The Story: "Force of Nature" by Dan Mishkin, Rick Hoberg, and Mike Gustovich. We open in a way a JLA comic hasn't opened in a long time--the JLA satellite!
Former member Red Tornado is there, amid the wreckage, using his powers in conjunction with the (still functioning) JLA computers to try and find out more about himself. He was intrigued when (in Crisis on Infinite Earths #5) the Anti-Monitor called him "More than machine...more than man."
But a giant bolt of energy hurtles through space, hitting the satellite, knocking it out of its orbit, sending it heading towards the Earth below!
Meanwhile, other former JLA members Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Firestorm have teamed up to help keep a local auto plant safe from the falling satellite debris.
Martian Manhunter takes to the skies to help out, too, and drafts Steel and Vibe to assist him. Manhunter and Firestorm help deflect a giant fireball, keeping most of Detroit safe.
Vibe takes that as his cue to relax, which irks Green Arrow to no end:
Firestorm plays referee, and then Manhunter discovers a troubling piece of wreckage: the Red Tornado's head!
Meanwhile, in New York, Reddy's love, Kathy Sutton, returns home to her apartment, and is startled when she sees Red Tornado show up on her television, asking for her help!
At the same time, Zatanna and Elongated Man are at S.T.A.R. Labs, where they are asked to help secure the Golden Gate Bridge, which is in danger of being damaged--not by all the anti-matter energy flying around due to the Crisis, as Ralph thinks--but by S.T.A.R. itself!
A S.T.A.R. scientist reveals that the crazy weather happening is due to some weather-control satellites they have been testing, and have lost control of, due to some unknown force. These satellites are affecting weather all over the world!
Back at the JLA's Detroit HQ, Manhunter and the rest communicate with Zee and Ralph, who explain what's happening and why.
Meanwhile, Kathy Sutton arrives in Gotham City, as per Reddy's instruction. We see that Reddy's powers have increased greatly as he touches base with Kathy again:
Batman and the Outsiders stumble across Kathy on a windswept Gotham bridge, and she tells Batman that Reddy told her to meet him there.
Superman is also on hand, and he spies a massive warp in the sky--he tries to enter it, but it tossed to the ground. Geo-Force then tries to use his powers to try and close the warp, but he fails, too.
The warp then sucks Green Arrow, Black Canary, Firestorm, and Kathy Sutton into it, closing itself before Batman can tell Geo-Force to turn off his powers and let the rest of them get sucked in, too.
Our heroes are then dumped by the warp on the other side of the country, where the rest of the League are.
Up in space, Manhunter and Superman discover one of the rogue satellites, and use their combined muscle to smash it to bits. Whoever or whatever has taken control of them transfers "itself" into another one of the satellites, and talks of running out of time to "collect the energy it needs."
The weather has calmed down, and the heroes pause to try and figure out what's going on. Vibe takes five, which sends Green Arrow into another rage:
...I think a lot of us had been waiting for this moment.
Arrow informs Vibe that this is life and death, and his friends like Red Tornado and Supergirl are dead, so he better wise up.
Meanwhile, Superman and Manhunter keep smashing satellites, the last one releasing a giant...tornado?!?
The tornado starts talking about finally being "free!", but promises the heroes it means no harm. To prove that, it assumes a form they all know--their friend, the Red Tornado!
Reddy explains that when the JLA satellite got hit, all he could do was transfer his consciousness into the nearest electronic system, which was one of S.T.A.R.'s satellites.
The JLA is a little non-plussed, telling Reddy he's responsible for a lot of destruction, but Reddy claims he is now a "force of nature", with power to "re-make the world!" Uh-oh!
Kathy Sutton can't accept this, and concludes that some of part of the man she loved is still in there, that's why he called her to come to him! She jumps into the giant tornado (brave girl, that Kathy) where she talks to Reddy, who tells her that he will show people "a new light" and she "will always be at my side." Double uh-oh!
Kathy still doesn't buy this, and tells Reddy that to be accepted as a savior, he has to approach humans as one of them, not above them. Reddy assumes his more superhero-like shape, and is in the middle of giving up his lust for control, when the Man of Steel uses his super-breath to encase Reddy in a block of ice!
Turns out this was all a plan, the JLA using Kathy to get Reddy to pull back from the edge. The JLA congratulates her for doing what was necessary, but Kathy feels like she betrayed the man she loves.
Of course, Supes' block of ice can't hold a force of nature, and Red Tornado breaks free of it, re-assumes his massive tornado shape, castigates Kathy, and disappears, promising one day "...there will be a reckoning!"
All the heroes are left with is a rainbow...
Roll Call: Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man, Zatanna, Vixen, Steel, Vibe, Gypsy
Notable Moments: What a sad story!
I don't "sad" as meaning "bad" necessarily, I just mean that Red Tornado was a punching bag in the DCU for so long, it seems...wrong, somehow, to have his story end this way. Unfortunately, Reddy was just another casualty of the Crisis going on at the time. Some of the changes that occurred because of the COIE were good, some...not so much.
It was fun seeing Green Arrow slap Vibe around a bit, especially since Vibe is written here as real uncaring jerk. Maybe he wouldn't have been so capricious if he knew he'd live through the Crisis, but not DC's next big crossover event.