I've always had a 'thing' for DC's Revolutionary War hero, Tomahawk. Like most of DC's characters that either didn't have a comic on the stands at the time, or weren't on Super Friends, I probably met Tomahawk in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths - the maxi-series DC published in 1985-86 as a part 50th anniversary celebration/part house cleaning. Just about every character the company had published up to that point made an appearance in the series, whether it was a starring role, or a one or two panel cameo, like those by Steve Savage, The Balloon Buster, or Tomahawk.
Tomahawk's moment came in Crisis #5 , where he's shown being anachronistically interviewed by Lois Lane (at a point in the story when time was going crazy and 18th century war heroes could rub elbows with 1980s news reporters) and looking generally confused by his surroundings. I've always empathized with this, as that's how I feel most of the time.
|Chatting it up with Lois Lane - from Crisis on Infinite Earths #5; words by Marv Wolfman, art by George Perez & Jerry Ordway|
I recently picked up a mixed lot of Tomahawk for a very reasonable price - included were a couple of these Rangers v. Monsters issues. And you know what? They're not that bad. Well, they're kind of bad, but they're also kind of fun. In one issue, #105 (from Aug. 1966), I was shocked to discover a concept not unfamiliar to the modern DC reader. On the cover by Bob Brown we're asked whether or not Tomahawk can stand the 'Crushing Attack of the Gator God?,' but in the issue, our hero is asked, in the absence of his traditional companions, to lead an assembly of crooks, pirates and ruffians who'll be granted pardons on completion of this especially dangerous mission.
This is Tomahawk's Suicide Squad!
The name Suicide Squad had been in use for a number of years for a group of adventurers who'd assume dangerous missions against dinosaurs and monsters and things, but it wasn't until this ball was picked up in the late 80s by John Ostrander that the concept become that we know today as the Suicide Squad - a team of super-baddies enlisted by the government to handle super-dangerous espionage missions as an alternative to hard time. It was kind of a neat surprise to see this concept used 20 years earlier in a depiction of a time 200 years earlier than that!
|Leonardo's greatest invention, The War Wheel|
|Redbeard says 'Convict Corps,' I say Suicide Squad|
|The inevitable attack by an alligator cult|
|Dark Cloud & Wee Willie aren't coming home|
|That sinking feeling|
|So ends the 1st and last mission of the 'original' original Suicide Squad|