The Avengers got their red-skinned android member, so a couple of years later, the JLA wanted to get one of their own. Call him: The Red Tornado! Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Justice League of America #106 awaits!
Writer: Len Wein
Penciler: Dick Dillin
Inker: Dick Giordano
Letterer: Ben Oda
Editor: Julius Schwartz
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 20 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $40.00
Previously in Justice League of America: Originally created by T.O. Morrow to destroy the Justice Society of America and the JLA, the android Red Tornado defied his programming and joined the JSA. eventually dying in an explosion to save his teammates. Of course, it’s not that easy to destroy a superhero, and the Red Tornado wasn’t so much annihilated as knocked out of his home dimension into the world of Earth-1. In the previous issue, he arrived just in time to help save the team’s newest member, The Elongated Man, Reddy now faces a JLA gauntlet in the hopes of joining their ranks.
Along the way, Red Tornado claims, he met a nice old man who rebuilt him, even giving him a face beneath his mask (or helmet?), but the truth is much more sinister. And by the way, how about that evil look in the final panel? Dick Dillin is one of the most overlooked artists of the Bronze Age, in my opinion, and he delivered month after month in the pages of JLA. Witness Red Tornado’s battle with a group of super-criminals and their battle-tank.
Before he can call for help, he is suddenly saved by Green Lantern, with The Flash and Batman quickly arriving to help, taking down the war machine with patented Justice League teamwork. Unfortunately, the save sits wrong with Red Tornado, making him think that his new teammates are babysitting him and don’t trust his motives.
He’s not wrong, and as the League considers whether or not to trust their new member, Red Tornado takes to the streets to secure employment and a place to live as John Smith. He also meets Kathy Sutton, whose influence not only helps him to find a job, but even a new home.
For the next few days, Kathy and John enjoy each other’s company, and she even finds him a job as a lab assistant, only for Kathy to fall victim to another attack by the techno-thieves. This time, they turn everyone in the street to stone, and once again Red Tornado is saved by a trio of Justice Leaguers in Superman, Hawkman and Elongated Man. Oh, and remember T.O. Morrow? Turns out that he WAS behind part of Red Tornado’s return, and when a sudden gas attack kills the assembled Leaguers, it seems that he has won!
When it all turns out to be a scam, Morrow is horrified, and somehow disappears from reality, since his super-computer predicated that either he or the League would cease to exist at the end of the month. Red Tornado forgives his partners for their chicanery, setting out to find out whether an android can fall in love, setting up what would become his status quo for the next decade or so. As it stands, Justice League of America #106 is a strong issue in the middle of a classic run of strong issue, with Dillin’s art making us believe Reddy’s new humanity and Wein’s script making excellent use of a limited page-count, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall, even if it barely manages to answer the question of how Red Tornado crossed dimensional barriers, instead focusing on the humanity of the ‘droid.
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JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #106
Wein knows how to craft a compelling story within limited pages, and Dillin draws one hell of a cool League, so you could do much worse in the back-issue bins.