Red Tornado

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This article is about the Silver Age character. For the Golden Age character, see Red Tornado (Ma Hunkel). For the Kingdom Come character, see Cyclone (DC Comics). For the weather phenomenon, see tornado.
Red Tornado
Promotional art for Justice League Of America #22.
Art by Ed Benes.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance as Red Tornado:
Justice League of America #64 (August 1968)
as Ulthoon:
Mystery in Space #61
(August 1960)
Created by Gardner Fox (writer)
Dick Dillin (artist)
In-story information
Full name John Smith
Place of origin Rann
Team affiliations Justice League
Justice Society of America
Young Justice
Primal Force
Notable aliases Tornado Tyrant of Rann, Ulthoon, Tornado Champion, John Smith, John Ulthoon
Abilities Air and wind manipulation
Superhuman strength, physical resistance, and speed

Red Tornado is a fictional superhero in the DC Comics universe. The character first appeared in Justice League of America #64 (August 1968), and was created by Gardner Fox and Dick Dillin.

Fictional character biography (Pre-Crisis)[edit]

Ulthoon, the Tornado Tyrant and Tornado Champion[edit]

The origin of Red Tornado comes from the merger of two different entities: the android body created by supervillain T. O. Morrow and the Tornado Champion from the Earth-One planet Rann.

The origin of the Tornado Champion begins with a fight between the sentient tornado on the planet of Rann; Ulthoon, the Tornado Tyrant of Rann and Adam Strange, with Strange being the victor. The defeated Tyrant "contemplated the nature of good and evil and decided that good was the superior force".[1] It observes the exploits of the Justice League of America (JLA) and then settles on an abandoned planet, which transforms into a perfect replica of Earth, right down to its populace, the only absence being the JLA. The tornado entity splits itself to become the JLA of this world, taking for itself the name the Tornado Champion. However, the Champion soon discovers that it had inadvertently split itself into two separate entities, the Champion and the Tyrant, who easily defeats the Champion. "Disappointed, the Tornado Champion lured the Tyrant to Earth-One, where the Tyrant was defeated by the real JLA".[1]

The Champion then goes to Earth-Two,[1] where he encounters Morrow, who is creating an android to use against the Justice Society of America. Morrow had given his android the false memory of being the Red Tornado who had attended the first JSA meeting. The Tornado Champion enters the android's body but loses its memory in the process. This explains why Red Tornado seems to be alive. After defeating the JSA, Morrow and Red Tornado travel to Earth-One, where they are defeated by the JLA.[2]

However, Red Tornado's dual-origin was not fully revealed until Morrow had re-captured him in order to figure out how he became sentient. When Morrow opens up Red Tornado, both the Tornado Champion and the Tornado Tyrant come out of the body; the Tyrant had never truly left the Champion. After a battle with the JLA, Red Tornado was reassembled by Firestorm, with both the Tyrant and the Champion being returned to the android and with both their memories being erased.[1]

As Red Tornado[edit]

Believing itself to be the original JSA associate Red Tornado visits JSA headquarters and announces its return to active duty. The JSA, not recognizing the android, is incredulous but allows the Tornado to accompany them to defeat a theft at a nearby museum. Through a series of mishaps choreographed by Morrow, Red Tornado appears to kill the JSA members. Red Tornado then tracks Morrow to his lair, but is hit by an energy weapon, after which Morrow discovers that in order to succeed in his robbery the Red Tornado would have to be present. Morrow revives him, but the Red Tornado defeats him in this instance. When the remaining JSA members arrive to investigate, a booby-trapped weapon which the Tornado hopes would revive the 'dead' members fells them all.[clarification needed] Morrow then travels to Earth-One, where he defeats the JLA, just as he had the JSA before them. Red Tornado, having recovered from his injuries caused by the energy weapon, as it partially protected him from its energy, follows Morrow and revives some members of the JLA. The JLA and the android then defeats Morrow as he attempts to set Earth-One and Earth-Two at war with each other, uncovering a method to revive the remaining JLA and JSA back on Earth-Two. Morrow confesses that Red Tornado is his android construct, but the JSA still admits him as a member in good standing, though the Tornado still feels like an outsider and wants to find his place.

When the mad Star-God Aquarius attacks Earth-Two, many JSA members are captured and sealed in a magical bubble as Aquarius phases Earth-Two out of existence. Red Tornado escapes, reaching Earth-One and contacts the JLA. The JLA disregards the android to tend to their own affairs, ultimately hearing him out two weeks later. When they realize the JSA's dilemma, the JLA members quickly journey to the Earth-Two universe, defeating Aquarius and returning Earth-Two to normal.

Red Tornado often feels he is an outsider in the JSA and that he is not appreciated as a sentient, independent organism. When he stumbles across the Creators monitoring Earth-Two, he seeks to impress his colleagues by defeating the aliens single-handedly. Instead, the Creators capture and use Red Tornado as a conduit to bring Earth-One and Earth-Two together, the Creators hope the destruction of the two worlds would release enough energy to construct a new planet. The JSA defeats the Creators and rescue Red Tornado; however, his easy defeat and manipulation leave Red Tornado more dejected than ever.

During the 100th meeting of the Justice League of America, the JLA is summoned to Earth-Two to assist the JSA in defeating the Iron Hand, a sworn foe of the Seven Soldiers of Victory (SSV). The Iron Hand has created an orbiting weapon, shaped like a hand, that threatens Earth-Two, and the JSA are unable to stop it. Doctor Fate summons a being known as the Oracle, who informs them of the Iron Hand's last defeat, which cost the life of one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory. The JLA and JSA split into teams and rescue the members of the SSV, who had been scattered throughout time, and with their help create a weapon that would destroy the Iron Hand's device. The delivery of the device to its necessary location is a suicide mission, one which Red Tornado secretly takes while the other heroes are engaged in dealing with the Iron Hand and debating over who would go. In the resulting explosion, Red Tornado is believed to have been destroyed, however, Red Tornado survives and is catapulted to the Earth-One universe, where he ultimately became a member of the Justice League of America. In the JLA, Red Tornado finally finds a measure of acceptance.

As John Smith[edit]

The Tornado's adventures with the League cause him to repeatedly be destroyed, like when he sacrifices himself to help defeat the alien villain Nekron, and is later reassembled once more under the control of the Construct in a plot against the League, which the android manages to overcome. While a member of the Justice League, the Red Tornado develops a human alter ego appearance, that of John Smith, and forms an attachment with a woman named Kathy Sutton. In addition to his attachment to Kathy Sutton, he adopts an orphan from the middle eastern nation of Bialya named Traya, and they form a makeshift family. He forms friendships with his teammates, particularly Hawkwoman and new recruit Firestorm.

Eventually, T.O. Morrow returns as two individual personas, the Future Man, with a hyper-advanced brain providing him with psionic abilities, and a replica of the original T.O. Morrow body, this one equipped with an advanced battle suit. It is unknown how there are two T.O. Morrows except perhaps the original Morrow from Earth-Two and the one later found on Earth-One, when Red Tornado reappears, may have merged when they both cease to exist following their confrontations with their two superhero team enemies. A conflict with the latter Morrow causes the Tornado's android shell to rupture, and at this point the above origin of the Tornado Champion/Tyrant's merging with the android body is revealed. Red Tornado soon regains his body and gains renewed confidence in knowing he is truly a sentient being, which would not last for long, as tragedy would soon strike once more.

Fictional character biography (Post-Crisis)[edit]

Air Elemental[edit]

During the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Tornado Champion is again separated from his android host body, becoming an air elemental due to the Anti-Monitor utilizing him as a weapon against the combined might of both the Justice League and Society.

The Crisis changed history, in which the android part of Red Tornado's origin remained the same, but he was never the Tornado Champion; instead, he was Earth's Air Elemental, created by Maya (the spirit of the Earth) to protect the environment. Like other elementals such as Swamp Thing, this spirit needed to have a human host before manifesting; the host is meant to be Professor Ivo's infant son, but he died early, so the spirit went instead to the android body that Professor Ivo had created.

The Elemental War[edit]

Air pollution has an adverse effect on the Red Tornado/Tornado Champion, driving him half-mad and into conflict alongside Naiad against Firestorm and the Swamp Thing in The Elemental War. Eventually, Firestorm calms both the Red Tornado and Naiad, and manufactures a new body shell for the Red Tornado. This new body is imperfect, as the Red Tornado begins to experience serious malfunctions. His humanity is almost lost, and his physical appearance becomes more and more damaged, dirty, and clearly not right. During a period of near-total malfunction, Red Tornado is a member of the Leymen. During this period, he experiences odd jerks and spasms as he moves, and sounds from malfunctioning gears and mechanisms clanging together come from within the android's body. He also only speaks in a halting, emotionless, mechanical monotone. During the course of his association with the Leymen, the original Red Tornado personality begins to re-emerge, and slowly, his emotions and humanity as well.

Young Justice[edit]

Red Tornado spends some time silent and unmoving in the old, empty JLA headquarters located in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island, feeling that he had become isolated from humanity. However, when the three young heroes, Robin, Superboy and Impulse spend a sleepover there, Impulse's behavior annoys Red Tornado to such an extent he voluntarily reactivates himself, realising from his feelings of annoyance towards the group that he is not as removed from humanity as he previously thought.

Upon restoring his abilities to move properly and communicate, the Red Tornado re-establishes his connections with the Justice League and the regular super hero community. He serves as an advisor for Young Justice, assisting them on their missions if the situation requires it, and as an auxiliary member of the JLA. During this period, he attempts to renew his relationship with his wife, Kathy Sutton. While he does not succeed in fully reuniting with Kathy, their adopted daughter, Traya, has readily accepts the Red Tornado into her life, regardless of his appearance or state of repair. Because of Traya's attachment for the Red Tornado, Kathy allows Red Tornado regular visitations and contact. He does not, however, return to his John Smith identity, instead he acts as Traya's adoptive father in his superheroic/robotic identity. During this time, he also plays an important role in Superman's defeat of Brainiac 13; when Brainiac takes control of the robotic heroes until they were shut down by an EM-pulse generated by Lex Luthor in a stolen Kryptonian battlesuit, Kelex, Superman's fortress robot, reactivates Red Tornado so that they could use him to break Brainiac 13 down into his component nanobots and trap him inside Luthor's battlesuit.

Crisis of Conscience[edit]

In the events following DC's Crisis of Conscience mini-series, Red Tornado is attacked by the surviving members of the original Secret Society of Super-villains. His body is completely destroyed before the JLA arrive. Batman takes the remains to the Batcave and builds an upgraded android body. When the League is attacked by Despero, Red Tornado is essential to his defeat, as he is immune to Despero's telepathy and mind control.

Infinite Crisis and 52[edit]

Red Tornado is one of the heroes recruited by Donna Troy to fight against the menace in space during Infinite Crisis. According to a conversation between Doc Magnus and his creator T.O. Morrow in 52, the Red Tornado sacrifices himself during the Crisis (in fact he is utterly destroyed, hit by a stray Zeta beam signal). Morrow's response to this news is to question how many times the Tornado has actually died, clearly indicating he expects the Red Tornado to return to active status eventually. Morrow also alludes to another android he created, called the Red Inferno. No other data is given on this possible sibling to the Red Tornado.

During the fifth week of the 52 event, after the other heroes are beamed back down to Earth at Uluru, the Tornado's speaker embedded in Mal Duncan's chest replays a warning message for his comrades, "It's coming! 52! 52!", implying that shortly before his destruction he may have seen something pivotal to the DC Universe future, the rebirth of the Multiverse.

Twelve weeks later, in 52 Week 17, it is revealed that the Red Tornado, now largely in pieces, is beamed back down to the Earth with the other heroes, but is apparently missed by the search team. Conscious but unable to say anything other than "52," the Tornado is discovered by a group of young Aborigines in the Australian outback. At the end of 52 Week 21, he is shown to being reassembled with car parts by an Australian mechanic. Malfunctioning, but at least able to access his aereokinetic powers, in 52 Week 28, he is set against a group of Intergang enforcers evicting a tribe of Aborigines from their shanty town. Defeated, he is disassembled and trashed, and his head used in a contemporary art sculpture. T.O. Morrow manages to buy his head back, hoping to discover his secrets. As T.O. Morrow is used as bait to trap Mr. Mind, Red Tornado's head falls into Rip Hunter's hands, who combines his head with his own Time Bubble to navigate safely into the restored universe.

One Year Later[edit]

After the events in DC's One Year Later story-line, Red Tornado's android body is fully repaired. Kathy Sutton spends some time with it, talking with the heroine Platinum and thinking how she has done this seven times before, waiting for John to come back to his body.[3] However, his soul chose to enter a human body offered by Felix Faust posing as Deadman. When the Justice League of America call him back as a member, John Smith returns as a human being, and shows the same wind powers of his robotic form, but lacks the stamina and resilience of his android body.[4]

His android body is stolen from Will Magnus' lab by Dr. Impossible. Magnus notifies Red Tornado, who then leaves to find his stolen android body.[5] Arsenal (who later to took the title Red Arrow), Black Canary and Green Lantern join the search using a beacon planted by Will Magnus inside Red Tornado's android body. They track the signal to a remote mountain base and confront Professor Ivo who has regained his human appearance. Ivo then releases a swarm of various activated Tornado Androids to assault the heroes. After the androids are defeated, and Red Tornado arrives, it is revealed that this has been orchestrated by a revived and intelligent Solomon Grundy.[6]

Solomon Grundy confesses that he masterminded the plan that put the former android in a human shell meant to cripple him, and slowly rob Red Tornado of his health and aereokinesis, although a mishap let Tornado keep his powers even in his weakened form. Grundy also has the Red Tornado Android body infused with a multitude of super powered objects, along with one of Ivo’s Amazo chips, to create an invincible shell to house his soul so he could never die again. The assembled heroes, along with others, go after the Red Tornado/Amazo android, who, thinking himself to be John Smith, went to see John’s family. While they run off, Grundy keeps the now weak human Red Tornado separate in an attempt to kill him. Tornado, who is no longer a match for Grundy's superhuman strength, is beaten and mutilated by the undead brute. In spite of his severe injuries, through sheer force of will he is able to summon winds that snap the immortal monster like a tree.

The Amazo form is slowed down by Apokoliptian technology given to Kathy Sutton by Big Barda (after recent tragedies the JLA had armed their loved ones). The assembled heroes manage to neutralize Amazo.[7]

Slowly dying, he asks his wife to quickly rebuild the Red Tornado android and allow him to return. Zatanna lifts the spell trapping his soul which allows Red Tornado to again be able to inhabit his android shell upon "death".[8] Although he is offered to keep the various enhancement planted by Ivo, Red Tornado divests himself of all augmentation, joining the Justice League of America with his usual array of powers. However, since the return to his robotic body, Red Tornado has begun behaving out of the ordinary, even losing control of his powers at one point and nearly killing Red Arrow. He also becomes increasingly cold and detached from his friends and family, in which he acts more like a machine than a sentient being.

After the team's battle with the Injustice League,[9] Red Tornado's body is badly damaged,[10] and his consciousness is placed into the Hall of Justice's computer systems.[11] When his feelings slowly return, he warns that this time a jump into a new host body could be a damaging experience for his soul, and even if the new shell Magnus built for him mimicks perfectly every function of a human body, its computational abilities are far inferior than his current cybernetic mind. Nevertheless he accepts the deal in order to get a new chance at life with his family.

The Justice League, calling upon Zatanna and John Henry Irons, initiates the transfer, however Amazo, still present in the previous body of Red Tornado as a dormant program, takes control of the self-repairing routines, fights Irons and steals the Magnus shell for himself, giving battle to the whole League.[12][13] In the end, Zatanna is forced to unleash against him the only force Amazo is unable to mimic, the very soul of Red Tornado in his primal, elemental form. Red Tornado is then restored in a spare body,[14] after which the Tornado proposes marriage to Kathy, which she accepts. After helping to capture Professor Ivo, Red Tornado takes a leave of absence from the League.[15]

In 2009 DC comics announced a Red Tornado mini-series, which chronicles his origin and the revelation of a new "Android family" that may cause conflict between Tornado and his wife and adopted daughter, following the events of Final Crisis.[16]

Blackest Night[edit]

Following the events of the mini-series, Red Tornado is once again destroyed, this time during a fierce battle with Black Lantern versions of deceased JLA members Vibe and Steel.[17] Once the Blackest Night ends, the JLA disbands and is replaced by a new roster. Former Titan Cyborg is among the new members of the League, and immediately sets out to rebuild Red Tornado, and claims to have a plan to make him indestructible.[18] With his new body still under construction, Red Tornado's severed (but sentient) head is left behind by Cyborg when the team abruptly leaves the JLA Watchtower to face down a group of villains on Blackhawk Island. While waiting in Cyborg's workshop, Red Tornado witnesses Green Arrow's battle with Doctor Impossible, and ultimately saves the archer's life when he activates his unfinished body and uses it to attack Impossible and his cohorts.[19]

Brightest Day[edit]

Following this, Cyborg takes a leave of absence from the JLA in order to finish the work on John's new body. With the repairs finally completed thanks to the use of self-replicating nanites, he invites Kathy to the S.T.A.R. Labs facility in order to reunite with her husband. Once there, Red Tornado lashes out and attacks Cyborg, and begins to beg his friend to kill him before he hurts someone. Though not yet known to Cyborg or Red Tornado, his insanity is revealed to be the result of Alan Scott's Starheart power, which is able to possess metahumans with magical or elemental abilities.[20] Cyborg manages to free Red Tornado with his matrix.[21]

Later, Red Tornado aids the JLA during their mission into Hell, where he helps Superman defeat the demon Minos.[22]

The New 52[edit]

In 2011, DC rebooted its continuity as part of its "The New 52" initiative. There have been some allusions to Red Tornado in the primary New 52 continuity of Prime Earth (Earth-0):

  • In the series Earth 2, set on the world of that title, the Red Tornado's body is mentioned as being still under construction,[23] and is shown to be kept in Tokyo, Japan. This Red Tornado is a gynoid.[24] On Earth 2, Red Tornado appears very similar to the pre-reboot version, except it is a feminine robot inhabited by the consciousness of Superman's wife, Lois Lane. Sam Lane, Lois's father, transfers the mind of his daughter into the robot's body. Who is forced to contend with her new existence as a robot, and with the reappearance of her now evil ex-lover. After Red Tornado Lois snaps Superman from Darkseid's control, Superman and Lois leave for the Kent Family's farm.[25]
  • During the battle between the Justice League and Atlantis, Dr. T.O. Morrow mentions that his weather machine can take control of the weather from the invading Atlanteans, but Dr. Silas Stone rejects the idea because the technology is from another dimension (specifically, Earth-Two) and unstable.[26] Morrow later tries again, going so far as to say, "But the Tornado could...".[27]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Red Tornado is a highly intelligent android possessing superior strength and durability, and capable of creating bursts of cyclone-force winds that enable flight, enhanced speed and the creation of storms. The character can also access information from any foreign computer system. Red Tornado is upgraded and provided with a new body composed of microscopic nanites and now possesses the ability to change from android to human form at will.

Other versions[edit]

Kingdom Come[edit]

Three different versions of Red Tornado exist in the four issue limited series Kingdom Come (1996). One is an older armor-wearing Ma Hunkel, her wind-manipulating meta-human granddaughter Maxine, and another is a spirit of the Tornado Champion simply called "Tornado". All 3 of them serve in Superman's Justice League.[28]

Smallville Season Eleven[edit]

The narrative of the TV series Smallville was later continued in comics. In that series, Tess Mercer (an alternate version of Lena Luthor) becomes Red Tornado following her death after downloading her saved consciousness into a cyborg body.

In other media[edit]


  • In one of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold appearances ("Hail the Tornado Tyrant!"), the Tornado Champion and Tornado Tyrant appear as incarnations of an android "son" constructed by Red Tornado; both incarnations are voiced by Carl Lumbly.
  • Red Tornado appears multiple times as a recurring character in Young Justice voiced by Jeff Bennett.[29] In the series, he acts as a mentor and self-proclaimed "den mother" to the team of young heroes, taking residence with them in their base in an attempt to learn to be more human (a goal he could not reach by spending time with the Justice League themselves). Tornado has a prominent role in several episodes of the show's first season, particularly in the episode "Humanity".



Video games[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Tornado Tyrant". Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Red Tornado". Retrieved 30 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #1 (November 2006)
  4. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #2 (December 2006)
  5. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #3 (January 2007)
  6. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #4 (February 2007)
  7. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #5 (March 2007)
  8. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #6 (April 2007)
  9. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #13 (November 2007)
  10. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #15 (January 2008)
  11. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #16 (February 2008)
  12. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #22 (August 2008)
  13. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #23 (September 2008)
  14. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #24 (October 2008)
  15. ^ Justice League America (vol. 2) #25 (November 2008)
  16. ^ "Blog@Newsarama » Blog Archive » DC announces Red Tornado mini-series". 2009-06-11. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  17. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #39
  18. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #42
  19. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #43
  20. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #46
  21. ^ Justice League of America (vol. 2) #48 (August 2010)
  22. ^ Justice League of America 80-Page Giant 2011
  23. ^ Earth 2 #5 (Oct. 2012)
  24. ^ Earth 2 #6 (Dec. 2012)
  25. ^ Earth 2 Vol 1 #23
  26. ^ Justice League (vol. 2) #16 (Jan. 2013)
  27. ^ Aquaman #16 (Jan. 2013)
  28. ^ Kingdom Come #2
  29. ^ Gross, Edward (2010-08-19). "YOUNG JUSTICE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Producers Greg Weisman & Brandon Vietti". Comic Book Movie. Retrieved 2010-08-19. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Batman: The Brave And The Bold Video Game, DS Gameplay Featurette | Video Clip | Game Trailers & Videos". 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 

External links[edit]