The Red Tornado by Joel Priddy

Character: The Red Tornado / Ma Hunkel
Publisher: DC Comics
Artist: Joel Priddy
Reviewer: Dean Trippe

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.

7 comments on “The Red Tornado by Joel Priddy
  1. Fun stuff. I like the tough mom look. Sort of has a Rosie the Riveter feel with the big wrench and the overalls. The modified cooking pot helmet is hilarious.

  2. Irma Geddon eat your heart out.

    Who cares about Batman? This is All-St*r Ma Hunkle: The Return of the Red Tornado. Just looking at her makes me imagine a story akin to the Forty Niners and the New Frontier.

    I owe you all an Orion, and Wonder Woman. I’ll get to work.

  3. I’m glad you’re liking her! It was a fun piece to draw. When I posted this on my blog, there was some discussion of the gender-bending issues raised with the original Red Tornado. I abandoned those in favor of the class issues. Red Tornado is THE blue-collar superhero: a tenament mother who cobbles together weapons and armor from kitchen and factory to protect her children. I especially like the notion of what it would be like when she rubbed elbows with the Forties’ surfeit of millionaire playboy superheroes.

  4. This is a great redesign. Far more practical than the original and a clear nod to her blue collar background. The Rosie the Riveter look is perfect.

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