Red Torpedo

Created by Henry Kiefer

+ History


The Red Torpedo—“The Robin Hood of the seas” and his ship.
Panels from Crack Comics #6 (Oct. 1940); art by Henry Kiefer.

From All-Star Squadron #32 (1984). Art by Rick Hoberg.

From Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #42 (2006). Art by Butch Guice.

The second Red Torpedo, from Red Tornado #6 (2010); art by Jose Luis.

Jim Lockhart, inventor of the Red Torpedo.
From Earth 2 #13 (2013); art by Yildiray Cinar and Bob Hunter.

There were two other Quality heroes who commanded fantastic vehicles. Before the Torpedo there was the brief “Swordfish” feature, about a one-man sub piloted by plainclothes Ensign Jack Smith (Hit #22, June 1942). The Blue Tracer came a year later in Military Comics #1 (Aug. 1941); it was part tank, part bomber, and part sub. The Red Torpedo was the only costumed man among Quality’s naval heroes, and the feature had more consistency in its supporting cast than many of its contemporaries. The hero’s arch foe, the Black Shark, appeared in almost all his adventures. Red Torpedo’s creator, Henry Kiefer, used the pen name “Drew Allen” and he did the strip for its entire run. (He also created “Blaze Barton” for Hit Comics #1.)

When U.S. Navy man Jim Lockhart invented a human-guided one-man sub, his superiors in the military rejected it. Not to be deterred, he took to the private sector, and with his fiancée, Meg, built it on their own. In their first mission, Lockhart donned a mask and saved an American ship from European aggressors. (Crack #1)

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The Red Torpedo languished in obscurity until the early 1980s when Roy Thomas resurrected, then killed the character in one crack. In All-Star Squadron #32, the Red Torpedo joined Uncle Sam as one of the first members of the Freedom Fighters. Their mission was to stop the Japanese en route to Pearl Harbor. They nearly succeeded, but a surprise attack left Lockhart dead in the water. Or so it seemed (Secret Origins #26) Somehow, Lockhart survived and was known to aid other heroes in creating a new Starman in 1951. When Ted Knight was unable to continue his mission in Opal City, Lockhart helped Charles McNider (Dr. Mid-Nite) to build a fantastic “star-ship.” (Starman v.2 #77)

[ Q C. ]

Red Torpedo II

In the post-war era, the robotics madman/genius T.O. Morrow also created an android Red Torpedo, a water elemental and predecessor to his Red Tornado. Given a female form, this Red Torpedo was made in an abandoned auto facility in Czechoslovakia. Morrow wanted to create an enforcer he could sell, but to his surprise he found that she was sentient! All the better for him; he commanded her to steal money, then weapons for him. She was first seen publicly in Prague, and named “Red Torpedo” by the press. The android soon developed a conscience and rebelled against Morrow. He responded by shutting her down and placing her body in the torpedo bay of a downed ship at Pearl Harbor. (Red Tornado v.2 #1-2)

[ Q C. ]

The New 52—Earth 2

On Earth 2 in DC's New 52, the Red Torpedo is also Jim Lockhart. He was one of several "Red Files." On this Earth, the World Army put together a task force as insurance against future aggressors (it also included the Red Tornado, Red Arrow, and Red Bee). Jim Lockhart was one of these, though he served more as an inventor than a costumed operative. He aided fellow agent, Captain Steel, by supplying a super-vehicle called the Red Torpedo for a mission into a smoldering firepit in Rio de Janeiro. (Earth 2 #13)

+ Powers

The Red Torpedo had no super-powers. However, he was a gifted engineer and his submersible boasted many impressive features. Most of all, the torpedo was agile in the water. It could snare things with its spear-tip, emit a cloud into the water, grind through ice, and use its tip as a spear.

Lockhart himself was an accomplished swimmer. He once dove into freezing waters and made it back to his sub.

The second Red Torpedo is a very powerful android with elemental control over water. Her body is exceptionally impervious and rust-proof. It was suggested that her sentience is the result of contact with the same Tornado elemental that now resides in the Red Tornado.