A Tribute to the of

The team-up is a concept nearly as old as the genre itself. From World’s Finest to the Brave and the Bold to the Legion of Super-Heroes and of course the Justice League. Everyone loves a good team-up story and none was so anticipated as those wonderful Gardner Fox scripted JLA/JSA annual events. I have no idea if he knew what was coming or not, but Gardner Fox’s final effort before the reins were handed to Denny O’Neil was a pretty impressive story. As per usual it was a 2-part story in the pages of Justice League of America #64 and #65 from August and September of 1968 respectively. Julie Schwartz was editor with artwork from the pencil of the late Dick Dillin on both, including covers and cover inking by Jack Abel and Joe Giella respectively with Sid Greene on interior inks.

The Stormy Return of the Red Tornado!” is the title of #64 and it begins in the Justice Society HQ where the assembled members, including Starman, Black Canary, Flash, Hourman and Doctor Fate are sitting around waiting for something to happen. It doesn’t take long.

I must take a moment and note that a patented Carmine Infantino “helping hand” is shown on the splash page, directing the reader’s attention from the JLA shield logo to the text in the left column. It makes me smile.

So who should appear at the JSA HQ than a red figure with purple cape, gloves and boots and trunks declaring that he is their fellow and original member, the Red Tornado. The other heroes are incredulous and go so far as to conjure an image of the Red Tornado they know, Ma Hunkel. The visitor is insistent, however, and goes to far as to recount each of his colleagues’ secret identities and abilities. Still skeptical, Hourman unmasks the Red Tornado to find a featureless face, bereft of even hair or ears, further confusing matters.

Just then, Hourman’s crime forecaster spits out a prediction and the JSA departs with the Red Tornado along, determined to prove himself. Upon arrival, the team discovers a group of featureless beings using sophisticated weaponry to effectively steal an entire museum of priceless artifacts.

Jumping into action, the JSA begins to make some headway, but the Red Tornado keeps meeting with disaster as he tries to assist, each time seeing his work backfire into tragedy as one by one the members of the JSA are seemingly killed in battle. Ultimately, when he tries to assist Dr. Fate, the mage’s magical sand/rain is sprinkled on them both, causing them to be paralyzed until they’re dumped into the sea. When the material is rinsed from them, however, they revive and the Red Tornado is more determined than ever to learn his forgotten origin and to follow his instincts toward what he hopes will be answers.

Fade now to a sophisticated computer room where a man is busily operating the controls and thinking to himself that he now understands why he had to create the Red Tornado: “Without his presence at the 20th Century museum, the Justice Society would have stopped me cold!

We then are introduced (or reintroduced to those who caught his last appearance) to Thomas Oscar (T.O.) Morrow, who had previously duked it out with the Earth 1 Flash and Green Lantern in Flash #143 [03/64]. His interests, inspired by his name, have him using advanced technology to peer into the future and use it to his advantage. He even has the capability to seize things with a grapple beam.

He had even queried his computer about his odds of success in seizing the 20th century museum. The screens informed him one by one that the JSA would stop him and his only hope of thwarting them would be to add a member to their ranks; the Red Tornado.

Back in the present, the Red Tornado has homed in on Morrow and is demanding satisfaction as the villain prepares to ransack the recently discovered Atlantis. After a short battle, Morrow is able to overcome his creation with a futuristic rifle burst of energy, but he then learns he must revive him in order to have the Red Tornado attempt to stop him from his Atlantis caper. He proceeds tor revive the hero, who had been conscious and thus able to hear that the “deaths” of his comrades had been perhaps a bit premature.

Meanwhile, back at JSA headquarters, those same heroes are laid out like they’re ready for the undertaker, but Dr. Fate is also in attendance along with Mr. Terrific. Fate explains that the energies that felled their comrades were washed off him in time and as other members of the JSA arrive, including the Atom, Sandman, Green Lantern, Dr. Mid-Nite and Hawkman, a full briefing takes place.

GL’s ring, in fact, reveals that the Red Tornado is currently doing battle with the faceless fiends and they decide they must help. At the scene of the fracas, Morrow has decided his computer has fouled up as the Red Tornado seems to be defeating his minions.

When the Justice Society members converge on the scene they congratulate the Red Tornado on his success and the hero informs them that he’s learned how to revive the other members. They’ve had their bodies filled with Futurenergy, and a confiscated weapon, reversed, will bring them back. As the hapless hero demonstrates, however, he knocks everyone cold because T.O. Morrow had filled the room with his Futurenergy, causing an energy explosion.

Prepared now to battle the Justice League of America on Earth 1, Morrow again consults his all-knowing machine to learn the he can only be defeated in his effort to conquer the Justice League if the Red Tornado interferes.

The book closes on that little cliff hanger until we continue our story in issue #65 and “T.O. Morrow Kills the Justice League—Today!

The Justice League is in a meeting at the Secret Sanctuary with Superman, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Snapper Carr and the Atom in attendance.

Strangely, there’s a similar gathering in the souvenir room directly below with some of the special people in the lives of the JLA gathered. This time it’s Steve Trevor, Jean Loring, Hawkgirl, Snapper Carr’s girlfriend Midge and Mera. They burst into the room, kiss their respective squeezes and then fade into oblivion leaving the five members of the JLA lifelessly on the floor. Just then a message comes through GL’s ring informing them that the interlopers were energy duplicates and that the five members left standing are about to be invaded by some cosmic created creatures. The disembodied voice further informs our heroes that he will only engage them in person and in their own souvenir room after they’ve saved the earth from this imminent threat.

Instantly the flying terrors from the atmosphere engage the Justice League, each nightmare monster uniquely equipped to deal with their foe, from the dragon like creature with kryptonite teeth to the yellow griffin grieving Green Lantern. Once again, however, teamwork rules the day as the falling Flash drums the griffin into unconsciousness allowing Green Lantern to assist Superman against the kryptonite grin and so on until the team is victorious.

Returning to HQ, the Justice League find themselves face to face with T.O. Morrow. He is instantly recognized by the Flash and Green Lantern, but that does them little good as they’re soon dealing with former foes who spring to the attack from the souvenir room. Amazo, Super-Duper, Starro, Doctor Light and a diamond creature wielding Felix Faust’s magic bell attack the heroes at the behest of T.O. Morrow.

he villain looks on smugly as one by one the members of the League fall to their respective foes despite valiant and heroic efforts. Finally, Morrow uses the souvenir room for his own purposes, creating a gallery just like the cover of this issue with his defeated foes as displays. He again consults his forecasting computer to learn that he will succeed as long as the Red Tornado doesn’t appear and stop him.

Speaking of the Red Tornado he is reviving from the explosion, laying the fact to the notion that he was holding the energy weapon that acted sort of like a lightning rod, reducing the effects. He feels he can still reverse the effects for his companions, but the weapon is nowhere to be seen.

Using his homing capabilities again, he finds himself drawn to the barrier between Earths 1 and 2 and ultimately crosses the divide, finding himself in JLA HQ. He locates a rack of the weapons he needs to restore his teammates, but brushes a tape recorder and soon hears the details of what T.O. Morrow has done. With that knowledge, the Red Tornado knows what he must do.

Quickly he rounds up the genuine loved ones of the Justice League and informs them that they can save them with reversed futurenergy. The “kiss of life” soon follows, reviving the heroes and then the Red Tornado envelops the heroes into his vortex, offering to escort them to the other Earth to help the JSA.

T.O. Morrow, however, has not been idle and he has decided to use his henchmen and technology to cause an out and out war between the two earths, but before he can proceed much further, the Red Tornado bursts through the barrier with his precious cargo and the battle is on.

The Red Tornado pursues Morrow himself and envelops him in his tornado vortex, demanding to know about himself from his creator: “My unerring computer told me I needed a “red Tornado” to foist off as a member of the Justice Society—so I created you with a Humanitron machine…but I didn’t give you a real face or a real identity! You’re a…nobody!

Crestfallen to discover he’s merely a machine, albeit one who can communicate via telepathy, the Red Tornado pushes onward, reviving the JLA and JSA members on each earth with the futuristic rifle. He is offered full membership in the JSA, but politely refuses: “Thank you—I am honored! But I want something more out of life than that! I want to be somebody! I want a face…an identity I can call my own! I want a personality…emotions…a home! I want to put down roots…to belong! Somewhere in this wide, wide world—there has to be a place for me!

That rather angst-filled monologue completes the two-part story.

While I’ve not read the issue, I understand that JLA #17’s “Triumph of the Tornado Tyrant!” [02/63] has something to do with the Red Tornado’s origin, yet all my reference material assures me that this is the hero’s first Silver Age appearance.

I found this story a little hard to follow in places, but I’m an unabashed fan of Gardner Fox’s stories and I felt he pulled things off in pretty fine style, from rolling out pretty much the entire Justice Society (sans Wildcat. Where was he?) and the Justice League and giving a nod to the Golden Age with a new and interesting Red Tornado. Following in the finest traditions of the Silver Age, what’s old was new again and the Red Tornado has continued to be an interesting part of the Justice League, though I’m not sure how or when he made that transition. In any case, I’ll give this one an 8 on the 10-point rating scale and note again that it was a little sad to see this final script from the great Gardner Fox in the pages of Justice League of America.

Thanks again for joining us, dear readers. While this is perhaps a bit of a vanity project, we love to entertain as well and if we’re entertaining or educating you, please feel free to let us know. I’m always available with a few clicks of the keyboard. Just go to my convenient e-mail at: professor_the@hotmail.com.

We’ll be back as usual on the first of the month with more Silver Age goodness, so c’mon back and until then…

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2013 by B.D.S.

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