Justice League of America (vol.2) #1 (October, 2006)
“The Tornado’s Path, Part One: Life”
Writer – Brad Meltzer
Penciller – Ed Benes
Inkers – Sandra Hope with Mariah Benes
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Colorist – Alex Sinclair
Assistant Editor – Jeanine Schaefer
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
I could’a sworn we already discussed this one!
We open at the Batcave where Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are weighing their options for the next roll-call for the Justice League of America. Batman appears to be keen on bringing Captain Marvel into the fold… however, Wonder Woman is a bit dubious. She thinks he might only want the World’s Mightiest Mortal because he sees him as easily controlled. Batman’s all “He’s got the wisdom of Solomon” which gives Diana pause before making an “Oh, you.” kinda face… and then telling him Nightwing’s getting a “no” vote as well!
The question of Red Tornado is raised… but, he’s dead… again. This is either the sixth or seventh time, depending on who you ask. The trinity figures he’ll be back before long, usually within a day or two. This takes us to Hoboken, New Jersey where Kathy Sutton sits beside the reassembled robotic Red Tornado “shell”. He still hasn’t returned… and Will Magnus tells her she oughta go home for the night.
She kinda loses it… and tells him to back off. She reminds him that Red Tornado isn’t like one of his Metal Men… he has a soul and can’t just be rebuilt. Faux pas of faux pas, Kathy doesn’t realize that Platinum is in the room with them. Whoops! Plat doesn’t appear to take any offense… but instead wonders how Red Tornado was ever able to make a human love him. Remember, she’s got the hots for ol’ Doc Will. This brings us into a Ben Day-flavored flashback, where Kathy shares a story about “John Smith’s” sense of humor. Her tale is interrupted by a phone call from her daughter Traya… who wants to know when Daddy’s coming home.
Little does she know, the entire scene is being observed by… Red Tornado himself! Oh, and Deadman. It appears that Reddy’s got a crazy plan that will make this return a bit different than the others.
Back at the Cave, the Trinity peep out a few more photos. First, Hal Jordan. You’ll never in a million years guess who’s against his inclusion! Next, Supergirl… Clark and Bruce are in agreement that she’s not there yet. Ya gotta remember, she was still really new to the scene (and unpredictable) at this point. Next is “a” Flash. It’s a photo of Wally, sure… but all the Big Guns know is that they need someone who can run fast… could be Bart, hell… could be Jay. Last one for this go-round, Power Girl. She gets three thumbs up.
We shift scenes to Star City where Hal Jordan and Roy Harper are watching a boxing bout and talking about times past. Roy razzes Hal about being an “old man”, to which Hal suggests that he might actually be younger than Roy since his return. Fair point! Hal gets a ring-a-ling from Dinah, she tells him that Reddy hasn’t returned yet. Hal asks Roy if he’s down for some “Hard Travellin'” and he’s cool with it.
Next stop, Metropolis… where Black Lightning is talking with one of his informants. He mentions that he spent time in Luthor’s Presidential Cabinet (whoa, continuity!) and with his connections has created a sort-of underground information network. This informant is the former Signalman, who spills the beans for cash so he can feed his “Psycho-Pirate” addiction. He shares a story about Dr. Impossible… a man who claims to be Mr. Miracle’s brother.
We rejoin Reddy and Deady at the morgue. They are looking at the body of one of Multiplex’s duplicates. Turns out Multiplex died a few weeks earlier, however… someone forgot to tell his dupes! Anyhoo… it’s here we learn Tornado’s plan, he doesn’t want to return to his robot body, he wants to become flesh and blood!
Back to the cave, and another page o’ Polaroids. Mr. Terrific… Batman really wants him in the League, however, he’s currently the chairman of the Justice Society. Superman and Wonder Woman are adamant that he is currently off-limits. The Atom… is a bit of a question mark at this point. Vixen gets a “she’s not ready”… they’d rather have Animal Man anyway, and finally Hawkman gets a split decision.
Speaking of Vixen… we join her at a Hub City bar, where she is trying to track down The Question. The barkeep informs her that ol’ Vic hasn’t worked out of the Hub in over a year. Mari’s animal instincts kick in… she might’ve been led into a trap!
We rejoin Reddy and Deady again, and the flesh and blood transformation is underway… and it works! Tornado can no longer hear Boston’s voice… which pretty much tells him that he’s back among the living. Better yet, he still has his air elemental powers!
Smith puts on some clothes and prepares to head home. Once he’s gone, we learn that Deadman wasn’t alone… Felix Faust was also lurking about, and had something to do with the resurrection. He demands payment, and warns that “they” will not be pleased with Deadman’s actions.
Back in Star City, Hal and Dinah arrive at Ollie’s place. With a resigned sigh, Ollie knows they’re putting the band back together… and heads off to grab his bow. That is, until they inform him that they’re actually there for Roy. Oooh, burn.
We hop into concurrent-vignette mode… intermittently getting scenes from Gotham, New York City, and Hoboken. At the Batcave, the Trinity argue over potential recruits… in New York, the Traya is planning to make her Daddy’s return special… and in Hoboken, Platinum and Gold are having a chat. Suddenly, a sawblade flies through the room… and decapitates both Metal Men!
A figure enters the room, and walks over to the Red Tornado robot. It’s Doctor Impossible!
At Kathy Sutton’s New York apartment, there’s a knock at the door. Traya answers it… and heyyyy, it’s flesh and blood John Smith!
Before wrapping up the chapter, we get caught up on where everybody stands. Black Lightning has all the information he needs… Hal, Roy and Dinah are on the road… Vixen is facing off with some shadowy folks… the Trinity still bicker… and finally, Doctor Impossible is ordered to “open” the Red Tornado suit up.
Man am I a sucker for these “sifting through photos” issues.
I don’t think I’ve read this since it first hit the shelves… and it’s aged really well. This post-Infinite Crisis era of DC Comics was a strange animal. Certain books felt so disengaged and, for lack of a better term, “nebulous”, where others felt totally on point. At this point I don’t think we (or DC even) knew what was in continuity… what the timelines were… all that good stuff. This issue doesn’t really deal with any of that, and instead relies on character… which is, in my opinion, the right way to go.
While we’re not drowning in continuity, there is still a feeling of history. I mean, even if we just look at the scene between Hal and Roy… they have history, and we can see that they are “family”. That’s the kinda thing I loved about the DC Universe… and it’s exclusion was probably among the key reasons as to why The New-52! didn’t manage to keep most folks’ attention or interest. I was also pleased there was a callback to President Luthor having been a thing.
Let’s talk Red Tornado. He was never really a character I thought all that much about. To me, and I’d wager many, he was just DC’s Vision… ya know, back before everybody was Vision’s #1 fan. He was always a nice “presence”, and I appreciated him as a background character that could come through in a pinch… but never really took the time to consider his home life. I knew the Traya connection from his time as Young Justice’s “den father”… but never really stopped to reflect on it.
His desire to be of flesh and blood is an interesting wrinkle. On one hand, he will be able to experience the same sensations as his family members, however on the other… he’s probably giving up his soul-floating immortality. It definitely raises the stakes, and that’s a good thing. We see here how glibly Batman talks about the “seven times” Reddy’s “died” and come back. It’s just so matter of fact, that his “mortality” feels taken for granted. Raising the stakes feels like a good move for the character.
We meet Dr. Impossible here… who might be Mr. Miracle’s brother, orrrr, might just be one of the Penguin’s flunkies who found a Father Box. Either way, I dig his design and think he might be a fun baddie for a little while.
Speaking of design, really dig Ed Benes’ work here. I remember him getting some static for his work on Birds of Prey being too “cheesecake”, but he really does have a wonderful style… and did a great job with expressions. The inking starts off a bit rough and “gritty”, but falls into place after the first few pages.
Overall, really good issue! I usually give Brad Meltzer some (perhaps unfair) pithy remarks, largely due to what he did to the core DC Universe during Identity Crisis, but I can’t deny that he’s a really talented writer. This over-sized issue kept me engaged and entertained the whole way through… well, until the half-dozen pages of his novel they crammed into the back-end of the book. Not an indictment on the quality… just no interest in reading a few pages of a novel I’m not likely to buy. The comics portion though… worth checking out!
Before we go… today’s is the final post of the 500’s. Join me tomorrow as we celebrate our SIX-HUNDREDTH DAILY DISCUSSION!