Now, as big a fan as I am of Captain Marvel, who guest-stars in The Power of Shazam!, I want to talk here about something else that happens in that episode. Something that took me five years to finally accomplish, after repeated failures. In its own way, the culmination of a lifetime's obsession. I'm talking about...
Blowing up the Red Tornado.
I became a comic fan back in Nineteen Seventy Something
Now, the Red Tornado was an android with wind powers and a Pinocchio complex. Pretty straightforward comic book stuff. But what drew me to the character was his tenacity. In the era I was introduced to the character, he blew up at least three times, returning from the grave a few issues later each time. It was almost like his secondary superpower was dramatically sacrificing himself in that gruesomely explosive way that you can only achieve in a Comics Code Approved book with robots.
So many years later, I ended up picking up a little freelance storyboarding work from Justice League. The episode was Panic in the Sky, and I was boarding a little sequence where the Justice League satellite is under siege from an army of superpowered clones called the Ultimen. In the middle of the fray, taking up a solitary sentence in the script, was a showdown between Red Tornado and a bunch of Ultimen. Here, I thought, was a chance to pay homage to my favorite hero in the appropriate fashion - by killing him in a blaze of exploding glory.
So I boarded it that way - Red Tornado beats Wind Dragon but is then overloaded by Juice, and dies in a big electrical explosion. Unfortunately, Panic in the Sky happened after The Return, in which the Red Tornado also blows up, and James Tucker, producer of Justice League Unlimited, felt that blowing the Red Tornado up twice was once too many. I argued that blowing up heroically was basically Red Tornado's whole schtick, but James didn't buy it, and Reddy remained unexploded that day.
A few years pass, and I get a call from Sam Register about a new show James is developing called Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and am I interested in working on it? Of course I'm all for that, especially when Sam, knowing my weaknesses, mentions the prominent role that Red Tornado will be playing as one of the most frequent guest-stars. In short order, I was on the Warner Bros. ranch drawing Batman and Green Arrow dangling over a pit of acid.
Now, here's how they decide which director directs which show - it's pretty much just left to chance. But if there's a script coming up that you have a special interest in, there's no harm in letting James or Michael Jelenic know that you wouldn't mind if that script happened to fall into your slot. And when I got there, in the first batch of scripts was a perfect chance to blow up the Red Tornado in classic style. So I dropped a few hints about how I sure do like the Red Tornado, and if nobody else wanted that particular script, maybe I could have a go at it? Which everyone was fine with, so show 4 was to be Invasion of the Secret Santas! starring the ever-exploding android, Red Tornado.
Unfortunately, the reality is that the scripts each have their own challenges, so they get done when they get done, and sometimes that means a script will get delayed or pushed forward to stay on schedule. Secret Santas wasn't going to be done in time to be show 4, but Day of the Dark Knight! was ready, so that became show 4, and Secret Santas got bumped to show 5.
And so it was left to Brandon Vietti to explode Red Tornado. And a bang-up job he did - it was a classic Red Tornado explosion, easily one of the character's best. As proud as I was that Red Tornado got his moment to explode in the spotlight, and as much as I enjoyed watching it, I was still left with the nagging feeling that I wanted to be the one with my finger on the detonator.
And then, 32 episodes later, purely by chance, the script to Power of Shazam! landed on my desk. And there in the teaser was the moment I had been waiting years for - a chance to explode my childhood hero. You can believe I boarded that part myself!
And so, after five years and two failed attempts, here it is - I have finally exploded my childhood hero, the Red Tornado.
There's also twenty-one and a half other minutes of stuff in the episode too.
So 2 measly bucks will get you early access to a full Captain Marvel episode, steeped with Captain Marvelly goodness. Or wait 'til March, whatever.
All characters ™ and © DC Comics.