Look In The Sky! It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s Hawkman!

DC Comics has been in the comic book game since 1934, and for the longest time was the top comic company in the world until Marvel Comics came onto the scene in 1939. Over the years, they have traded places off and on being the top company in the game. DC Comics has brought the world some amazing superheroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash who over the years have all been on many fans’ top Superhero lists as well as have done their share of bringing in money and readers to DC, but while those heroes are household names, many of DC’s heroes slip under the cracks like Red Tornado, who I covered last year. For this update I am going to cover another hero that I feel does not get the respect and attention he deserves. I am talking about the Justice League Of America and All-Star Squadron member Hawkman, who has always been one of my favorite DC heroes and who I feel has been underrated by comic readers for many years. So let’s travel to the DC Universe and enter that Shadow War as we talk about Hawkman and breakdown his 4 Issue Mini-Series from 1985! I hope you have packed a snack as this one might get a little long as Hawkman has been around for many decades and has lots of cool stuff to talk about.

The DC Universe is filled with many Earths, each with a different history for characters and even in some cases names are changed and even characters have died with new people stepping into the shoes of the fallen hero. But while Katar Hol and Fel Andar have been Hawkman, for me, the only guy to wear the bird mask is Carter Hall! Back in the days of ancient Egypt, Prince Khufu was kidnapped and killed by his arch nemesis Hath-Set, and in the 1940’s Khufu is reincarnated as Carter Hall, an archaeologist from America who soon gains the memories of his past life and is able to figure out that his life means more to the world and that his enemy of the past is also wandering the Earth as a scientist who has kidnapped a woman. This causes Hall to become a costumed hero named Hawkman! As Hawkman he wears a mask, wings and created a gravity belt out of Nth Metal. After saving the woman Shiera and falling in love with her, she later becomes Hawkwoman! Hawkman would go on to be a member of the super hero team Justice Society Of America and even joins the Air Force and fights in World War II. Along with the JSA during the 1950’s, he took on Congress when they wanted all the heroes to tell them their real identities causing the bulk of the team to retire for some time. It wasn’t until the 1960’s when the JSA comes back and somehow meets with Earth-1’s Justice League Of America, who, for some reason over the years keeps the kids of the JSA members from joining the team and is thus responsible for the creation of the team Infinity Inc. Due to the massive age difference and after the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths, they explain that Hawkman’s aging has slowed down thanks to a super villain who put a spell on the heroes and their spouses…yep now that’s an evil deed, am I right? Now during modern times both Carter Hall Hawkman and the original Hawkman Katar Hol were active in the same Earth, and over the years Hawkman has died, been brought back, joined teams like the Justice League of America, become a terrorist and so much more! This is just a very brief look at Hawkman as sadly the world of DC Comics is one mixed with lots of silly different Earths and reboots that sadly, for the most part, becomes a tangled mess of nonsense. But one thing I must stress is that Hawkman is one kick butt character, and if you like the brief bio I supplied you readers with, make sure to visit your local comic shop and buy a few comic issues that star this mace-carrying winged hero. Check out the images below to see Hawkman in all his glory!

In 1984, Kenner released the first series of their DC Super Powers toy collection, and in that first wave was Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and others that included Hawkman! When I was a youngster, my brother and I tried our best to get any and every Super Powers we could find at local stores with many of ours coming from Hills or Children’s Palace.  The first figures from this series I owned were Superman and The Joker that I got on the same day! Later on I would get Hawkman, who was one of my favorite figures from that toy line. It’s funny to think that as a kid, even though I read comics with Hawkman in them, I always made him super strong in battlers, like he has Superman level power! In 1991, Kenner, the maker of the Super Powers figures, reused many of the figure molds when they started making figures based on the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves and the body of Hawkman was used for the Dark Warrior as well as Little John. In 1990, Toy Biz made a figure that looked like a cheap knock off of the Kenner Super Powers Hawkman, and it stunk up toy shelves. These two figures are only a small amount of toys made based on Hawkman, and for me are the two I remember the most from my youth. Check out the pics below to see what they look like.

Back in 1967, Filmation created a cartoon called “The Superman/Aquaman Hour Of Adventure” that featured 6 minute cartoons featuring the likes of Hawkman sandwiched between longer Superman and Aquaman toons. Hawkman would also go on to star in many other cartoons through the ages like Challenge Of The Super Friends, Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, Justice League Unlimited, The Batman, Batman: The Brave And The Bold and Young Justice, to name a few. It’s crazy to think that Hawkman has been a star in so many cartoons that spanned over many decades, and he is not nearly as remembered or loved by comic readers and those who grew up watching these toons. But again,, while he is not as popular as Batman, Superman or Wonder Woman the winged hero Hawkman still has made his mark on the world of cartoons.

Besides cartoons, Hawkman has also appeared in many live action shows and showed that while DC might not treat him with that much respect, young fans did indeed like Hawkman. In 1979, two episodes of a show called Legends Of The Superheroes were made that had Adam West and Burt Ward once more playing Batman and Robin. They were joined by many other heroes like Captain Marvel, Green Lantern, and yes, Hawkman who was played by Bill Nuckols and wore the classic outfit and hammed it up for both silly comedy kid friendly episodes that were called “The Challenge” and “The Roast”. Years later Hawkman would appear in several episodes of the hit show Smallville and was well liked by viewers, but sadly just like in the comics, they decided to kill the character off in Smallville. He was played by actor Michael Shanks. Hawkman, played by Falk Hentschel, would then go onto be in many other modern CW Shows based on DC Comic heroes like The Flash, Arrow and Legends Of Tomorrow and while he has yet to be in any live action films, here is to hoping that sometime in the future he will appear in a Justice League film. My favorite live action version of Hawkman is hands down from Legends Of The Superheroes as it’s super cheesy and his over dubbed loud hawk yell is the stuff of legend when it comes to bad TV from the 70’s, complete with laugh track. Plus while the other actors did a great job in their roles, they did not have the muscles and build to pull off the character right. Below are images from all the actors who have played Hawkman on these TV Shows and each have made their mark on the legacy of the character.

I first discovered Hawkman thanks to old comics that came from garage sales, and I was drawn in as I found the comics weird and entertaining. Besides the comics, the Kenner Super Powers figure was also a very big introduction to the character for me. Much like many of the Superheroes from DC, the main issue is that they have silly costumes and names and always seem dated as they fear making major changes to them and this causes lots of modern comic readers to dismiss some of the characters as out of time. But for me, the outdated look and Boy Scout attitude is what makes DC characters so different from those of Marvel. Over the years of buying comics from all the local shops, I always find myself picking up copies of All Star Squadron or Justice Society from .25 and $1.00 bins if Hawkman is on the cover as I enjoy reading about him trying to save the day. So this update is for Hawkman and Hawkwoman and all the creators behind them from the past and present.  While he might not be an A-List hero, he is a great hero who this comic reader has always enjoyed and it’s because of their hard work that made him so awesome.

So we are at the point of this update where we will be reviewing some Hawkman in the world of DC Comics.  The series I chose was The Shadow War Of Hawkman because I remember reading it when I was a youngster and want to see how well it holds up now that I am in my 30’s. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having all the issues in stock and allowing me to be able to re-read them as it’s been too long. One thing I want to stress to all you comic collectors reading my blog is don’t be like me and sell off your collection at an early age to get money to help a girl you were dating at the time.  While I enjoyed my time with that girlfriend, I also have always regretted getting rid of 90% of my collection. With that, let me also once more remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So get your flight wings on, as we are going to war with Hawkman and Hawkwoman!

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 1 of 4

Mousy Mason is a down on his luck cat burglar who one stormy night is visited by a race of mean aliens who bully him into taking a heist for them to steal the anti gravity units from Hawkman and Hawkwoman and threaten him with harm if he refuses. Meanwhile in the city Hawkman and Hawkwoman stop a gang of crooks who have been targeting the elderly, and after making short work of them, they fly off and chat about their old home planet and whether it’s right to read the minds of humans if it is to help them. The pair change into their human identities of Carter Hall and Shiera and start to go to work as they need to set up an exhibit for Mavis Trent and her press agent Joe Tracy, but before they can start, an alarm goes off that someone has broken into their home.  Hawkman heads home to bust the intruder, and Shiera stays behind to work. As Hawkman gets home, he finds Mousy, and the pair are attacked by the aliens who murder Mousy with their vaporize gun and as quickly as they attack, they retreat. Hawkman figures out that this was just a distraction and rushes back to Hawkwoman’s side at the museum but finds that the aliens have been there and that they have used their terrible vaporize gun on Hawkwoman who is now nothing more than a shadow on a wall!

This first issue is as good as I remember it being and showcases why Hawkman is an amazing character that is underrated! The plot of this issue has Hawkman, who has just patched things up with Hawkwoman, at war with himself over the use of his alien powers to look into the minds of man. As he is dealing with that, a race of aliens with a powerful burning vaporizing gun have targeted our heroes as they want the technology that allows them to fly. Hawkman is a man deep in thought who knows that helping people is the right cause, but hates the fact that he can enter the mind of man and see what they are thinking. He is also very much homesick as he misses his home planet and it’s clear that all of this has been a strain on his relationship with Hawkwoman even though they are both very happy being with each other. While battling his own inner thoughts, when it comes to fighting Hawkman in this issue pulls no punches beating up thugs and aliens alike. Hawkwoman is such a cool character who clearly loves her mate as well as fighting crime.  She also has a sense of humor and sadly while fighting against aliens who attack her while at her day job, she is “killed” by their zap gun or so it seems. The aliens in this issue are true scumbags who use their weapons and powers to try and intimidate and kill those who they think are in their way.  They even kill two people just so they can steal a belt! Mousey Mason is just a crook who makes a living breaking into peoples homes, and he becomes the target of the aliens as they use him to distract Hawkman so they can attack Hawkwoman. This poor guy loses his life trying to help battle the aliens that have forced him to enter the home of Hawkman. Mavis Trent and Joe are great side characters with Mavis being a snob who has a crush on Hawkman and Joe Tracy is her smart mouth press agent who likes to tease her as it almost appears he has a crush on her. The cliffhanger of this issue, the “death” of Hawkwoman, is really well done and leaves the reader wanting to find out if she really is dead, and if so, how is Hawkman going to avenge her! The part that works really well for this comic is the fact that writer Tony Isabella mixes this superhero comic well with elements of drama, action, science fiction and even some comedy making for a solid read for fans of Hawkman. The cover for this first issue is fantastic and very eye catching and would surely draw in fans of the character as well as first time readers. The interior art is done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is great stuff and showcases the great 80’s DC art style. Over all this is a great comic and held up very well for this comic reader and now makes me very much look forward to reading issue 2 again after all these years.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 2  ***
Released in 1985    Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 2 of 4

Eddie Hamilton is a young man who dares to dream of one day being a superhero.  He has the power to grow wings and fly if he thinks hard enough about it and even has a name he wants to be known as, The Icarus Kid! While training to control his power of flight in the farmlands of Kansas, those pesky aliens show up and use a new gun to shoot Eddie from the sky, and the blast burns him alive…the aliens have killed yet again! Meanwhile Hawkman is alone in the Museum room looking at the brunt shadow on the wall that was once his wife.  As he leaves the room he asks police Captain Frazier if he could chat with him for a moment, and Hawkman even snaps at artist Mavis Trent as he does not want to speak to the woman who has a crush on his alter ego. Hawkman opens up to Frazier and tells him who he really is and allows him to witness as he disposes of alien tech that he fears is the cause of this alien attack. Hawkman asks the Frazier to keep his men at the museum as he goes off the fight the aliens alone. Hawkman talks to the birds around his house and finds a hint of radiation and is able to pick up the aliens trails that leads him to the side of a mountain that is the hideout for the aliens. As Hawkman enters and make short work of some of the aliens, he soon finds that these aliens are from his own home planet of Thanagar and are working on orders from their government that wants them to conquer the Earth first and then the rest of the universe!

This second issue has the plot thicken as we learn why the aliens are attacking and that they are attacking superheroes in order to get them out of the way before the invasion that’s planned happens! This issue has Hawkman gearing up to avenge his wife’s murder as the aliens are killing and gearing up to attack the planet Earth in order to take it over. The shocking part of this issue is that the aliens are from Thanagar, the same home planet of Hawkman and Hawkwoman, and that their home world is now on a path to try and take over the universe! It also is shown that the alien who killed Hawkwoman was not supposed to, he was only told to capture her! Hawkman in this issue is heartbroken over the loss of his wife and wastes no time getting rid of the high powered tech he has hidden and sets out to bring the aliens to justice. Captain Frazier is a good cop who Hawkman respects, and our hero tells him his true identity as well as gets his help to keep the museum safe just in case the aliens come back. Mavis Trent is upset that the superheroes have caused her some delays and bad press for her art showing, but does seem to have something important that she would like to tell Hawkman, but he just blows her off. Joe Tracy in the issue really is a terrible human as he is more worried about bad press than he is that a brave hero just died before his very eyes. The aliens are super cold blooded and are cruel to mankind and even toward each other, and they clearly have lots of high tech weapons that could kill anyone who gets in their way. And poor Eddie Hamilton aka The Icarus Kid is killed before he can truly be a hero of the world. This issue is really great and had enough drama mixed into the action to build the mini series’ story up. The cover is great as is the interior art once more done by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala, making this second issue just as good as the first. This issue holds up to my childhood memories, and I can’t wait to see if issue 3 does as well.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics    # 3 of 4

The alien who killed Hawkwoman gets a punishment from his fellow kind as they make his mind and soul bound to a computer, making him a living instrument of information and mind reading. Meanwhile Hawkman is trying to get answer from the aliens he has just beat up and finds that his home world has lost all technology and that they are no longer advanced in the ways of weapons and that’s why they targeted him and his wife. As Hawkman gets his answers, he is attacked by a group of the aliens who beat him down and bind him and just as they are going to steal his anti gravity belt, the aliens are blasted by a stun blast fired by Hawkwoman!! The heroes escape the base and after they are safely away, they take a moment to catch up with each other and Hawkwoman explains that she was not killed in the museum, and it was Mavis Trent who was killed as the artist was the one in the costume, and after she was murdered, Hawkwoman quickly dressed as her in order not to be attacked and killed herself. The pair decided that they can not get any help from anyone as they cannot allow the enemy to find out about their hidden ship and tech and travel to JLA Headquarters in order to erase their history and to do so ,they must stun Aquaman and Elongated Man, but just as they are to erase their history from the computers the screen shows a message from the aliens who have found their old war ship and are on their way to attack and kill them!

Wow, this issue is a roller coaster of emotions as we go from thinking Hawkwoman is dead to finding out she is alive and well! This issue’s plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman attacking and retreating the aliens and having to sneak around and attack fellow Justice League Of America in order to keep the war they are fighting in the shadows and protect the Earth and all the people on it including those with super powers. The aliens meanwhile have figured out a way to read minds and all the world’s computer information and have highjacked the hidden spaceship of the Hawks and are on a path to use the ship to kill them! Hawkman in this issue is filled with rage and wants to not only get information from the aliens but also wants to beat them to death! His mood changes when he finds that his wife is alive, and he is filled with joy but also has the will to save the world from an unknown terror that they do not know is coming. Hawkwoman is alive and is sad that Mavis Trent died in her place, but also knows that she must pull it together and with her husband stop this Shadow War. One cool thing also in this issue is having Aquaman and Elongated Man in cameos, and it’s sad as both Hawkman and Hawkwoman feel bad that they had to stun their friends with guns in order to achieve their goal. This third issue also does a great job of building the story of the Shadow War and makes the readers wonder how Hawkman is going to stand up to a space ship that is hellbent on killing him! The cover for this issue is as well great and has Hawkman fighting with both Elongated Man and Aquaman, and the interior art once more rocks and is done by the team of Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and is such great 80’s DC style. With the alien ship heading toward our heroes and this issue as well holding up to this long time comic reader, I think it’s time to read the final issue in this mini series.

Shadow War Of Hawkman # 4  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 4 of 4

The aliens of Thanagar have started their war with earth in secret as they have used their mind reading computer to get the dirty little secrets of people in power and will use it against them unless they go along with what they say. Meanwhile Hawkman and Hawkwoman leave the JLA Headquarters with Aquaman and Elongated Man still knocked out and beam themselves aboard their old ship and are met with aliens who want them dead! Our heroes fight off the waves of gun firing aliens and make their way to the ships second control room in order to override its controls as they find out the ship is going to crash land in Detroit on purpose starting the war and making a statement for all mankind. While Hawkwoman works to overwrite the controls, Hawkman battles an alien and gets stabbed as they also cut off the air supply to the ship. Hawkman wounded takes over the controls and does what he thinks is best to save lives and that is he blows up his own ship just as he and Hawkwoman beam down to Earth and the explosion kills all but one of the aliens as the leader of this task force also beams down, but he meets his fate at the hands of the mega mind reading computer who uses all its last energy to blast it’s one time captain. The bleeding and wounded Hawkman and his wife Hawkwoman have saved the world from a war they did not even know was happing. In the end the new artist hired at the museum is shown to be a spy from Thanagar and the Shadow War has really just began!

The Shadow War comes to an end thanks to the heroic efforts of Hawkman and Hawkwoman who had to put their own lives, friendships and even ever returning to their home planet on the line, and the sad part is no one besides the aliens they beat and themselves will ever really know what they did to save the Earth. This final issue in the mini series plot has Hawkman and Hawkwoman beaming aboard their highjacked war ship and beating up some aliens and then blowing up their own ship that has been set to blow up Detroit by the aliens! Hawkman in this issue once more shows that he is a skilled fighter, but also is super smart and can use his brain to also defeat his enemies. Hawkwoman as well shows that she is smart and super skilled in combat and proves why she is not a sidekick but a full fledge equal in the superhero partnership. The Aliens from Thanagar so wanted to kill our heroes as well as start the war full force showing that they were cold blooded and murder and mayhem was what they enjoyed. While they might now have been super powered super villains they still were a major threat to the world as we all know and love it. The thing that works so well about this comic mini series is that at all times the odds seem against Hawkman and Hawkwoman and they seem to be trying so hard not to alert Earth to the battle and war that is gearing up to crash down on them, and all this dread and heroic moments makes this feel really more epic than it should feel. And this is why as a kid I really liked this comic series and even now as an adult I find myself still very much enjoying it. The cover of the fourth and final issue is well done and has our heroes beating up the aliens and the interior art once more is crafted by Richard Howell & Alfredo Alcala and show that they are a pair of artist that work so well together. Over all this is a great read for fans of the character Hawkman as well as those who enjoy 80’s era of DC Comics as this is a cool mini series that showcases why Hawkman is still around to this day in comics, no matter how neglected I feel he is by DC. Below is some cool artwork from this cool comic series, so check it out!

So now that we have witnessed Hawkman win the Shadow War, I think it’s time we walk away from the world of DC Comics and their underrated heroes and into a world with giant monsters that come from the deep where our only hope is giant two person controlled robots….that’s right, we will be entering the world of Pacific Rim! Thanks for spending some time with me here at Rotten Ink, and I really do hope you friends and readers enjoy my updates as much as I do writing them. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update as we talk about war ready robots!

The Red Twister Man-Droid Of The DC Universe!

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, my readers and friends.  For this update I have decided to take a look at another DC Hero, one that always captured my attention as a youngster thanks to the Kenner toy Super Powers.  The hero I am talking about is the Red Tornado! Growing up I was more of a Marvel comic reader, and 8 out of 10 times while at the comic newsstand at Hearts, I would pick a Marvel book over a DC or independent as I was always more into their characters like Hulk, Captain America and Spider-Man.  But I still always enjoyed reading DC heroes Batman, Superman, Swamp Thing and even Justice League Of America. With that said, I still really enjoy DC and enjoy discovering the characters they have created to entertain the comic readers worldwide and that’s why I choose to cover Red Tornado. One thing that has always driven me crazy about DC Comics is the fact they have a rich history of characters, but they only ever really want to focus on the same handful when it comes to major storylines and even merchandising.  I mean look at how many items and major comic plots go to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and how little go to characters like The Creeper, Captain Marvel, Black Canary and Red Tornado. But on this update here at Rotten Ink, I am going to give Red Tornado his time to shine in the comic spotlight! So dress warm as this wind might chill you to the bone while Tornado is on the loose to save the day!

So who is the Red Tornado and what is he all about? Let me take a moment to fill you readers in on his past as I am sure you will find his weird and complicated history interesting. The thing that I must stress about DC and their character histories is that they can get very weird and confusing as they have many “Earths” that have different timelines, and this makes the bios very murky in my opinion, but let’s try and give this a shot. Red Tornado was created on the planet Rann in the Earth-One universe and was made up of two different beings, Tornado Champion and Tornado Tyrant, and became a bad guy who attacked Adam Strange only to lose.  This loss made it take a looks at itself and choose to be good as he found that side to be the stronger.  But this ultimately did not matter as the bad side won the inner war that raged inside the split identity body. As the evil Tornado Tyrant, he comes to Earth-Two and fights the Justice League Of America and this allows the Tornado Champion side to dominate.  He is tricked by evil criminal T.O Morrow into tricking Tornado Champion to take over an android that he had built.  This wiped the memory of Tornado Champion and now a new life-form was born named Red Tornado! After being used as a tool for evil, Red Tornado turns on his creator and turns to the ways of good and becomes a member of the Justice League Of America and tries to live his life as an android superhero as well as tries to have a human life side. Later Tornado Champion breaks free from the android body and becomes a weapon for Anti-Monitor and ultimately fails returning to the android body and Red Tornado was once more! After this, he became a nature protector, guided the members of Young Justice and has even been an off and on team member of the Justice League Of America! Say what you will about Red Tornado; he has been good and he has been bad but one thing is for sure, this android hero is one of DC’s coolest B-Listers!

In 1985 Kenner decided to add a second series of heroes and villains to their popular Super Powers line of action figures, and among the likes of Martian The Manhunter and Mantis was the one and only Red Tornado. Growing up me and my brother loved to get our hands on Super Powers as we both loved comic books as well as the movies and cartoons based on the DC heroes.  Between the two of us, we owned almost all of Series 1 minus Brainiac whom we never could find, and we also had many of the figures in series 2. When I was in the first grade in the Waynesville, while on the bus home a fellow bus rider had a Red Tornado action figure, and I can remember being obsessed with it and for weeks trying to trade other toys in order to get it from him.  Sadly he never would trade nor did we ever get the figure until many years later when my brother bought it to add to his Super Powers collection. But this figure is what made me become obsessed with Red Tornado and who he was way back when I was just a six year old lad.  My brother who was 9 years old was the one who told me what he knew about the character that he had learned from issues of Justice League Of America. Below are some pictures of the Kenner Red Tornado figure loose, in the package and a look at the mini comic that came with the toy. One day I should get myself this figure just to remind me of my youth and the time I discovered Red Tornado. I should note that other figures over the years have been made of the Red Tornado, but for me the Super Powers is still the best one.

So besides in comics and toy,s Red Tornado has also had other appearances in media that include being in the animated series “Justice League Unlimited” and being voiced by Powers Boothe, “Batman: The Brave And The Bold” voiced by Corey Burton and “Young Justice” voiced by Jeff Bennett showing that he has made his mark on the world of DC animation. He also appeared in the 2010 animated film “Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths” but was just a cameo and didn’t even speak a word! He also also been in a handful of video games like “DC Universe Online” and “Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham” and also whirlwind, the pixel world! More recently he was in the live action show “Supergirl” episode called Red Faced and is played by Iddo Goldberg and is portrayed as an android ready for combat. So while he is by no means as in demand as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or even Green Lantern, he still over the years has tried to get his time to shine in other media besides comics.

So now that we have had a crash course of the history of Red Tornado and have also taken a look at the character in the world of merchandise and other media, I think we should twist our way down to the comic reviews and see what this 1985 mini series has in store for our android superhero! Shockingly enough, this will be my first time reading this mini series, and I must think Dark Star in Yellow Springs for having them all in stock. I can hear these words in the whirling wind: “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” So if you’re ready, I am ready to see what this Red Tornado mini series has in store.  So avoid the wind gusts and let’s dive in shall we!

Red Tornado # 1  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 1 of 4

New Jersey is having a massive tornado that is destroying property, and as Lana Lang is reporting live, Red Tornado appears and saves the day when he reverses the funnel cloud and rushes away as he still thinks the world fears him even if he is a member of the Justice League Of America (JLA). Once back home, he turns into his alter ego John Smith and takes his girlfriend Kathy Sutton and young orphan friend Traya out to dinner and a movie.  After the film is over, robots come from the ground and have their sights set on taking out John Smith who has to turn into Red Tornado in order to lead them away from his loved ones and innocent people! After beating the robots, he returns back to being John Smith, and while watching the evening news, he is heart broken when he sees Lana Lang report that he was responsible to the tornado and that it destroyed thousands of dollars worth of property! And worse, as the report goes off, Superman along with fellow Justice League Of America members call Red Tornado outside only to fire him from the team.  As the sad android hero flies away, we soon learn that the robot villain The Construct is mind controlling the JLA and others in order to push all the human feelings out of Red Tornado so that robots can kill off man and rule the world, as he knows that Red Tornado could stop him and his plan.

This first issue in a four issue mini series is a great way to introduce Red Tornado to readers who might not know who he is, as well as a cool way to start off our story! The plot of this issue has Red Tornado trying his best to gain the trust of humans.  As he does his best to stop crimes as well as natural weather disasters, he is filled with doubts about being accepted not only as the android hero but also as his “human” life John Smith. While he battles his inner thoughts, unknown to him, an evil robot power is in play as The Construct is controlling all the bad things happening to him and even controls his firing from the Justice League Of America! Red Tornado is an android on a mission to save human life and uses his weather powers to do so, but he is very much bothered that the whole human race is not hip to the fact he is a good guy and wants to do no harm to them. His ability to become a tornado is his main defense against crime, but he is also very smart. I also really like in this issue that while he is an android, he does show signs of having feelings and this makes the character deeper than just a hunk of metal with powers. As his “human” life John Smith, it’s clear that he doesn’t know how to be human as he is just going with the flow of what life he thinks he should have by working a so-so day job and even being boring with his girlfriend by not understanding they don’t always need Traya around to go out! It’s odd, it almost seems like as John he shows less emotion than he does when he is Red Tornado, making it clear that his mechanical mind is trying its best to figure out what it means to be human. Kathy Sutton is a sweet woman who has fallen in love with John Smith, even knowing that he is not human showing that she has a big heart, and I hope by the end of this mini series she finds happiness. Traya is a young girl who was saved by Red Tornado many years back and thinks her friend and savior can do no wrong nor even lose a battle.  She really does care about her friend and never questions why she has to sit in a orphanage and Red Tornado never has adopted her. The Construct is one mean machine as it has made its life mission to destroy mankind, defeat and out smart the JLA and ruin a normal life for Red Tornado by making him feel that every thing he loves has turned on him! I can’t wait to see how its plan plays out and how Red Tornado will defeat him! Another great aspect of this comic is the fact that it has cameos from Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and many more making it truly feel like a mainstream DC Comic series. The cover is fantastic and eye catching as it shows Superman talking harshly to Red Tornado making the reader want to open the book and find out why. The interior art is done by Carmine Infantino and is solid and great work and has that 80’s DC charm. Over all I really enjoyed this first issue as I liked the atmosphere of a rain soaked big city under the gloom of some unknown power.  I like the cameos and most importantly I really dig the book’s title hero as he is pretty interesting and has layers to his odd personality. So let’s see what issue two has in store for us and if this mini series keeps up the good art and writing that this issue has set up for the whole run.

Red Tornado # 2  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 2 of 4

Red Tornado stays out in the rain all night wondering what he did wrong and why he has been booted from the JLA as his girlfriend Kathy Sutton has worried about him all night! The Construct is happy thus far as his plan to mentally break his android nemesis is going perfectly, and his next movie is to mind control Superman once more to set up a meeting with Red Tornado who thinks they are allowing him back into the JLA but soon finds himself ripped into pieces and thrown over the Brooklyn Bridge into the cold water below by Superman, his one time friend! Red Tornado brings himself back together and is now filled with anger as he does not understand why he has been targeted and snubbed by his friends  As our hero is deep in thought, The Construct starts his plan on taking over machines all over the world. All the scientists and labs are coming up with no answers to why the machines are acting up, and it’s only Thomas Oscar Morrow who figures out that The Construct is the world’s attacker but he doesn’t know what to do as he is a criminal and also the creator of Red Tornado! While walking in the park as John Smith, a call goes out about a massive fire where helicopter pilots and kids are in danger and once while saving them all from a terrible death, the crowd turns on him calling him a monster and evil machine.  He leaves and goes to the orphanage and is told by Traya that she no longer wants him around and that he is a soulless machine! And just as Kathy Sutton find him, Red Tornado snaps and turns on all the humans and tells them he no longer will be their hero as they have done nothing but demonized him and he leaves them all behind swearing never to help and see them again. Kathy Sutton is heart broken as she watches her boyfriend fly away, and as this happens The Construct has taken over all the world’s machines and is now in charge of the world!

This second issue follows Red Tornado as he is attacked by Superman and told never to help mankind again, only to go against orders and save some kids from a fire to have the crowd as well attack him.  His breaking point comes when his own friend Traya turns on him and tells him to get lost! This enrages the android who turns his back on trying to be human and leaves the world open for the attack by The Construct! Red Tornado just can’t get a break in this issue as everyone he tries to help or call a friend turns on him with Kathy Sutton being the only one who is not affected by The Construct’s mind control but it’s even to late for her to try and stop his rage of being blamed and spit on by mankind. You have to feel for Red Tornado as he really does wants to feel like a real man and only wants to help and can’t see that the world around him is going mad! Poor Kathy Sutton is worried to death about her man but seems helpless in reaching him before rages takes over and his feeling turn as cold as steel, and his friends Traya and Superman are used like puppets to drive him cold. The Construct’s plan is perfect as he clearly got under the skin of his only nemesis that can fight off his mind control and by doing so drives him away and opens up his path for world domination. This issue also makes me wonder how Thomas Oscar Morrow, the only scientist to figure out what’s going on will get help as he is not liked nor trusted by those who could help! This second issue does a great job of piling on bad events for Red Tornado to drive him off and does so that I as a reader was getting mad at characters and their behaviors! Now that’s a good sign of a solid writer in Kurt Busiek, who penned this story. The cover once more is very eye catching and has Red Tornado in pieces with the interior art once more being done by the talented Carmine Infantino who captures the mood so well of 80’s DC. Over all, this is a very solid second issue that brings the story closer to the final battle and showcases how cool Red Tornado is and how evil The Construct is! Lets see what issue # three has in store for us, shall we?

Red Tornado # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .75     DC Comics     # 3 of 4

The Red Tornado is away enjoying just being an android and not having any connection to humans, while around the world citizens and superheroes alike are fighting the machines being controlled by The Construct that are ready to take over the world, and to make things worse, the evil machine is now also controlling the minds of humans! Kathy Sutton is not infected yet and goes to a trip to find Thomas Oscar Morrow as she thinks he can help track down Red Tornado who can stop this madness.  As Morrow tells her the location and shows her his force matrix field to hold The Construct, his mind is taken over and now Kathy is alone on her quest to save the world. Kathy travels to the mountains of Colorado and finds Red Tornado who is so disconnected from mankind that he is watching as two campers face death from a fire that surrounds them.  Kathy explains that the world did not turn on him, that The Construct mind controlled people and he is still cold.  She explains that she never turned on him and loves him and still nothing.  But when she points out that he does have a soul and that’s why he questions his own being, it snaps him out of his robotic mood and he saves the campers, shows his love for Kathy and swears to destroy The Construct and save the world!

The Construct has made the world a terrible place to live as he has brainwashed many humans and is using robots to do so and attack those who stand up to his rule! Our only hope is Red Tornado but he has turned his back on mankind as he feels they have done to him and it takes one woman to put her safety on the line and get the world’s only savior back on track! This is the cool plot of this issue that follows Kathy Sutton as she has to dodge and listen to the evil taunts of The Construct who mocks her at every turn! What works the best for this issue is that Kathy is not just a throw away girlfriend character but takes the lead and becomes the key to help save the world! Poor Thomas Oscar Morrow tried to be the world’s hero, but his brain is zapped and he becomes a mindless zombie before he can do so.  But I am sure his new invention will come into play to bring down The Construct. Red Tornado is so cold for most of this issue and think about just how cold blooded it is that he was just watching people about to be burnt to death, but once he realizes that he in fact does have a soul and is more human than he ever thought, his cold fish manner disappears and back is the hero that was a member of the Justice League. The Construct is cocky and almost enjoys messing with humans that he finds weak or no threat to his goal of world domination.  It will be great to see him taken down a peg or five. Another cool aspect of this issue is that once more it has cameos from other DC heroes who are fighting robots like Superman, The Creeper, Batman and even Green Arrow. The cover is eye catching and has Red Tornado standing around the piled up bodies of brain washed humans as Kathy begs him for help and he just is not having it! The inside art is once more great and done by Carmine Infantino who really is bringing Red Tornado alive on the newsprint pages. Over all this is another great issue that is building us up for the final showdown that is coming up next issue!

Red Tornado # 4  ***
Released in 1985      Cover Price .75      DC Comics      # 4 of 4

Red Tornado heads toward the hideout of Thomas Oscar Morrow to find out if his machine is still intact, only to find that The Construct is waiting for him and has built himself a massive robot body and is ready to fight it out to the death with the world’s only hope. The fight is powerful as each robotic fighter tries to take down the other but finally The Construct overcomes Red Tornado and brings his broken body to the matrix field that was built to bring him down. The Construct then finds Kathy Sutton and takes over her mind as now everyone in the world is under his control when even Red Tornado allows him to enter his in order to get free of the matrix field. But as The Construct enters Red Tornado’s mind, he soon finds out it was a trap and our hero takes down The Construct on his own home turf of the electronic dimension by making him question if he is just a machine or something more! Once he beats The Construct, he traps him in the matrix field and even is able to break his bond with Thomas Oscar Morrow, freeing himself from everything that has tied him down. The world is saved and Red Tornado as John Smith decides that he fully wants to live life and along with Kathy and Traya he plans to try and partake in all the cool things our world has to offer.

This final issue in the series plot is: Red Tornado knows that he is a living being with feelings goes head to head with the worlds conquer The Construct who is out smarted when he must face the facts that maybe he is more than just a machine! This is a fitting way to end this series as Red Tornado finds the peace he is looking for and truly looks inside himself to see that he is a living thing complete with a soul, and he has wasted so much time trying to be what he thought a human should act like. The Red Tornado shows that he can have multiple moods in this series from super smart over thinking superhero, to hurt feelings when he feels he is being unfairly judged and even cold as a dead fish when he decided being human was not worth the time to please mankind. He also uses his tornado powers as well as his smarts to win this major fight throughout to not only defeat his enemies but also save lives. As John Smith he also grows from being a boring homebody and becomes a fun loving let’s go out and discover boyfriend. Thomas Oscar Morrow who is a bad guy seems like over this mini series as well is trying to change from being a villain to a hero and wants so much to have the respect of his creation the Red Tornado that he soon finds he must earn and not command. Kathy Sutton sticks by her man and is the only reason Red Tornado found his inner soul and decided to save the world, so the whole world owes her a thanks! Traya is your typical kid sidekick character who is around to idolize their hero friend and be used as a pawn when things hit the fan.  With that said, she is an okay character who filled her role well. The Construct was a great bad guy who for the most part seemed unbeatable until he is tricked to over think his own existence that leaves him open for defeat.  I mean think about it, he controlled the mind of Superman that shows you how powerful he was! Speaking of Superman, it was cool to see him in a cameo role for many of this series issues and it was great to see him act like a jerk to not only Red Tornado but also a young teenager who just wanted to thank him for help after the massive storm. While many might not like the way the final fight ends with Red Tornado using his smarts to defeat The Construct I found it very cleverly done and helped add a layer to this character and storyline. The cover for this issue is cool and while not as eye catching still holds a classic DC look mixed with TRON for me. The interior art is once more done by Carmine Infantino and is fantastic and really makes me want to see what other comics he did for DC. I must also praise the inker Frank McLaughlin and colorist Tom Ziuko of whom both really made this comic pop and come alive. Over all this was a great read and I would have loved this comic as a kid as it had robots fighting as well as showed Red Tornado doing what he does best and that’s be a hero the world needs. If you like 80’s DC or even have a little bit of interest in Red Tornado, I would suggest checking out this mini series as it’s a great read and well worth your time. Below is some artwork for this series and showcases the characters, you will encounter in this series.

While Red Tornado is by all accounts considered a B-Hero and not one of DC’s mainstream like Batman, Superman and Green Lantern, for me he has always been a great superhero who has always captured by attention and imagination. But while this update has us walking away from Red Tornado, for our next update we will however stay in the DC Universe as we will be taking a look at a classic public domain character they tried to bring back to the reading masses called Fighting American that was co-created by Jack Kirby.  This will be just in time for July 4th our nation’s Independence Day! So until next time, read a comic or three, buy a classic action figure or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update for fireworks and a classic comic hero, see you then readers and friends.