Featured Screen Shot
Zatanna: Tornado never knew my moves.
Robin: And I bet you’ve got some good ones… Sorry, that may have come off a little too Wally.
Zatanna: Heh, I don’t mind.
Previously: The android superhero Red Tornado had volunteered to supervise the Justice League’s sidekicks after they forced Batman to recognise their nascent team. One of their first adventures saw them battle an android called Mister Twister who had been designed by the Tornado’s creator, the evil scientist T. O. Morrow, to retrieve and reprogramme him. They defeated Twister, but the Red Tornado refused them permission to investigate further (“Welcome to Happy Harbor”). Several months later, two more androids – the Red Inferno and Red Torpedo – breached the Cave and apparently succeeded where Twister had failed. The Tornado turned on his young charges and knocked them out before vanishing with his two “siblings” (“Homefront”).
October 10th – In his hidden laboratory, T.O. Morrow finishes restoring Red Tornado’s conciousness, senses, and free will, but he deliberately leaves the android’s voice box off-line and his body disassembled. Morrow describes the Tornado as his “prodigal son” while his assistant, Brom Stikk, busies himself by checking over the standing, but unmoving Red Inferno and Red Torpedo.
In the Cave, Black Canary is serving as the Team’s rotating “den-mother” while the Tornado is missing. Kid Flash is sitting out the training due to his broken arm (an injury suffered fighting the Injustice League in “Revelations”), but he is perfectly happy to have Captain Marvel run errands for him. The magician Zatara, Canary’s replacement, arrives and programmes the zeta-tubes to teleport his daughter Zatanna into the Cave. Miss Martian goes to introduce herself, but Robin enthusiastically cuts in and, with uncharacteristic nervousness, introduces himself and the rest of the group. Zatara emphasises that this is only a visit on Zatanna’s part and the Team has a brief telepathic conversation about how they still seem to be on probation with some members of the League. Zatanna recognises what is going on and calls them out in front of Canary and her father.
Superboy vocalises their thoughts and demands to know what the League are doing to find the missing Red Tornado. Canary repeats Batman’s warning that investigation into the Tornado’s whereabouts are purely a League matter. Zatara tries to diffuse the sudden hostility by suggesting that the Team take Zatanna on a tour of the Cave. Once they are out of ear-shot from the adults Zatanna asks what they are really going to do. Superboy and Aqualad agree that they are going to hunt down the Tornado on their own. Zatanna is all for helping them and says she can’t tell her father about their unsanctioned mission if they “kidnap” her. Minutes later they are aboard the Bioship and heading away from Happy Harbour and the Cave (Canary buys Miss Martian’s explanation that they are just showing Zatanna around Happy Harbour).
Stikk brings the Torpedo and Inferno back online as Morrow finishes reassembling the Tornado. However, Morrow, says he will not reactivate the Tornado’s voice or motors functions until he has finished downloading Tornado’s memory files. While they wait Morrow relates his own history of trying to infiltrate the Justice Society (the League’s WWII predecessors) with an android trojan-horse disguised as a real superhero. His first attempt was the Red Torpedo, an oceanic superhero, but the android’s programming was too crude. He followed that up with the more sophisticated Firebrand (later renamed the Red Inferno), but her programming was too good and she heroically sacrificed her life before she could betray the Society. The Red Tornado was Morrow’s third attempt, but his “heroic programming and Pinocchio-like desire to become more human” caused him to side with the Society against Morrow.
Robin had asserted that Batman had already investigated every logical location for the Red Tornado and T.O. Morrow. They thus need to think of an illogical “truly dum” idea as that’s the only ones left. They all turn to look at Kid Flash and he suggests they call in a favour from Warden Hugo Strange at Belle Reve (“Terrors”) and interview Professor Ivo, Morrow’s competitor and fellow robot building evil-genius. Ivo refuses to help and says he’s experienced at resisting telepathic probes, but he is unprepared for Zatanna’s spell which causes him to perfectly recount the location of Morrow’s lab (“a secret base beneath Yellowstone National Park, 100 metres south of Old Faithful”). Warden Strange looks on with displeasure at this development.
Back at Morrow’s laboratory, the download of the Red Tornado’s memories into Morrow’s new android, the Red Volcano is complete. This new Red Volcano is designed to just destroy the heroes rather than try to infiltrate them. However, the hulking Volcano’s first act is to kill Morrow revealing him, or at least the Morrow present in the laboratory, to be yet another android. The Volcano has been loaded with memory files from T.O. Morrow and the other Red androids. He reveals to his siblings that Morrow’s plan was to trigger the supervolcano buried beneath Yellowstone Park. It will erupt in stages with the third and final stage blanketing the Earth with ash. This will plot out the sun and decimate humanity leaving the way open for the android conquest of Earth.
During the flight to Yellowstone Zatanna explains that her magical powers are limited and that she needs to have mastered a spell cold in order to use it. Superboy is more concerned with retribution against the Red Tornado, but Aqualad pointedly notes that he deserves more than to be “The Weapon” that his designers created him to be (a direct reference to Superboy’s own creation by the Cadmus Project). Ivo, at Strange’s insistence, has phoned Morrow’s Laboratory and warned them that the Team are on their way. Zatanna accompanies them as they proceed on foot to the laboratory, but the Red Volcano is monitoring their approach and sends the Red Tornado to kill them. The Team try fight back against their former mentor, but are easily beaten and knocked unconscious.
The Team’s defeat was a ruse designed to fool the Red Volcano into thinking that the Red Tornado is working with him. However, the Volcano has all of the Tornado’s memories and sees through his gambit. The Volano attacks the heroes directly and the Tornado abandons them to fight him alone. His rock-controlling powers allow him to levitate boulders out of the ground and propel them at the teen heroes. The Volcano is also able to swiftly predict and counter their strategies due to his stolen memories, but Zatanna is unknown to him. She’s able to blind the Red Volcano, but he retaliates by starting the supervolcano eruption ahead of schedule. The eruption shakes Morrow’s laboratory where the Tornado has returned to speak, via an external computer, to his two remaining siblings. Inferno questions why they who-are-not-human should save the humans, but the Tornado counters by saying that, while they was never human, she and the Inferno were always heroes.
A large pool of lava has appeared around the Red Volano as he throws burning rocks and lava against the Team. Kid Flash recognises that Red Volcano has created a stage 2 eruption and that he is intent on advancing to a world threatening stage 3. The Team redouble their attacks, but the android is stronger and faster than they are. The sudden arrival of the Red Torpedo forces Volcano back into the lava. The Red Tornado follows by shattering the plinth Red Volcano had created for himself, and the Red Inferno keeps up the pressure with her own fires. Inferno and Torpedo wrestle Volcano and down into the lava. The Tornado joins them and forces Volcano lower into the lava where the heat begins to melt all four androids. The Volcano’s last vindictive act before it melts is to push the eruption to stage 3. The Tornado’s own legs have melted off and he appears content to join his siblings in molten oblivion. However, he is pulled free at the last minute by Superboy.
Kid Flash explains that their only hope of stopping the eruption is to bleed off the excess pressure from the supervolcano. Under his direction Robin calculates the points to relieve the pressure and Artemis blows them open with her explosive arrows. Its then up to the Red Tornado, in a staggering display of his power, to funnel the exhaust ash cloud out of the atmosphere.
He is successful and return to Earth. Kid Flash then uses the machinery in Morrow’s laboratory to restore the Tornado’s voice. The Team finally realise that the Tornado became their supervisor in an attempt to become more human himself, something he thought he could only do around the lively teens and not around the staid adults of the League. Once he is repaired the Red Tornado visits the real Thomas Morrow, now a very old and sick man, who is kept alive by hospital machines. Zatanna enjoyed her “kidnapping” and Robin hopes it will be the first of many — that is if her father doesn’t live up to his promise to ground her for life.
- This episode takes place on the 10th of October. Black Canary is the out-going supervisor and Zatara in the in-coming supervisor.
- The Tornado didn’t betray the Team in “Homefront” and claims he left to spare the Team from further attacks and to search for Morrow.
- Zatara’s teleport code is 11, Zatanna’s code is A-03.
- Robin fancies Zatanna, his reaction is almost identical to Kid Flash’s first meeting with Miss Martian.
- The flashbacks. The entire episode was great, but as a DC fan I just loved seeing those obscure Quality Comics characters and the brief appearance of the JSA.
- Where did all that ash go? Tornado may have accelerated it into orbit, but it’ll eventually fall back down and still have the same effect.
- Does the Tornado have a secret identity or not. It is stated that the Red Tornado does not have a secret identity, yet in “Targets” its also stated that the Martian Manhunter has given him the name John Smith.
- Just how old is the Red Tornado? The Justice Society were active during the 1940s and that flashback makes it look like he was built around that time.
- The Red Volcano’s hand turning to dust has to be a homage to something, but I can’t place it.
The return of the Red Tornado allows Greg Weisman to merge the Tornado’s siblings with his original “infiltrate the JSA origin” to create a compelling story. I never in all my days thought I would see a DC cartoon include a reference to Firebrand or to the WWII era Red Torpedo. The use of the JSA and the deep DC history gives this episode a feeling a real weight and grounding (something it shares with “Denial” and “Downtime”). The animation this episode is really fluid with a consistent high-quality across action and talking scene. One of my favourite moments is Zatanna’s magicking of Ivo, the look on his face is priceless and is a nicely observed bit of animation.
I found the cartoon volcanology amusing – a supervolcano is just something on an entirely other scale to what was shown in the cartoon. The Yellowstone supervolcano isn’t a little mountain in Yellowstone, it is Yellowstone and sits beneath almost a quarter of the entire Park. It’ll take more than a few arrows to vent that baby when it goes up. Nevertheless, the set-up does give a display of just how powerful the Red Tornado is. His is a wonderfully visual power and it transfers to screen quite well, I particularly like the way his tornadoes are coloured red in order to denote their origin. His morose demeanour “I don’t believe I should be rebuilt” reminds me of a certain Hitchhiking paranoid android.
A good episode, with great animation and brilliant use of DC’s vast back catalogue of obscure characters.
|Character Site||The Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||4/5|