Nothing could possibly touch them….
Many are the world’s natural disasters; fire, flood, pestilence, famine, earthquake, Jean Loring, hurricanes, and slowly advancing glaciation. And the JLA was equal to them all. So it took an un-natural disaster to begin their eventual doom. I speak, of course, of…
THE RED TORNADO.
Kill it, Barry; kill it NOW, while you can.
The well-schooled among you will already know that the original, Golden Age Red Tornado was a comedy character. Burly grocery owner Abigail “Ma” Hunkel was inspired by her children’s love of Green Lantern comics to cobble together an impromptu costume and clean up her neighborhood as the gender-blurred crimefighter, the Red Tornado. Originally a throwaway concept, the Red Tornado, as one of the earlier superhero parodies, gained immediate popularity and wound up engulfing her home strip/book “Scribbly the Boy Cartoonist”.
In the Golden Age this is what we meant by being a pot-head.
As part of the bizarre meta-miscegenation of publishers in the Golden Age, the Red Tornado migrated from American Publishing to DC Comics just long enough to pop her (potted) head in at the first meeting of the Justice Society of America. It’s odd. Somewhat less odd when you remember that Sheldon Mayer created both the Red Tornado and the JSA. But it’s still odd.
The Red Tornado: A Legacy of Dignity
Oh, but the Red Tornado’s revenge for not being invited to join the JSA would come later. Some 25 years later, the Silver Age decided to do with the Red Tornado what it did best: out-weird the Golden Age.
The Red Tornado was re-imagined as an android weapon designed by T.O. Morrow to kill the Justice Society and the Justice League. Which he did.
See, Barry? You NEVER listen to me.
Essentially, the Silver Age Red Tornado was designed to f*** things up. He was, as his name implied, a walking disaster. He was a fumbling Frankenstein monster who ruined everything he touched. Don’t believe me? Fine; then believe the JLA members themselves:
Okay, we all know Superman's a dick, but when Wonder Woman tells you you're an incompetent boob, you better believe her. Because Wonder Woman knows boobs.
Anyone wanna guess how this turns out...?
Well, not a walking disaster, exactly; more of a twirling one, really. Speaking of twirling disasters, with the arrival of Red Tornado, the twirl-tastic Mars-halationing Martian Manhunter became even more redundant in the JLA .
I mean, nobody else could do that like J’onn. Except Superman. And the Flash. And Red Tornado. Or Wonder Woman twirling her lasso really fast. Or Green Lantern with a fan-construct. Or Batman using a Bat-bee-fan from his utility belt.
Plus, the devastating Tornado cleared a path for another ex-pat Earth-Two-er, Black Canary, to join the JLA and soften it up with all her tears.
Blah blah tragedy blah blah blah Black Canary blah blah suffering
But Martian Manhunter and Black Canary are the stars of the next two segments of the Demise of the Silver Age Justice League of America, part of what drives them off the Earth into the Bronze Age and the satellite 22,300 miles away. Stay tuned!