Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Comics Blah Blah Comics: Red Tornado

When I first began reading comics as a young Dave-El, I was able to pick up on the icons of the DC line up easily enough: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash Green Lantern, Aquaman. Others were less known to me but I was able to figure 'em out. Green Arrow shoots arrows (duh!) and Elongated Man stretched (and taught me the word "elongated"). But the hero that intrigued me, fascinated me even, was the Red Tornado.



Art by Ed Benes & Mariah Benes

Here was a character for whom the word "tornado" was no mere metaphor but a literal description of what he did, creating a tornado by twirling his body below his belt line super fast to create a tornado. The first time I saw the Red Tornado, I wondered how he did that and didn't it hurt. By the second time I saw him, I figured out he was an android. 

So we have a mechanical man who could create tornados...well, maybe not out of his ass but still. It seemed all Red Tornado did was create a tornado to fly somewhere. It was some years before I saw Reddy (as he was affectionately called) generate tornados out of his hands. (I wonder if his head could also spin around real fast?)  












Red Tornado action figure
(in case you're wondering what to get me for Christmas)
And then there was the costume. Oh God, what a costume! It was a garish amalgamation of red and yellow with some blue tossed in for good measure. But I like that gaudy outfit and I loved Reddy's cape. Why an android would wear a cape, I don't know. It's purely decorative, not functional, an odd affectation of an artificial man. 











Art by Dick Dillin & Joe Giella 
I would later discover more of Red Tornado's history. He actually came to life one day thanks an old magic hat...oops, sorry. He was a member of Earth-2's Justice Society. He had a basic red chassis (body) with purple trim (boots, gloves and cape). 


Red Tornado got blowed up real good by Len Wein during a JLA-JSA crossover. But Len brought him back because, hell, Avengers has the Vision so the JLA needs a moody android too.  It was during Len's run that Red Tornado got his "iconic" red/yellow/blue outfit that was designed and created by Black Canary because she's a woman and, in the comics, all women are fashion designers/seamstresses.






Red Tornado did not seem to get a lot of respect which may explain why I was so drawn to the character. Here was a character rubbing shoulders with super heroes who were different from everyone else but he was further outside those heroes, a being of synthetic parts, not flesh and blood. Reddy was the ultimate outsider. 

Because he was an android, he was an easy out to have a character "die" to give a story some drama. At the end of a story by Marty Pasko, Red Tornado has sacrificed himself for the greater good. The rest of the JLA decide to leave Reddy's parts in orbit as a memorial. What? Nobody thought to gather those parts and, I don't know, reassemble him? And really, leaving his parts in orbit as a memorial sounds more like everyone was just too lazy to go out there and get him.



Art by Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin 
During Steve Englehart's classic JLA run, he brought the Red Tornado back and actually made use of Reddy's unique nature as an android to help the Justice League. 

Gerry Conway began giving Reddy a domestic life with a girlfriend and an adopted daughter. It was Conway (with artist George Perez) that introduced a retcon to explain just how the Red Tornado could be so alive: his android body was host to the life force of a being known as the Tornado Champion who once fought a villain named the Tornado Tyrant and...no, I'm not making any of that up. 


So, lo and it came to pass that the Red Tornado had a soul. 



Art by Carmine Infantino
& Frank McLaughlin


Red Tornado actually scored his own solo mini-series by writer Kurt Busiek with art by Carmine Infantino & Frank McLaughlin where, I'm certain, interesting things happened to our favorite Crimson Cyclone but danged if I can remember it. (Reddy would get a new mini-series about 20 years later which I remember even less because I didn't read it.) Red Tornado was used to excellent effect as a mentor/token grown up person in Peter David's Young Justice series.  











Art by (I presume) Nicola Scott & Trevor Scott (maybe)



Today, in DC's New 52, the Red Tornado is on Earth-Two. And a woman. Sort of. Seems the consciousness of that world's Lois Lane was downloaded to an android body with convenient boobs to remind us this is not your old man's Red Tornado. (Really, boobs. And no cape? No cape?!?!)



"Art" by David Long















And thus we have the current status of Red Tornado, the hero who could spin his lower extremities really fast. Reddy may not have always gotten the respect of other heroes but he got my attention early on in my comic book fan days and has held a special place among the pantheon of DC super heroes ever since.












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Some blog business.There will not be a post for Thursday but an ALL NEW Broken News is coming on Friday.

Until then, be good to one another

Dave-El
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You

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