One of the earliest female superheroes, Abigail Mathilda Hunkel took up local superheroing duties to battle gang pressure in her NYC neighborhood. Her initial costume was understandably rushed, consisting of red longjohns, a yellow shirt, a cape, and of course, her trademark saucepan helmet. That sort of mishmashed getup makes plenty of sense for a hero’s first outing, but once you’ve committed to the superhero life, you really gotta solidify your branding.
In the comics, Ma’s been through a few makeovers in recent decades, from the doting grandmotherly figure to the Justice Society of America in the late nineties to the somewhat incongruous more business suit version currently mentoring the same team. Joel’s design here takes a more satisfying direction, back to the character’s roots, by solidifying elements that worked well, and bringing in new ones that visually remind us of her strong origin.
Joel’s ditched the yellow tank in favor of showing off the longjohn top, since he’s covered the legs and torso in really sensible overalls emblazoned with a very clean Red Tornado emblem. With longjohns, overalls, and workboots forming the core of this costume, Ma seems just a cape and a helmet away from crimefighting at any given moment. The cape’s been notably upgraded with simple yellow trim, and the helmet’s been given a more serious overhaul, bearing a rather noble looking cut for the face (replacing the simple holes cut in her first mask), with a knight-like noseguard and a useful chin-strap. The more expertly fashioned helmet, complete with rivets (as well as the handy wrench and overalls) serve as a great nod to Ma’s time working as a riveter in an airplane factory during WWII.
Overall, I’d say this redesign makes The Red Tornado look far more formidable than any of her other incarnations, and simultaneously strengthens the likable homegrown superhero vibe that made her such an interesting character in her debut.