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Posts Tagged ‘Red Tornado

When I say the name “Red Tornado,” you undoubtedly assume I’m talking about DC’s modern incarnation, a big red robotic wind elemental guy from Rann who wants nothing more than to be human and love on his family. Well, come on! This is the DC Universe, where every character ever is part of some long, long legacy of somewhat similar (even if just by name) characters! And, as bizarre as it sounds, Red Tornado’s legacy goes all the way back to 1939, predating even Jay Garrick, Wonder Woman,¬† and Alan Scott (sort of) by a couple months.

Acquired in DC’s buyout of All-American Publications, Ma Hunkel debuted in June 1939’s All-American Comics #3, in which she started making repeated appearances in its Scribbly Jibbet features, written, penciled, inked, lettered, and edited by Sheldon Mayer. She was also a single mother of two kids, Huey (best friend of Scribbly’s) and Sisty (best friend to Scribbly’s little brother, Dinky). And she didn’t do much.

Finally, in November 1940’s All-American Comics #20, something happens. Ma’s brother-in-law strikes it big at the track and gives her the money to purchase the Schultz’s Grocery Store. As soon as she opens the doors, some local mobsters from the Torponi gang come in and try to shake her for protection money. Now, Ma is pretty burly and fights them off, but Sisty and Dinky hide in the Torponis’ car, pretty much kidnapping themselves. After the NYPD refuses to go after the Torponis, Scribbly tells her about the Green Lantern (who, at this point, was only four issues old). So Ma does the least logical thing possible and, instead of calling Green Lantern, the superpowerless Ma Hunkel puts on red tights, puts a cooking pot on her head, and goes out as the Red Tornado to rescue her kids (as far as I know, making her the first female superhero ever).

After she rescues Sisty and Dinky, NYPD police chief Gilhooley takes sole credit for bringing down the Torponi gang. When confronted by Ma Hunkel in her Red Tornado garb in front of the press, Gilhooley decries vigilantism and orders Red Tornado’s arrest. Ma evades capture by putting her costume on a gorilla, letting it get arrested in her place. Everybody all ready assumed that under the costume Red Tornado was a dude (what with how strong Ma is), but now they come to the conclusion that was the gorilla the whole time. Goddamn, Golden Age comics are weird.

My favorite (and probably the most famous) Ma Hunkel appearance was in Winter 1940’s All-Star Comics #3. Ma decides to gatecrash the first meeting of the Justice Society of America, hoping to join the ranks of her inspiration, Green Lantern. Unfortunately for her, she rips off her pants crawling in through a window, gets called the Red Tomato by an extremely dick-ish Hourman, and bails.

Other than a few more adventures with the Sisty and Dinky as the Cyclone Kids, Ma pretty much disappeared after Scribbly’s strip ended in All-American Comics #59. She did manage to have a one-panel appearance in July 1990’s Animal Man #25 (pushing a stroller full of cans in Limbo) and then, finally, a full-fledged re-appearance in February 2004’s JSA #55. It turns out that Ma Hunkel has been in the Witness Protection Agency ever since 1950 and, now that the last member of some gang is dead, she’s free to come out of hiding.

Currently, Ma Hunkel can be found in Manhattan taking taking care of the headquarters of and basically acting as housemother for the Justice Society. Plus, her granddaughter Maxine (who, just for kicks, I’ll assume is the love-child of Sisty and Dinky) is a member of the JSA All-Stars under the alias of Cyclone and has the power of flight and wind manipulation.

And, as weird as it sounds, I really hope that Maxine one day takes up the Red Tornado name. I mean, come on. Wouldn’t it be awesome for that legacy to come full circle?

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Sometimes comics make us cry. Here are the top ten comic moments that made Maggie sob, Jonny bleary-eyed, and set ole Rob a-drinkin. These are pretty much ranked in order of how hard Maggie cried. Except one, but she’ll never admit which one.


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(10) Archie & Veronica’s Wedding – Maggie: SHUT UP. This issue will make 99% of women cry like babies, so just -HEY! SHUT UP!

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(9) Beak Beats Beast – Maggie: Cassandra Nova, that twisted, sick bitch, mind controls poor, confused Beak into beating the shit out of his mentor and bestest buddy, Beast. WITH A BASEBALL BAT. No matter how hard he tries, Beak can’t stop beating the good doctor, apologizing to him and crying the whole time. Man, imagine being forced to beat the shit out of your childhood hero.

cry 101

(8) Astounding Wolf Man’s Wife, Murdered – Maggie: The weeping moment here was less the murder itself than the fact that Gary was blamed for the murder. Frak, the ONE GUY you trust to help you deal with your lycanthropy (who happens to be a vampire) up and chomps your wife. Then you get framed for it and your ONLY daughter hates you. You also lose your fortune and your home. But man, when Gary didn’t even de-wolf and cradled his dead wife in his arms and shrieked, jeez.

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(7) Reddy Loses His Arm – Maggie: The Red Tornado becomes human, makes real hot sexytime with his wife, truly hugs his kid for the first time – it’s great. Then he gets into a fight with Solomon Grundy, who rips off his arm, practically killing him. While this is going on, his wife has to watch helplessly through an unbreachable portal. I didn’t know what my worst nightmare was until I read this. (Well, until I saw that one episode of Battlestar where Boomer, well, you know, with Helo.)

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(6) Tim Drake’s Father, Murdered – Rob: Pretty much the entirety of Identity Crisis could fit in this post (Ronnie & Sue!) but, when you think about it, nothing is as tragic as the death of Jack Drake. Tim was the only Robin who actually had some family left and that was all taken away from him when Jean Loring sent the original Captain Boomerang to attack. Despite getting shot numerous times, Captain Boomerang managed to throw a boomerang straight into Jacks’ chest, killing him. All the while, Tim is listening in on his dad over Oracle’s frequency, unable to get there in time. OOF.

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(5) Black Canary, Tortured – Rob: Oliver Queen had never killed anybody before. That was before he and Dinah moved up to Seattle, Washington and ended up taking up their own little projects, hers being trying to break up a drug ring. That’s before Ollie happens to hear that the head of the drug cartel was found dead and that he still hadn’t seen from Dinah. When he tracks her down, he finds her strung up, beaten to a pulp, bleeding profusely, nearly naked, and being threatened by a man with a knife. If that image isn’t heartbreaking enough, the only thing she can say to him while Ollie holds her near lifeless body? “Oliver, sorry I missed your birthday.”

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(4) Buddy Finds His Family, Murdered – Jonny: As a man there are certain survival instincts that nature puts in us (by the way I’m a man). Call it God, call it nature; we’re hardwired to protect our “zone” with our lives. Obviously women do this too, but for them it’s a much more holistic experience. Men, we want to fucking DOMINATE and OBLITERATE any perceived threat. We won’t get into the psychology of this. If you’re a dude you know what I’m talking about, and if you’re a woman you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Buddy Baker. He is one of the few, if any, super heroes who had a family integral to his story rather than some minor aspect of his background. Ellen, Cliff, Maxine. I still know the names of Buddy’s family, and as a man who was months away from getting married when I read this comic it was completely devastating to see Buddy’s family sprawled on the ground of his own home and lying in their own blood. This was all the more poignant because this wasn’t just a casualty of some war or what have you. This represented a fundamental failure on Buddy’s part. He chose to follow his dream and be a superhero, and while he was out with HIS dream, the family that he was supposed to protect with his LIFE was butchered in his OWN HOME. As a man I cannot possibly think of a more horrific scene to come home to, and this was the most gut-wrenching piece of literature I’ve ever read.

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(3) Kitty & Colussus in Astonishing X-Men – Maggie: So Kitty phases through about a million feet of metal to find presumed-dead for years Peter Rasputin captured like a lab rat. Imagine finding your long dead first love alive and well. She lands right in front of him when she drops into the sub-basement, he runs through her, she puts her hand to her heart. And then! They get together and it’s adorable. But then Kitty phases a giant bullet through the Earth, saving the world, and Peter loses her again. Fuck. I’m getting upset just typing this.

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(2) Snow Sends Ghost Away – Maggie: Snow & Bigby’s zephyr of a seventh child is a bit, um, special needs. Snow didn’t even know Ghost existed until Frau Totenkinder dropped the hint, but by the time Snow figured it out, it was too late, Ghost was wanted for murder. Snow sits alone speaking to her immaterial child, tells him to go, far, far from here and find his exiled Daddy. She bursts into tears. *I* burst into tears.

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(1) Coast City Solidarity – Maggie: So at the behest of Cyborg Superman, Mongul completely destroyed the place, along with nearly all of it’s seven million residents. As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s champion, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, freaks out in the wake of the destruction, gets possesed by Parallax AND the Spectre and then (mostly) dies. But once he comes back to life, he wants his city back. Coast City is rebuilt, but after the destruction, no one wants to live there. ¬†During the Sinestro Corps War, Coast City is under threat yet again but just when the worst is about to happen and Hal himself has almost given up? Thousands of tiny green lights (shit, I’m getting choked up) start shining through the sparsely populated Coast City. Hal ends up kicking Sinestro’s ass over the rooftops of Coast City, which is reborn as “The City Without Fear.” Aaand I’m officially verklempt again.

Add yours in the comments!

Robot superheroes are an interesting bunch. You can write the back-story any which way you want, but pretty much all of them have a Pinocchio complex. Today, I present for your approval or derision: my top five favorite robotic or android superheroes, malfunctioning emotion chips and all.

Smug bastard.

Smug bastard.

(5) Robot – From Robert Kirkman’s Invincible, Robot is actually the secondary consciousness of Rudy Connors, a guy with a busted body living in a tank a la post Wampa Luke in Empire. Rudy projected his consciousness into the Robot body until he’d gathered enough whatever to become a real boy. Then he split his awareness between his organic body and his robotic bod(ies). Best of both worlds, this jerk gets to be human and a robot AT THE SAME TIME. His girlfriend turns into a monster, in the good wrecking-shit way, not the psycho clingy way. Robot is kind of a know-it-all and a bit of a dick. He’s also a freaking genius, so he’s usually right, which makes him worse or better I’m not sure. He’s number 5, because while conceptually awesome, I consider him to be a total prick.

(4) Platinum – Poor Platinum, poor, poor Platinum. I mean Tina. Whatever we’re calling her now. Until recently, she was the only female member of the Metal Men. She doesn’t even want to be human, not really. She just wants her creator, Dr. Magnus, to love her. Or do her. Whichever. Magnus is kind of a dick, why the hell did he program her to want to jump his bones all the time if he wasn’t going to take her up on it? It’s a good thing the poor tortured dear doesn’t have an advanced emotion chip, she’d fucking flip her shit and kill him if she could truly understand the reality of the situation. That’s a book I’d like to read, actually.

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Poor thing thinks she's a sexbot. Magnus is a dick.

Robot depression is worse; suicide isn't even an OPTION.

Robot depression is worse; suicide isn't even an OPTION.

(3) Robotman – This Doom Patrol member was originally¬†human, until a horrible racecar accident nearly killed him. They stuck his consciousness in a robot body, so now he’s a robot who used to be human who wants to be human again. He’s fucking emo, because even though he’d be DEAD if not for his sweet, super power enhanced Robot Body, he complains that robot senses aren’t as good as human ones. He really can’t decide whether he wants to live or die, this one, and with good reason too. He’s the only wannabe human who has always truly known what he’s missing. Even though he’s unquestionably mentally unbalanced he’s pretty much the heart and soul of the parade of freaks that is the Doom Patrol.

Tears of an Android!

Tears of an Android!

(2) The Vision – Marvel’s resident android and member of The Avengers. He’s got a vibranium suit. He’s married to/dating/being emo with Scarlet Witch depending on what era Marvel you’re reading. The Vision gets loads of points for somehow putting up with Wanda, cos homegirl is batshit crazy (not that I blame her. You try finding out your beloved children are actually fragments of a demon, then tell me how YOU handle it.) The Vision gets emotions and a soul, as it were, by being imprinted with a human consciousness. This is a problem when he dies because he can pretty much never get the same human to donate their soul a second time. The Vision dies a lot, and I kind of lose track, just like our #1 Robot Superhero.

(1) Red Tornado – Red Tornado achieved what all loveable androids dream of. He actually became human. He got to have real sex with his real wife. He hugged his adopted kid. Then Solomon Grundy ripped his fucking arm off and it ruined my life. Then they stuck his consciousness BACK in his robot body and he has somehow managed NOT to go on a trauma-induced killing spree, though he definitely needed a good shrink or some Robot-Prozac for a while there. I got severely verklempt about 4 times when I read The Tornado’s Path. He wins because even in a nearly depowered human form, seconds after losing an arm, he was STILL fighting Solomon Grundy, making 350 MPH whirlwinds with his good – I mean ONLY – arm.

Other arm? You mean the one ocer on the other side of the room where the bad guy threw it?

Other arm? You mean the one on the other side of the room where the bad guy threw it?

Think I left anyone out? Think these are out of order? Blast me in the comments, dear readers.


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