Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mama-Thon -- The Red Tornado

One of the suggestions for the Mama-Thon was somebody I'd already made up my mind to include -- the Original Red Tornado, Ma Hunkle.

I first encountered her in a DCU Holiday Bash Special, which was where I first encountered the whole JSA, come to think of it. They did a story where the JSA had a party at their headquarters, and cut to the kitchen for a page. There was Ma Hunkle, the original Red Tornado, chasing a bunch of kids away from the food. She was a big, solid redheaded-woman who looked like she could easily scare anyone away from the kitchen. I didn't see her again until JSA #55 (A Christmas issue!), when Alan Scott goes to invite her to the JSA Museum as curator.

She has a fascinating story, with loads of elements I'd love -- working class mother, fed up with crime in her area, inspired by Green Lantern to throw on a red longjohns, a blanket (a cape!), and an old cooking pot (for a mask!) to fight crime. She even pretended to be a man to disguise her secret identity, which is something I've been dying to see a female superhero do! Eventually, she got to be such a thorn in the sides of the local mobsters that she had to go into the Witness Protection Program. There she stayed until there was a break between world-shattering plots during Christmas so they could bring her back in a heartwarming story.

They couldn't resist showing that she still liked punching people while wearing men's clothing.

In All-Star Comics #3 Ma Hunkle nearly became a Justice Society founder. She was the first women to appear at one of their meetings but sadly was unable to stay long enough to share a story. However, as this is the only Golden-Age page I've ever seen of Mrs Hunkle, this is what I'll leave you with tonight. Enjoy!


  1. Exactly how many heroes did Green Lantern inspire, anyway? With all these people owing their careers to him, you'd think they'd play him up a bit.

  2. Judging by that Golden Age page, it seems the JSA never treated any Red Tornado all that well...

    Buncha jerks

  3. Yeah, I read a rant somewhere I don't remember, where they said that Red Tornado was actually a very successful crime fighter in her own stories, but she was turned into a joke in her very few JSA appearances. In one of those Crisis on Multiple Earths trades they even refer to her as "All brawn no brain." I think it was Flash... the butt-hat.

  4. It was Starman who made the brawn/brain crack in Justice League #64.

  5. Why hasn't anyone ever done a Red Tornado/Red Tornado mini or one-shot? I'd buy that for four dollars.

  6. All-Star Red Tornado.

    It needs to happen.

    No, really, it does. For it would rule. You've got ass-kicking, a cool costume, street-level crime, a female lead, gender-bending, and a hero who wears cookware upon her head. Righteous!

    I've loved the Tornado since I was a young'un and read a couple of Scribbly reprints. How can you not?

  7. I can see it now...

    * All Star Red Tornado *

    - Excuse me, are you the Red Tomato?

    - Are you dense? Are you retarded? I am the goddamn Red tornado!

    OK, that joke is getting old.

  8. Dorian -- Alan gets lots of panel time. You see him get hurt, you see him double over, you see him bitch out the younger generation, you see him in a hospital bed, you see him get bandaged...

    RAB -- Cool! Thanks for the link to that!

    Fortress Keeper -- Yep, they were teasing her something awful. But they treated each other that way, too.

    Batiduende -- This was her only JSA appearance that I'd know of, I'd like to see the others.

    Hermit -- Seriously? Usually Flash is the jerk.

    Dan -- They don't think anyone's interested. :( They concentrate on the silly Silver Age robot when their concept for a Golden Age Red Tornado is pure, well, gold! I'd love to see an update of the character where it's another fed-up mother who dons the mantle.

    Harvey -- Sounds like a hit to me!

    *Shakes head at Batiduende*

  9. Several full-length Golden Age RT stories in The Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics (1982), eds. Martin T. Willams and J. Michael Barrier. Out-of-print, but not hard to find through libraries or online dealers.

  10. Anon -- Ooo... Thanks for the tip! i'll keep my eyes open.