August 23, 2011

Manitou Raven was Apache Chief

Blogger Brian Cronin addresses a question about Manitou Raven, a DC Comics Native superhero, in Comic Book Legends Revealed #327:COMIC LEGEND:  Justice Leaguer Manitou Raven was meant to be Apache Chief.

Cronin quotes writer Joe Kelly explaining the origin of Manitou Raven:Speaking of Manitou Raven a little, as people have figured out by now—he’s Apache Chief. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a Justice League character who has never been in the book, so here was an opportunity to introduce him in a different way, and suddenly reveal to people that he’s Apache Chief, and he’s a different kind of magic user instead of Zatanna.Comment:  If you know anything about Apache Chief, he's one of the most stereotypical Native characters ever. His clothing, his Tonto-like speech, and why did he have to be a "chief"?

I'm not sure the Apache even had traditional chiefs. If they did, you can bet their chiefs didn't throw on a vest, skirt, and headband before going into battle. Especially chiefs born in the mid-20th century like Apache Chief. Unless he was trying to dodge the Vietnam War by acting crazy, this probably wasn't his best choice of attire. Most chiefs wore suits and ties for leading their tribal governments and negotiating with the Nixon administration.

Manitou Raven the Apache

Manitou Raven was a slightly more complex character, but he was still bad. A generic spellcasting "shaman" with a name that makes little sense. ("Manitou" comes from Northeastern cultures, while ravens are most common in Northwestern cultures. Worse, because of the Apache Chief connection, DC claimed Manitou Raven came from a precursor to the Apaches:

Manitou RavenManitou Raven is a fictional character and superhero from DC Comics. Manitou Raven was known to shout "Inukchuk!" when he cast spells. This is a reference by writer Joe Kelly to Apache Chief from the Super Friends animated series. Like Apache Chief, Manitou would shout this phrase in order to grow to enormous size. A sign in JLA #67 which read "Apache Land" gave the first clue to Manitou Raven's link to Apache Chief. Despite the intent of the reference, however, "Manitou" is an Algonquian word, not Apache.

Manitou Raven and his wife Dawn hail from the Obsidian Age of Atlantis, circa 1000 BCE. They were born in North America, from a tribe which would one day become the Apache Tribe.
Moreover, the word they both uttered, "Inukchuk," probably comes from the Inuit language:

What is an Inukshuk?The mysterious stone figures known as inuksuit can be found throughout the circumpolar world. Inukshuk, the singular of inuksuit, means "in the likeness of a human" in the Inuit language. They are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival. The traditional meaning of the inukshuk is "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path."So Apache Chief and Manitou Raven are both colossal failures. They'd need total reboots to make them acceptable.

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

Below:  Apache Chief giving everyone a peek up his skirt.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was more a loincloth and standard superhero underwear underneath it (the kind Superman wears on the outside, in red) than a skirt.

Of course, an actual Indian loincloth wouldn't show anything anyway because it's just one strip of material. But you know the moral guardians.