I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Red Tornado. Sure, Reddy has been blown up and put together more times than I can remember. Yeah, this character has not gotten much love from DC in the past. And, yes, DC has never been able to tap into the full potential that I feel Red Tornado’s character possesses.
Hopefully, Red Tornado #1 will be the first step in re-defining Red Tornado’s character and firmly establishing him within the DCU. It would be nice if this mini-series finally helps unlock some Red Tornado’s potential.
I am not familiar at all with the creative team for Red Tornado #1. I have never read anything by Kevin VanHook and I don’t recall ever reading a comic with Jose Luis’ artwork in it. Hopefully, VanHook and Luis can team-up and deliver a quality read. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Red Tornado #1.
Writer: Kevin VanHook
Pencils: Jose Luis
Inks: J.P. Mayer
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Red Tornado getting ready for his daughter’s recital at school. Reddy thinks how he has been hearing a beacon lately and that it has been getting stronger the past couple of days. Reddy wonders if there are others like him out there somewhere. Reddy sits next to Kathy Sutton, his wife, and watches Traya sing. Afterward, Kathy and Reddy talk with the parents of one of the other kids at the recital. Reddy displays his lack of tact and social skills during the conversation with the parents of the other child.
Kathy rushes Reddy away from the other couple and chastises him for his lack of social skills. We cut back to their house where Kathy is still mad with Reddy. Reddy says that he is sorry and that he was archiving during the recital and that required moving massive amounts of data so his social interactivity setting was placed at a very low setting since it was not a priority at the moment. Reddy tells Kathy that he is trying to find his other family. That there are others like him and he needs to find them
We cut to Belle Reve Mental Hospital where the crazy criminal scientists are held. We see a larger version of Red Tornado with fire jetting out of him flying toward Belle Reve. The android thinks that his creator is being kept in Belle Reve. The creator is T.O. Morrow. We see the guards at Belle Reve see the fiery android headed right for them. The android crashes into Belle Reve and immediately begins taking out all of the guards.
We shift to Red Tornado sifting through old pictures of a female android that was similar to him. The media dubbed her the Red Torpedo. The Red Torpedo made a few appearances and then disappeared and was never seen again.
We slide back to Belle Reve where the android is brutally kicking ass on the guards. The android’s name is the Red Volcano. Red Volcano ran several scenarios on how to get into Belle Reve. Red Volcano purposely picked the scenario that involved the most bloodshed and fighting. The purpose was to make a statement and put on a show.
Red Volcano is an earth elemental and in the recent days he has grown stronger. Red Volcano thinks how there is a beacon that he is hearing that is also growing stronger. Red Volcano thinks how the beacon is driving him mad.
Red Volcano then busts into T.O. Morrow’s cell. Red Volcano asks “How many are there like me? Where are they? Are they as strong as me?” Morrow claims that Red Volcano was made by Ivo. Red Volcano states that it was T.O. Morrow who truly made him since if Morrow had not made Red Tornado then Ivo would not have been able to use Morrow’s template to make Red Volcano.
Red Volcano picks up Morrow and begins to choke him. Red Volcano states that there were four elementals. Morrow says that the first elemental was the water elemental named Red Torpedo. Morrow also made a boy, the fire elemental, called Red Inferno. Morrow says that Red Inferno still exists but that his powers are dormant. Morrow says that he knows where Red Inferno is located.
We cut to Red Tornado at the Colorado Rockies where a hidden repository of information is located. In this hidden facility is information about Red Torpedo. Reddy thinks how the beacon is getting stronger and stronger as if it was saying “Warmer… warmer…”
Reddy’s searches continually bring up names of certain states: Arizona and Missouri. Reddy, not being just a computer, is capable of abstract thought and finally puts it all together. These are not states. These are names of ships in Pearl Harbor. Reddy flies off for Hawaii.
We slide back to Belle Reve with Red Volcano saying that the beacon he is hearing has something to do with Red Torpedo. Red Volcano asks Morrow where Red Torpedo is located. Morrow says that Red Torpedo betrayed him so he put her in a watery grave where she belongs. Red Volcano asks if Red Torpedo could be re-activated. Morrow answers that if Red Torpedo’s shell has not rusted away then she could be reactivated.
We hop back to Red Tornado arriving at Pearl Harbor. Reddy dives into the Pacific and swims down to one of the sunken vessels. Reddy thinks that if Morrow played to form then Red Torpedo must be located in the Torpedo Bay of the vessel. The beacon is now screaming that Reddy is very hot. Reddy opens one of the torpedo hatches and pulls out a body wrapped up in a sheet.
Reddy thinks how the body is heavy. That the body is heavier than he is. Reddy pulls the sheet off the body and we see the inactive Red Torpedo. Reddy holds Red Torpedo. Reddy pushes the activation switch on the back of her neck.
Red Torpedo opens her eyes. The beacon that Red Tornado has been hearing finally stops. Reddy looks at Red Torpedo. For the first time, Reddy does not feel so alone. Reddy now has a sister. End of issue.
The Good: Red Tornado #1 was a solid debut issue. It was certainly better than I was expecting. This issue did everything that a debut issue is supposed to do.
VanHook wasted no time getting the story moving with a clear direction and purpose. VanHook quickly introduced almost all of the various players in this story. VanHook smartly informed the reader of the mission statement for this title. We are on the hunt for the four elementals and once we find them all the question remains how these siblings will react to each other.
Red Tornado #1 was quite new reader friendly. VanHook did a nice job giving just enough back-story on Red Tornado in order to bring new readers up to speed without going overboard with the information and boring the reader.
VanHook employed well constructed inner narration for Red Tornado and Red Volcano that served to introduce and explain the various characters. This technique allowed VanHook to give back-story and character introductions that were integrated with the present day scenes rather than having to employ boring flashback scenes.
Red Tornado #1 was a well balanced read. VanHook whipped up a good blend of dialogue heavy scenes and action scenes. This issue had a pleasant and smooth flow as it transitioned between the slower dramatic scenes involving Red Tornado and the faster action packed scenes involving Red Volcano.
Red Tornado #1 was nicely paced. Set-up issues are normally slow reads by necessity and design. However, despite Red Tornado #1 being a set-up issue, VanHook kept the story moving with a purpose. Red Tornado #1 was a well focused and tight set-up issue.
VanHook served up some solid dialogue. Itwais nothing spectacular, but when you are dealing with a cast of characters that consists mostly of androids devoid of emotions then there is not going to be much room for incredible dialogue. VanHook also pulls off some serviceable character work. Again, a cast consisting of emotionless androids does not lend to stories that feature heavy character work. Having said that, we do get a good feel for the various players in this story.
What are going to be the strengths of this Red Tornado mini-series will be the action scenes and the cool Sci-Fi story involving four elemental androids attempting to struggle with their own place in the world and their desire (or lack thereof) to have a family. And we get plenty of those two strengths in Red Tornado #1. All the action in this issue comes from the scenes with Red Volcano. I certainly liked seeing Red Volcano in action. VanHook definitely got the point across that Red Tornado is a serious force to reckon with.
I love the concept of the four different elementals in Red Torpedo, Red Tornado, Red Inferno and Red Volcano. This addition to Reddy’s history actually succeeds in making him that much more interesting. This also helps to give more depth to Red Tornado’s past. I am curious to learn more about the personalities of the different elementals.
We have already learned that Red Volcano has a rather blunt, brutal and forward nature. It appears that Red Volcano is being set up to be the “evil” elemental as all he is concerned with is if his siblings are as powerful as him. Red Volcano may be looking to eliminate the competition when it comes to his siblings.
VanHook does a nice job with Red Tornado in this issue. VanHook seems to get Red Tornado’s character. Often, most writers simply do not. More often than not, writers view Red Tornado as nothing more than a simple robot. Many writers use Red Tornado as a basic plot tool by blowing him up in order to provide for some artificial drama or whenever the writer needs to give a big push to a monster villain in order to get them over with the reader.
VanHook understands the internal conflict that rages inside of Red Tornado. The emptiness that is inside of Red Tornado as he longs to fit in somewhere. Red Tornado has long struggled with his desire to be human.
Now, we see that Red Tornado desires his own family. Red Tornado wishes that there were others like him so that he could find a place on this planet where he can fit in and feel at home. The desire to be around others similar to oneself is a natural human urge. And this shows that Red Tornado is more than just an android as he displays a desire that is uniquely human.
I enjoyed seeing T.O. Morrow in this issue. I am a sucker for crazy evil scientists. The DCU has plenty of great evil scientists with Morrow probably being my favorite one. Hopefully, we will get to see more of Morrow during this mini-series.
Jose Luis and J.P. Mayer combine to deliver plenty of excellent artwork. Luis certainly knows how to deliver dynamic action scenes. I love how Luis draws the various elementals. Red Tornado, Red Volcano and Red Torpedo all look fantastic.
The Bad: Personally, I have no complaints with Red Tornado #1. Having said that, this issue is definitely a straight up super hero story with Sci-Fi elements. Readers who prefer gritty urban based stories will probably have little interest in this story. Also, readers who desire multifaceted reads with strong character work and dialogue will also probably not be that interested in this story.
Overall: Red Tornado #1 was a quality start to this six issue mini-series. This title should appeal to fans that enjoy reading titles like the JLA and JSA. You certainly do not have to have any prior knowledge at all of Red Tornado in order to enjoy this story. And that is a big plus. Everything that you need to know is given to you in this first issue. If you enjoy Sci-Fi styled super hero stories then definitely give Red Tornado #1 a try.