When I saw Red Tornado was getting another miniseries, I was stoked. He’d long been one of my favorite characters — since “Justice League of America” #192 in fact — and I’ve had no shortage of hopes for stories that take the character past the typical “Pinocchio wanting to be a real boy” story that most writers feel compelled to thrust upon him, no matter how often it’s been done before. (For the record, Kurt Busiek did a marvelous job with the Red Tornado mini back in the 1980s.) The solicits mentioned a “new family” or something to that effect and I panicked a little.
This artificially forced “family” is just a bad concept that was more poorly executed. It should have remained just a concept, even if it did spring forth from the mind of Grant Morrison. Red Tornado already had a family in Kathy and Traya (who, by the way, is no longer six and should be more consistently portrayed.) He even had an extended one, if you consider Morrow co-constructed Tomorrow Woman with Professor Ivo and also had a lab full of other attempts to replicate Tornado. The three “new” androids introduced in this series would indicate a level of success on Morrow’s part, and I just have a hard time grasping that after decades of Morrow being portrayed as far less successful. Factor in the coordination of these new androids as elementals and it taints the original purpose and origin of Red Tornado. It lessens the character with unworthy history.
Luis had struck me as a suitable choice for this series since his artwork is reminiscent of Ed Benes, but as the series wore on, Luis’ work wore down. Backgrounds are sparse or even non-existent in this issue, but Luis did his best to keep the characters engaging, save for the sideways panel of Tornado talking to Inferno near the end.
The turning point in the battle between Red Tornado and Red Volcano is murky and poorly depicted, both in word and art. Volcano bears down on Tornado and “What have you done?!!” We never really see what has Volcano’s so agitated, but he sure is perturbed, or at least he’s written that way. Additionally, the method with which Volcano is defeated is just a little too easy. Furthermore, he’s not brought in or deactivated, he’s just left alone. Really? I know the intent is to leave the story as open-ended as possible for future stories, but this is just too little concern for the tale.
I had hope in this issue once Reddy mentioned the ley lines. I thought that VanHook might stretch back into Reddy’s past in “Primal Force” with the Leymen, but that gem was left unearthed. In a disappointing miniseries, that was the disappointing cherry left on the disappointing counter, completely forgotten. After this series and the way Reddy’s been abused in “Justice League of America,” I do hope DC finds a way to set Red Tornado back on the path of respectability. This is a great character with great potential. Someone just needs to get it right. Maybe Kurt Busiek would like another go?