Red Tornado (Earth-16) is an instance of the Red Tornado character archetype.
As our post on the Early Years of the Red Tornado shows the original android was something of a liability. He was created as a pastiche of an older comedy character by Professor Thomas Oscar Morrow (“T.O. Morrow”, get it?) as a trojan horse who would gain the Justice League’s trust and then destroy them. Luckily Morrow had made his robot too well and it rebelled against its programming.
The presence of the Red Tornado as Young Justice’s mentor/supervisor dates back to Peter David and Todd Nauck’s original Young Justice (vol 1.) comic book. At that time the Red Tornado had become distant from his humanity and was all but inert, standing statute like in the JLA’s Cave headquarters. He reawakened when Kid Flash (Impulse) tried to use him as surf board and, by default more than anything else, became their chaperone (the comic book YJ was generally shown as a couple of years younger than their cartoon equivalents). His status when YJ found him is reflected in an on-screen biography that is shown during “Welcome to Happy Harbor”.
The Tornado is voiced by Jeff Bennett who previously worked with YJ Producer Greg Weisman on Gargoyles as the voice of Brooklyn. In terms of DC characters he has voiced the Joker and Captain Marvel on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Ragdoll in The Batman, and the Creeper in Batman: The New Adventures. He is also the voice of Johnny Bravo (try to imagine the Red Tornado saying “Man, I’m pretty!”) and Dexter’s dad in Dexter’s Laboratory.
The Red Tornado is Young Justice’s day-to-day supervisor. On screen evidence (TO Morrow, the reference to the Tornado Champion) implies that, as in the comics, the Red Tornado android is actually a living alien cyclone (the Tornado Champion) which inhabits a mechanical body T.O. Morrow had created as a Trojan Horse with which to destroy the Justice League and Justice Society. His teleport code is 16 implying that he was the 16th member of the Justice League.
Part of the Tornado’s official Justice League biography records that the Tornado – as an elemental force which was sympathetic to the primal state of the environment – had been driven half-mad by pollution in the atmosphere and was part of a four-way Elemental War with the Swamp Thing, Naiad, and Firestorm (three other elemental heroes representing Earth, Water, and Fire). Firestorm was able to eventually calm the Tornado and manufactured a new, but imperfect body for him. In the new body the Tornado almost lost everything of his original humanity and personality and became increasingly mechanical and silent. During this time he was associated with a group called the Leymen who helped him start to regain his personality and emotions (“Welcome to Happy Harbor”).
The Tornado, perhaps still mindful of his need to re-engage with his humanity or even memories of trying to prove his own worth to the Justice League, appeared to sympathise with the plight of the spurned sidekicks when they found out that their induction into the Justice League was less than they had been promised (“Independence Day”). Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash then proved their mettle by liberating Superboy from Project Cadmus and forced Batman, the League’s leader, to reconsider his options. He recruited them into a new splinter group of the Justice League designed specifically for covert work. The new group would be based in the League’s old Cave headquarters and the Tornado volunteered to live in the Cave as their supervisor (“Fireworks”).
The Tornado’s “creator” Professor T.O. Morrow and his student Brom Stikk tried to reprogram the Red Tornado using an android called Mister Twister. They had managed to trace him to the general area of Happy Harbour, Rhodes Island (a town near the Cave headquarters) and thought that an attack on the town would draw him out. However, the attack was answered by the Tornado’s charges who mistakenly convinced themselves that Twister was Tornado in disguise (they thought he was testing their training). It was Miss Martian who realised that the Tornado was Twister’s real target and devised the plan which eventually disabled it. The teens were anxious to pursue the investigation further, but the Tornado cited why he hadn’t got involved in the battle personally:
This was your battle. I do not believe that it is my role to solve your problems for you. Nor should you solve mine for me.
He then told them that he considered the matter closed (“Welcome to Happy Harbor”).
The Tornado’s policy of not solving Young Justice’s problems for them meant that, while he is usually around when Batman dispatched them, he does not actually go with them on missions. The Red Tornado was one of the Justice League’s who fought the Amazo android and had his abilities duplicated (“Schooled”).
Powers and Abilities
The Red Tornado is an android with the ability to generate tornadoes and whirlwinds. He can use these to lift himself aloft or as powerful attacks to throw around or push side his foes. He also had excellent hearing and a carbon-steel-alloy heart.