December 21, 2008

Hawk, Son of Tomahawk

Thursday WHO’S WHO:  Hawk (Son of Tomahawk)[E]ven in the good old days, there were spin-off characters. Take Hawk, who is the son of Tomahawk. Tomahawk was DC’s Revolutionary War comic character. He fought the British--including the notoriously awesome Lord Shilling (fun fact: this site is now the #1 search result for “Lord Shilling”)--and, uh, other Britishers and Britishese. Maybe some Hessians too, I dunno. Possibly a Welshman somewhere.

However, Tomahawk, educational as he might have been, was not “down” with the kids of the 50s. Enter Hawk, Tomahawk’s rather unimaginatively named son. Now, maybe you are looking at Hawk and thinking “why does he look like Elvis?” But this is merely a coincidence. Hawk is the result of painstaking historical research, which conclusively demonstrated that in the late 18th and early 19th century, men wore ducktail haircuts, slit-navel jumpsuits and neckerchiefs.

Hawk was excellent at all things. He was friend to white man and Indian alike! ... He could shoot the wings off a fly, track just about anybody, see further than a hawk, hear better than a wolf, outwrestle a bear, outrun a puma… no, wait, sorry, those last four were Bravestarr.
Note the stereotypical names of Tomahawk's relatives:Moon Fawn (wife, deceased); Hawk, Son of Tomahawk (son, deceased); Small Eagle (son, deceased); Grey Elk (father-in-law); Wise Owl (uncle-in-law).Comment:  I wasn't into Westerns as a boy, but I picked up SON OF TOMAHAWK #132 and #136 a couple years ago. Based on what I read, the stories seemed to be sentimental tales of peace and brotherhood. They were something like episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Some bad guys would insult or attack Tomahawk's family or another minority (e.g., slaves). Tomahawk and Hawk would ride to the rescue with guns blazing. The bad guys would get it in the end, perhaps with someone sacrificing himself, and the good guys would prevail. Message: Can't we all just get along?

Tomahawk was the patriarch of his big happy family. It included his Indian wife and in-laws and his part-Indian sons. The clichéd names pretty much told you everything you needed to know. Moon Fawn was an earth mother, the in-laws were old and wise, and Small Eagle was young but plucky. (One wonders if they would've changed his name to Medium Eagle and Large Eagle as he grew older.) The other Indians spoke normally but Small Eagle talked like Tonto: "My grandfather, the chief, promise Small Eagle pine tree!"

The Indians were generic Plains Indians. On the downside, they said generic things like, "We are thankful for the good earth--mother of us all!" They showed no sign of having a culture other than generic nature worship. They didn't even use any Indian words.

On the upside, there were no chiefs in warbonnets, sexy princesses, or half-naked warriors in evidence. The Indians sensibly used rifles, not bows and arrows. There were terribly bad Indians as well as wonderfully good Indians.

Read the lead story in SON OF TOMAHAWK #138 here:

Holiday Tales:  "A Different Kind of Christmas Story"

I think it's supposed to be one of the best SON OF TOMAHAWK stories. Joe Kubert's cover is great, Frank Thorne's artwork is nice, and the message is good, but the story is uninspiring. If you're like me, it won't motivate you to go out and buy all the SON OF TOMAHAWK comics.

For more on the subject, see Comic Books Featuring Indians.

1 comment:

Ed Catto said...

Man I still love these Tomahawks! Just great!