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The Red Tornado Saga: Chapter 1


Comic: Justice League of America #64

Cover Date: Aug. 1968

Sale Date: June 13, 1968

Writer: Gardner F. Fox

Penciller: Dick Dillin

Inker: Sid Greene

Editor: Julius Schwartz

 
What a world of difference a number can make! If the locale of this story were Earth-One, you’d be looking at a meeting of the Justice League of America. But this is Earth-Two – the counterpart of that other world – where in a secret sanctuary has convened the Justice Society of America.

As Starman, Flash, Black Canary, Hourman, and Doctor Fate lament how quiet (and dull) it is, the sanctuary door slams open and a “runaway tornado” enters. When the “incredibly swift” rotation stops, a red figure (except for its purple gloves and cape) says…

Now, look! I know it’s been a long time – but surely you remember me – the Red Tornado! One of the original members of the Justice Society of America --!

The Stormy Return of the Red Tornado

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To further substantiate its story, the character identifies the secret identities of the five heroes who are present. When Hourman’s new “crimecaster” predicts there’s going to be a robbery of the 20th Century Museum, the team takes off, and Red Tornado joins them to prove itself to them.

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At the scene of the crime, the crooks have no faces… just like Red Tornado when the team earlier removed its mask!

Everything the “Red Rotator” or “Scarlet Swirler” or “Crimson Cyclone” does, though, backfires, as he one by one leaves team members presumably dead.

Maybe I’m under the control of some sinister mastermind – who’s forcing me to destroy the JSA!

Indeed…

Red Tornado tracks T.O. Morrow to his lair and is incapacitated by his creator prior to planning his next crime: stealing a treasure from Atlantis…

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The Atom, Sandman, Green Lantern, Dr,. Mid-Nite, Hawkman, and Mr. Terrific arrive to discover their teammates still in their “radiation comas.” They watch footage of the attempted theft and see Red Tornado helping, so they decide to team up with him to stop Morrow, but…

 

Comic: Justice League of America #65

Cover Date: Sept. 1968

Sale Date: July 25, 1968

Writer: Gardner F. Fox

Penciller: Dick Dillin

Inker: Sid Greene

Editor: Julius Schwartz

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T.O. Morrow Kills the Justice League – Today!

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An unseen enemy announces to the Justice League of America that he created “energy duplicates” of their loved ones and sent them to “wipe out” half the team. He spared five of them (Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Flash), to fight the “cosmic-created” creatures in order to “tune them up” for a final battle in their own souvenir room.

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After the five heroes defeat five creatures, they discover their mysterious challenger is T.O. Morrow…

Morrow wins this round, but as he stands in his own “hall of souvenirs” where the bodies of each member of the Justice League is displayed, the villain laments…

Now I have a new problem! What can I do for an encore – that will top even this? It must be something extraordinary – worthy of my extraordinary powers!

Rotating his body with “ever-increasing vibratory pulsations,” Red Tornado travels to Earth-One. In Morrow’s lair, he listens to a recording that explains his creator’s crimes. It reasons that since Morrow used duplicates of loved ones to kill five of them, he can bring the originals to revive them.

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Although he knows nothing of this thing called “love,” Red Tornado watches as Col. Steve Trevor, Jean Loring, Hawkgirl, Midge, and Mera each kiss their mates (Wonder Woman, Atom, Hawkman, Snapper Carr, and Aquaman) to bring them back to life.

The object of their search is shouting with glee at the barrier between both Earths, with a plan of ripping it open so that Earth-One and Earth-Two will attack each other to “their mutual destruction.” The Justice Leaguers surprise him and he tries to escape, but Red Tornado catches him in his funnel…

I should have known! There was no escaping the Red Tornado! I-I’m the victim of my own creation!

Despair sweeps through the Red Tornado when he learns he not a human being, but a machine. When all the heroes are revived, and this machine returns to Earth-Two…

Notes

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Thus, we have the origin of a new Red Tornado. However, it seems more like an ending than a beginning. What will cause the machine to return seven issues later in Justice League of America #72? I have a feeling we don’t yet know the entire story.

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As demonstrated in its two debut issues, Red Tornado can create and control artificial tornadoes with various parts of its body and can fly at great speed. By the time we conclude this series, those powers may evolve.

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For me, the character is compelling because as a machine or android, Red Tornado is sentient, realizing he’s not human and longing to become one. This creates a long-term goal for it… maybe the tin man will one day receive a heart.

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I’ve read that some fans of Red Tornado aren’t happy with the way DC treated the character over time, claiming he was simply used as a tool to advance other stories and suffers cruel fates as a result. I can read the plot summaries, but I’m discovering the full stories myself for the first time and will pass my own judgment on them.

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As usual, I’ve got to point out fun and interesting ads that appeared in these issues from August and September of 1968. First, we’re reminded that even a film like this one had merchandising tied to it…

Then, we learn that – what?!? – the big wedding of Superman and Lois Lane wasn’t really in Superman: The Wedding Album (Dec. 1996)? Yeah, stories like the one advertised below were dreams, hoaxes, or imaginary tales… unless you pop over to Earth-Two where they were married in Action Comics #484 (June 1978.)

Let’s conclude with another image from Justice League of America #64. It’s one of those “recap” pages that brings new readers up to speed, this time about five members of the Justice Society, their alter-egos, and their origins…

Return next week for the next chapter in the saga of Red Tornado...

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