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Thunderbird the Shaman

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  • rvsjr
    Indian Comics Irregular #75 John Thunderbird Proudstar is, of course, the Apache superhero who debuted in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 (1975) and died soon
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 13, 2002
      Indian Comics Irregular #75

      John "Thunderbird" Proudstar is, of course, the Apache superhero who
      debuted in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 (1975) and died soon thereafter.
      Michael "Shaman" Twoyoungmen is the Sarcee medicine man and superhero
      of Canada's Alpha Flight. They're a good example of Natives who have
      nothing in common--except, of course, the ubiquitous long hair and
      headband.

      In a new Marvel comic called EXILES, the team visits alternate
      dimensions where history happened differently. In EXILES #5-6, they
      meet a John Proudstar who has become the Shaman of his world. What
      does this scenario tell us about Indians in the 21st century?

      On the plus side, this Proudstar doesn't have the stereotypical pink
      skin of the first. He speaks normally, confirming that the original
      T-Bird's coarse speech was a writer's affectation. And he mentions
      his abusive father, partly justifying T-Bird's inferiority complex.
      (See ICI #54 for details.)

      On the minus side, it's hard to believe Proudstar would set aside his
      Apache belief system to study Shaman's "mysticism." That someone
      raised more than a thousand miles from the Sarcee, with no knowledge
      of their spirituality, could become proficient enough to be deemed
      a "shaman" is patently unlikely. It's about as unlikely as T-Bird's
      joining the Catholic priesthood and eventually becoming Pope.
      Theoretically possible, yes; realistically plausible, no.

      Unlike the PETER PARKER 2001 annual (ICI #72), this comic has
      eliminated the superficial stereotypes, but it still gets the deeper
      points wrong. The glass is still only half full. For more on
      Thunderbird as Shaman, go to
      http://www.bluecorncomics.com/tbrdsham.htm.

      Multiculturalism in the X-Men

      I've noted that the All-New X-Men series, with its international
      cast, was a landmark in superhero comics. I've also argued that this
      breakthrough was a step in the right direction, not the final word in
      multiculturalism. Every character who stayed with the team was born
      and raised in a European-based culture. (See ICI #51 for more on the
      subject.)

      In 2001 Chris Claremont launched a new X-Men series, X-TREME X-MEN.
      In an interview he made a remarkable claim: "This is...the first
      mainstream super hero group whose membership is predominantly third
      world." Uh, not quite.

      "Third World" refers to a region's socioeconomic status, not its
      ethnic makeup. But no matter what Claremont meant, his claim doesn't
      work. I've dissected Chris's latest Claremontism at
      http://www.bluecorncomics.com/multxm.htm.

      Watch Out for Wendigo

      Yet another new movie shows a Native American influence. From the LA
      Times, 3/1/02:

      "Wendigo" is named after a terrifying creature out of Native
      American mythology that has been utilized by everyone from poet
      Ogden Nash to the creators of "The X-Files" and Marvel Comics. As
      described in the film by a mysterious tribal elder, this half-man,
      half-deer shape-shifter is "always hungry, never satisfied.
      There are spirits to be feared because they are angry. He who
      hears the cry of the Wendigo is never seen again."

      Draw a Native Hero and Win

      Sharpen your pencils! Blue Corn Comics and the Canku Ota newsletter
      are holding a drawing contest for young artists. Our goal is to
      encourage kids to get in touch with their artistic side and their
      Native heritage.

      The theme of the contest is "Native Heroes." That includes real and
      fictional figures from Coyote to Jay Silverheels, Pocahontas to Peace
      Party. To enter, head to Canku Ota at http://www.turtletrack.org
      And tell a friend.

      Rob Schmidt
      Blue Corn Comics
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