Recently on another board, a silver age fan posted a cover of the JLA issue where the Red Tornado debuted.

From somewhere back in the recesses of my memory banks, I dredged up that there had  been a controversey or at least a discussion about The Vision AND the Red Tornado having too similar of backgrounds and missions to have been a coincidence.


Not knowing where Roy Thomas may have drawn his inspiration from, and not knowing who were drinking buddies with whom back then, I could easily fall prey to the suspicion that either somebody at one company spilled the beans to somebody at the other....OR, that some guys got drunk together and brainstormed a similar story and then both went back home to create it.

It wouldn't be the first or last time that DC and Marvel both shared a story without knowing it...or that two creators collaborated to produce thinly veiled version of each other's characters bouncing from one title to the other.

In just a few years, this would be the basis of the infamous Rutland Hallowing Parade issues that ran parallel in Marvel's Avengers or Dr. Strange and DC's title as well.


Could this have been the genesis of the idea?  Or is it all wet?
What say you, oh Mr.s S.A.?    Any DC historians who can answer on behalf of Mr. Red Tornado?

The Vision's background I am familiar with.  How similar or different is it from Mr. Tom Terrific, er, Red Tornado?

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Justice League of America 64 ( Aug 68) and Avengers 57 (Oct 68) are, like the Doom Patrol/X-Men almost-simultaneous creation, a little too close together to be copying each other. Also, would they copy something so untested as an android hero? At this point they were constantly cranking out androids (as minor characters and villains) at both companies, so it was probably a matter of time until they both came up with android heroes.
I think when they started featuring the Rutland Halloween Parade it was because it served as a kind of comic convention. It was organized by comics fan Tom Fagan and a lot of (mostly young) comics pros attended and interacted. The stories involving it from both companies were printed in a sort of mutually friendly way. Of course, they each pretended that only THEIR characters were the subject of costumes there.
According to MARVEL COMICS THE UNTOLD STORY, several of the new young talents spent a lot of time together and there was some cross-pollination between the two companies, but it seems to have happened at a later time.

My recollection is that Gardner Fox tried to revive at least one Golden Age Justice Society member during each year's crossover with the Justice League of America. After running out of GA members, he reintroduced the adult Robin, who had been an honorary member, and his last revival was Red Tornado, who wasn't really a member but had appeared as a guest in the first Justice Society story in All-Star Comics #3. Rather than use Ma Hunkle, he went with an android version.

At Marvel, Roy Thomas has said that he wanted to revive the Golden Age Vision for use in the Avengers, but that Stan wanted an android member. Roy combined the two for a new character.

I doubt that there was much collaboration between the two companies over such minor (at the time) characters. I'm pretty sure Stan and Julie Schwartz didn't hang out together, or that Roy and Gardner Fox compared story notes. It had to be a coincidence, up to and including the plot points where the two androids were used as Trojan horses to infiltrate the super teams and destroy them from within. That's what I think.


That just seems to be too many coincidences for my tastes.... X-men/Doom Patrol..... Vision/Red Tornado....

How many more "coincidence" can we find?   (AntMan/Atom?)


Yeah.  Coincidences happen.  The thing about it is that the two characters could only have appeared quite close in time to each other.  If one company or the other had had the idea independently, but later, then it would have been pointed out to the creators that the other company alreay had someone very similar and they would have then changed it to be more dissimilar before publication.


The other example brought up in these conversations is Swamp Thing and Man-Thing who both appeared pretty concurrently, but apparently the creators of both were actually roommates at the time.

At Marvel, Roy Thomas has said that he wanted to revive the Golden Age Vision for use in the Avengers, but that Stan wanted an android member. Roy combined the two for a new character.


Hah!  Sounds like Stan wanted Roy to gift Marvel with a new character that Marvel would give Roy only page rates for, and make a fortune out of in the long run, whereas Roy insisted on re-using an old character, so he came up with the Vision's really oddball backstory.

Has JLA #64 been reprinted (cheaply) anywhere accessable?  I'd like to read about Red Tornado...or his changing history.

Is there a "best" Red Tornado story? Or is JLA #64 "it"?

Roy Thomas did a lot of that at Marvel: creating new characters with old names. Not only the Vision, but the Black Knight, Goliath II and even Yellowjacket. That's why he reintroduced obscure Golden Age characters like the Red Raven, the Whizzer and Miss America in his pre-Invaders days.

But then Stan and Jack did the same with Daredevil, the Angel, the Black Widow, Hercules and, of course, the Human Torch.

Look at the X-Men with their Golden Age counterparts:

  • Cyclops=the Comet
  • Beast= a combination of Doc Savage's aides Monk and Johnny or, if you like, the Newsboy Legion's Scrapper and Big Words.
  • the Angel= Martin Goodman's favorite GA character + Hawkman
  • Iceman=Jack Frost (an early Stan Lee creation)
  • Marvel Girl=Marvel Boy (gotta have a "Marvel" something!)
  • Quicksilver=the Flash

Add to that,

  • Hawkeye= Green Arrow
  • Ant-Man= the Atom

There can be the argument if any Marvel hero was truly 100% original.

As for the Vision/Red Tornado debate, the Vision was created to join the Avengers but the Tornado's purpose was to fill a hole in the Justice Society's roster, not the Justice League's. Gardner Fox never meant for Reddy to be anything more than a yearly guest star. It was Denny O'Neil who made him a sentimental favorite, to me anyway, and Len Wein who added him to the JLA, cementing Red Tornado's reputation as the Vision's analogue.


#64 is in the above collection, Kirk.  I enjoyed many of these stories very much and hijacked Philip's JSA/JLA threads to talk about them.  It's a fascinating, transitional phase of DC/JLA history and worth the money for what you get.

It's been reprinted in Justice League of America Archives Vol. 8 (expensive HC), Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol.2 (relatively inexpensive color TPB) and Showcase Presents Justice League of America Vol. 4 (Best bang-for-your-buck B&W TPB).

As for "best" Red Tornado stories, and it's just my opinion. there's

Justice League of America #106, 110, 129, 146, 150, 152, 175, 192-193.

DC Comics Presents #7

Detective #493

World's Finest #265-273 (solo series)
Kirk G said:

Has JLA #64 been reprinted (cheaply) anywhere accessable?  I'd like to read about Red Tornado...or his changing history.

Is there a "best" Red Tornado story? Or is JLA #64 "it"?

Kirk G said:

That just seems to be too many coincidences for my tastes.... X-men/Doom Patrol..... Vision/Red Tornado....

How many more "coincidence" can we find? (AntMan/Atom?)

Doll Man debuted in Feature Comics #27 (Dec 1939). The Atom debuted in Showcase #34 (Sep/Oct 1961). DC acquired Doll Man along with several other Quality Comics characters when they bought the company. The Atom has in common with Doll Man his usual 6-inch height and retaining his full strength at that size. I guess they chose to call him The Atom after the Golden Age Atom, with whom he only has the name in common, because in the 1960's the name Doll Man might not play well.

The prose story Shrinking Man by (the Great) Richard Matheson was published in 1956 and made into the movie The Incredible Shrinking Man in 1957. Henry Pym debuted in Tales to Astonish #27 (Jan 1962) and as Ant-Man in TTA #35 (Sep 1962). The original "Man in the Ant Hill" monster/mystery story in TTA #27 has a lot in common with Matheson's story in that Pym in imperiled by the ants and other predators. I've heard it said that Stan Lee was "inspired" by the Matheson story. Commanding the ants actually has a lot in common with Aquaman's powers.

Regarding the Red Tornado, Roy Thomas had interacted with Julie Schwartz and Gardner Fox in his days as a fan. In Justice League of America #16 the fan who has sent the Maestro story to the JLA, "Jerry Thomas", was named after Roy Thomas and Jerry Bails.


In the case of the Red Tornado and the Vision, DC Indexes tells me the issue in which the Tornado debuted went on sale about June 13, 1968, and that in which the Vision debuted went on sale about August 6, 1968. Since it takes some time to prepare comics that implies the Vision issue can't have been created after the first Red Tornado one appeared on the stands. On the other hand, it's basically certain that Thomas was reading Justice League of America.


Given that Thomas had interacted with Schwartz and Fox some kind of behind the scenes connection sounds plausible. It could be e.g. that Thomas was in contact with Fox, or that Fox made use of a suggestion of Thomas's from his fan days (Jerry Bails and Roy Thomas contributed suggestions that may have influenced the Silver Age Atom), or that each was drawing on suggestions that a third party, such as Jerry Bails, made to them at about the same time. Presumably, however, Roy Thomas would know and would have mentioned this somewhere.


I hadn't noticed the plot similarities between their debut stories - the creation of both androids as Trojan horses of a kind. I think it firmly tips the likelihood over into there being a connection between the two stories.

I've made the Doll Man/Ant-Man argument myself in the past, but I'm now less certain about it. Some of those involved in the Silver Age Atom's creation have acknowledged that he was modelled after Doll Man, and I think it's notable that his fighting style was much like Doll Man's. Both characters would leap around socking crooks on the jaw. Ant-Man was really supposed to be much smaller (he could ride ants), and did not employ this fighting style.


Pym's debut story appeared about two months after the Silver Age Atom's, but, of course, in that story he was just a scientist who had an adventure in an ant-hill. His debut as Ant-Man came ten months after the Atom's first Showcase issue. (Dates based on DC Indexes.)


Lee probably did draw on other company's Golden Age superheroes as well as Marvel ones for ideas (Mr Fantastic had the same powers as Plastic Man, Iron Man was possibly modelled after Bozo the Robot(1); "Daredevil" was the name of a Gleason hero), so it's possible the idea of a doing a tiny hero was Doll Man-inspired. (I think the reason several Plastic Man-types were introduced in the early Silver Age was that everyone figured since Plastic Man himself was no longer appearing the character idea was up for grabs.) But the way he was handled seems to owe more to The Incredible Shrinking Man (note the cover of Tales To Astonish #41, for example), so it may be the movie provided the initial inspiration (I mean, for the Ant-Man concept as opposed to the ant-hill story). Alternatively, Lee and Kirby may have gone back through the comics they'd been doing for ideas. (Perhaps someone said "What about that story we did about that guy who used a potion to shrink? Why don't we bring him back?") Alternatively, the character may have been invented from the name, by analogy with "Spider-Man". (Spidey debuted the same month as Pym's Ant-Man identity, but it's quite possible he was created first.)


(1) In the linked article Mr Markstein wrote that Bozo was probably too obscure to be the model for Iron Man, but I think that's a fallacy. It may be e.g. that Lee remembered the series, just as we all remember comics we read as kids. Or it may be that he went through old comics for ideas and happened to have an issue of Smash Comics.

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