Red Tornado (Ma Hunkel)

Red Tornado (Ma Hunkel)

:"For information on the Silver Age Red Tornado, see: Red Tornado."


caption="Ma" Hunkel, the Golden Age Red Tornado. Art by Sheldon Mayer.
character_name=Red Tornado
real_name=Abigail Mathilda "Ma" Hunkel
publisher=DC Comics
debut=as Ma Hunkel:
"All-American Comics" #3
(June 1939)
as Red Tornado:
"All-American Comics" #20
(November 1940)
creators=Sheldon Mayer
alliances=Justice Society of America
powers=Decent scrapper, abnormally spry for a woman her size and age|

The first comic book character called Red Tornado is a fictional character, a superheroine in the DC Comics universe, debuting during the Golden Age of Comic Books. Created by Sheldon Mayer, she first appeared in her civilian identity as Abigail Mathilda "Ma" Hunkel in All-American Publications' "All-American Comics" #3 (June 1939), and became the Red Tornado in "All-American Comics" #20 (Nov. 1940). As the Red Tornado, she was one of the first superhero parodies, as well as one of the first female superheroes (possibly the very first [Coogan, P. (2006). "Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre". Austin, Texas: MonkeyBrain Books] ), and, when occasionally disguised as a man, comics' first cross-dressing heroine. [ [ Ragnell's Written Word (May 11, 2006): "Mama-Thon — The Red Tornado"] ] (Madame Fatal, earlier that year, was the first cross-dressing hero.)

In the original comics in the 1940s, Ma Hunkel is a working mother whose costume consists of longjohns and a cooking pot on her head. She adopts the identity of the Red Tornado to fight local criminals in her New York City neighborhood, inspired by her son's admiration for the superhero Green Lantern. The character's popularity was such that she was given a cameo in the first adventure of the Justice Society of America, visiting the JSA's headquarters but being forced by a humorous mishap, her pants split, to leave without having the chance to apply for membership. However, later Justice Society stories have declared Ma to be an honorary member of the team.

Ma's last name is frequently misspelled as "Hunkle." [] Due to her bright red longjohns costume and roly-poly build, she is sometimes jokingly referred to as the Red Tomato.

Publication history

Initially as simply Ma Hunkel, the Golden Age Red Tornado originated in Sheldon Meyer's semi-autobiographical humor feature "Scribbly", about a boy cartoonist, in "All-American Comics". The feature ran through "All-American Comics" #59, in 1944, [ [ Justice Society Profile: The Red Tornado] ] the year DC Comics absorbed All-American Publications.

The character reappeared in a three-page "Scribbly" story by Mayer in DC's "Secret Origins" #29 (Aug. 1986). She had a one-panel appearance in "Animal Man" "Deus Ex Machine", in a sort of limbo where characters who at the time weren't written into mainstream continuity. She also appeared briefly in 1998's "DC Universe Holiday Bash II" special, in the story "I Left My Heart at the Justice Society Canteen", and in "All-Star Comics 80-Page Giant" #1 (Sept. 1999), in a story, "Way of the Amazon", in which Ma Hunkel takes valorous center stage amid Liberty Belle, Phantom Lady, and Wonder Woman. She has continued to appear through the mid-2000s, mainly as a supporting character in Justice Society of America.

Fictional character biography

In the 1940s, Ma Hunkel is the proprietor of a small grocery store in Manhattan while raising two young children, Huey and Amelia ("Sisty"). In response to a gang pressing the people in the neighborhood for protection money and inspired by the stories told to her by Huey and his friend Scribbly, about the Green Lantern, Ma makes a mask by cutting two holes in a sauce pan and a costume from red longjohns, a cape and a T-shirt. She takes the name of the Red Tornado and shuts down the protection racket. Ma Hunkel is later joined in her adventures as the Red Tornado by her daughter Sisty and Scribbly's younger brother Dinky, who call themselves the Cyclone Kids.

In "Young Justice" #16 (Jan. 2000), her by-then middle aged former sidekicks, who had married each other, say that Ma had died of natural causes. In "JSA" #55 (Feb. 2004), however, Ma is revealed as being alive, with the explanation that, after testifying against a local mob in 1950, she was placed in the Witness Protection Program and her death faked. Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Hawkman, and Wildcat visit Ma on Christmas in Londonderry, New Hampshire to inform her that the last relative of the gang she had testified against had died, and she is free to resume contact with her family. The retired Red Tornado is appointed the custodian of the Justice Society Museum, although the JSA vets also mention that they needed her help in their guidance of the newer members of the team.

In her eighties in modern-day stories, Ma is a genial, motherly woman with a fiery personality. Like a doting grandparent, she coddles the JSA members, even old-timers like Green Lantern and Hawkman. She's still a bit of a scrapper, being highly proficient wielding a frying pan, even helping Wildcat, Stargirl and Jakeem Thunder defend the brownstone against the Injustice Society in "JSA: Classified". Ma is well-liked by every member of the JSA, in part because of her expert skills at cooking, especially when it comes to baked treats.

In "Justice Society of America" #1 (Dec. 2006), Ma's granddaughter Maxine Hunkel joins the JSA. Ma herself, in mid-2000s stories, presents herself with a more professional, scholarly image than in her middle-age.

The Red Tornado appears in cameo in Alex Ross' "Kingdom Come" graphic novel. This time she wears a more sophisticated outfit consisting of body armour. She can be seen on a balcony when Superman actually comes face-to-face with Norman McCay in the Justice League's orbital HQ. She is identified as Ma Hunkel in the Justice League line-up which was on the cover of the second installment of the series where she appears in the very top left-hand corner.

Hardcover collection

The Red Tornado is one of seven JSA-related heroes whose solo appearances are collected in an anthology entry in the DC Archive Editions series:



* [ Ma Hunkel History]
* [ The Unofficial Red Tornado Biography]
* [ Who's Who: Red Tornado]

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