Characters Appearing: Jill Tomahawk, Lobo (Thomas Thunderhead's Wolf), Owayodata, Red Wolf (Thomas Thunderhead)
Red Wolf #8
Issue(s): Red Wolf #8
Or rather, i should say, the series shifted focus to a modern Red Wolf. By publication date, the original Red Wolf was Will Talltrees, who first appeared in Avengers #80, and he lived in the modern era. I assumed that issues #7-9 of this series were about him, but this guy's civilian name (such as it is) is Thomas Thunderhead. The 1980s Marvel Handbook said that they were indeed the same guy and that Will was using an alias in these issues, but a later Handbook reversed that and confirmed that they were separate individuals. The point of contention, aside from the different names, is apparently that this Red Wolf and his pet wolf Lobo exhibit magical powers. I don't actually see evidence of that in this issue; i'm getting my info from the Marvel Appendix. I'll also note that while the MCP does tag this Red Wolf as a separate character, they treat the wolf Lobo as the same one that hangs with Will Talltrees. That's likely just a mistake but it could be that Lobo is part of the Red Wolf package, especially since the two modern Red Wolves (Wolfs?) would have been operating at similar (even overlapping?) time periods. I should also note that the Appendix argues that this Red Wolf belongs in the non-sliding timescale 70s and is therefore a predecessor to Will Talltrees, in which case i should put this story in the Hero Gap. But their reasons for that argument are mainly just that these stories are SOOO 1970s, and that's hilariously true but not enough to convince me not to place it in the modern era.
The story opens up with a beautiful shot of Red Wolf's ass.
Red Wolf is fighting a gang of bikers led by the awesomely named King Cycle. And his opening salvo against them is a handful of slippery elm powder. What, did they have a sore throat?
The problem with having slippery elm in your arsenal is that it's a double-edged sword. Sure, it's slippery. But it's slippery for everyone!
With both sides just being terribly embarrassed by all of this, they end the fight for now, leaving each to mutter in their own very special vernacular. The Red Wolf makes wounded buffalo similes while the bikers say equally crazy stuff like "We hassled it this time" and "That's one hairy scene".
Red Wolf then stumbles upon a mini-skirted cop, and when he finds out that she's a Mohican, they immediately start trying to out-Indian each other. You might think that a guy dressed like Red Wolf would win that contest hands down, but take into account that the cop's name is Jill Tomahawk. You can't make this stuff up. Or, at least, you shouldn't.
In addition to being a "Mohawk", Jill is a ferocious stereotype of a "woman libber" who can't help shouting feminist slogans even after (what i think is?) a compliment.
They do agree to work together, and Jill tells him to keep an eye out for smoke signals.
I assumed this was more 1970s AmerIndian slang, but nope, she meant it literally.
Red Wolf goes after the bikers at the museum...
....but he fails to stop them again, and Jill winds up getting kidnapped.
However, Lobo (whose paw had been injured earlier, but is now healed) is able to track the bikers to their house.
Of course, the fact that i'm narrating all of this out loud probably makes all that moot.
By the way, the turning point in Red Wolf and Jill Tomahawk's relationship was when Red Wolf suggested that instead of just trying to predict where the bikers will strike, they instead look for a fence that would be willing to buy the unusual things that they steal from museums. And Jill admitted that was a good idea. But that turns out to have no further relevance to the plot, and in fact it seems the bikers just keep all the stuff they steal for themselves.
Not your typical thieving bike gang. A bunch of weirdos, if you ask me.
Red Wolf manages to defeat the bikers and King Cycle (sure, now that he's got an actual wolf helping him), and then he rescues Jill from a pointless death trap.
I should note that Red Wolf refers to Lobo as his "grey brother" even though the wolf is colored red. That may be a hint regarding the question of the multiple Lobos in the Marvel universe, or maybe this Red Wolf is just colorblind.
Despite all of Jill Tomahawk's bluster, she's a complete damsel in distress in this issue, which is pretty disappointing. It really feels like she is set up just to be put in her place.
Writer Gardner Fox would have been around 61 at the time this was written, so i guess this comic is best enjoyed as a view into what older people thought of all these hippies and bikers and feminists.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: See above regarding the Marvel Appendix's speculation that this belongs in what i call the Hero Gap, but other than that it's really context free and i'm placing it at publication date.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The over-expository dialogue and boatload of slang comes courtesy of Fox writing at DC for decades.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 16, 2015 4:57 PM
As Mark said, Fox had worked at DC since the Golden Age and had a hand in creating many classic characters and concepts still in use by DC to this day. Obviously his brief work at Marvel was far less impressive. I think Red Wolf was his most notable work there, which tells you a lot.
When I was a kid I found an issue of Red Wolf in some of my older brother's comics. I was instantly fascinated by this guy running around with a wolf pelt on his head. When I asked my brother if he had any other Red Wolf comics, I was informed by one of his friends that Red Wolf was "a loser." Little me was quite disillusioned that day.
Posted by: Robert | March 14, 2016 4:37 PM
This is kinda hilarious to me, and reads as much like a broad parody of '70s Marvel's formula writing style as it does of hippies, bikers, and feminists. I had never read this before and had always assumed Red Wolf was a Western-era-only character.
Gardner Fox was laid off from DC in 1968, the year after they dumped Wayne Boring and Al Plastino. At the time he was the 2nd most prolific writer at DC, after Robert Kanigher (who stayed on staff). None of these old guard Golden & Silver Age DC guys got pensions, health insurance, or other benefits, so it's not too surprising to see that so many of them showed up freelancing or in the bullpen at Marvel in the '70s.
Besides creating the Justice League of America for DC, with Mike Sekowsky, Fox popularized the multiverse concept for super-hero comics in 1961, with the story "Flash of Two Worlds," which brought back the Golden Age Flash, and established Earth 2 as the residence of all the Golden Age DC superheroes. In 1964 he and Sekowsky added Earth 3, as the alternate universe residence of a bunch of evil DC superhero doppelgangers. This was still 4 years ahead of Marvel's first(?) alternate universe story in Avengers Annual #2.
The DC Green Lantern character, Guy Gardner, was named after Fox.
Posted by: Holt | January 25, 2018 7:43 PM
What's truly hilarious isn't this terrible comic, which at least has the excuse of being written in 1973. It's that Marvel (as recently as 2015) still thinks Red Wolf is a viable and compelling character -- "The Jason Bourne of the West," oh how I laughed!
Posted by: Oliver | January 26, 2018 1:08 PM
I actually like Red Wolf. It's a good name, and the general aesthetic of his costume is fine (although it needs some updating).
He just needs the right kind of genre of stories. More or less oriented towards ordinary crime (primarily on Indian reservations, rural areas, and Indian communities elsewhere), but also having a low level of occult and supernatural element in the background. Matt Wagner did a good job of this blend when writing Sandman Mystery Theatre. The TV series (and original books) Longmire is also a good inspiration on the kind of stories that would be good for a Red Wolf character.
This is the kind of role I think several heroes can fit in - Moon Knight and Brother Voodoo are two others. A nice little niche of the Marvel Universe can be carved out for them. Low level heroes dealing with typical crime, with just enough pulp action and supernatural activity to make them special. (And to different degrees, Brother Voodoo being more supernatural oriented). This is also where the Tomb of Dracula characters should reside.
Then above them would be full out supernatural heroes (or horror heroes) like Ghost Rider and Son of Satan, or 4 color magical superheroics (like Scarlet Witch at her most magical). And above them would be top tier "black magic" characters like Dr Strange whose magical abilities place them in a very specific Marvel content.
Posted by: Chris | January 26, 2018 5:10 PM
My mother's a big fan of all the Longmire books. I suppose a Red Wolf comic in such a vein might work, so long as he didn't resort to "slippery elm powder" ever again. A guest appearance by Razorback would be good too (his costume is no more ridiculous than Wolf's).
Posted by: Oliver | January 27, 2018 6:23 AM
This story is very much of its time. It kinda has a feel like the "Billy Jack" films from the same time frame.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | January 27, 2018 8:06 AM
Comments are now closed.
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