March 18, 2007

All about Night Eagle

Night EagleNight Eagle is a fictional character from DC Comics. She first appears in The Adventures of Superman #586 (December 2000), and was created by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Miller. She is a shaman of sorts, with a kinship with owls.

Night Eagle is an agent of light, a bridge between the physical world and the afterlife. Night Eagle can see into the afterlife, and see magical energies. She has the power to fly, and can disperse spells and dark magic with her owls (who seem to obey her thoughts). She can appear to one or two people, while being invisible to all others, and cannot be touched by physical entities.
Comment:  Her power involves owls but she's named "Night Eagle"? Sounds stereotypical...as if all Native characters should have the word "eagle" or "wolf" in their names. How about calling her "White Owl" or "Bright Owl" instead?

8 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
The principal reason is that the owl held an unsavory image for most Native Americans, usually meaning a harbinger of death. So, while their character may possess the powers of the owl, they would not be named for the owl. Whoever the creators were, in their research, they learned enough NOT to name their character as 'Owl-this' or 'Owl-that', or 'this or that Owl'. writerfella flew in the face of such a taboo when he named his Kiowan character 'Singing-Owl' in his more-or-less classic SF short story, "Rite Of Encounter". It was a literary device meaning the man was destined to become a threat to his own people after contracting Smallpox and becoming a carrier. Kiowans know that when the owl sings and will not go away, it means great sickness or death...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

This posting describes Night Eagle as an "agent of light," which sounds like the opposite of a harbinger of death. In any case, I doubt J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Miller knew anything about Natives and owls. I'll bet they chose the name "Night Eagle" because it sounded cool.

Scientifically, owls are as close to chickens, hummingbirds, and penguins as they are to eagles. In other words, they're unrelated except for being birds. So "Night Eagle" makes no more sense than "Night Toucan" or "Night Ostrich" to describe a mistress of owls.

If the creators wanted to avoid an owl name, "Night Eagle" is still a bad choice. How about "White Bird"? "Bright Wing"? "Night Flyer"? "Raptora"? I could go on.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
And you might, except that such choices would not make any kind of sense at all. Predatory eagles do not fly at night, but predatory owls do. Thus, could they not be regarded as 'eagles of the night'? Owls are known to have an IQ potential of zero, thus Native Americans knew that owls much are susceptible to spirit possession, especially by the recently deceased. So, NIGHT EAGLE may not so much derive her powers from the owl, but rather from the spirits that can inhabit the owls...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella

J.M. said...

Actually, the character was called Night Owl originally...but there was a conflict with a previously-existing character with the same name and, as I recall, the editor changed it.

J.M. DeMatteis

Rob said...

I took the fact that eagles and owls are predatory birds into account when I wrote my comments. They're predatory birds that are totally unrelated except for being birds.

There's nothing about Night Eagle that suggests she's predatory. So why focus on her predatory nature and not her color ("Night Dove"), size ("Night Woodpecker"), or nocturnal nature ("Night Frogmouth")?

Would you change the Penguin to the Sea Gull because they're both waterbirds? Or Robin the Boy Wonder to Flycatcher the Boy Wonder because they're both songbirds? Because these changes make as much sense as changing Night Owl to Night Eagle.

Thanks for the information, J.M. I should've stuck to "the creators" rather than singling out you and Mike Miller. I use that phrase because I know editors are involved in the creative process and sometimes make (ill-advised) changes. Apparently that was the case in this case.

Incidentally, DeMatteis helped create Marvel's Black Crow, one of the lesser known but more interesting Native heroes. More about Black Crow coming up.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Not so. They all are raptors. Strigidian raptors (owls) among the family group Caprimulgiformes share common ancestors with the Falconiformes raptors (Falcons, Eagles, etc), and they all fall under the taxonomic group known as fowl (chickens, ducks, and geese). So, they are not just birds but birds of a feather...
All Best
Russ bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Check your scientific taxonomies. Taxonomically speaking, there's no such thing as a "group." The correct taxonomic sequence is class, order, family, genus, species.

Birds belong to the class Aves. Directly below the class are the orders. Among the avian orders are:

http://www.nmnh.si.edu/BIRDNET/ORDERS

Anseriformes--Waterfowl
Falconiformes--Diurnal Birds of Prey
Galliformes--Fowlike Birds
Strigiformes--Owls
Caprimulgiformes--Nightjars and relatives

So your statement that owls belong to the Caprimulgiformes "group" is flatly wrong. The term is "order," not "group." Owls, nightjars, and eagles belong to three different orders.

All birds have common ancestors, but I don't believe eagles and owls have a more common ancestor than any other two birds. If they do, what's the name of this common ancestor?

As far as I know, there are no connections between orders. There's no taxonomic "group" between the class and order level. In particular, there's no "fowl" group that includes eagles, owls, chickens, and ducks.

Really...you think eagles are related to ducks? Even though they have nothing in common except being birds? This must be one of the silliest scientific claims I've ever heard.

Needless to say, show us the evidence for your claims. And don't beg off with your usual phony excuse: that you've already answered the question. We've never discussed this issue before.

Rob said...

In short, being predatory doesn't make two animals any more related than being the same size or color does. If this weren't true, lions and killer whales would be related. In reality, of course, they're unrelated except for being mammals.