The 6 Coolest Native American Superheroes
We here at Henchman-4-Hire are firm believers that every holiday should stick to its designated time period. All those doors in The Nightmare Before Christmas exist for a reason! Christmas needs to wait its turn, because there’s a very important and valid holiday in November: Thanksgiving!
Even if we all can pretty much agree that the historical First Thanksgiving was probably nothing like what we were led to believe growing up. Pilgrims and Indians coming together in peace and harmony to feast on a big, plump turkey on November 28? It’s probably more fictional than Bigfoot. But let’s not worry about that now, let’s take a look at the 6 coolest Native American superheroes – and thankfully, not all of them are wearing super-powered feathered headdresses.
6. Man-of-Bats and Little Raven
If it isn’t painfully obvious, Man-of-Bats and Little Raven are Batman and Robin knock-offs, but don’t worry, because that’s entirely the point. Dr. Bill Great Eagle and his son, Charlie Great Eagle, were inspired by the work of Batman and Robin, so they decided to become heroes themselves to watch over their Sioux reservation in South Dakota. The duo joined the superteam the Batmen of All Nations (later renamed the Club of Heroes), and eventually earned the blessing of Batman himself. But Man-of-Bats and his son (who grew up and changed his name to Raven Red) don’t just bank on their influence for crappy superheroics. They are more like public servants, their identities well known on their reservation, working tirelessly to keep their people safe. Not all superheroes need big, fancy cars when a beat-up old pickup will do.
5. Manitou Raven and Manitou Dawn
Minor members of the Justice League, Manitou Raven and his wife Dawn are Native American mystics from 3,000 years in the past. In that age, they became embroiled in a scuffle with the ancient city of Atlantis, one that required the Justice League (and Aquaman, of course) to travel back in time to save the day. When it was over, Raven and Dawn decided to travel back with the League to the present day, and quickly settled in as mystical members of the team. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for the two of them. They eventually joined the Justice League’s black-ops team, where Dawn cheated on Raven with Green Arrow. Ladies love that yellow goatee, it seems. Manitou Raven then sacrificed himself to save the day, and Dawn took up his mantle in the aftermath.
What sort of magic did these two Apaches practice, you might ask? Well it involved shouting the magical phrase “Inukchuk!’, if you know what I mean.
Did you know that Wolverine was supposed to die in his very first appearance with the X-Men? It’s true! But at the last minute, the writer decided to switch gears and kill off new character Thunderbird instead, the first Native American X-Man. Thunderbird lasted all of two issues, but Marvel Comics knew they had a good idea, so they later introduced Thunderbird’s younger brother, Warpath. James Proudstar is an Apache mutant gifted with enhanced speed and strength, so really just the basics. But at least it’s not mutant tomahawk powers. Warpath started out as a member of the rebellious X-Force, but later graduated to the actual X-Men – before later getting bumped back down to X-Force. Hey, on the plus side, you’ll get to see him make a cameo appearance in next year’s new X-Men movie!
Speaking of punkish, youthful superhero teams from the 90s, Sarah Rainmaker was a member of Gen 13, from Wildstorm Comics (later bought out by DC). Gen 13 was a group of five super-powered teenagers living together on the run as fugitives. It was your typical book about teenage angst in the 90s, with a little bit of super-powers thrown in for good measure. Rainmaker could control the weather. She’s an Apache, a lesbian, political activist and an exhibitionist, so it’s no wonder the 90s fanboys loved her. Like the rest of Gen 13, Rainmaker was juggled around in various reboots and remakes for most of the 00s, though she did recently make her debut appearance in DC Comics’ New 52 – though it has nothing to do with Gen 13.
What is it about the X-Men and Native Americans? First Thunderbird and Warpath, and now the mutant technophile Forge. For some reason, Forge has never been given a real name, but he was raised as a Cheyenne medicine man who eventually went off to Vietnam – possibly as part of some government-sponsored magic stereotype division? Forge’s true power is invention. He has the mutant ability to create any sort of invention he can imagine. Forge has built time machines, perpetual motion machines, his own robotic arm and leg prosthetics, and even designed a device that would strip mutants of their powers. I’m not sure where his head was on that one.
1. Danielle Moonstar
Yep, it’s another X-Man! Dani Moonstar is a Cheyenne from Boulder, Colorado, codenamed Mirage because of her mutant ability to create illusions based on someone’s fears or wishes. Dani started out as a member of the junior X-Men team the New Mutants, which I’ve always felt was a weird team name to justify in context. Aren’t there always new mutants showing up on the X-Men? At any rate, Dani has always been a solid member of the X-family, whether she’s running around with X-Force or teaching at the school. She also finds a way to incorporate her Native American heritage into her costume – though sometimes the writers take things a little too far. Dani has the power to commune with animals, and has a psionic bow and arrow because…just because.
As cool as these characters may be, sometimes they just can’t escape the stereotypes. Oh well. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!