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Comic Book / Tomahawk

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Tomahawk is a comic book character whose adventures were published by DC Comics during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s as a backup feature in Star Spangled Comics and World's Finest Comics and in his own eponymous series. He was created by writer Joe Samachson and artist Edmund Good, and first appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #69.

Tomahawk was a backup feature in Star Spangled Comics from his first appearance (June 1947) to issue #130 (July 1952), and in World's Finest Comics from issue #33 (Mar. 1948) until issue #101 (May 1959). The Tomahawk series lasted 140 issues, from 1950 to 1972.

Known as either Tom Hawk or Thomas Haukins, depending on which of two versions of his published history the reader prefers, "Tomahawk" was a soldier who served under George Washington in the warfare between the British, French and Iroquois forces during the decades prior to the American Revolutionary War and acquired his nickname due to its resemblance to a trademark weapon of the Iroquois Confederacy's warriors, and to the skill he developed with that weapon.

He subsequently achieved further fame as one of Washington's most capable operatives during the Revolution itself, leading a band of soldiers under the informal nickname of "Tomahawk's Rangers".

Tomahawk provide examples of:

  • Agent Peacock: Private Jud Fuller was a soldier who previously belonged to the 3rd Virginia, a top infantry regiment, before serving in Tomahawk's Rangers during the American Revolution. Fuller earned the nickname "Brass Buttons" as he proudly wore his brass-buttoned infantry uniform. He spent copious time keeping his uniform immaculate, especially polishing the brass buttons.
  • Arch-Enemy: Lord Shilling was Tomahawk's arch-enemy, though he was dead by the time the Rangers came into play.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Tomahawk's arch-enemy was the British spy Lord Shilling.
  • Army of The Ages: Tomahawk is dragged through time to become part of one in the 2008 The War That Time Forgot mini-series.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: In Tomahawk #138, Moon Fawn and Small Eagle get kidnapped and tortured by Indian renegades for celebrating Christmas, and it's up to Hawk and Tomahawk to rescue them.
  • Avenging the Villain: After Lord Shilling dies battling Tomahawk, his sister Lady Shilling adopts the identity of the Hood so she can take revenge on Tomahawk.
  • Bad Habits: In #31, a bandit ambushes a clergyman travelling from Boston to perform a wedding and takes his place so he can infiltrate the settlement and set it up for robbery. In doing so, he inadvertently foils a woman's attempt to stage a Real Fake Wedding with Tomahawk.
  • Bald of Evil: Van Grote, a Hessian Nazi by Any Other Name Torture Technician in #112; who seems have been designed to combine as many stereotypical evil Prussian attributes as possible.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The first time Tomahawk meets his future wife Moon Fawn, he has to save her from a bear attack as she is bathing in a creek. He succeeds in killing the bear using only his tomahawk.
  • Been There, Shaped History: In #96, it is revealed that General Washington's crossing of the Delaware was successful because Tomahawk and the Rangers were conducting a distractionary raid downriver.
  • The Berserker: Wildcat. Although originally a member of a pacifist sect, he became a wild man in combat and is the most enthusiastic member when it comes to charging into battle.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: In #99, Tomahawk and his Rangers battle Chief Cobweb: a Native American who can speak to and control insects and arachnids and has access to variety of giant version a hornet, a firefly and a Giant Spider.
  • The Blacksmith: Big Anvil was one before the war, and still sometimes performs smithing duties in the Rangers.
  • Bring the Anchor Along: In #107, the Rangers are tied to trees by British soldiers. Big Anvil, The Big Guy of The Squad, is able to rip the tree he is tied to out by its roots.
  • Calling Card: Lord Shilling's trademark was leaving a single shilling with a hole in the middle after a successful mission.
  • Captain Ethnic: Frenchie, a non-superhero example. His thing is that he is French, and it is impossible to forget this — he even starts wearing a beret after a while.
  • Captain Patriotic: Miss Liberty
  • Cattle Drive: In Tomahawk #119, Tomahawk and the Rangers have to drive a herd of steers to besieged Yankee fort that is starving.
  • The Chief's Daughter: Moon Fawn
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After the Retool that introduced the Rangers, Tomahawk's sidekick Dan Hunter popped up less and less frequently until he disappeared entirely without explanation.
  • Colossus Climb: In #92, Tomahawk clambers up a cliff and jumps into the mouth of a giant stone robot. After a Trap Door dumps him down into the foot, he has to climb up the inside of the robot.
  • Combat Medic: Healer Randolph
  • Criminal Amnesiac: In #110, Tomahawk loses his memory when his skull is creased by a rifle ball. Captured by the British, Lady Shilling (secretly the Hood) is able to persuade him that he is a Loyalist officer and her fiancée. This leads to the Rangers believing that Tomahawk has turned traitor and attempting to kill him.
  • Dawn of the Wild West: When the book became Hawk, Son of Tomahawk, it focussed on Tomahawk's half-Indian son and was set in the early years of the 19th Century in the American midwest.
  • Death by Materialism: In #135, Hawk and his friend Jess go in search of gold, following a Treasure Map that unknowingly leads them into an Indian Burial Ground. When Hawk discovers this, he wants to leave, but Jess becomes obsessed with the acquiring all the gold, and attempts to drive out Hawk and the party of Indians seeking to bury one of their dead. Ultimately this results in Jess's death as he collapses the cave on top of himself as he attempts to dig out the gold.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Cannonball served this role in training the Rangers, and even in the field he's always barking at them like mad.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Lady Shilling, the sister of Tomahawk's Archenemy Lord Shilling, adopts the identity of the Hood to avenge herself on Tomahawk after he causes her brother's death.
  • Evil Brit: Lord Shilling, along with numerous one-off villains. Hey, it was the Revolutionary War and the heroes were from the Colonies — the British were the bad guys to them.
  • Frankenstein Monster: In "The Frontier Frankenstein" in #103, British troops capture Big Anvil and a German scientist subjects him to a treatment involving "rare African herbs" which causes him to transform into a hulking green-skinned Frankenstein monster at night. The narration suggests this event might have been Mary Shelley's inspiration to write the novel Frankenstein.
  • Gold Fever: In #135, Hawk and his friend Jess go in search of gold, following a Treasure Map that unknowingly leads them into an Indian Burial Ground. When Hawk discovers this, he wants to leave, but Jess becomes obsessed with the acquiring all the gold, and attempts to drive out Hawk and the party of Indians seeking to bury one of their dead. Ultimately this results in Jess suffering a Death by Materialism.
  • Gulliver Tie-Down: In #102, Tomahawk and Big Anvil are captured by a tribe of Lilliputian-sized tribe of Indians who tie them down to the ground.
  • Headgear Headstone: In #106, the Rangers think Tomahawk is killed in an avalanche. They mark his resting place with his tomahawk and coonskin cap.
  • Herr Doktor: In #103, a German doctor employed by the British experiments on Big Anvil and uses rare African herbs to cause him to transform into a hulking, green-skinned Frankenstein Monster whenever night falls.
  • Hunter Trapper: Tomahawk and Dan Hunter
  • Indian Maiden: Moon Fawn, Tomahawk's eventual wife. He first comes across her when she is bathing in a river and saves her from a bear attack. She falls in love with him and he has to prove his worthiness to her father, Chief Grey Elk.
  • Just a Kid: One issue's backup feature was about Brass Buttons, Stovepipe, and Dan Hunter (none of them even 20 yet) embittered by the other Rangers looking down on them because of their youth. Naturally they end up saving the day later.
  • King Kong Copy: A giant ape named King Colosso appeared three time. All three tales are obviously inspired by elements in King Kong (1933). King Colosso was an antagonist for two issues but a member of the Rangers for the last.
  • Known Only by Their Nickname: Most of the members of the Rangers.
  • Lilliputians: In #102, Tomahawk and Big Anvil are captured by a tribe of Lilliputian Indians. They are turned loose after Tomahawk saves the life of the chief, and the tribe later saves the Rangers from a dinosaur. (Makes Just as Much Sense in Context.)
  • Master of Disguise: Lord Shilling
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: In #112, Tomahawk battles a Hessian officer named Van Grote: a Torture Technician who is rounding civilians sympathetic to the rebel cause and imprisoning them in prison camps (surrounded by anachronistic barbed wire). To further drive the point home he has adopted a good luck symbol stole from a local Indian chief as his personal symbol: the swastikanote . His personal troops wear the symbol on an armband.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: In #40, Tomahawk and Dan Hunter encounter a tribe of 10 ft. tall Indians dwelling in an isolated valley. Tomahawk speculates that their height is the result of the strange plants and waterholes he observed in the valley.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: Tomahawk first comes across Moon Fawn when she is bathing in a creek. He then saves her from a bear attack.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Tomahawk's Rangers, who were essentially a Revolutionary War version of Sgt. Rock's Easy Company. The members included the immensely strong Big Anvil; the dandy Brass Buttons; Cannonball, who was Tomahawk's 2IC; acrobatic French sailor Frenchie; black Combat Medic Healer Randolph; sniper Long Rifle; Stovepipe who was the son of a general and carried a small arsenal in his stovepipe hat; and Wildcat, a Quaker pacifist who turned into a berserker in combat.
  • Ranger: Tomahawk's Rangers
  • Real Fake Wedding: In Tomahawk #31, a woman attempts to trick Tomahawk into marrying her by staging the wedding in a play about his life (where she has talked him into playing himself). It fails when the preacher she sent for from Boston turns out to be a bandit in disguise and has no authority to marry anyone.
  • Reed Snorkel: In #40, Tomahawk uses this trick to sabotage a canoe race to allow Dan Hunter to win.
  • Repetitive Name: Hawk, son of Tomahawk. Especially if his given name really is Hawk, as his father's surname is Hawk.
  • Retool: Tomahawk had two retools towards the end of its run. First, the comic was changed from "hey kids isn't Davy Crockett cool?" to "the Howling Commandos in the Revolutionary War", with Tomahawk gaining a colorful supporting cast and a direct affiliation with the Continental Army. After about five years of that, the book (retaining the same title and numbering) jumped forward some 40 years and focused on Tomahawk's son Hawk, with the still-living Tomahawk being Hawk's mentor/sidekick. "Hawk, son of Tomahawk" didn't last too long, as the book was canceled within a year of Hawk's introduction.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker:
    • Tomahawk has this ability, unerringly following a trail invisible to everyone else across a dinosaur-infested jungle in The War That Time Forgot mini-series.
    • Supposedly the Rangers all have similar abilities due to Tomahawk's training, but this proves an Informed Ability that none of them ever really shows off.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax:
    • In Tomahawk #106, the Royalist forces take advantage of Tomahawk's supposed death to create a "ghost" Tomahawk which they use to attempt to lure the Rangers into an ambush.
    • The Amish or Quaker or whatever community that Wildcat was once part of built a giant man-powered stone robot to scare both sides of the Revolutionary War away from their land. Yes, you read all that correctly.
  • Sergeant Rock: Tomahawk was this to the Rangers.
  • Shoot the Bullet: In #112, Tomahawk throws his tomahawk at Van Grote at the same instant that Van Grote throws a knife at him. The two throws are so accurate that the tomahawk and knife strike each other in the air.
  • Sidekick: Dan Hunter to Tomahawk, very much in the tradition of a superhero sidekick
  • Southern-Fried Private: Kaintuck Jones. He's from the Kentucky backwoods and that's about it.
  • Splitting the Arrow: In #40, Tomahawk wins a marksmanship contest against a giant Indian warrior by splitting the brave's arrow with a musket ball.
  • The Squad: Tomahawk's Rangers
  • Stock Punishment: In #92, the citizens of Wildcat's hometown place Tomahawk in the stocks as punishment for bringing the war to their pacifist village. This results in him almost being killed by a giant stone robot. (It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context).
  • Superweapon Surprise: In #92, Tomahawk and Wildcat return to Wildcat's home village, which is a settlement of pacifists. However, they have constructed a giant man-powered stone robot that looks like a giant Indian warrior in case the war comes to their valley.
  • They Call Him "Sword": They call him Tomahawk!
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: Although they were not her only weapon, Miss Liberty would often enter combat by flinging fused powder horns from horseback to confuse and scatter the enemy.
  • Tipis and Totem Poles: Tomahawk is set in the original 13 colonies during the American War of Independence, yet many of the tribes shown have totem poles, a Pacific West Coat tradition.
  • To Catch Heroes, Hire Villains: One of the Crown's more successful plots against Tomahawk and the Rangers involved pardoning notorious criminals — giant strongman Bull, agile thief the Fly, a Native tracker called "the Indian", vicious pirate Captain Salt, and peerless gunman the Highwayman. They easily capture all the Rangers, including Tomahawk himself, though Tomahawk manages to lead an escape as their execution looms.
  • Torture Technician: In #112, Tomahawk becomes obsessed with hunting down the Hessian officer Van Grote: a bald-headed proto-Nazi who specializes in extracting information from prisoners.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: An issue of Tomahawk saw the title character assigned to lead a six-man team of infamous criminals pressed into service for the Continental Army. At first, each plotted to kill Tomahawk and escape (and two of them actually tried it). Three of them died on the ensuing mission, each in such a heroic fashion that the remaining three vowed to be good guys from that point on.
  • Villainous Crush: The British agent the Hood—who was secretly Lord Shilling's sister—was secretly in love with Tomahawk and often found herself torn between her romantic feelings for him, and her hatred of him for killing her brother.
  • Weaponized Headgear: Stovepipe kept a small arsenal of weapons, explosives, and other items inside his hat.
  • Weapon Specialization: Miss Liberty is an expert with the whip, which she often uses to great effect from horseback.
  • Weapon Title: Doubles as a Protagonist Title, as it refers to both the hero's nickname and his favored weapon.
  • Weapon Tombstone: In Tomahawk #106, the Rangers think Tomahawk is killed in an avalanche. They mark his resting place with his tomahawk and coonskin cap.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Miss Liberty was a Revolutionary War heroine who wore a costume modeled after the Star and Stripes, making her (in-universe) the earliest flag-based costumed adventurer.