Episode Title: “Hail the Tornado Tyrant!”
Original Air Dance: June 5, 2009
When I saw the title for this episode I thought we were going to see some kind of computer glitch cause Red Tornado to take a “heel turn”, but that isn’t quite what happened. Though there were a lot of liberties taken, this episode did pay quite a bit of homage to Red Tornado’s, strange, interesting and somewhat confusing history.
In the teaser we get Batman and Green Arrow in their typical game of one upsmanship while chasing the Joker through Gotham. They simultaneously stop the Joker, when Catwoman interrupts them by robbing a bank. Both heroes’ vehicles convert into planes and Batman and Green Arrow are off to compete once again as Batman realizes their competition will never end.
The story proper opens in Red Tornado’s lab, where the android hero is creating another version of himself, a “son” named Tornado champion, and he wants Batman to verify his results. Tornado reveals that Champion will have an upgrade – emotions. Batman warns that creating life in a laboratory is dangerous, but Red Tornado explains he put in a failsafe that can shut down his “son.” Emotions don’t seem present initially in the new android, but he and Tornado work as team mates while the father patiently waits for their appearance. The weather controlling villain, Major Disaster, summons a storm to attack the Gotham docks. While Red Tornado and Tornado Champion are stopping the villain a bolt of lightening strikes Champion, and his emotional abilities finally manifest. Eventually after the arrival of emotions, Tornado Champion begins to think himself above humanity, and begins to behave in a threatening manner. At Batman’s urging, Red Tornado decides to utilize the failsafe and de-activate Tornado Champion. The pair of heroes are unaware that Tornado Champion secretly removed the failsafe. He activates the laboratory equipment and upgrades his android body. He stands revealed as the Tornado Tyrant, and vows to destroy humanity. Batman and Red Tornado confront the new Tornado Tyrant with a device that can scramble his core programming. The Tyrant has upgraded his capabilities so that his power is now superior to Red Tornado’s. As Red Tornado appears to be at the precipice of defeat, Batman smashes the scrambler into the Tyrant’s forehead. Red Tornado delivers the final blow as his son calls him “father” one last time. In the epilogue Red Tornado sheds a tear as he melts down the metal that once was his “son”.
The Red Tornado’s comic book origins begin with an enemy of Adam Strange called Ulthoon, the Tornado Tyrant that was actually a sentient tornado. After being defeated by Adam Strange, the tyrant contemplates the nature of good and evil and changes his name to the Tornado Champion. When the thinking tornado finds his way to Earth, he enters an android body (originally intended to be evil) created by nefarious roboticist T. O. Morrow and becomes the Red Tornado (once again after some adjusting to good and evil, with good coming out on top). This episode sort of approaches that history in reverse, Starting with Red Tornado, who creates the Tornado Champion that eventually becomes Tornado Tyrant. I really enjoyed this sort of reverse take on my favorite androids story. There is also a nice Pinocchio as well as Frankenstein vibe woven into this episode that held my interest well. My favorite part of the episode was in the first half when Red Tornado is coldly narrating the early adventures with Champion in his monotone robot voice with very sterile background music. It gave an eerie and ominous feel that is not often seen in this mostly light hearted series. Overall, I really enjoyed this episode, much like the Christmas episode which was Tornado’s first appearance. For some reason I’m drawn to this confused, strange detached character, if only I were in touch with my emotions enough to understand why…
Featured Characters: Catwoman (Kane & Finger, 1940), Red Tornado (Fox & Dillin, 1968), and Major Disaster (Fox & G. Kane,1966)