes, like many Golden Age heroes in the Justice Society, a new version of the Red Tornado showed up in the Silver Age.  Unlike the others, the new Red Tornado did not originate on Earth-1 with the Justice League.  No, he came from Earth-2, home of the Justice Society and DC’s Golden Age heroes.  He was built by mad scientist inventor type T.O. Morrow.  Morrow had a machine that forecast the future, and it told him he had to eliminate the Justice Society and the Justice League or else.  To that end, he built the Red Tornado to get things started.  The Tornado, an android with whirlwind-based powers, showed up at a JSA meeting claiming to be the longtime member the Red Tornado.

Now, the JSA members present immediately told him they didn’t recognize him because he wasn’t Ma Hunkel, the actual Red Tornado.  But then the rest of Morrow’s plan came to fruition, with the Tornado inadvertently helping Morrow before quite deliberately helping the surviving good guys to defeat Morrow.

Morrow then ceased to exist as promised by his future-seeing machine.

He got better later.

Red Tornado eventually got to Earth-1, and though as a robot he frequently exploded and stuff, and despite being something of a clumsy screw-up at first, he was eventually offered membership on the Justice League.

Over time, Reddy, as he was called, got less clumsy.  Heck, he got married!  To a human woman!  Her name was Kathy Sutton, and he went by John Smith.  Heck, he even adopted a daughter named Traya.

Now, the Red Tornado, being around for over half a century, has a lot of storylines.  Like, he was a air elemental, or a silent member of a superteam called Primal Force, or even a spirit in a robot’s body.  He got a human body for a period, then went back to the robotic one, and basically was always hanging around somewhere.

Then came the New 52 and he disappeared.

True, there were references to the guy as a literal robot in the background for various Justice League stories, but for the most part, the only Red Tornado was the one on the new Earth-2 who was also Lois Lane.

It’s a bit odd that a character that has been around for so long has become so scarce.  True, Red Tornado appears quite a bit out of comics.  Most prominently, there was his role as team “den mother” in the first season or two of the Young Justice animated series, similar to the role he played on the comic series that inspired the animated version.

And then a live action version popped up on the Supergirl TV series, this one apparently a human before a CGI version appeared in the “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover, the one where the heroes went to a Nazi Earth, and they had a robot Nazi Red Tornado.

The human one.

So, really, where did this guy go?

He’s probably hanging out with the Elongated Man now that I think about it.

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