Thursday, August 30, 2007

1970's Flashback: Red Wolf

Red Wolf led a very storied existence after his introduction in Avengers #80 (Sept. 1970), the character as introduced, operated in modern times and initially opposed the Avengers (although he really wasn't a villain). William Talltrees was born in modern times, in Wolf Point, Montana. He was the son of Thomas Talltrees, a Cheyenne tribal leader, and grew up hearing tales of the legendary Red Wolf. William witnessed his father being intimidated into selling his property to corrupt businessman Cornelius van Lunt; that night, van Lunt's henchmen killed William's family. William swore vengeance, finding and donning the ceremonial garb of Red Wolf. Cheyenne god Owayodata visited him and imbued the young man with his spiritual legacy. This Red Wolf found a wolf cub whom he named Lobo and trained him to be his companion. Following van Lunt back to New York, he was able to gain vengeance on him with the aid of the Avengers. Red Wolf's single appearance in Avengers certainly got someone at the House of Ideas thinking about an expanded role for their Indian Avenger.
He was next seen briefly in the first issue of Marvel Spotlight, before being launched into his own self-titled comic which ran for nine issues in 1972. This version was set in the old west and detailed the adventures of Johnny Wakeley which was the adopted name of a Cheyenne man who was raised from childhood by a white couple in the late 19th century. His adoptive parents were killed by Native Americans in retaliation for the U.S. Army cavalry's massacre of their own people. Pursued by members of his own tribe, Wakeley stumbled into the burial place of a former chieftain known as Red Wolf and he was visited by the spirit of a Cheyenne god named Owayodata. Wakeley was given the ceremonial garb of the Red Wolf, and the coup stick, his totem of power, and became the first known recorded Red Wolf. Red Wolf used his new found skills and physical prowess to promote peace between the white and Native American peoples.

At least until the seventh issue, when once again the characters setting changed and Red Wolf's adventures returned to the modern world for its last three issues.

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