Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Great Batman: Brave and the Bold Rewatch: Hail the Tornado Tyrant!

Season One, Episode Twenty: Hail the Tornado Tyrant!
Written by J.M. DeMatteis
Directed by Brandon Vietti

Plot Synopsis

Batman, driving the Batmobile,  gives chase to Joker in his Joker Mobile. Green Arrow catches up in his Arrowmobile, and the two heroes usual competetive streak comes out as they both try to catch the arch-criminal and see who has the cooler car. With Joker taken care of, they see Catwoman esacpe Gotham museum in her Catplane, and the two cars transform into planes as they give chase, still bantering.

Episode: Batman arrives at a laboratory, and finds a body under a sheet, only to be surprised by Red Tornado. Removing the sheet, Tornado reveals another robot. Tornado tells Batman he is about to activate the other robot, and Batman takes it to mean he wants to share the moment with a friend. Tornado says he has created an imporved version of himself, and Batman wonders about the creation of life, and what might go wrong. Tornado says he has installed a fail-safe of "my son" goes wrong, and Batman is shocked at the choice of words.

A blast of energy permeates the smaller robot, and Tornado Champion stands up, but does not seem to demonstrate the emotions that Tornado's improvements, the things he does not have, should have bestowed on him. Tornado wants to work together and fight crime to see if that might stir Champion, and finds that the villain Major Disaster is nearby.

Major Disaster is threatening the city with a hurricane as the heroes arrive. As they fight near a rollercoaster, Champion is able to direct Disaster's lightning back at him so batman can punch him out. But as the heroes are distracted after the fight, the still not entirely unconscious Disaster is able to blast Champion. Tornado holds his son, who seems fatally damaged, but a flash of light explodes from his face, and suddenly the previously emotionless Champion, smiles and calls Tornado, "Father!"

Back at the lab, Tornado analyzes Champion, and the younger robot is excited and filled with emotions. Batman looks on, seemingly doubtful. The two robots travel the world, stopping disasters and criminals talking about life and the meaning of it and emotions, all while Batman watches from the distance. Champion seems impatient and a little doubtful about some of Tornado's philosophical answers.

At a fire, Champion saves two children, but they are afraid of him and the crowd turns on him, calling him a robot, though Champion views himself as a person. He and Tornado fly off, and they talk about emotions, and Champion's not understanding why he is not accepted. When Tornado tells Champion he will be accepted someday, he scoffs and flies off, leaving Tornado alone. Batman approaches him, and Tornado reveals he knows Batman has been watching him, but remains sure that Champion is doing fine. Tornado detects Major Disaster attempting to escape jail, and the heroes head off to stop him.

Batman and Tornado confront Disaster in the prison yard, and while Disaster has the upper hand, Champion's arrival turns the tide. But this time it' Tornado who is wounded, and Champion turns on Disaster seeking revenge, beating Disaster with whirlwinds. Batman stops Champion from delivering a deathblow, and the two argue about the morality of revenge, before he strike Batman. Tornado steps in the way, and tells Champion to stop, but Champion says humans are evil and a disease. Batman is able to strike Champion with a Batarang, shutting him down.

Batman and Tornado are back in the lab, Tornado wanting to save his son, Batman telling him that Champion is too dangerous and must be shut off using the fail-safe. Despite Champion's pleas, Tornado decides the fail-safe is the logical solution, and Champion shuts down. The two heroes walk away from the still robot, only for his eyes to glow green as they exit, revealing he removed the fail-safe. He uses Tornado's equipment to upgrade himself, redesigning himself into the more sinister Tornado Tyrant.

On the beach at Coast City, where the boardwalk Major Disaster initially attacked rests, a tidal wave blasts ashore, devastating the area. Two survivors see Tyrant, who follows his handiwork, and says he plans to wipe humanity from the globe. Batman and Tornado head toward Tyrant, preparing to do what must be done to stop him. They confront Tyrant with a device Tornado is sure will scramble Tyrant's programming, but Tyrant puts up a considerable fight, knocking Batman and the scrambler away.

Tornado and his son face each other is a duel of the winds, but Tyrant proves stronger. Tornado begs his son to stop, saying humans deserve better, but Tyrant will hear none of it, and savagely attacks Tornado, crushing him between two cars. Tornado again tries to reason with Tyrant, telling him of humanity's good side, their quest to connect and love, but Tyrant is unmoved.

As Tyrant is about to destroy his father, Batman is able to snag Tyrant with a grapnel, pull himself up to the robot, and plant the scrambler in Tyrant's head. Tornado uses the opportunity to charge Tyrant, plants his hands inside the other robot, and use his wind powers to destroy the rogue robot, although he averts his eyes, unable to see what he's doing to his son. Tornado collapses to his knees as Batman walks up to him.

One final time at the lab, Tornado mourns his attempts to create a son, saying he should never have done it and he does not understand human emotion. Batman assures him, having heard what Tornado said about human life and love, that Tornado may have found his own humanity. Tornado says that he just parroted what he has seen and read, and has no insight into it, and uses his machines to destroy what is left of Tyrant's parts. He assures Batman he is ok, and as he stands alone, a single tear falls from his eye. Tornado observes it and says he must run a diagnostic, not knowing that it is a most human act.

Who's Who

Red Tornado (Voiced by Corey Burton)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Justice League of America #64 (August, 1968)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Four- Invasion of the Secret Santas!

Major Disaster (Voiced by James Arnold Taylor)
First Comic Book Appearance: Green Lantern #43 (March, 1966)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Twenty: Hail the Tornado Tyrant!

Paul Booker has an origin that is similar to those of a lot of Silver Age villains. He was a petty crook who got his hands on advanced technology and decided to use it to become a super criminal. Starting out as a Green Lantern foe (Part of his origin story had him discovering Hal Jordan's secret identity), he would go on to fight Superman, John Stewart, and the Outsiders before becoming a member of the comical Injustice League during the Giffen/DeMatteis era, which reformed and became the Justice League Antarctica. After briefly returning to villainy (and getting his powers made a part of him by the demon Neron), Booker reformed thanks to the faith of Superman, he was recruited by Batman as a member of the substitute Justice League when the main team went missing. When the Justice League returned, he became a member of the Justice League Elite, a covert ops League. He would eventually be killed during the Infinite Crisis crossover, and has yet to appear in DC's new timeline. Major Disaster's power allowed him to create natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. After his deal with Neron, his power became one that effected causality, making bad fortune happen to people from still large events to smaller ones like tripping and falling.

The Joker (Voiced by Jeff Bennett)
First Comic Book Appearance: Batman #1 (April 1940)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Thirteen- Game Over for Owlman!

Green Arrow (Voiced by James Arnold Taylor)
First Comic Book Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode One- Rise of the Blue Beetle

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

Comic book writer J.M. DeMatteis returns for his third episode as writer. It's cool that DeMatteis focuses on a different hero in each of these episodes, as opposed to tracking one hero. His first episode was a Green Arrow one, followed by a Green Lantern one, and now Red Tornado in his third.

The origins of Red Tornado from before the DC Comics defining event, Crisis on Infinite Earths, is as complex and knotty as those of Hawkman after the Crisis, but suffice it to say, he used both the identities of Tornado Champion and Tornado Tyrant at different points in his existence. I do my best to sum up this kind of thing here, but it's all so messy that I just have to refer you to Wikipedia to try to read it all. It's... really something.

Tornado Champion's initial design, with the purple cape and briefs, is actually one of Red Tornado's earlier designs before creators settled on his current, more well known, one.

Carl Lumbly, who voices Tornado Champion/Tyrant, is best known in DC Animation circles as the voice of J'onn J'onzz,the Martian Manhunter, on Justice League & Justice League Unlimited.

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