Red Tornado Tuesday

By Karl Stern (@dragonkingkarl, @wiwcool, karl@dragonkingkarl.com)

If you were asked to explain the single most confusing character backstory in all of the DC Universe you would have quite a task ahead of yourself.  Many would say Hawkman with his multitude of conflicting backstories.  Others might say Captain Marvel (Shazam!) who has had his character written and re-written several times since the golden age of comics.  But you would have yourself a real contender in the Red Tornado.

Will the real Tornado please stand up, please stand up?

I will not even begin to unravel the mess of all the various origins of the Red Tornado.  The Wikipedia page is, like, a mile and a half long for a relatively minor character.  But you know essentially who he is- the red android that spins like a... well... tornado.  You probably saw him in a comic book at some point or at least saw his Super Powers action figure.

Ma Hunkle.JPG

When the Red Tornado first showed up in the Silver Age in issue 64 of Justice League of America (1968) he looked a little different than he is probably most well known.  He didn't yet have his yellow stripes.  He is confronted by the other members of the Justice Society of America (the Earth-something-or-other version of the JLA or more accurately the golden age of comics version) who tell him that he isn't the Red Tornado, someone named Ma Hunkel is.  Who is Ma Hunkel you might ask?

Ma Hunkel was a large woman with a pot on her head with gym shorts over sweat pants.  I'm not even kidding.

Tyrants, Tornado's, and Champions

There is a whole mythos built around the Red Tornado that I'm not even going to begin to explain (see the Wikipedia page for the whole confusing story) involving the Tornado Tyrant, the Tornado Champion, and elementals.  What's important to us is that he ends up looking like this-

... the, for lack of a better term, classic Red Tornado.  You must admit, it is a pretty cool design.  The red and yellow color scheme accented by a blue cape with spinning tornado powers.  His look has occasionally been altered for various incarnations, yet, has largely kept the overall design.  He's even had a few sex changes along the way.  We already saw that he started out as a woman, then as a male, then he will be a woman again, and so on and so forth.  None of this gender stuff is all that important to the character since he or she is actually an android.  Yes, the Red Tornado is a robot built by the mad scientist character T.O. Morrow (get it? Groan).

 Red tornado as he appears in the young justice animated series

Red tornado as he appears in the young justice animated series

 the live action version of red tornado as he appears in the wb series supergirl.

the live action version of red tornado as he appears in the wb series supergirl.

 Female red tornado who - i swear to god dc comics - is actually lois lane.  (insert that smiley face thingy with the straight mouth starting dead ahead)

Female red tornado who - i swear to god dc comics - is actually lois lane.  (insert that smiley face thingy with the straight mouth starting dead ahead)

 DC classics 6 inch red tornado action figure

DC classics 6 inch red tornado action figure

 Kenner 5 inch DC super powers red tornado action figure

Kenner 5 inch DC super powers red tornado action figure

 while red tornado did not appear in the super friends cartoon series, the japanese character samurai had essentially the same power set and acted as a stand-in for the red tornado character.

while red tornado did not appear in the super friends cartoon series, the japanese character samurai had essentially the same power set and acted as a stand-in for the red tornado character.

 

If you found this article interesting consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  That is how When It Was Cool keeps our website and podcasts online, plus you get lots of bonus content including extra and extended podcasts, articles, digital comics, ebooks, and much more.  Check out our Patreon Page to see what's up!

If you don't want to use Patreon but still want to support When It Was Cool then how about a one time $5 PayPal donation?  Each donation helps keep our content online. Thank you!