January 28, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #299: Cyclone

A Golden Age legacy goes into action if she can keep her mouth shut.

So there I was, listening to the podcast, when I heard DC superfan Watson mention that though he is quite psyched to see the Justice Society in the upcoming Black Adam movie, he didn’t know who Cyclone was.  I’d have been surprised, but she is relatively new, and Watson may not be as familiar with her as a result.  And though I did fill him in on the side, I figure I can do a service for the greater Gabbing Geek readership (both of ’em!) by expanding on that so people who can’t just ask me can find out who she is.

Granted, that podcast episode went up a couple weeks ago, but I wrote up a bunch of these way in advance and this was the first open Misplaced Hero timeslot I had.  Timely updates like this are clearly why we have such a vast readership.

Cyclone, like many characters that appeared in the most recent Justice Society books, was originally one of many nameless background characters Alex Ross drew into the massive Kingdom Come.  She didn’t really do much aside from hang around in the background, working with other heroes in battles against various other equally unnamed extras in battles that it was actually pretty hard to follow.

To be clear, I love Kingdom Come, but Ross’s action scenes are not his strong point.

However, Geoff Johns was writing a JSA book for a while there, and it wasn’t uncommon for him to take some of the characters Ross designed and stick them in the JSA.  In many cases, this was done by having existing characters get new looks to match Kingdom Come.  In other cases, that came from creating brand new characters like J.J. Thunder.  And, since Ross was doing the series’s covers, he was probably onboard with all that.

Cyclone falls into the latter of those two categories.  Her name was Maxine Hunkel, granddaughter to the original Red Tornado Ma Hunkel.  Maxine’s parents were Ma’s kid sidekicks from back when the Red Tornado was the superhero in a humor book where a large woman plopped a pot on her head, dressed up in some red longjohns, and punched out criminals.  Ma’s daughter and a neighbor kid became the Cyclone Kids, and then when they grew up, they got married and had Maxine.  Maxine was a brilliant young woman, recruited to the JSA at Ma’s behest while a freshman at Harvard.  Ma was, at that time, working as the JSA’s housekeeper in their brownstone headquarters, so it wasn’t that hard to get the rest of the team to let Maxine in.

That said, unlike the rest of her family, Maxine had some superpowers.  As a girl, she’d been kidnapped at one point by T.O. Morrow, the inventor of the android Red Tornado.  Morrow decided, for some reason, to inject Maxine with the nanites that empowered his android, giving Maxine her own wind-based superpowers.

However, despite having all that going for her, Maxine’s most noteworthy characteristic was being a bit socially awkward and unable to shut up.  Still, she quickly made friends, particularly with teammate Stargirl.  Stargirl was about the same age, but was in terms of personality about as far from Maxine as it was possible to get.

Maxine would later be among the JSA members shunted off to a new All-Star Squadron when the JSA got too many members to be one team or something.  And then…the New 52 happened and there was no Justice Society in the main DC Universe, and so there was no Maxine.  I’m told that was changed by Doomsday Clock, but I haven’t read that yet to confirm one way or the other.

So, that’s Cyclone.  Come back soon when I perhaps update a podcast from 2018.

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