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When I walked into the comic shop last week and saw Red Tornado #1, I was rather surprised. Here was a character that I always saw in a supporting role and not really as the front and center headline type. He had been a big part of the Justice League of my early youth, was the mentor for Young Justice, and had recently been a pretty important player in some modern Justice League of America storylines.  I remembered reading the issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths where he became an elemental, as well as never being able to find a complete set on his first (and until now, only) mini-series by Kurt Busiek and Carmine Infantino back in 1985. He always seemed to be one of those characters that had enormous potential, but no one was sure what to do with it. I decided that I needed to see what was going on with him, and took the plunge. How was it? Read on to find out.

RedTornado_Cvr1.jpgThis first issue is written by Kevin Vanhook (Bloodshot, Superman and Batman vs. Vampires and Werewolves) with pencils by Jose’ Luis (Titans) and inks by J.P. Mayer and we get a glimpse of the Red Tornado’s current life. He arrives at Golden Valley Elementary School to see a recital featuring his adopted daughter, Traya Sutton, with his wife/human partner Kathy Sutton.  The sequence is short, but is lets us know that Red Tornado, as John Smith, is trying to fit in with his human family. But all is not well in the Sutton/Smith household, something has diverted his attention. As he removes his costume/skin to reveal his true identity (kinda creepy to be honest), he tells Kathy that he is searching for his other family, the other elemental androids like him.

Across the country, in the Louisiana bayou, we see the formidable Red Volcano as he closes in on Belle Reve Mental Hospital. This is where T.O. Morrow is currently imprisoned, and Red Volcano is determined to talk to him.  Visiting hours do not seem to matter, as he takes on the guards with ease.

Meanwhile, Red Tornado is reviewing his research on the android known as Red Torpedo. She seems to have first appeared in Prague and has been seen all over the world. It also looks like the government is trying to cover her existence, as most references to her (images and video) have been tagged by Homeland Security. It seems that Red Tornado is not the only one looking for the Red Torpedo.

Speaking of looking for the Red Torpedo, that is exactly why Red Volcano is tearing a bloody swath through Belle Reve. In a beautiful two page spread, we find that Red V. purposely decided upon the most violent means of breaking into the prison. Also, he is an elemental much like Red Tornado is.  Reddy T.  is a wind elemental, and it seems that Red V. is an earth elemental. After killing his way through the guards who attempt to stop him, he locates his prey; T.O. Morrow, creator of Red Tornado.  Red Volcano wants to know who the other elementals are, and he asks Morrow rather forcefully. Morrow manages to tell him that he created a water elemental, Red Torpedo, and a fire elemental, Red Inferno.  An android appearing as a young boy, Red Inferno’s powers are domant, and he is located at a school in the same town as…

Flash over to the Red Tornado doing more research. It seems that he and Red Volcano have a beacon going off in their heads. The beacon seems to be leading to the Red Torpedo, and Reddy T. is on his way to Pearl Harbor.

Still in the clutches of Red V., Morrow tells him that he had deactivated Red Torpedo after she betrayed him. She was strong, very strong, and he had put her in a watery grave.

Speaking of watery graves, Reddy T. has made it to Pearl Harbor and is homing in on the beacon.  After a few pages of searching through the ships at the bottom of Pearl Harbor, he finally finds her. With intentionally irony, Morrow has stashed the deactivated body of Red Torpedo in a torpedo tube at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.  The first ,e,ner of his family has been found, his sister. Can he reactivate her?  Will he be able to do so before Red Volcano catches up to him? With Morrow’s sense of irony in hiding the body of Red Torpedo, where could the Red Inferno be hidden? Why does Red Volcano seek the other android elementals? These questions and more look like they will have to be answered in future issues of the Red Tornado!

While this issue was far from perfect, it did have a very cinematic style to it. Vanhook fully utilized his experience in the movie industry to create a rhythmic feel to the story that makes up for the lack of dialogue in some instances.  Unfortunately some aspects of the story suffered due to this. Personally, I would have loved to have seen some interaction between Traya and her adopted father. Is she and Kathy really alright with Red Tornado searching for his other “family”? Besides the beacon in his head, what is motivating Red Volcano to find the other elementals? The art for this issue is nice as well, although it does remind me a bit of Ed Benes, which is not entirely a bad thing.  I personally enjoyed Luis’ pages where Red Volcano was present more than the Red Tornado pages, and the color work by Guy Major gave a real feeling of strength and heat from the character.

Overall, this was a nice issue. While it seemed to be slightly rushed, it does the job of laying out all major plot points quickly and efficiently. As I said, I would like to have seen some more interaction with his human family, and I think some of the foreshadowing is a little heavy handed, but it was enjoyable to see Red Tornado headlining a title again.  As an added bonus, we are treated to a 6 page preview of the upcoming R.E.B.E.L.S. #1 featuring the true Starro the Conqueror. While I was a little leery of the initial art for this uber’Starro, I found myself a curious, despite a complete ignorance of the R.E.B.E.L.S. title.

The first issue of this 6 issue mini-series hit all the needed beats: An update on the main character’s status, introduction of the antagonist, beginnings of the main plot, and lots of smaller possible subplots peppered throughout the story. It’s a solid beginning for a character that has needed some focus and a nice spotlight for quite a while.  I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

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The Author

Stacy Baugher

Stacy Baugher

Back in February of 2008, Stacy Baugher wrote his first article for Major Spoilers and started a solid run of work that would last for over two years. He wrote the first series of Comic Casting Couch articles as well as multiple Golden Age Hero Histories, reviews and commentaries. After taking a hiatus from all things fandom he has returned to the Major Spoilers fold.

He can currently be found on his blog, www.stacybaugher.com , were he post progress on his fiction work as well as his photography and life in general, and on Twitter under the handle @stacybaugher . If you're of a mind, he also takes on all comers with the under the Xbox Live Gamertag, Lost Hours.

He currently lives in Clinton, Mississippi with his understanding wife, and two kids.

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2 Comments

  1. September 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm — Reply

    I’m not entirely on board with this whole “elemental” theme. Maybe it’s just that I remember when Reddy was part of DC’s post-Swamp-Thing elemental thing circa 1993 or so, but this feels similar enough to muddy the waters.

    It’s good to see Red Tornado doing something other than float around as a disembodied head, though.

    • ~wyntermute~
      September 11, 2009 at 1:57 pm — Reply

      52!!!! 52525252525252……52!!!!!!! 5…….2……..! (Sorry, but you’re teh 0n3 who brought up the floating head. :D )

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