Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
“Hail the Tornado Tyrant!”
Reader/Commentator/Pal Ian A. has goaded me into writing reviews for the Batman: Brave & the Bold animated series (Cartoon Network, Friday nights, 8:30 Eastern!), and so I am compelled to comply. It is, after all, the most fun show on television right now. Sure, you’ve got the usual contingent of fanmen who complain that it’s far too light-hearted, and should clearly be ferociously dark like the Dini/Timm series apparently was. I say fooey to those people. B&B is brilliant.
Now, watch as I shamelessly rip off the A.V. Club‘s TV Club.
“Hail the Tornado Tyrant!”
Written by: J.M. DeMatteis (No foolin’!)
What Happened: The catchy two-minutes-and-done opener once again features the willy-measurin’ competition between Batman and Green Arrow to be the coolest superhero on the block. I particularly enjoy this show’s willingness to mix together fun bits from every era of Batman continuity, but its main inspiration lies in a combination of the 50s Dick Sprang era and the 70s/80s Haney-and-Aparo Brave and the Bold run from which the show takes its name. This atmosphere delivers a straight-to-the-pointiness that works in Batman’s favor. We get a car chase with the Rat-Pack-esque Joker that naturally ends in the villain’s capture, and then Batman and Green Arrow are immediately off to capture Catwoman, each hero using their respective automobile’s hidden ability to transform into a jet to chase after her. Simple but classic.
The main plot of the episode, however, involves Red Tornado. I am not a Red Tornado fan– as far as sympathetic super-androids go, I’m a Vision guy. Also, the fact that he’s voiced by Corey Burton makes me assume that he will reveal himself as Brainiac at any second, but I digress. Batman swings by Tornado’s lab to see what’s happenin’, and Tornado reveals that he’s built himself a son, programmed him to have emotions, and named him Tornado Champion. Kid Tornado’s appearance invokes the red-and-purple Silver Age attire of big Red. It’s not too long before the trio are summoned to deal with a rampage by none other than Major Disaster.
In the ensuing battle, Batman’s Bat-Gyro goes kablooey and Tornado Champion gets struck by a lightning bolt courtesy of the major. This kickstarts his emotional circuits or whatnot, but puts them in overdrive, as we’ll soon find out. He develops a distaste for humanity, as they hate and fear him as “some robot” despite his human feelings, and he decides to take it out on Major Disaster, and then– the world! Batman puts him down, but Champion later rebuilds himself as the bigger, fiercer Tornado Tyrant. These silly names are apparently all references to Red Tornado’s ludicrously complicated comics backstory, according to Wikipedia.
Tornado Tyrant’s plan is to flood Coast City with a massive tidal wave, wiping out those despicable humans. Again, it’s up to Batman and Red Tornado to stop him with some scrambler doohickey and good old-fashioned fisticuffs. The Tyrant’s view on humanity is that they’re weak and foolish and must be destroyed, but Red Tornado instructs him as to the hoping, dreaming nature of humanity, their wonderful gooey center, and then makes his robo-son go kaboom. Batman believes that Red Tornado’s shown he’s got more humanity in him than he thinks, but Tornado shoos him away to mourn in silence– as only an “emotionless machine” can– with robo-tears!
The Moral of the Story: Never build your own sidekick. Human nature is more complicated than it looks. Even an android can cry.
Verdict: Eh, s’alright.
– Man, these Red Tornado episodes are real downers. First we get the Christmas episode with the world’s most traumatizing Batman origin ever, and now we have the ol’ robot hero building himself a family and being forced to destroy it. Dag, yo.
– “Uncle Batman.” Aww, that’s cute.
– I was waiting for an “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it!” line. No dice.
– Well, of course the Jokermobile shoots death popcorn.
– DeMatteis is a good fit for Red Tornado; when he’s not bwa-ha-ha-ing it up, his stories veer towards examinations of identity and the spirit.
– It’s not my favorite episode, but they can’t all be the best episode ever, can they?
What did you think?
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.