Darcey McLaughlin--Geek World
Native North Americans were no different in how they were treated by most comic book creators, and often fell into the typical stereotype of the savage Indian, particularly during the boom in popularity of western comics during the 1950s. Even when creators thought they were doing good, Natives were often portrayed as clichéd characters with names and powers that are defined by their heritage.
In fact, there is a great book called Native Americans in Comic Books by Michael A. Sheyahshe that takes a critical look at the role of Natives in comics. Well worth the read.
Still, there are some great Native characters out there that many people may not know about. So today I thought we'd take a look at five of those characters.
What's interesting about Shaman is initially he rejects the idea of magic of the Shaman, refusing to follow in his grandfather's footsteps. It is only after personal tragedy that he embraces his mystic heritage, eventually finding himself fighting alongside super-heroes.
She is modern in appearance and a typical modern woman. She is an unabashed liberal always taking up one cause or another, and she is presented as bisexual, although the creators were often criticized for doing this simply for the enjoyment of young male readers.
In the world of comics this former member of the X-Men is unique in that he is a native character without a clichéd name or powers. In fact Forge is a mutant with a super-human ability to invent mechanical devices. Forge is another character who throws off the ways of his ancestors, forgoing magic for technology.
Strikingly beautiful with long raven black hair and large white wings, Dawnstar is from a colonized planet called called Starhaven. She has the ability to fly (hence the wings) but can also survive in deep space without the use of technology.
Most people likely know Turok through the video games that have been released, and many likely don't realize he started out as a comic book character.
McLaughlin's first four choices are supportable for the reasons he gives. But I don't think many people would include Turok.
Fighting dinosaurs rather than cowboys, Indians, or supervillains doesn't make Turok less of a stereotypical warrior. He's a key figure in the history of Native comics, but he's not stunningly original. He's an Indian version of the savage hero in a "lost world"--e.g., Tarzan or Conan.
On the other hand, I think most people would include Danielle Moonstar. Despite her convoluted powers and history, her characterization has generally been rich.
Many people also would include Tim Truman's Scout. But I wouldn't because I consider him a variation on the stereotypical warrior.
Another top five
Here's an alternative top five for you and McLaughlin to consider. I'll limit myself to superhero-style comics and exclude my own Peace Party.
If we add Scout and Daredevil's associate Echo, that gives us twelve. I'd also include American Eagle, except he's appeared only once in his revamped incarnation.
If you forced me to pick a second five, I'd probably go with Shaman, Forge, Echo, American Eagle, and someone else. Perhaps the little-known Super Shamou. Scout, Rainmaker, and Dawnstar might make my second ten, and Turok might make my third ten.
In any case, I suspect that most people who endeavored to pick a top five would draw heavily from this baker's dozen of characters.
For more fan favorites, see Loren Javier's Favorites and Comics Picks and Pans. For those who limited themselves to Marvel or X-Men characters, see Poll on Marvel's Native Superheroes and Most Popular Native X-Men. For more on the subject in general, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.